Let’s meet at Starbucks. No response. At least you can find it. Ah, someone who understands that I easily get lost. So Kyohei Sugimoto and I met at the Starbucks in the International District of Seattle. To discuss SA Tea, a division of Sugimoto America, a Japanese Green Tea company.
Japanese tea is only green tea, not black, oolong, chai, or herbal. It is the country of China who brought in Oolong, and India who brought in black tea. The Japanese employ steaming to stop fermentation, while the Chinese utilize pan frying for the same procedure. It’s a different taste.
Kyohei’s grandfather started the tea business in Shizuoka, near Mt Fuji, in Japan (of course) in 1946. Now his son runs the company, but the tea is still produced the same way, with the same standards.
The Japanese steam the plucked tea leaves, generally for a minute, to stop the fermentation. Seconds can make a difference in taste. Leaves are plucked every day. Sen cha is the most popular tea in Japan, commanding 80% of all tea drunk in that country. Interestingly, in America, we favor Genmai cha, which is green tea with roasted brown rice. In this country, we call it popcorn tea. We would, wouldn’t we? It has a nutty, toasty taste in the mouth, very different from Sen cha.
My problem with green teas is that most that I have experienced smells and tastes like grass, in water. Ick! If I lower the temp, like it’s suggested for green tea, it smells and tastes like lukewarm grass, in water. Which is why I tend to favor flavorings in green tea. I talked to Kyohei and he suggested I try the Sen cha.
I was amazed that I liked it because I hate change. It was very smooth and subtle, and that grass smell is a moot issue.
Green tea has something that coffee does not: theanine. This is an amino acid that counters the effects of caffeine. It is also used in treating anxiety and high blood pressure, and helping to prevent Alzheimer’s.
You can find SA Tea across the street from the Starbucks at Uwajimaya, the Asian specialty supermarket in the International District of Seattle, and at Metropolitan Market, among other places. Look for the labels in the picture or the Enrich loose leaf tea pouches.
And, of course, you can find out much more about SA Tea at the NW Tea Festival Oct 6 & 7. Another reason to attend.