A couple of weeks ago, my tea friend, Tatsuo from Charaku Tea taught a very interesting Japanese Tea Class.
He presented 9 teas: 3 Senchas; one Gyokuro; and one each of Kukicha, Genmaicha, Houjicha, and Matcha with Wagashi!
I was very intrigued with the Senchas he presented: they are all delicious, yet different. Tatsuo said, "For most of the Sencha, I usually use around 170 to 175 degree water for the first infusion, and look for umami (sweetness) notes. For later infusions, I go up 180 - 190 and this normally brings out more shibumi (astringency). Of course it all depends on the tea....and my mood."
I have been learning Taiwanese tea for years now. I feel that in Taiwan tea drinkers are looking for specific things from tea, too, but they "allow it to happen." From what Tatsuo presented, he "makes it happen." I find both ways have a tremendous amount of beauty.
Tatsuo offered a lot of information (and a lot of tea!) in this class. In the end, he whisked everyone a bowl of matcha. We gave the participants a piece of Wagashi that was made that morning from Tokara. It was a wonderful way to end the class. I felt like I was eating and drinking a perfect piece of art, crafted by people who really care.
I feel very fortunate to have Tatsuo at Floating Leaves Tea to share his expertise in Japanese Tea. I am certain I will invite him back again soon!
*photos provided by Douglas King.