My friend and I took a seat by the big open windows with a view of the surrounding lush trees. It was a beautiful summer day. We then were quickly greeted by Anna who gave us a quick overview of the tasting. Anna went over all the different types of green teas they serve and I was quite impressed by her vast knowledge.
To start, we were given a chilled shot of gyokuro. Meant to be sipped, gyokuro is considered to be the most rare and elegant out of Japan's green teas. It is grown under shade and brewed at a lower temperature to preserve it's exquisite leaves. The tea was very delicate in flavor and reminiscent of a very mild seaweed broth, organic and refreshing.
I knew we were in for a treat when one of our servers showed up with an impressive array of clear teapots and tea steepers. Servers wore white gloves at all times and even had a timer ready to go since each tea is brewed and steeped differently. Very professional. They are even serious about their water. By using reverse osmosis, the water that is used to brew the teas are triple filtered. Now, that's some clean water.
The first tea they brought out was the shincha, meaning "new tea." Shincha is basically the first flush of the sencha tea, which is the most popular type of Japanese green tea, thus making this "new tea" available only for a limited time. The initial aroma was very mild and the flavor had hints of grass which had a sweet finish.
smoked salmon and egg mousse on green tea blinis, chicken salad sandwich, cucumber and watercress salad, opera cake and blueberry tart
To accompany our green teas, we were given an assortment of finger foods for us to nibble on. Good call since it was noon and I was starting to get hungry.
The crunchy texture from the cucumber and watercress was really enjoyable. I can't remember what kind of cheese was in the sandwich, but I enjoyed its tangy and tart presence. The cold chicken salad played a nice contrast in temperature when eaten with the hot tea. The smoked salmon with egg mousse was another delicious bite. The tea accentuated the smokey flavor from the salmon and brought out the flavor of the green tea blinis. The opera cake was a bit dry for me, but the blueberry tart was fresh and delicious.
Our next green tea was Green Teaist's own blend of Sencha, Kukicha and Matcha which takes about a minute and half to steep. This blend had a wonderful yet complex blend of flavors. It was smooth yet rich from the matcha powder, which also results in the bright green color. It was my favorite tea of the day.
Our last cup of tea was the lightly roasted hojicha which steeps in about 2 minutes. As soon as the tea is poured, I immediately smell the wonderful nuttiness from the roasted tea. It's a bit smokey and has some caramel notes on the finish. This tea is used as a digestif due to its low caffeine content from the roasting process.
criollo and cornet dore
To pair with the hojicha, we were given two chocolates from Le Chateau at the Beverly Hilton. The tea tempered the bitterness of the criollo which is a 72% dark chocolate with a dark chocolate cream on the inside. It also paired really well with the hazlenut and nutella flavors of the cornet dore.
Since this was my first green tea tasting, I really didn't know what to expect from this experience. I went in with ambivalence, but came out with a whole new appreciation and love for green teas and tea drinking. I learned so much about the history of the green teas as well as the depth and versatility of their flavors. I would recommend this to any tea drinker, as it is not only a fun experience but a very unique one especially here in Los Angeles. Thank you Anna and the staff at Green Teaist for a peek inside the vast land of green teas! I will definitely be back!
The Green Teaist
9876 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90210