A few years ago I had Japanese green tea for the first time. Due to the way it is grown and processed, it’s unlike any other type of green tea. My first reaction was “wow, that tastes like a cup of grass clippings.” It wasn’t immediately obvious how complex the tea actually is, and like trying something new for the first time, it takes a while to get used to it rather than just being overwhelmed by the novelty.
Japanese green tea is delicate: most senchas (a type of whole-leaf Japanese tea) are ruined (become very bitter) if steeped too long, or above 180°F. I usually steep around 160° for 45s, which creates a kind of thick liquor in the cup that has a lot of delicate, sweet smells.
Not only is green tea tasty, it used to be considered medicine in Japan (and still is by some). WebMD notes that green tea lowers recurrence of cancer, is good for your heart, and helps prevent obesity and lower LDL cholesterol levels. And these are only the effects of green tea that have been widely studied and found to be conclusive. There are claims that it lowers blood pressure, prevents strep throat (due to the action of EGCG against virus adherence on cell wells), and has anti-oxidant action in the retina.
Some leaves outside Todd’s office
Kagoshima Sencha Shimofuri
I’d recommend directly following the steep times on the site
The website I order tea from is Yuuki-Cha. Follow the link to see this very tea.
Right now my favorite type of green tea is the Kagoshima from Yuuki-cha. It is an interesting combination of sweet and astringent tastes, with a very good aroma that is characteristic of sencha.
There is a debate in Japan that good green tea can’t be grown without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, but surprisingly almost all of the teas on Yuuki-cha are organic. Additionally, these 100% organic teas are of the same high quality of non-organic teas that I have tried. The process is more labor intensive, but I think it’s worth it, as organic things are better for the environment and the people who consume them.
Last night there was quite a snow storm. This morning I opened the garage door at my Mom’s farm to move my car inside, and it felt just like the scene on Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back. It was good practice for an emergency to drive through the snow last night, as it was difficult to not get disoriented in the near white-out conditions. The floating flakes were mesmerizing, and often caused mild feelings of vertigo. The following miso soup recipe is great for blizzards and so forth. Give it a try : )
Simplest Miso Soup
Prep time 3 min • Cook time 5 min
2 tbsp miso paste
1 tbsp soy sauce (vary, according to taste)
2 cups water
3 small green onions, cut into 2″ sections
1 tbsp soaked wakame (optional)
Heat the water in a pot to boiling, and the green onions, then turn to low. Add the miso and stir until dissolved (it helps to mix some of the hot water with the miso in a separate vessel, and then add to the pot). At this point, test the soup for saltiness, and add more or less soy sauce as needed. Then, add the wakame if using, and remove from heat. That’s it!
Once again, if you’re interested in ordering organic green tea, order from Yuuki-cha. Shipping is around $3 from Japan, and takes less than 5 days.