26 September 2008

Cha on the Cheap

An incredible jewelry designer I know recently surprised me with a green tea I'd never heard of: aracha.

She handed it to me right before departing on a long trip- explaining that she found it in one of New York few Japanese groceries- so unfortunately, I couldn't brew it up for us to share. But I made myself two cups this morning anyway, so I could generously drink one on her behalf and appreciate her thoughtful gift.

As I sipped, I did some research.

Aracha is referred to as crude tea, but this doesn't mean it's comparable to crude oil versus the delicious product that ends up in your car's gas tank, for instance. Aracha, which usually undergoes a second round of processing and blending before being consumed, is still eminently drinkable in its unrefined state.

Also called primal or unfinished tea, the aracha tasted smoother than I expected for this "simple" green. It was thicker on the tongue than more refined (and expensive) Japanese senchas, and had a slightly cloudy, duller green color, but it was still delicious.

Like other Japanese greens, aracha has that characteristic vegetal, grassy taste, stemming from the steaming of the leaves. This preserves their natural chlorophyll- and for those of you who weren't as riveted in biology class as I was, that's the green-light-loving pigment that enables photosynthesis, and what makes salads taste like they're good for you.

If you're not familiar with Japanese green teas, aracha is a good entry, thanks to its reasonable price and more forgiving brew. You still want to ensure the water is well below boiling (about 170°-180°F), and that you don't steep it for more than a minute and a half. If you still need more guidance, don't beat yourself up: just see my self-proclaimed essential tea brewing guide.

Try to have some company for it, too, so you don't feel quite as insane setting out two teacups when it's just you. (Although I did score both of these beauties at the Salvation Army for 79¢ the other day, and I've been just itching to use them. See, I know how to survive in a depression. Whether I'd want to is another question.)


Bonbon Oiseau said...

glad you liked it!

amy said...

i adore it's perfectly green hue!

Mrs.French said...

how is it that I find myself sipping on my coffee everytime I visit your site...followed by the sudden urge to dump it out and get myself a cup of perfect tea...that's such a good thing.

Michele said...

I love the grassy taste of a good green tea. I bought some green tea and the Hong Kong Supermarket that I can't identify. I'll be brewing a cup up this evening.

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