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Tea Tasting: 2009 Japanese Organic Matcha Iri Genmaicha


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You raise an important point. There are three basic variables we can adjust to brew any tea: leaf:water ratio, temperature and length of the infusion. But lower leaf:water ratio for a longer time does not necessarily produce the same outcome. Your first larger cup, the 12 ounce one, was also at half the suggested ratio and 15 F higher than the suggested temp. So there may be more to see.

While I think it's fine to play with all parameters as I get to know a tea, I have found I am usually best served by starting at the suggested brewing parameters and then adjusting from there. It's most often infusion time that I adjust first to tweek my brewing. It's the easiest and usually most effective thing to adjust, since most teas have a fairly narrow temp range (sencha and matcha being particularly sensitive to brewing too hot), and I can easily adjust timing from infusion to infusion within a brewing session.

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You raise an important point. There are three basic variables we can adjust to brew any tea: leaf:water ratio, temperature and length of the infusion. But lower leaf:water ratio for a longer time does not necessarily produce the same outcome. Your first larger cup, the 12 ounce one, was also at half the suggested ratio and 15 F higher than the suggested temp. So there may be more to see.

While I think it's fine to play with all parameters as I get to know a tea, I have found I am usually best served by starting at the suggested brewing parameters and then adjusting from there. It's most often infusion time that I adjust first to tweek my brewing. It's the easiest and usually most effective thing to adjust, since most teas have a fairly narrow temp range (sencha and matcha being particularly sensitive to brewing too hot), and I can easily adjust timing from infusion to infusion within a brewing session.

You're right and it's only fair to follow the brewing suggestions for a tasting. I didn't realize I was that much hotter than the suggestion. I thought I was only a few degrees higher but I would have to go back and look.

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OK, second round of brewing. The remaining tea in the sample weighed 12.5g, so the lot of it went into a 175ml-ish infusion. Given that we have reports on how this behaves when brewed hot, I decided to deviate a bit low, so used water a bit below 170F. First infusion of about 1.5 minutes is, again, beautifully green, but the matcha makes it a bit grainy on the palate. Seaweed aroma does abound in this tea... it reminds me of the smell of nori. The matcha again overpowers the grain in the first infusion... the graininess expresses itself in the aroma, but not in the taste. There is a thick bitter brothy vegetal thing going on (all the pretty green chlorophyll expressing itself), and that overpowers everything else in the first cup.

A second infusion under about the same conditions yields more balance between tea and grain. There is a subtly floral aroma now that plays with the grainy aroma that was there last time. The body is much less brothy and the color is light golden with just a hint of green dust swirling around the bottom of the cup. There is still a good bitter backbone to this tea, which is its primary flavor.

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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It really is interesting to see the wide range of experiences with this tea. Partly due, I think, to different brewing parameters and partly due to differing taste buds.

Thanks again to Dan at yuuki-cha.com for supplying the samples, and thanks to cdh, Wholemeal Crank, baroness and LuckyGirl for participating.

More teas from yuuki-cha.com this year for future Tea Tasting & Discussions. If you subscribe to the Coffee & Tea forum, you'll be among the first to know.

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