The Japanese White Tea Odyssey – Part 2

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Looking at the gigantic pile of dried leaves, I wondered how on earth I would get them into a pot without breaking it into bits. It didn’t happen…I had to crumble a few to get into the pot and because they were so large and light, I was only able to get 2 grams into the pot.

The Japanese White Tea Odyssey - Part 2 - Temomi white tea brewing

Temomi white tea brewing

The water temperature for white tea is usually cooler than for black and oolong tea and to get this pot to produce anything, I needed to put on my oolong hat to get this tea to work.

The same thing happened to the machine-produced tea, which looked very unappetizing at first glance – like a pile of autumn leaves swept into the bag.

The Japanese White Tea Odyssey - Part 2 - Machine-produced white tea leaves

Machine-produced white tea leaves

Rural Japanese families will often have a tea plant in their garden and will produce a very rough tea called kancha. It’s never given to anyone outside of the family who grows it. This looked exactly like kancha: Rough, unrefined, a quick-picked and dried bunch of leaves made for a caffeine and health boost.

The Japanese White Tea Odyssey - Part 2 - Machine-produced white tea brewing

Machine-Produced White Tea Brewing

Finally having to brew both teas like a Chinese oolong, I was able to get some sweet and rough flavor out of the two teas, but this was definitely not an elegant white tea as far as I would call it.

This new white tea was sent to me so that I could provide feedback from a western market perspective. Suffice to say, I humbly suggested either reclassifying the tea or, better yet, going back to the drawing board and giving the tea a bit more elegance. It simply would never sell in any market, let alone the western one.

I felt horrible having to deliver such bad news, but what transpired from my harsh feedback blew my mind! The JA (Japan Agriculture, which is like the USDA in the US), now wants me to evaluate yet another very special kind of tea being produced in the Takachiho region of Kyushu! I will be receiving that hopefully in time for next month’s post. Stay tuned as I have high hopes for this next tea! I’m stunned.

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