Kettl is in the process of developing a new sencha tea bag. We received the first wave of prototypes last week and we thought we’d share an inside look at how we evaluate teas.
You are probably wondering where the bag is? Well, when we taste test our bags, we brew them like standard loose leaf tea because they really are loose tea (just in a bag). So we cut the bag away and just brew the tea.
Both samples are of nearly the same quality, just produced slightly differently. The tea to the left is a slightly less steamed, fired for a shorter amount of time, and contains a bit more stem than the one to the right. What does that mean? Less steaming time means the leaf is more intact and the tea will brew up a bit more on the lighter side. The tea on the right will be noticeably more “soupy” and contain more leaf particles in the cup. The right side tea also has a more notable “fired” aroma. The firing time was a bit longer. The tea has a chewy tang, like a cross between aracha and karigane. Interesting.
We brewed each tea with exact parameters. Same amount of tea, same amount/temperature of water, and of course the same exact steeping time. Making tea in this way gives great insight into how terroir, production method, and varietal all shape the flavor of tea. Even though these two teas come from the same part of Japan, and are of the same varietal, they are shockingly different on the palate. It is sometimes difficult to notice the differences in such a specific style of tea (the difference between Pu-erh and White tea is easy to remember). A/B-ing them can reveal a lot.
While we won’t say yet which we are leaning towards (we will do this again at least 10 times), chime in with what you think about the visuals on each tea. Notice anything different? Any guesses as to varietal? Let us know!