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Green tea-seaweed ice cream

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If you’ve been following this blog, then by now you know that we’re working on an ice cream story for our June/July 09 issue.  It’s one of our “Cooking Without Recipes” features, where we give you one technique and dozens of flavoring options. It’s been tough tasting all those ice cream flavors—we’re on something like our 30th batch—but someone has to do it, and we’re willing to make that sacrifice for our readers. 

            One of the flavor options is tea, and we decided to try green tea ice cream. But the only loose green tea our grocery shopper could find in the suburban town where we’re located was sencha, a Japanese green tea.  As we all spooned into our green tea ice cream, it wasn’t long before a collective “blech!” chorused through the kitchen.  “It tastes like spinach and old lawn clippings,” one taster said.  Maybe that’s exaggerating, but it was really weird.

            I’m admittedly a little ignorant of all the complexities that exist in the tea world, so back at my desk, I looked up sencha online and found the following on Wikipedia:

 

“Sencha literally means ‘roasted tea’, however, the process by which sencha is created differs from Chinese green teas, which are initially pan-fired (and could probably therefore more accurately be called “roasted” teas). Japanese green tea is first steamed for between 15–45 seconds to prevent oxidization of the leaves…The initial steaming step imparts a difference in the flavor between Chinese and Japanese green tea, with Japanese green tea having a more vegetal, almost grassy flavor (some taste seaweed-like flavors).”

 

Aha!  Mystery solved.  The moral of the story: Unless you’re partial to seaweed ice cream, save the sencha for the teapot.

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