Thursday, July 13, 2017

Tasting: Organic Roasted Bancha by The Tea Crane

Last week's weather of 'sweltering hot and humid' seems to be hanging around. That's summer in NYC. I've been trying to catch up on tea reviews lately, which hasn't been easy since I have such an imposing pile to get through. But drinking hot tea actually cools the body, so I've been drinking hot tea just as much as the iced brews. Today's tasting is a roasted bancha tea from The Tea Crane. A mountain grown organic roasted bancha called 'The Mountains At Rest', to be exact. I love this name! It's poetic and quite visual. I can imagine a happily relaxed mountain, carefully tending to her tea trees surrounded by gently rolling mist.

The Tea Crane's owner Tyas Huybrechts has a wonderful blog that you should follow if you don't already know about it. He's a Belgian ex-pat living in Japan, and has become a certified Japanese tea instructor. His blog is extremely interesting and informative.

The Tea Crane's website describes the tea as:
Bancha employs that more fully-grown tea-leaf which is too mature, and has therefore become too bitter, for use in producing high-quality sencha, and is harvested later; such leaf is first processed just as for sencha – by means of a combination of steaming, rolling and drying – but is then stored until it is required, whereupon it is roasted immediately before packaging and shipping.  

The dry leaves are shades of dark army green and browns. There are some twigs, full, and broken leaves in the mix, which makes sense for a tea of this style. The leaves are quite large, and have an aroma similar to hojicha, but something slightly more vegetal and woody, not just earthy and toasty. I'm thinking of dried beans and old tree branches.

The brew gives off an amazingly strong roasty aroma, it reminds me of coffee. It's earthy but there is a hint of something vegetal. Maybe like those beans I mentioned?

The tea holds on to that roast, and coffee-inspired flavor. It is woodsy, earthy, roasted, with a toasted bread flavor. There is also a slight vegetal something, again I think of beans. I want to just put my feet up and sip it for hours. There is a lingering smoky flavor on my palate. It stuck around for a very long time. Quite impressive! This tea has a nice body and mouthfeel. It's comforting yet complex.

I can't wait to try and cold-brew this tea. I think it'll be incredibly refreshing, similar to the tea I reviewed last week. I would like to pair this tea with something smokey and savory, I'm thinking of a flavorful Chinese BBQ pork bun. Ok, now my tummy is rumbling...

Thank you Tias for the amazing sample! I have a few more to try, so stay tuned. I hope everyone is having a great week.

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