What Green Are You Drinking

Non-oxidized tea
faj
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Sun Mar 29, 2020 6:33 am

For a while, I have noticed that when I pour sencha in my cup, it is very green at first, but then the color in the cup changes to something more yellow as I continue pouring. I wondered how much of that was just an optical illusion due to how full the cup was, and how much was an actual difference in the tea.

This morning, I poured the first half of the tea in one cup, and the second half in a second cup. There was a clear difference. The first cup was an intense green, lighter to the taste, more watery. The second one was more viscous, quite yellow, much heavier on umami, with a hint of bitterness. It is really was not just a matter of dilution, the two halves were different teas.

In previous tests I measured how much of a temperature difference could exist between areas in the same teapot (15C between hottest part at the top and coolest at the bottom in a 100ml teapot). If there is a significant heat gradient despite the small volume, it is no surprise that the infused compounds do not spread evenly. This makes me wonder if agitation and preheating might cause the infusion to be more even, yes, but also maybe maybe different in character.

I repeated the experiment with the second and third infusions, and if there was a difference, it was very small. In the end, it turns out I was surprised by how stark the differences were for the first infusion, and how small for the subsequent ones.

The tea was O-Cha's Kagoshima Sae Midori, 4g in 100ml Banko teapot. First infusion 65C/60s (not preheated), then 65C/20s and 70C/75s.
Noonie
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Sun Mar 29, 2020 6:54 am

@faj thanks for sharing this experiment with us
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debunix
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Sun Mar 29, 2020 11:21 am

Fair cups do have a reason, for sure. I assume the turbulence of the tea pouring will take care of mixing a single cup, but for sharing....fair cup.
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debunix
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Sun Mar 29, 2020 12:24 pm

Image
200329 Morning sencha DSCF0115 PPD by debunix, on Flickr

Obubu 'Brightness' partly shaded sencha, in a Splitfire Pottery cup by Bill Perrine

I love the mix of the iridescence of the glaze under the tea, and how the little carbon trap bits provide a such grounded contrast. These glazes of Bill's add a litle glow to the start of the day. And the summer sencha from Obubu provides its own warm and tasty magic.
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Victoria
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Sun Mar 29, 2020 2:07 pm

faj wrote:
Sun Mar 29, 2020 6:33 am
For a while, I have noticed that when I pour sencha in my cup, it is very green at first, but then the color in the cup changes to something more yellow as I continue pouring. I wondered how much of that was just an optical illusion due to how full the cup was, and how much was an actual difference in the tea.

This morning, I poured the first half of the tea in one cup, and the second half in a second cup. There was a clear difference. The first cup was an intense green, lighter to the taste, more watery. The second one was more viscous, quite yellow, much heavier on umami, with a hint of bitterness. It is really was not just a matter of dilution, the two halves were different teas.

In previous tests I measured how much of a temperature difference could exist between areas in the same teapot (15C between hottest part at the top and coolest at the bottom in a 100ml teapot). If there is a significant heat gradient despite the small volume, it is no surprise that the infused compounds do not spread evenly. This makes me wonder if agitation and preheating might cause the infusion to be more even, yes, but also maybe maybe different in character.

I repeated the experiment with the second and third infusions, and if there was a difference, it was very small. In the end, it turns out I was surprised by how stark the differences were for the first infusion, and how small for the subsequent ones.

The tea was O-Cha's Kagoshima Sae Midori, 4g in 100ml Banko teapot. First infusion 65C/60s (not preheated), then 65C/20s and 70C/75s.
Nice experiment @faj. I always pre-heat kyusu because this brings out both aromatics and maintains for first few steeps a slightly more consistent temperature range. Maybe your first pour is greener because the smallest particles of very fine Sae Midori needles come out first into cup. Those very fine broken pieces of steamed green tea leaves floating in liquid is what creates a neon green color liquor to some Japanese greens, especially Fukamushi (deep steamed). Your Sae Midori is deep steamed so the green color will be more intense on first pour. Next you might compare an Asamushi (light steamed) with a Chumushi (medium steamed) to see the range. Here is a little more detail regarding different levels of steaming.

p.s. I was taught to never agitate steeping Japanese green teas. Not agitating allows the leaves to settle at the bottom during a steep, and then a slow pour keeps those finer broken pieces inside the kyusu, ready for the next steep.
faj
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Sun Mar 29, 2020 3:57 pm

Victoria wrote:
Sun Mar 29, 2020 2:07 pm
Maybe your first pour is greener because the smallest particles of very fine Sae Midori needles come out first into cup.
Because the second half of the infusion is just as intensely colored as the first but yellow rather than green, I would say the difference cannot be explained only by "something green" the first part of the infusion has in greater quantity than the second half, but needs to at least involve "something yellow" it has less of. The "green half" is also much more watery and less intense in umami, which I think cannot be explained by having more fine particles.

