Today I tasted a special tea from Japan. An organically grown autumn harvest bancha of the Takeo family farm in the Mie prefecture. Takeo produces organically since 1993 and has been certified in 2000 by JAS (Japanese Agricultural Standard).
I am not as experianced with Japanese tea as I am with Chinese, especially oolong. I have therefore prepared the bancha, please forgive me, in a gaiwan. The water temperature was probably about 60, maybe 70 degrees celsius and I used a teaspoon of bancha. The amount of water I have chosen like I am used to: fill up till all tea leaves are covered with water.
I allowed the first infusion to steep about one minute and poured then the liquor into my celadon tea cups. The infusion is clear and of a intense green. For Japanese green tea, this is the rule but if one is used to Chinese green tea as I am that is quiet surprising. The flavor is fresh with a mild sweetness, clear and unobtrusive. Inevitably thoughts on Zen style with its distinct and minimalist forms comes in my mind.
Remarkable for this tea is that it’s completely free of tartness. Despite repeated and also prolonged infusions the tea didn’t get astringent. This mighty be a bit disappointing for those who expected a cup with a little more punch. I could also taste something vegetal and, astonishingly for me, a touch of seaweed. Anyone who knows me is familiar with the fact that seafood and seaweed, which I count to the same category, isn’t for me. However, this taste in the tea doesn’t bother me at all. More than that, it completes the picture that I have of Japan and Japanese products like this tea. My impression of this tea is extremely positive especially so since I had my prejudice against machine processed tea. In addition, this tea is rather located in a low price range. Overall, I can really recommend this tea and it makes appetite for more Japanese teas.