Summit Tea Party: Sencha Midori no Mikado at Tszil Glacier May 29, 2015 15:32

Since our previous summit tea parties were strictly about teas from mainland China, we thought that a change was in order. With the cherry blossoms in Vancouver having reached their peak bloom, the decision to have a Japanese-themed tea party seemed like the most natural one. So, on a clear April morning we headed out to Tszil glacier in Joffre Lakes Provincial Park to explore the outdoors and to have a cup of our finest sencha – Midori no Mikado, or Green Emperor.

The hike to Joffre lakes is without question one of the most accessible and rewarding ones in British Columbia. A fairly easy and well-maintained trail leads you through old-growth pine forest. On the way to the glacier you pass three spectacular glacier-fed lakes and have a chance to feast your eyes on some magnificent mountain landscapes. At this time of the year, the lakes are still frozen, so you might not realize just how beautiful they are. In summer, though, you will be seduced by their astonishing, intense turquoise colour created by the sun reflecting off the glacial silt particles suspended in the water.

Second Joffre lake and Taylor mountain

The lower Joffre lake is a mere 100 meters or so away from the parking area, but the things get more and more fascinating as you keep going up. Minutes away from the Upper Joffre lake, there is a peculiar little waterfall. The rushing water cut perfect terraces in the granite barrier that serves as the bedrock of the waterfall.

A cascading waterfall along the way

A few more steps uphill beyond the waterfall, you will find yourself emerged into an open landscape of glacier-clad mountains: Joffre and Slalok mountains tower on the far side of the lake and massive Matier Glacier cascades down the valley in between them. 

The view from the Upper Joffre lake is likely to leave you breathless

Continuing farther on the trail along the western shore of the lake, we could finally see our destination, the glacier on Tszil mountain. It looked deceivingly close from the lake, but it took us a couple of hours to reach the glacier, laying fresh tracks in the snow. Also, there was a bit of an accident along our way, because of which we ended up without our favourite tea tray. Needless to say it was our only tray! 

Ridge walk to Tszil glacier

After working our way up to the glacier at the foot of Tszil mountain, we started looking for a perfect spot for our tea party. A few large stones not covered with snow and ice conveniently presented themselves and we gratefully used one of them as an improvised table.

Tszil mountain and glacier buried under snow cap

Perfect time to enjoy our premium Midori no Mikado sencha, which is grown in the tea gardens of Kyotanabe in the southern tip of Kyoto, the old capital of Japan. Kyoto Prefecture is located in the centre of Honshu, the largest island of Japan, has a diverse geography and climate, reaching from the sea into mountains. Tea is mostly grown in the southern part, around city of Uji, where climate is mild and soil is rich. This premium sencha is picked and processed manually, which contributes to the perfect taste, but results in a small yearly production.

Sencha Midori no Mikado

The tea leaves are hand-picked and hand-sorted, deep green and glossy, with no sights of dust. Such a high-quality sencha requires a delicate steeping. We used water just over 75ºC (167ºF) to steep the tea for 3 minutes. The resulting infusion is deep yellow in colour, with a strong buttery aroma and deep vegetal notes. The taste is very delicate and smooth. Tea leaves a distinct aftertaste that brings up in memory seaweed and fresh-cut grass aromas.

View at upper Joffre lake

Great view at upper Joffre lake provided a perfect background for tasting this excellent sencha. Catching mountain views in the cup of tea is our favourite way of examining infusion quality – no flaws were found!

Looking at Slalok mountain through tea infusion

You can find the full photo report of this tea party, featuring more breath-taking views of Joffre park, on our Google+ page.

As well from now on you can find the teas featured in recent Summit Tea Party reports on sale at 30% discount!