Gardens & Green Tea

There is something overwhelming about Springtime. I’m sure I bring it on myself after six months of hibernation, but the rate at which tasks are added to my To Do List makes me withdraw from the world. Thankfully, family came for a visit, and I was wrenched from my comfort zone (lately known as “the couch”) and thrown into the yard. Up until this, our house had been an embarrassment with overgrown bushes and trees and weeds in the flower bed that reached my knees (okay, really it was mid-thigh). Yesterday we spent 12 hours pulling weeds, mulching the flower bed, potting herbs (for tea! such as spearmint, lemon balm, and bee balm) and tomatoes and planting hastas, cutting back bushes and trees, mowing the lawn, whipping the weeds, and cleaning and replacing gutters. Today, my muscles are sore and my skin is sunburned, and I feel proud of what was accomplished yesterday.

Today I’m taking things much more slowly. I read out on the deck to catch some morning sun; although apparently 67 degrees is “scorching hot” to me, so I only lasted about an hour. Now I’m appreciating the view of my front window– of mammoth trees, petunias, and a snoozing kitty, while sipping green tea and waiting for the afternoon’s impending thunderstorms. (Yes, I know my curtains are ugly. They came with the house, and I haven’t replaced them yet).

Today’s tea comes from Japanese Green Tea IN, a tea seller specializing in green tea from Japan’s Shizuoka prefecture (which I understand has an incredible view of Mount Fuji!). I tried their Fukamushi Sencha, first crop, which is unlike any tea I’ve ever experienced before. The appearance of the tea leaves was the first surprise. The forest green leaves varied in size including long thin leaves, small fragments, and even powder. The fragments and the powder first led me to believe that this was a reflection of the quality of the tea– that it was no different from a bag of Lipton tea dust, but I was mistaken. This appearance is a result of how the tea is processed– the tea is deep steamed, and while the leaves become more delicate (hence the breakage), the astringency is reduced and the flavor becomes more rich.

The next surprising characteristic about this tea was the color. Most of the green teas I’ve steeped produce a pale yellow liquid, but the Fukamushi Sencha produced a cloudy, Chartreuse green color. I was intimidated at first, thinking I over-steeped my tea, but again, I learned this is just another characteristic of this kind of tea. It’s also common to have tea sediment collect at the bottom of the mug– go ahead and drink that up though because they are nutrient-rich!

As for the flavor of the tea, I was under the impression it was supposed to be naturally sweet, but it tasted more savory to me. The first steep was vegetal and lightly astringent, and the finishing notes were buttery and slightly like blanched or grilled asparagus. Because it’s a savory tea, and also because it is lightly caffeinated, I think it makes for a perfect early afternoon treat. The tea also begs for multiple infusions. So far, I’ve brewed four cups of tea with the same batch of tea leaves, and the flavor (although lacking the buttery finishing note) was just as rich and flavorful as the first cup, and I’m confident I can steep at least one or two more cups.

The final notable characteristic of this tea is how it is farmed. Japanese Green Tea IN sells tea that is cultivated using the Chagusaba Method. The tea farmers in the Shizuoka prefecture put sustainability first, and as a result, the region has been named 1 of the 26 sites in all of Asia and the Pacific Islands as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The Chagusaba Method uses deliberately grown, surrounding grasslands to mulch fields of tea shrubs. The grass mulch prevents weeds, keeps the tea fertilized, prevents run-off into surrounding ecosystems, and maintains biodiversity. The Chagusaba Method is a labor-intensive process, which means it is a dying art in a business world that is becoming increasingly mechanized to remain competitive in a global market.

Japanese Green Tea IN’s Fukamushi Sencha is probably one of the more expensive teas I’ve featured on Books & Tea; it’s a little bit of a splurge at $45 for 3.5oz (that’s about 30-40 cups). That breaks down to about $1.12 per cup (compared to Adagio’s 78 cents/cup and Twinings 20 cents/cup). But the quality of this tea though… the flavor, the multiple infusions, the sustainability… is a worthwhile luxury for novice to seasoned tea drinkers alike.

A sample of this tea was provided for free in exchange for an honest review.

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Twenty-something. Michigander. Bookkeeper by day, superhero and blogger by night. Some of my favorite things include: travel, the Japanese language, photography, video games, sweater-weather, and of course books and tea. The Harry Potter books are my favorite, and I can never have too much peppermint tea.

3 thoughts on “Gardens & Green Tea

  1. Oh, gosh. Too relatable. My spring cleaning back in April turned into house projects I wasn’t at all ready for. So I tentatively withdrew as well as the amount of work piled up. I seemed to be full of inspiration this spring, though. As my house projects turned to personal projects. I found my fitness motivation so I’ve been on that kick for the last little while now. Isn’t crazy how those little projects balloon into something bigger?

    Anyway, I hope you’ll have a fantastic summer. June is upon us! Can you believe it?

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  2. I really wish my little projects would balloon into something bigger. It would be a dream if I could channel my motivation into fitness, but alas, I just stuffed my face with pizza and a bottle of beer! And I can’t believe June is already upon us. I’m certainly in denial about that because I’m SURE i just closed the books at work just recently! (I mean, is “two weeks ago” considered “just recently” in the world of accounting, right? I’m not sure I even know anymore).

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  3. The people who previously lived in the house my partner and I live in were super-great gardeners and cut up half of the (large) backyard to make a garden and it is so intimidating! We only use probably 10% of the space and it always seems like we’re wasting all this other good garden space but it’s a lot of work and I want to enjoy the stuff we got out if it – not resent it.

    I am 100% with you on 68 degrees feeling scorching hot. I went on a walk a few days ago and came home complaining about how hot and muggy it was and then my partner felt the need to point out that it was “only” 71. If it is too warm to comfortably wear a hoodie then it’s too warm.

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