A few weeks ago, I had the joy of spending an afternoon with a friend, tasting 5 different teas. I wanted to compare Chinese and Japanese green teas. The difference between these two large categories is very broad, then within each category, the nuances and distinctions are quite interesting. We were using teas recommended in the Harney & Sons book. (And thanks to Angela for several of these teas! Some of them are hard to find!)
To start, we tasted two Chinese greens. Bi Lo Chun (Spring Snail Shell) and Lung Ching (Dragon's Well). The Bi Lo Chun had a hint of apricot in the aroma and the flavor was strong and roasted, but very pleasant. We both enjoyed this tea a lot. The Lung Ching is a very famous type of Chinese green. This one had a sweet aftertaste, especially as compared to the previous tea. Both teas were steeped at 175 degrees for 2 minutes.
As you can see below, the shape of the dry leaf is very different for each. The Bi Lo Chun is said to look like snail shells. It unfurls completely as it steeps, revealing two leaves and a bud. Lung Ching gets its flat shape by tea makers who press the leaves against hot metal with their fingers.
We tasted three Japanese sencha teas. Matsuda's Sencha, Kakegawa Ichiban Sencha, and Kagoshima Sencha.