The "green half" feels like what you get with a lower leaf ratio in hotter water, while the "yellow half" feels like what you get with a cooler infusion with more leaf. This is unsurprising, because of the difference in temperature (hot on top and cool at the bottom) coupled with the leaves being bunched at the bottom. It is like there are two separate "chambers" inside the teapot which coexist with little interaction.
Last edited by faj on Sun Mar 29, 2020 10:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
faj
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Sun Mar 29, 2020 4:08 pm

debunix wrote:
Sun Mar 29, 2020 11:21 am
Fair cups do have a reason, for sure. I assume the turbulence of the tea pouring will take care of mixing a single cup, but for sharing....fair cup.
Of course, fair cups and "fair pouring techniques" should be used and exist for a reason. My experiment was really only me being curious. But the results make me want to compare what would happen if agitating during the infusion while keeping the rest of the parameters the same. I would want to see if mixing during the infusion might yield a result different from mixing at the end. I suspect it might.
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Bok
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Sun Mar 29, 2020 8:01 pm

faj wrote:
Sun Mar 29, 2020 4:08 pm
debunix wrote:
Sun Mar 29, 2020 11:21 am
Fair cups do have a reason, for sure. I assume the turbulence of the tea pouring will take care of mixing a single cup, but for sharing....fair cup.
Of course, fair cups and "fair pouring techniques" should be used and exist for a reason. My experiment was really only me being curious. But the results make me want to compare what would happen if agitating during the infusion while keeping the rest of the parameters the same. I would want to see if mixing during the infusion might yield a result different from mixing at the end. I suspect it might.
what I sometimes do is to loosen and stir up the leaves in between infusions. I found this to be essential in the first 1-2 rounds, before leaves have fully expanded and settled in the pot.
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Victoria
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Sun Mar 29, 2020 8:25 pm

Bok wrote:
Sun Mar 29, 2020 8:01 pm
what I sometimes do is to loosen and stir up the leaves in between infusions. I found this to be essential in the first 1-2 rounds, before leaves have fully expanded and settled in the pot.
Martini should be stirred, not sencha, that’s a no no in traditional preparation. The leaves should rest at the bottom and tea poured slowly not to upset them. At least that what I’ve been taught over the years, because stirring can bring out astringency and reduce umami notes. For the purposes of @faj’s experiment though I think his messing with the leaves will be useful.
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Bok
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Sun Mar 29, 2020 8:32 pm

Victoria wrote:
Sun Mar 29, 2020 8:25 pm
Martini should be stirred, not sencha, that’s a no no in traditional preparation. The leaves should rest at the bottom and tea poured slowly not to upset them. At least that what I’ve been taught over the years, because stirring can bring out astringency and reduce umami notes. For the purposes of faj’s experiment though I think his messing with the leaves will be useful.
I do that with Oolong teas. Apart from that, I think any tradition should be tested to see if it is a valid one, or put out of historical context has become obsolete (different parameters at the time, different intentions, social norms that have nothing to do with the tea itself, different tea due to different harvesting techniques and tea itself, etc.). Take temperature for example: Low temp has only become necessary it seems due to the cross breeding of the original Sencha tea plants with Assam cultivars, which brought sensitivity to heat out.

For Japanese teas (in my limited exposure), I do so far tend to disagree with prevailing preparation methods. I prefer to approach them the "Chinese way".
Last edited by Victoria on Sun Mar 29, 2020 8:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Mod edit: corrected quotes
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rdl
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Sun Mar 29, 2020 8:38 pm

I think it's Ippodo's Japanese packaging, the written directions, that has a sentence admonishing the purchaser from stirring the teapot after adding water. I was read that sentence in English, with that same admonishment. I won't betray tradition.
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debunix
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Sun Mar 29, 2020 8:50 pm

I often pour water backwards through the spout of my pot to keep the filters less clogged....and I haven't noticed any increase in astringency from the resulting gentle agitation, or a from swirling the leaves in the pot a bit when they're clumped up to one side and I didn't do the backwards pour.
faj
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Sun Mar 29, 2020 10:10 pm

Bok wrote:
Sun Mar 29, 2020 8:32 pm
For Japanese teas (in my limited exposure), I do so far tend to disagree with prevailing preparation methods. I prefer to approach them the "Chinese way".
Could you share parameter examples you would tend to use?
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Bok
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Sun Mar 29, 2020 10:16 pm

faj wrote:
Sun Mar 29, 2020 10:10 pm
Could you share parameter examples you would tend to use?
I don't tend to measure, but in short: High leaf/water ratios, higher temperature and quicker infusions. Overall adjusting by observing the tea, rather than following preordained procedure. This worked better with organic(often original Japanese cultivars) and single origin Japanese teas, the blends tend to fare less well this way.
faj
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Sun Mar 29, 2020 10:27 pm

debunix wrote:
Sun Mar 29, 2020 8:50 pm
I often pour water backwards through the spout of my pot to keep the filters less clogged....and I haven't noticed any increase in astringency from the resulting gentle agitation
I do that too with hohins I have. I would not say they tend to clog, but I kind of like how the way of filling very gently pushes back the leaves and creates a slow horizontal flow of water that slightly spreads them apart without creating turbulence (I am thinking of infusions other than the first when saying that). I think at the same rate of filling, this method might actually be gentler on the leaves than pouring from the top.

I never really payed attention to the effect it might have on the result. Maybe I should.
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