Sunday, March 22, 2009

Spring into Loose Leaf Green Tea Today!


I am exposed to a lot of teas on a weekly basis. I always seem to dodge green tea. Why is that? Is it because it’s good for me and a healthy substitute to for wine? No, I am assuming it’s because I prefer teas that fall under the following categories: black, brown, golden, earthy, nutty, complex, toasty, smooth, and packed with caffeine. Green tea on the surface seems to be the complete opposite. First of all, it looks green, and smells of freshly cut grass.

Maybe my wine palate has ruined me from enjoying green tea. I seem to have an aversion to red wines that show any “green” characteristics- read: unripe grapes. Maybe this applies to tea, too. However, I do love a nice glass of herbaceous Sauvingnon Blanc, especially if I am slurping down Hog Island Oysters with it. There is hope for me, yet.

It’s time to dispel this “green theory” and call in an expert, my husband, the Tea Drinker. By the way, he is now infamous in our hometown. Spread the word. I asked Dan to put together a tea tasting of his favorite Drink the Leaf loose leaf green teas. Besides, it’s seems to be a fitting time of the year to drink green tea. Spring is here, and with that comes plenty of fresh asparagus, artichokes, and peas which we look forward to this time of the year, anyways.

My Mission: The following teas were blind tasted, and I rated them in order of preference.

1) Curled Dragon Silver Tip, China -$10.50
I love the color of this tea. It just looks fresh, and inviting. The color reminds me of fresh squeezed limes, obviously without the pulp! The infused leaves are gorgeous, and give off a hint of fresh grass. On the palate- honey mingles with bright flavors. This is a lovely tea, and I can't wait to try it again. A fresh start.

2) Organic Lu 'An Melon Seed, China- $7.00
Wow. This tea is almost chartreuse in color! Should make some of my absinthe loving friends happy...Already I am having fun, and I haven't even tried it, yet. The aroma reminds me of cooked green vegetables, such as spinach. The palate is complex, and has weightiness to it. Clean finish, and the green factor on the palate tapers off into a nice buttery finish. Give this one a try.

3) Gyokuro, Japan - $ 10.00
Golden, yellow hue with hint of green. Aromas of fresh plucked spring pea tendrils. Rich flavors on the palate, but not too heavy. More clean and bright. Reminds me of a spring morning after it rains…smooth finish.

4) Kawane Sencha, Japan- $16.00
Lemon/Lime color. Fresh cut grass aromas. Light bodied & delicate. Your mom always told you to eat your vegetables. Have this tea, and you will make your mom proud.

5) Organic Kukicha, Japan- $14.00
Right off the bat, I knew this tea was different, and not like the others. Green/forestry color. The aroma was nutty. The palate was loaded with heavier green flavors, such as broccoli, asparagus, and even root vegetables- turnips. And most surprisingly, its had tannins. A grippy tea! Med- full bodied. Long finish- grassy… acquired taste. I discovered afterwards, that this tea is quite popular. It consists of broken leaves,stems, stalks and twigs- all giving the tea structure and depth of flavor. Venture out and try this.

Disclaimer: The key to enjoying perfectly brewed green tea is water temperature. Do not scald those poor little leaves. Yes, you can burn your tea. Follow the recommend temperatures, and steeping timing is equally important.

Verdict: I stand corrected. Green tea has a lot nuances, and its fun to try something new, and break out of my black tea rut. I learned that the primary difference between green tea and green wine, is that green tea is supposed to be green, through and through! What a relief. I think I can now safely put this hurdle behind me. I can sit back and enjoy a bright green tea packed with flavors of grass, peas, and asparagus, and enjoy it. Except now, I am craving grilled artichokes rubbed with garlic, lemon, olive oil and butter. Best served family style with a whole grain mustard aioli mixed with chopped parsley. Shoot, now I am craving wine again. This mission is turning around...

Find the above teas on-line.

1 comment:

Lainie Petersen said...

Drink the Leaf's Kukicha is the best I have ever tried. Really. So glad you included it in this list.