I have been trying to ensure that I don't buy any new tea for personal use until I have worked through more of my current supply... but I did end up adding a couple of small packets of organic green teas to my latest order from Southern Light Herbs (which is where I get most of my tea and herb supplies for my Etsy store). The main reason that I haven't added any green tea blends to my shop thus far is because I haven't been able to find a green tea that works well enough - or is nice enough - as a base. I have previously tried the organic Japanese green from SLH but found this to be a major disappointment - much too toasty for my taste, and the leaves were rather pale and I just didn't like it. This time, however, I ordered the 'Sencha', which is from China (so is probably more accurately described as 'sencha-style') and the generically named 'green tea' from Sri Lanka. I have never had a Chinese 'sencha' or a Sri Lankan green tea before, so I was intrigued to see what they would be like.
(And, despite my noble resolutions against purchasing new teas, still nothing beats the excitement of a new tea purchase and tasting...)
So this is what the dry leaves look like:
Both were described in the catalogue as 'rolled leaf' but as you can see each looks considerably different from the other. The one to the back is the Chinese 'sencha', which has dark but very green leaves that are flat and smooth. The leaves at the front are the Sri Lankan green, with longer, loosely rolled and twisted leaves in a variety of shades of browny-green, quite different to the deeper 'steamed' green colour you get in a sencha. The sencha leaves have a good grassy scent and it compares well to my current favourite sencha (which I usually get from Asian grocery stores, the brand is Ujinotsuyu) in terms of both look and smell. The Sri Lankan green smells almost herbal; a little minty perhaps?
I brewed both the teas approximately the same way: 2 teaspoons (a bit more difficult to measure in the case of the Sri Lankan, given the size of the leaves) in about 300ml water at about 65 degrees Celsius (thereabouts); steeped for one minute only.
The Chinese sencha produced a very clear, pale green/slightly yellow infusion with a mild, faintly toasty aroma.
The flavour likewise was mild and faintly toasty, but in a pleasant way (I have a low tolerance for strongly toasty/roasty tasting teas). The tea as I brewed it today seems to lack any appreciable sweetness - this is not to say that it's bitter or astringent, because it isn't, but it doesn't have a noticeable sweet aftertaste that sencha (amongst other teas) often has. Mind you, I could have brewed it more strongly, and I did have a fairly strong-flavoured lunch a couple of hours before, so both of these factors could be influencing my perception of the tea.
The Sri Lankan green had a similarly pale clear liquor, perhaps slightly more green than the Chinese (not that this comes across in the photos really).
The aroma of the Sri Lankan is faintly flowery, almost a bit like an oolong. The flavour is, like the Chinese, very mild - but apart from this factor, completely different and rather interesting. It's a little savoury at first, then at the back of the palate a touch of the floral-oolong-like note appears. The wet leaves also don't appear to be fully unfurled, suggesting that a longer initial steep, or a second steep following a short first one, would work well.
I like both of these teas, and I'm especially excited by the Sri Lankan green which is rather different to anything I've had before. I will need to experiment further to see whether either of them is suitable for blending with other flavours, but fingers crossed, I will be able to develop a few good ones!