Four of us arrived at the J-Port Green Tea Japan HQ in Haarlem for our tea tasting. We were led through a room (which doubled up as an office and a warehouse) where a beautiful table had been set up for us in the corner. Then out of the kitchen, we were brought a small plate of snacks which we were to eat alongside our teas.
We sat down and Renee started to explain about the different kinds of tea, and how it is very similar to wine. You can have a good year, or a bad year, and teas from different regions, or specific areas have very different tastes We were about to try six different teas.
The first tea that we tried was a Kukicha tea, which is made from the stems, stalks and twigs of the Sencha tea. I think that because the only green tea I have ever tried has been from the supermarket I don’t think I really knew what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised, as I liked it – it was a kind of nutty taste and definitely a good start for me.
My two favourites were a sencha tea from the Uji region, and Genmaicha, which had popped rice in it. It was a bit like popcorn, although the taste really reminded me of a breakfast cereal that I used to eat when I was little. On the opposite end of the straw was the Gyokura tea, which I didn’t really like. This is an expensive tea, which you can keep making and eventually the leaves become soft enough to eat. I liked the leaves – we had a bit of soy sauce on them and they were a bit like spinach. We also tried a Hojicha tea which was more like a coffee, as the leaves were roasted and it was brown in colour, but it is still called green tea.
Finally we tried a Matcha tea which is traditionally used in a tea ceremony in Japan. We didn’t have a tea ceremony, but Renee explained what happened during a tea ceremony so we could understand the concept.
I really enjoyed my evening, and I learnt a lot about green tea. If you want to go on a tea tasting evening it costs €25 per person, with a minimum of four people. This includes a plate of snacks as well as the opportunity to try six different teas. For more information see their website