If you are a fan of matcha like myself, I don’t think it hurts to familiarize yourself with tencha. This rare Japanese green tea is actually the foundation from which matcha powder is born, and because we’re in the midst of “Matcha March”, it only seemed right to do a more in-depth review! Tencha is a high-quality shade grown tea, that shares many similarities to that of gyokuro, including production. It is not rolled like other green teas, just de-stemmed and de-veined, so that only the pure leaves remain prior to grinding. The Tencha that I am writing about today is purchased from Adagio Teas.
Adagio’s Tencha is sealed tight in a resealable sample sized pouch with plenty of green accents, what with this being an “artisan green tea” and all. There is a print label included on the front with minimal information: the name of the tea, net weight (14g), and steeping instructions. My first thought upon opening the pouch was: “Wow, this looks so much like (coarsely) chopped parsley.” Which isn’t too far off from the truth. The loose leaf consists of cut up tea leaves; the overall appearance can be described as minced. It 100% looks like a possible food garnish. There are no listed ingredients, online or otherwise, which is fine, because I’m already aware that I’m about to drink a straight green tea. The tea itself smells just like matcha to me: super herbaceous, grassy, and as green as it looks.
The steeping instructions for Adagio’s Tencha recommend preparing the tea in water heated to 74°C (165°F) for two minutes. I used the lowest temperature preset on my kettle: 71°C (160°F) and steeped for exactly two minutes, as instructed.
The tea brews up to a familiar light yellow green colour after two minutes of steeping, while the smell right out of the cup is purely vegetal, with notes of steamed vegetables. Think artichoke hearts, zucchini or even spinach. The flavour on the other hand, is so clean and really refreshing. It has a slightly fuller body for a green tea, with very little astringency or bitterness present in sipping, but ultimately easy going down. The word ‘umami’ keeps popping up in my head. It’s definitely grassy, but there’s also a whisper of natural sweetness that I really appreciate.
Although Tencha is rarely ever drunk in Japan, with people typically opting for matcha powder instead, I still find this tea to be a delightful drinking experience overall. It’s one of the purest examples of mature tea leaves, and for that, It’s certainly worth a try. I will gladly finish up what’s left of my sample pouch, but I think I’ll be joining the Japanese by sticking to consuming my tencha in its ground form.
Matcha wise, do you prefer it flavoured or in its traditional form? Sound off in the comments below!
Stay tuned for my favourite (traditional) matcha at the moment!
Until we steep again…