Sunday, December 21, 2008

Mellow Monk's Blissful Buds

There's a great vibe I get from the mellow monk. I like to keep up to date with his blog because I truly enjoy every post. He finds some stunning photographs, research into tea, and many interesting articles. There have been more than a few things I've wanted to repost here, but figured it's best if you check it out for yourself.

I've tried a few of his teas. I enjoyed his Top Leaf tamaryokucha, and his Monk's Choice, but I didn't ever post on the Monk's Choice. In short, it's an enjoyable everyday green tea. There's a slight foody (like graham) taste to it, but also a fresh tang to compliment. It reminded me most of Den's Guricha, which I fell in love with shortly before trying Mellow Monk's tea. Today, I have another tea from him.

"Blissful Buds. Made form only the choicest young buds." Blissful Buds is a mecha, which is otherwise known as "bud tea." It's created from the small buds of the tea plant, and after being subjected to Japan's brutal processing machinery, to which the buds surrender their integrity, the leaf gets broken into a low grade. Mecha is a common tea for sushi restaurants to serve. It is said that its bitter features are good for after a meal. I don't feel the same way, and I've never even had a bitter mecha. It makes me think that sushi restaurants just don't know how to make a good cup.

It's called a "rolled tea," but I think "crushed tea" is more accurate. You can see that it isn't whole leaf, but in the world of sencha, having whole leaves doesn't really matter. All sencha are crushed to some degree, and all that matters is the outcome. Of course, you don't want any coarse or yellow leaves in your sencha, but that is rarely a problem.

Brewing with my parameters of 176°f / 180ml / 1 min / 2 tsp. I'm using a new teacup that I got as a gift from Chip of TeaChat. It's taller, opens up more with a wider opening. It's a rice grain cup, which I believe has actually had translucent rice grain put into the walls of the cup, so you can see light come through each of the grains. The wider opening helps to spread the tea out over my tongue as I taste it, giving me a wider flavor profile.

The color is a nice and bright light-green (greener than photo). Aroma is spinach, and rather succulent. The taste is great. In the mouth there isn't much more then a vegetal asparagus flavor, but after the swallow, a sweet aftertaste kicks in, and is followed by the true character of the tea. This aftertaste has a sharp but sweet spinach taste, some tangy dew like guricha, and a fresh outdoors feel. The mouthfeel is a little drying, which further accentuates the aftertaste/afteraroma. The whole experience feels delicate and refined.

I am completely surprised by this tea. The mecha I tried from Den's tea wasn't pleasing in any way. It had a mild flavor that could satisfy a craving for tea, but couldn't bring any pleasure along with it. This mecha is completely different. It's just as mellow in the mouth, but lives in the aftertaste, inviting you to sit back, close your eyes, and enjoy the extended experience. Sometimes, there's really nothing like a good, long aftertaste. It moves the tea from being a simple flavorful drink, to an elongated sensation.

Please don't drink this tea after food. I'm afraid that if you do, you'll lose the ability to enjoy the aftertaste. I still didn't get the slightest bitterness from this brew, so I suggest everyone should follow these parameters for a delicious cup of Mellow Monk's mecha, Blissful Buds.