Japanese Teas Revisited
By A.C. Cargill
Recently, I revisited some teas from Japan that I had tried previously and had reacted to with less than a positive and enthusiastic manner. The results were a revelation.
Part of learning and growing is re-trying something you tried years (or maybe even only months, weeks, or days) ago all over again to see if you still react to it the same way. Often, your reaction will be different because it will be influenced by the intervening experiences and acquiring of new knowledge. (This is often called the “The Knowledge Spiral.”)
The first time trying a Sencha, for example, I was very bothered by how much it tasted like grass to me. Being used to the maltiness of Assam black tea smoothed with milk and sweetened with a bit of sugar substitute, or having a green tea that was pretty nondescript, I reacted from that standpoint, meaning that the Sencha was actually a bit of a shock. Since then, however, I have come to appreciate the flavor, which isn’t quite as “grassy” as it first seemed.
Genmaicha, that most unique Japanese green tea and toasted rice combo, has actually become a favorite for both hubby and me. This one is no surprise, though, since our first sampling of it was a pleasant and rewarding experience. It is a tea that satisfies and comforts. We tend to sip it and savor that toasty flavor along with the taste of the green tea. Truly unique. We have tried several different makers’ versions, with nary a disappointment in the bunch.
Houjicha (or Hojicha as it is sometimes spelled) is another Japanese tea that we have rethought since our first try of it. At that time, hubby and I considered this a tea to reserve for a once or twice a year tea experience. Now, it seems more like a monthly or even weekly tea to have. A quality houjicha can produce several infusions from a small amount of tea leaves. One thing we appreciate more now is the varying taste and strength of each infusion. It is fairly normal for the 5th or 6th infusion to be quite different in both areas. What we had thought of at the time as a fault in the tea we now see as a limit in our scope of vision, something that has widened in relation to our tea tasting frequency.
I pass this along to you so that you can revisit a tea from your past, especially if it’s one that you initially reacted to negatively because the aroma or flavor was not in line with your expectations built up from previous tea tastings. Also consider that year by year the flavor of these teas can change due to changing weather conditions and other factors.
Just as people deserve a second chance, so do teas!
Stop by A.C.’s blog, Tea Time with A.C. Cargill!