...is unbelievably bitter, astringent and, on an empty stomach, head-spinning. Yes, that is what the failure to brew a cup of sencha PROPERLY tastes like.
Not just any sencha either, dammit. A Darjeeling sencha from Badamtam estate, very kindly sent to me by the lovely people at Lochan Tea. I've never had a Darjeeling sencha before. It looks very like a deep steamed Japanese one, dark green leaves like fine needles. So naturally I brewed in the way I normally brew sencha these days... A tablespoon of leaves, boiling water, multiple short steeps.
Well. This method works beautifully for Japanese greens, and really pulls the most out of Australian sencha too... But it was an absolutely abject failure for the Badamtam. I haven't had such an appallingly bitter cup of tea in a while, especially not one I've made myself.* So I shall try again; less leaf, cooler temperatures... Hopefully I'll be able to work it out before I use up all my sample.
I still drank the tea, though, undrinkable though it seemed on first sip. Self-flagellation? Well, maybe a little, but once I'd got past the grimace-inducing taste of the alkaloids, that same astounding sweetness that sencha has was still there. So it was worth it, in the end.
*a notable example at another establishment was a pot of Earl Grey at Trunk; I cannot even begin to imagine what they did to it to make it so vile. I suspect a ritual circle of black magic, worked by coffee-drinking tea-haters, may have been involved.