16 September 2008
My Pi Lo Chum
After my last post on Pi Lo Chun, I recently found the bag not-so-subtly buried underneath all those of my senchas and Uji Gyokuro, all the Japanese greens I love.
There's something about Chinese versus Japanese green teas, an earthiness rather than a vegetal greeness that always makes me hesitate a second before swallowing and ask myself: Do I like this?
Chinese green teas are usually processed via sun- or oven-drying, or basket- or pan-frying; Japanese greens by steaming. The steaming typically lasts no longer than a minute, but this is enough to preserve the chlorophyll in the leaves, producing Japanese greens' characteristic vibrant emerald color and fresh, grassy taste.
Perhaps this is why I have trouble with Chinese green tea- the complexities of all those centuries-old processing techniques add range of subtle flavors that sometimes seem to just get in the way of the leaf's natural taste.
Still, I've been trying new Chinese teas to expand my reach here, and also to acknowledge that perhaps my tastes aren't exactly everyone else's cup of tea. The horror. But it's a bit of a challenge to not revert to my old sencha standbys, which is why I'm not allowing myself to drink anything but Pi Lo Chun until I finish my supply or die of dehydration.
And surprisingly, I've been enjoying it more each day.
Keeping the water cooler (around 170°F) and brewing it for no more than 2 minutes really allows this tea to shine. The color may be an uninspiring pale greenish brown, but there's a round, full flavor with a slight astringency that manages to come off as clean, not bitter.
The second brew is still assertive, but with a bit of the edge blunted. That's fine with me. There's more than enough sharpness out there this morning.