Friday, February 13, 2009

A Week of Sencha

Grey winter days and the low energy that came with it were starting affect the attitude at the Gallery. Hoping a little spring fashion would help us through the bleak weather, we hit an exclusive sample sale before work. After dismal pickings and a mediocre lunch, Winnie and I headed to the Gallery in defeat. At least we could have tea. "We need something to go with tea," Winnie announced. We found some brightly frosted "Spring Cupcakes" at Pinisi Cafe, a few blocks away and I felt the dark clouds lift just a little.
At the Gallery, Michael said, "Our samples and the new teapots just arrived." Samples of single bush senchas and small tononame teapots. Things were starting look up.
Toki of the The Mandarin's Tea dropped by and the atmosphere was feeling festive.
A pairing of new tokoname with a 1950's Japanese covered tea bowl.

We spent the day, exploring the sweet, velvety world of Japanese senchas. From single bush offerings (some that tasted like a gyokuro) to three bush blends. We played with different brewing methods to see if we could raise the umami factor and play up the sweetness.

This little teapot is probably what started it all.
A Yixing teapot produced for the Japanese market during the late 60's. I found it while rummaging through one of many teapot laden cabinets at the Gallery. Of course, I had to know how a Japanese tea would taste in a Yixing vessel. Now that we had our samples, and I had spent the better part of the week cleaning out the old teapot, it was time to play.

I used a single bush sencha from the Saemidori. The pot heated up beautifully and the aroma from the warmed tea leaves made my mouth water. It took a little more wrist dexterity when it came time to pour, the broken leaves kept clogging up the small Chinese style strainer holes. The liquor was rich and expansive on the palate. Aside, from the tricky pouring, the clay itself added a little softness to the overall flavor and texture.
We spent the rest of the week playing with and tasting senchas, taking copious notes and finding favorites. The weather's still awful and grey but there's some spring green in my cup and bright days ahead.

Life is sweet...