Welcome, tea lovers! I have returned with more green tea to finish off “Green Tea March” after my Irish Breakfast break for St. Patrick’s Day week last week, and this particular tea is one that wasn’t originally planned for the menu, but simply had to be featured after my long-time friend (and current library coworker) Cody and I had our lunch break together one day at Twin Beans Coffee Company and shared a pot of Cherry Blossom Green Tea, after smelling the leaves which are in sample jars in the front of the shop and being drawn in by the fruity, floral aroma. I enjoyed it so much I knew I was going to have to make a return trip with my camera so I could share it with all of you!
Twin Beans offers their tea in either a large, medium, or small pot; for a one hour lunch break, if I’m with a friend like Cody, I find the medium pot ideal, but when I’m alone, the small pot is perfect for me, as it holds about 2-3 small teacups worth of tea which I’m just finishing up over the hour break. They make sure you get a full service, and always ask you what your preference is when it comes to sweetener!
That steeping hourglass cannot move fast enough…
I find these small pots are a great way to sample their teas, which come from TeaSource. Unfortunately, they do not carry all of TeaSource’s stock, but they do rotate their stock on occassion; you may remember when I previously featured the Red Berries Herbal Tea from TeaSource that I sampled at Twin Beans; Twin Beans is no longer carrying that herbal in lieu of something else now. I suppose the downside is not being able to stop in and order a cup of a tea that I enjoyed previously, but the upside is this is great for sampling lots of different types of teas (something I love to do), and then I know I can always buy my own supply of them from TeaSource’s website once Twin Beans has rotated their stock out. For the very low price of a small pot (which is much less than a typical “sampler” size on a tea website) this is a very good deal!
In the past Twin Beans has used removable teabags filled with their looseleafs, but now I have noticed that they are using steeping baskets in their teapots as well. The Cherry Blossom Green Tea blend contains sencha-style green tea, cherry flavor, hibiscus, wild cherry bark, rosehips, rose petals, and beet root powder. You can see the rose petals steeping in the green tea leaves!
I let the tea steep for three minutes, and then remove the steeping basket from the pot, so that my tea leaves won’t oversteep (I have to wonder how many customers don’t do that… I have heard rumors that the owner actually changed a lot of the TeaSource varieties he carries to ones that “tasted all right oversteeped” based on “complaints of bitterness” with certain varieties because customers don’t remove their tea leaves! Well, that just makes people like me suffer from other people’s stupidity… bah!)
The steeping baskets are a little hot, but I usually just pry it up with my sugar spoon and a napkin. There is plenty of room on the tea tray to place the leaves tidily out of the way to make cleanup easy for the baristas, too.
The dry leaves for this tea smelled amazing, like cherries and flower petals, and immediately made me think of what Hana Matsuri in Japan must be like… an event I’ve always dreamed of getting to attend (I did a Photo Friday a few weeks ago inspired on Hana Matsuri, the celebration of the sakura blooming, using a beautiful lot with lots of blooming sakura trees in a park, where a man was enjoying a picnic with his shiba inu dog). If it smelled good dry, all I can say is that the scent was that much more amazing brewed! There is just something very relaxing to me about that association of the blooming cherry trees, and drinking a hot cup of green tea under those pink blossoms…
I suppose that is why I was suprised that the tea brewed into such a dark golden-brown color. I guess my brain-association with pink sakura petals, and seeing those pink rose petals in the tea leaves made me expect something much more light and floral-pastel in appearance! But color is secondary to the taste, and the taste was great! You can definitely taste the flavor of the sencha green tea leaves (which are very high-quality), but there are fruity and floral tones to each sip. Personally, I found the cherry flavor I bit harder to discern compared to the floral tones, which were quite dominate, so if you aren’t a fan of floral teas, then you probably won’t enjoy this. The overall flavoring, though, I found quite amazing, and one of my favorite flavored green teas I’ve had yet… this is definitely a tea I want in my home collection! Considering I am such a fan of Japanese culture, and this tea just makes me feel like “springtime in Japan” on some subconscious level, it strikes a real chord with me.
I finally got to experience a bit of the Hana Matsuri experience, albeit stateside, during my Portland vacation last weekend! I was shopping at the Saturday Market (think a weekend farmer’s market on steriods) and looked over at the waterfront, and found a line of cherry trees, all in blossom! They were just starting to blossom, so the blossoms hadn’t opened up quite yet, but they were still gorgeous!
…Yes, this tea tastes just like that. Cherry blossoms in full bloom on a sunny spring day… just like getting a bit of Hana Matsuri in a cup!
Of course, lunch break at Twin Beans would not be complete without one of their famous crepes! On this trip I had a savory breakfast crepe (because no one will tell me when I can and cannot eat “breakfast foods”), their “Crepe Benedict”. It was filled with eggs (over medium, how I like them!), lean ham, cheese, and drizzled in holiday sauce. It was delicious, and I was stuffed all day!
My coloring selection this teatime is just a simple selection of bright flowers, colored with gel pens and marker. I tried to use the marker to contrast with the glitter in the gel pens, to make those parts really “pop.” I felt like if I did the flowers entirely in gel pen, it would have been too much!
Thanks so much for joining me for another teatime! Next week will be the final week of “Green Tea March,” and I’ll be sharing a very prized possession with you all, so stay tuned!