Imagine a green tea that’s been made with only the early buds of the tea plant. Doesn’t it sound luxurious? Actually, mecha is considered to be a lower grade than gyokuro and sencha, and it’s made by filtering out the buds after harvest.
This reminds us that tea leaf grading is not the same in each country. For example, in a fukamushi sencha (deep-steamed sencha), the leaves are visibly broken down, but it’s not leaf appearance that counts, just the taste. Mecha looks different from other Japanese teas. Instead of the familiar needle shape, the leaves are rolled into small lumps.
The buds are naturally high in catechins and caffeine. This makes the resulting tea quite strong, which may be the reason why it isn’t valued as much. In fact, you’ll sometimes see mecha being served for free in Japanese sushi restaurants, although konacha is more common.
To avoid excessive bitterness, it’s best to use a short brewing time.
Use 3 grams of mecha, 4 oz of water at 195F, and steep for 40 seconds.
You can easily make multiple infusions, because of its strong flavor. This makes mecha even more economical, and also healthy, since you’re getting a good dose of catechins. The best mecha is gyokuro mecha. Keep in mind that it’s just a bud tea made from gyokuro leaves. Many tea newbies mistake this for a type of gyokuro.