Sencha and Mochi

    Sencha in yunomi, a typical Japanese thick, tall teacup, whose name I’ve yet to find out, accompanied by a matcha mochi, whose fillings include: satsuma sweet potato, red bean paste, orange juice and walnuts. (Thanks Masaaki for telling me the name of the cup in Japanese.)

    The mochi, handmade and delivered by a mochi lady every week to Teance, is refreshing both in look and in taste. The green tea flavored chewy coat is cool and light. The filling, although dominated by red bean, is not too sweet. I opted for one with less nuts because I didn’t think that I would want such contrast in texture. The mochi lady is a small, timid Asian lady, who smiled so happily when I described her mochi as “refreshing”, and who showed me that I should dip my fork into tea or water before cutting the mochi so that it would not be sticky. Yes, it worked, the fork went straight through with such ease. Now it makes sense why we can chew without the mochi sticking to the teeth.

    This is my second time having sencha, if we don’t count the time I had genmaicha at Ippuku (genmaicha is lower-grade sencha with roasted rice), and the seaweed taste of sencha has grown on me. However, I am not convinced that the sencha is a good match for the mochi. Both are good by themselves, but I think the sencha should be an entree tea, not a dessert tea. Its seaweed taste would enhance something savory. A mochi would fare much better with a light, floral tea that isn’t too dry, like Yellow Gold, Royal Courtesan, or Darjeeling First Flush.

    Sidenote: this sencha at Teance is the hand-picked Yakichi sencha, named after the farm “founded by Mr. Shimooka[…]. Yakichi sencha is an eight-time Ministry of Agriculture award winner, and also the winner of the highest agricultural award, the Imperial Prize. […] This traditional Japanese tea is shade grown (kabuse) in the mountains above Uji.” (description from Teance webpage)

    Meghan explained to me that shade grown leaves are of higher quality because when the plant is shaded, it has to produce more chlorophyll to balance the lack of sunlight, resulting in a greener leaf (or maybe a darker green leaf?). According to The Tea Detective, “the increased green chlorophyll pigment changes the natural balance of caffeine, sugars, and flavanols in the leaf. It also increases L-theanine, an amino acid found naturally in tea, that adds a unique vegetal quality to the flavor, and helps counteract some of the stimulant effects of caffeine, thus having a relaxing effect on the body, yet an alert state of mind. Photosynthesis reduces L-theanine and increases tannins, the compounds responsible for teas astringency.” Basically, kabuse (shade grown tea) is sweeter, less bitter, and less dry.

    Address: Teance Fine Teas Store
    1780 Fourth Street
    Berkeley, CA 94710
    Money matter: the mochi is $4 each. A little pricey, but somehow it seems reasonable to me.

    This post also appears in Tea and Mai

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