A New Leaf Tea Emporium

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Recent Tasting Notes

Originally published at The Nice Drinks In Life: http://thenicedrinksinlife.blogspot.com/2013/08/organic-sencha-from-new-leaf-tea-co.html

Name: Organic Sencha
Type: Green Tea
Purveyor: A New Leaf Tea Emporium
Preparation: One teaspoon steeped in about eight ounces of 180-degree water for 2:30, sipped plain

I just might be the worst Long Islander ever. Having lived here for my entire life, I nevertheless continue to get lost on the Nassau Expressway, confuse Woodbury and Westbury, say nice things about the Long Island Railroad, wonder where on earth the Bethpage Parkway goes to, not get what’s so great about the Walt Whitman Mall, misspell Hauppauge, mispronounce Quogue, and balk at going to the outlets. It is a small miracle that they have yet to sentence me to permanent residence in Queens.

Here is another way in which I am just the worst sort of person to call himself a Nassau County local: up until a few weeks ago, I had never been to Garden City. Oh, sure, I was familiar with Roosevelt Field and all that jazz. Beautiful mall if you are not too picky about the ZIP code in which you park. But I mean, I had never been to the part of Garden City along Franklin Avenue: beautiful tree-lined streets, quaint shops with wonderful wares, cafes and bistros and restaurants, sidewalk eating in warm weather, bustle without hustle, a quiet ambiance… One would never guess that eight or nine blocks south lies the unfortunate neighborhood of Hempstead.

Right off of Franklin, on Seventh Street, where the shops and bistros wrap around westward and continue along for a ways, is A New Leaf Tea Emporium. I have to admit, when I entered the shop, I wondered about the looks of the place, which center around “warm, rich colors, wood décor, and ample light,” as their website accurately describes it. I thought that it was a bit much, a little too self-conscious; that the decor, by insisting upon itself, was too distracting from what is important in the shop. It seemed like their angle was to go for the look and feel of a fancy Victorian tea shop and stand out that way.

I also have to admit that my concerns were wholly unfounded. If the look is overdone, the tea itself is covered even more thoroughly. New Leaf’s selection is very nice, both diversified and ample. More than that, the young lady behind the counter knows her stuff wonderfully. The staff may look young, but do not let that fool you; they are very clever, very bright, and all about the tea. After she aced the softballs I threw her to test the waters, my server nailed the hard questions as well. Their website actually decries other companies that rely on superficial visuals to replace quality tea expertise, and I am pleased to report that they are willing and able to back up their words.

I was in the mood that day for a simple Japanese green, and was glad to see that their Sencha is organic, so I picked up a small package of that. The leaves are not rolled up at all; they are flaked and shredded, brittle looking although not to the touch. They are deep in color – remembering my Crayola crayons, I am thinking “forest green”. The dry leaves are very pungent, tannic almost. They are so malty that the texture of the aroma is analogous to the texture of Play-Doh in the hands. They are also sweet, but like luscious, verdant greenery, not like fruit or pastry.

Brewed, the Sencha appears to be on the yellow side of lemongrass. It looks mellow, smooth, not quite limpid, and subtly delicate – the word “timid” comes to mind, although on second thought that is not quite fair. It has a malty nose with a modicum of sweetness, but structurally the aroma is the opposite from that of the dry leaves: mild, gentle, smooth. Upon sipping the tea I must confess that the first impression I had was, simply, “pleasant.” It is verdant and brisk on the palate, without too much malt. The liquid is a tad light, but then again, it is not packed with a ton of flavors to carry; this is a simple and straightforward tea, smooth and easygoing. Soon one begins to notice a tannic sweetness in the back of the mouth that rounds things out quite nicely. Malty and brisk notes from the palate linger in the throat for a long couple of seconds to perform the finish.

This Sencha admittedly tends towards the nondescript, but frankly I enjoy the tea very much, for a couple of reasons. One is that often I am in the middle of a million things and seek to sip tea without putting much mind to it, for which situation this is ideal. But even more than that, the other reason is that just as often, I seek to sip tea and think about it, and let my mind settle happily upon the tea and its qualities, and from there drift slowly, almost stealthily onto something else, and again onto another thing, digging deep and playing the whole thought out until it connects to a new series of thoughts, and continue this quiet rambling, until the next thing I know forty minutes have passed, I have spent them staring at the wall and holding the half-full mug of tea without actually drinking it, and a dozen loose ends in my life are suddenly tied up nicely in a bow. This tea is ideal for that, too. Head on over to Garden City to pick some up today, and enjoy.

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