Sencha: It’s like grass, but a little better

Drinking loose Sencha tea, an unflavored Japanese-style green. Bought it from Heavenly Tea. I figured it’s an appropriate way to support the country after the devastating earthquake for someone with no money to donate.

According to very quick research, Japanese tea is different from Chinese in that it’s steamed, rather than roasted. It’s leaves are also left whole, not ground up. It looks like if you took grass clippings from the lawn mower and carefully spread them out to dry so they curled up into half-inch-long tubes.

It kind of tastes like grass, too. More plantlike (“vegetal” is apparently the word preferred by tea people) than other greens, and very mellow. I used water heated to 180 degrees and it still didn’t get as astringent as I like it, but I like tea that you can practically gargle with and use for mouthwash.

It’s light-colored, as you’d expect from a tea that’s basically steamed leaves. Contrast that with, say, gunpowder, which is Chinese and therefore roasted and rolled and almost as strong-tasting as black.

Other descriptive words: Moody. Subtle yet persistent. Nonchalant. Uncaring of the world. Martian. Cool and catlike. Underexuberant. Like porch stain without the smell or taste. Mellifluent. Like elevator music. A tea that, if it were a sport, would probably not be a sport, preferring to turn away from the world of humanity and set off alone to stand and do yoga in a great big field of weeds.

Note: The pig was just some thing I found lying around the house, belonging to my landlord. I thought the photo needed a prop.


About Don Seiffert

I'm a reporter and writer in the Boston area.
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