A New Sakura Sencha - Chado January 2023
Tea is Sleeping; get Steeping
It is Winter in the Northern Hemisphere.
That means it is raining in Vancouver, and the tea plants in Japan are sleeping. What better time to brew a nice pot of tea and relax?
It has been very cold in some parts of Japan so far this year. We trust and assume the farmers are looking after the plants. Tea plants are dormant in the winter, but the farmer's job still persists; the plants are usually protected from the cold by straw, or other mulch-like coverings and fans mounted high among the plants are used to circulate the air. Different varieties or cultivars are often also used in different parts of the country, and some of these are more resistant to the effects of cold in Winter and frost in Spring than others.
One of the things we savor in our love of tea is the way the plant, its cultivars and the terroirs found in the region in which it is grown all contribute to the variety in taste and appearance of the tea. It is a long tradition that dates back hundreds of years and has all that culture to build upon, yet it is not standing still and resting on its laurels; advances and changes are made to tea continuously. With the increasing interest in organic farming and changes in climate, being just two of the developments keep the producers thinking.
We think ourselves lucky to be involved in Japanese tea. We hope you continue to come along for the ride as we bring you the teas you enjoy today and find some new variations that will hopefully become your favorites.
Photograph courtesy Simona Suzuki
A New Sakura Sencha.
Most of the tea we carry is not flavored. We do have a few that we like, the Yuzu Kukicha tea is a lovely refreshing drink and our Sakura Kukicha Stem tea, with a hint of cherry blossom, is always popular.
We have a new entry in our lineup of teas for this year. It is a Premium Sakura Sencha.
As Spring is coming soon, we wish to celebrate with this Premium-Grade Sakura Sencha.
The selected cultivars of this new blend, along with careful steam levels during production, produce a quality sencha, and the flower petals provide the aroma of cherry.
For this tea, we suggest the tea leaves be used sparingly: - One Tsp/3g of tea brewed in 1 cup/240ml of water at 175F/80C for 30 seconds.
The tea comes from Kagoshima city in Kyushu Prefecture in Southern Japan.
This tea is an Umami-rich premium Sencha with a slight scent of Cherry blossom petals. It has a comforting subtle taste, and the taste of both components shine.
Most Japanese tea is 'designed' for multiple infusions. Our teas are typically brewed for a short time in the pot and then enjoyed. All of our products on the website have brewing instructions, and we are here to help if you ever have any questions about getting the best out of our teas.
Often second or third infusions of the tea are possible and encouraged. We know from feedback that some of our clients very seldom brew the tea a second time, but it is worth trying. Especially for this month's tea, we recommend tasting the first and subsequent infusions as the taste of the tea changes.
We try all of our teas here at Chado as a team - we drink a lot of tea here. We have never tried a tea where the difference between the first and second infusion has been so remarked upon by our tasters. Some tasters preferred the first infusion, some the second and others liked to mix them. Please try and let us know your thoughts.
Thus, after one gets a taste for this particular new tea and its variation with different infusions, please adjust it to suit your preferences.
We especially enjoy the cherry blossom tea here in Vancouver; as mentioned before, the Japanese people gifted hundreds of cherry trees to the people of Vancouver. This tea reminds us that the rain will stop eventually, and the streets will be filled with pink; this gift is the one that keeps giving.
Nara - Where the deer roam free.
We are planning a trip to Japan this year. We looked back on our last trip and were surprised to see it was over 3 years ago – we all know what has been around since early 2020, and it is amazing how time goes by.
We keep in regular touch with our tea producers in Japan via the obligatory zoom, but it will be nice to see our old friends again this year and hopefully meet some new ones.
The last trip we did included a visit to Nara. Japan is a great place to visit; we typically get around Japan using the Japan Rail Pass – this is a huge bargain, and we recommend it to anyone planning a trip. ‘We do not receive payment from Japan Rail Pass etc.etc.’ but if anyone from Japan Rail is reading this, we are open to offers 😊
Nara is an excellent place to visit if you plan a trip to Japan. It is close to the world-famous destination city of Kyoto, another must-see if visiting Japan. Nara is famous for its temples, shrines and its deer. The main shrine is Kasuga Taisha Shrine, situated in a large park, and the deer roam freely there. The deer are wild but are used to humans and will happily approach you to be rewarded with treats that street vendors sell. These treats are called shika senbei or Deer Candy – a sugar-free mixture of wheat flour and bran. The deer know when you have some treats that you haven't given up yet, so be prepared for a bit of deer harassment as some people in the video below experienced.
Nara is overlooked by a mountain called Mount Wakakusa, it is too late for this year, but there is an annual festival called Yamayaki, which means ‘Mountain Burning’ in late January, where fireworks and large fires are set on the mountain; this creates a great spectacle and also clears dead brush from the mountain. The festival dates back hundreds of years, and the origin is unknown, but some theories say that it was due to a dispute between two temples that resulted in the mountain being set alight in 1760.
Nara is also where our Organic San-nen Bancha comes from.
Photograph courtesy 名古屋太郎