Every night after dinner, after all the plates are removed from the table and table is all cleaned up, of course, by my mother,,,,, warm cup of green tea in a big tea mug is slid quietly before my father. He savors the tea slurping watching the 7 o’clock NHK news show. When the weather section is about to end, he makes the last big slurp and push the cup quietly to his left. Now, that’s the sign that I can touch to finish the rest of the tea in the cup, the very best part of the tea. A bit bitter for a normal kid, but, I grew up liking this.
This was Mecha. And this is where my tea journey begins.
Mecha is a generic name for a tea blend that refers to a kind that tea farmer or the tea maker makes primarily for their home use. It is the blend of what falls off of the roasting or selection process of the premium tea. It’s the poor man’s Gyokuro, sort of, or even better!!! If brewed correctly, Mecha offers complex mixture of flavors, sweetness, umami and bitterness, all well balanced. It’s a super tea!!!
Every tea orchard or tea maker has their own version of Mecha. Mine comes from a tea shop run by an orchard Saigo En, about 70 miles into the mountain from my hometown Hyuga, sits by the pacific ocean on the island of Kyushu in Japan. Since the owner’s husband who was the tea grower running Saigo En passed away, she only makes a few kilograms of this Mecha every year. Though only with one year advance notice, my mother still manages to get a few kilogrames of this tea still to date. Thanks to my mother, yet again, this year, I got 100 gram of this Mecha!!
I gauge tea tasting standard around my experience with this Mecha by Saigo En. When I am disappointed by the tea tasted on a particular day, I go back to brewing a cup of this Mecha, and virtually reposition myself to the beginning of my tea journey.
This is an everyday tea, yet has complexity and structure equivalent of a refined tea from Uji, the Burgone of Japanese Green Tea.
I hope you can come to one of my tasting event to savour this Mecha, so that you know what I am talking about. This coming spring, I will visit Saigo En to see how the tea is grown, and what the weather and landscape looks like that nurtures this type of tea. My tea journey begins. Mecha, where all begins…….