In my last post about Yutaka Midori, I mentioned that I had been increasing my leaf to water ratio steadily over time. This lead to the realization that my brews were no longer singing the way they once had.

How Did This Start

Let’s look back to when I started drinking Japanese green tea. The amount of leaf I used was insanely low.

My first tea set included a large kyusu, and four yunomi. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that when I first started drinking Japanese greens, the amount of tea leaf I would use would be one tablespoon per two cups.

It wasn’t long before I got the hang of brewing, and increased my leaf to water ratio. This lead to some of my most memorable brews.

I got to this state of amazing brews by gently increasing the amount of leaf. Adding a little more always made the tea taste more flavourful and robust.

A large blue kyusu teapot with four blue-green yunomi cups

When Things Started Going Wrong

This all happened over a time span of a few years, so there wasn’t a particular turning point. However, I noticed my taste in tea changing.

Initially, I had no bias towards asamushi or fukamushi sencha. In fact, my first taste of authentic Japanese tea was of asamushi. But after a while, I became more focused on the deep steamed side of sencha. I feel like this was because I found the lighter steamed options too light, and lacking in flavour.

Getting Back on Track

I eventually became unsatisfied with how my tea was turning out. I knew I was using much more than the recommended amount. Then, one day after an underwhelming session, I decided to turn my brewing on its head.

I cut the amount of tea leaf I was using in half. At first, this tasted rather bland. My taste buds weren’t accustomed to the lighter taste. But after a while, I noticed more subtleties in the flavours of tea.

Japanese green tea leaf
I began to crave the delicate flavour of asamushi again, and enjoy the refreshing aspects of a lighter brew. This brought me back to the amazing brews that I remembered from my past.

Does Anyone Else Need to Cut Back on Tea Leaf?

As the co-creator of AJ-GT, I feel that I should be more infallible. I feel embarrassed to admit that I had brewed with too much leaf for a long while. However, I feel it was important to admit this because I believe other tea drinkers may be in the same boat.

Have you noticed your leaf to water ratio increasing? Does the lighter taste of asamushi not do it for you anymore? Try cutting back your leaf. At first, it will make your brews taste too light, but stick with it for a couple weeks. Maybe you’ll rediscover your favourite Japanese green tea. 🙂

Griff is the co-founder of The Art of Japanese Green Tea website and video series.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Ricardo Caicedo

    Hi Griff

    There are brewing guidelines for tea but they are just guidelines. Just like with coffee, if you like it very strong, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

    When I first started I was very meticulous, measuring the leaf weight in grams and the volume of water! Now I just use a teaspoon and the water that fits in my yunomi : )

    1. Griff

      Hi Ricardo,

      Definitely very true. Whatever your personal taste is, you should brew to that. I guess the inspiration behind this post came from my parameters *not* brewing to my own taste, without even realizing it. 😛

  2. Ryan

    You cut your amount back to half? That’s a huge cutback.

    Did you get a scale? I am wondering what your exact parameters are.

    Right now I’m currently using 4 grams per 5 ounces, so I have cut my parameters back. I just simply realized I don’t need so much leaf. Who knows, maybe I’ll return back to 1g/oz at some point. But I like where I’m at right now.

    I generally feel that a good leaf amount is anywhere from 3 grams to 5 ounces to 5 grams per 5 ounces. Though, I know of some who like to use 6 grams per 5 ounces or more and then use cooler water. They say it brings out the highest potential of the tea.

    1. Griff

      Hey Ryan, yeah I cut back a huge amount. For a fukamushi, I was using about two tablespoons per ~4.2floz. I decided to cut back to one, which was a little more than I was planning on using, but I thought it was necessary to get my taste adjusted back. (On average, I use about 1 1/4 tablespoons now.)

      Funny you should mention the scale, I literally just got it. O.O (I’ll make a forum post about it later.) So far, I’ve only measured YM with it, but I’m using about 4.6g per 4.2floz. I’m considering cutting back a bit from that, and upping my temperature a few degrees.

      It’s crazy to think about how much leaf I was using back then. But one thing I left out of the story was, at the height of it all, I was living in Toronto. I think the water quality must have been a little lower than where I used to (and currently) live. I have a feeling I subconsciously increased my leaf ratio because of it.

      I feel a little embarrassed about how wildly off the charts my brewing parameters were. But either way, I think I’ve learned quite a bit from the whole experience, and that seems kind of worth while. 🙂

      1. Ryan

        I’ve heard it said that fukamushi was invented to contend with less than desirable water. Funny thing, though, fuka still will taste much better with good water vs. subpar water.

        Man, you were using a lot of leaf. Something akin to 7 grams per 4 ounces. You were drinking liquid gold!

        I feel with tea, more tea is often better. However, there comes a point where less is more. Though, it really does depend on one’s palate.

        Finding the perfect match of tea to water can be a challenge, but will make the tea reach its fullest taste potential.

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