Here’s another review I’ve been sitting on for some time. I think I held off on posting this one simply because I was not sure where I was going to go with it. I know several people rather liked this tea, but it was just so strange to me. Allow me to explain. This is a Taiwanese approximation of a Japanese sencha produced from the Qingxin Da Pa cultivar, which I have been led to believe is mostly used for oolong as opposed to green tea production. If you’re going to try to approximate a tea as distinct as sencha, why not use a traditional sencha cultivar? It just seems that using an oolong cultivar defeats the purpose. This line of thought reminded me that sometimes I look forward to reviewing a tea that is doing or at least trying to do something new and unique. Other times I have difficulty motivating myself, and well, this was clearly one of those times.
Prior to trying this tea, I decided to research sencha preparation methods. I do not own a kyusu, so I knew I was going to have to make a few modifications. I ended up settling on a four part brewing process. I started with 3 grams of loose tea leaves and steeped them in approximately 8 ounces of 158 F water for 1 minute. I then increased the temperature to 163 F and steeped them for 30 seconds. For the third infusion, I increased the water temperature to 168 F and steeped for 1 minute 30 seconds. For the final infusion, I increased the water temperature to 173 F and steeped for 3 minutes. I then called it quits.
Prior to the first infusion, I picked up mild nutty, grassy aromas coming from the dry tea leaves. In the mouth, I found touches of cream, butter, grass, and chestnut. The second infusion brought out an indistinct sweetness and hints of spinach on the nose. In the mouth, I found notes of sugarcane, spinach, grass, cream, butter, and chestnut. I also noted a floral, nectar-like sweetness and hints of minerals on the finish. The third infusion brought out heavier spinach aromas on the nose. The tea liquor was grassier with a heavier mineral presence and emerging hints of seaweed. The fourth and final infusion didn’t offer much on the nose. I picked up minerals and a hint of seaweed, but that was about it. The tea liquor was heavy on the mineral and seaweed notes. There were also lingering traces of grass, spinach, and butter. I didn’t find much in the way of nuttiness or sweetness at this point.
This was a difficult tea to rate. I kind of touched on that in the introduction. As much as it looked like a sencha and clearly wanted to be one, its resemblance was largely superficial. My experience suggests that sencha can often be quite full-flavored and this tea really wasn’t like that. The mouthfeel was softer and the little hints of sweet and savory reminded me that this was clearly a tea made from an oolong cultivar. This was not an unpleasant tea to drink, but graded on how well it approximated the character of a traditional Japanese sencha, it didn’t quite hit the mark for me. All in all, I’m glad I took the opportunity to try this tea, but I would never turn to it over an authentic sencha.
Flavors: Butter, Chestnut, Cream, Floral, Grass, Mineral, Nectar, Seaweed, Spinach, Sugarcane