Friday, December 12, 2008
Eating Leaves 玉露滿喫
Whenever I'm in Osaka, Uji-ko en is a must visit, the tiring weaving between seas of shoppers in Namba makes this little teahouse even more inviting. The only Japanese tea I really enjoy drinking is probably gyukuro, and the teamaster at Uji-ko en makes the best I've tried in many places. The delicately brewed gyukuro is creamy, with a slight bitterness that reaches deep down the throat and returns refreshingly sweet. I can never brew a gyukuro this good...
This time though, I was treated to a surprise. The teamaster told me that she would brew the gyukuro four times, then - she gestured rather than told me plainly, since I cannot speak Japanese and she speaks no English - she would prepare the leaves for me to eat.
What appeared before me at the end of the fourth brew was a small dish of blanched gyukuro leaves in ice water, and a small flute of soya sauce. I was to dab a little of the sauce on the leaves for flavor.
I had expected the leaves to be slightly bitter but surprisingly, it tasted deliciously sweet with a hint of kelp, and none of the grassiness one expects from a Japanese green tea.