Single estate teas are growing in popularity, but finding them can still be a challenge. Many small estates will pluck their tea leaves by hand, but it is often more economical for them to either outsource the production of the leaves to another party or to join with several other small tea estates at a central facility for processing.
So finding a tea that is plucked and processed by a single estate, like Matsuda’s Sencha, is a gem.
Yoshihiro Matsuda, his wife, and his Mom create this first flush tea in Japan’s Uji region from start to finish. Unlike many neighboring farms which cover the tea plants during the spring growing season to increase chlorophyll and amino acid production of the plant to make the resulting brew sweeter, Matsuda choses more traditional ways of cultivating a good crop: lots of sunshine and good soil. And the resulting Sencha is proof of the effort.
This amazing tea is a Harney & Sons exclusive. The leaves are like a pile of lovely dark green, silky soft needles.
Like any Sencha, you will want to steep it for about two minutes at 175 degrees Fahrenheit.
The aromas of the leaves change drastically. When dried they smell exactly like sweet okra. However when steeped, they take on a spinach scent mixed with a meaty vegetable flavor akin to collard or turnip greens.
The pale yellow-green liquor has a light to medium body. The flavors, similar to the aromas, are vegetal leaning toward a boiled turnip green flavor with a hint of spinach. The flavors are brief on the tongue and fade quickly, but they leave you wishing to take another sip. You may pick up on a tiny hint of bitter from the light astringency.
I adore the idea of a single estate tea. And I love how the Matsuda family constructs this tea from start to finish. After my first attempt at an apothecary garden in my backyard last summer, I can only imagine the volume of pride that they have in their tea and the dedication it takes to remember the end result as they send their tea to be steeped into mugs around the world. Sharing your prize is hard. Sharing your prize with the world, I can only imagine, is infinitely more difficult.
Too often I feel the need to draw within myself, close the door, and keep to myself the gifts which have such value in my heart. In these moments I have to remind myself of the purpose of these gifts: to bless others. What good is the peppermint on my shelf if I don’t share it with a friend with a feverish child? Or the lemon balm tisane blend I can whip up in a moment for a friend who is feeling down? None of it does any good hoarded on my shelf.
And so I open my heart, herb jars, and the Pandora’s box known as my tea cabinet to others. May they be blessed by the work of my hands and the endeavors of my mind.