Tea Pairing 101: Green Tea
I’m back with another Tea Pairing 101 post. The first was with white tea and now we’re moving onto green. Once again with tea friends Sara and Georgia who are also in the ITEI Tea Sommelier program. We met up at the Lie Sangbong/LIE gallery space for this pairing. (You may remember a Tea at Three at the same location a while back.)
I’ve almost finished with the green tea section of my ITEI course and there was a LOT to cover since there were so many different ways that went into how the finished product gets produced. Green tea is lightly oxidized so it retains the green color a lot better than more oxidized teas like oolong and black tea. You can tell how oxidized a tea is by the color of the tea leaves. In Japan, green tea is mostly steamed resulting in a vegetal and slightly sweet taste while in China and Korea, it may be pan fired or roasted which creates a nutty flavor. If brewed properly, green tea shouldn’t taste bitter at all. I’ve made a lot of bitter green tea in the past from steeping it for too long or using water that was too hot.
We selected three green teas for this pairing, a Sencha from Japan, an organic Dragonwell from China, and an organic Woojeon from Korea. Starting off with the Sencha, we kept tea pairing assessment notes so we could keep track of what we were tasting. To figure out which tea to have first, we took a look at the brewing guide on each of the teas and started with one with the lowest water temperature since it indicates it’s a more delicate tea.
Using professional tasting cups sets, we weighed and brewed three cups. We like to slurp (loudly!) to coat the entire mouth with tea and to mix it with air to get the full flavor. For the Sencha, I tasted steamed spinach (yup, that’s vegetal) and a hint of sweetness.
Let’s not forget about the food! Green tea goes really well in general with rice so we paired it with mochi, a Japanese sweet rice cake. We got them from mochi-Rin, who makes the most freaking adorable and delicious little bites. (Thanks to Kathy for the suggestion — what a find!)
Three kinds of mochi to pair, a strawberry with rose (above) with an entire fresh strawberry inside, fig and pistachio, and a red bean paste with cinnamon.
For the Sencha, the fig and pistachio mochi paired perfectly.
Me, getting ready to brew the second green tea, the Dragonwell.
After the steep, the Dragonwell was sweet, nutty, and slightly vegetal. I took a couple of slurps of tea then took alternating bites and slurps to see which mochi paired best. Again, the fig and pistachio mochi won out since both the tea and the mochi had a nutty flavor.
Last but not least was a pan fired Korean tea called Woojeon. I have a HUGE soft spot for Korean tea and plan on studying it further once I finish the Tea Sommelier program. This one had delightful tasting notes of chestnuts, which I really liked. Can you guess which mochi paired best? Yup, the one with the fig and pistachio for the same reason — both the tea and mochi tasted nutty. The runner up was the cinnamon and red bean.
Each green tea brewed a variation of green colored tea. Notice how the Sencha on the left is the greenest due to its steaming process, the middle Dragonwell has a pale gold color from the pan fired process and the Woojeon is the darkest probably due to it being pan fired longer than the Dragonwell.
The wonderful tea mess we make at each Tea Pairing 101 session. Next up is oolong tea in the fall!
Teas c/o | Ippodo | TeaVivre | Tea Dealers
Mochi c/o | mochi-Rin