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Tea Tasting: 2009 Japanese Organic Kumamato Sencha Yabe Supreme


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Dan at yuuki-cha.com in Japan is contributing an Organic Kumamato Yabe Supreme for this Tea Tasting & Discussion. Yuuki-cha.com is the leading on-line purveyor of organic Japanese teas. I will mail free samples of 15 grams each of this 2009 mid-steamed organic sencha composed of a blend of Saemidori & Okumidori varietals to up to three eG Society members.

More information on this organic sencha from the yuuki-cha.com website. Text and photo used with permission.

LLkumamoto.jpg

A high quality first harvest organic sencha that comes from Kumamoto prefecture on the island of Kyushu, Japan. This is one of the finest organic sencha that we have ever had the pleasure of selling here at Yuuki-Cha. Grown in an isolated spot between mountains at 500m above sea level. Deep morning mist, ideal temperature differences between day and night, and the special blend of Japanese tea bush varietals that are cultivated on the farm give this organic sencha its outstanding, distinctive flavor and boundless lingering aftertaste that any real connoisseur of Japanese green tea would recognize instantly.

While the tasting is open to all members who have posted at least ten substantive posts (questions, answers, comments that add to discussions) in the eG Coffee and Tea forum, preference will be given until midnight (EDST) Wednesday, February 17th, 2010 to those who have not participated in the last two tastings.

The three free samples are available to members who also 1) will do three brewing sessions of 4 - 5 ounces each, with multiple infusions, from the sample, and 2) will report on their experience within one week of receiving the sample and participate actively in the discussion.

Brewing suggestions to come.

As always, everyone who does not receive a sample is welcome and encouraged to participate in the discussion.

So, please PM me now for details if you would like to receive one of the the free samples and participate in this Tea Tasting & Discussion.

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The preference period for those who did not receive samples in the last two Tea Tasting & Discussions is over. The free samples are now available to all members. If you are interested, please review the first post and PM me.

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Only one free sample remains. I'll be sending out the samples within the next few days, so if you are interested, please PM me now. Otherwise I will be forced to go through the agony of having to drink it myself. :cool:

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Tic-tock. Time's running out.

This offer is good until midnight CST Friday. Only one free sample left of this Japanese green tea, an organic sencha from yuuki-cha.com, the leading internet purveyor of organic Japanese green teas.

PM me now if you are interested.

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Tic-tock. Time's running out.

This offer is good until midnight CST Friday. Only one free sample left of this Japanese green tea, an organic sencha from yuuki-cha.com, the leading internet purveyor of organic Japanese green teas.

PM me now if you are interested.

Tic-toc. Tic.

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The brewing suggestions for sencha on yuuki-cha.com may look like a strong leaf:water ratio at first glance. While non-organic senchas typically use a 0.6 g per ounce ratio, for organics it's usually 1.0 g.

Here's some of the detail on this sencha, including brewing suggestions, from the yuuki-cha.com site and used with permission.

First Harvest? - Yes (100%)

Harvest Year - 2009

Steaming Process - Mid Steamed

Tea Bush Varietal(s) - Saemidori & Okumidori

Brewing Suggestion - • 1 gram of leaves per 1oz of water at 70°C for 1 min.

• Second & third infusions at 70°C for 10-30 seconds.

Origin - Kumamoto, Kyushu, Japan

Certified Organic By - JAS

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I couldn't wait and I tore into this tea this morning.

It is a really, really lovely tea.

I brewed it in my normal style- about 5 grams of leaves in a mug with 12 oz. water. I steeped it for 3 minutes not having read the brewing suggestions.

The vibrant green color of the tea made me smile and I kept smiling as I drank the first cup.

The tea tasted vegetal and green (grassy in a good way)and had a fresh taste of the sea, like seaweed without the fishy element, like sea water and swiss chard. The mouth-feel was full and round and lush. I got an astringency on the end that was just a hair over being pleasant but I recognize that it was my own fault for steeping so long and the beauty of the tea was not diminished by my careless brewing.

The second cup I brewed the same way and for the same length of time and I found it pretty much the same as the first cup only slightly lighter.

I will be away for the next week and will wait until I return home to brew the rest of the tea in a proper manner. I can't wait!

To say that this tea has piqued my interest in Japanese greens would be an understatement. I am concerned however that few teas will live up to this one!

Edited by LuckyGirl (log)
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First try, started with their range of 0.75-1 gram of tea per oz water, so

5 grams sencha

preheated kyusu

Water at 150°F

1 1/2 minutes 1st infusion

Sweet, vegetal, rich body, not even a hint of bitter

155° 60 seconds

flavor is darker, more intense, less sweet, hint of bitter, probably should have infused it shorter

160°, 30 seconds

also a little 'darker', like the 2nd infusion, but not bitter, just more deep vegetable flavor, and still some sweet; getting a bit thin in the body.

This is a lovely tea. I will try a little staying shorter for later infusions next time.

4412957754_4a77ee83bf.jpg

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Today again starting with this tea, and shorter infusions, water again 150-160 degrees, 5g, 1 minute first and 15-20 second 2nd and 3rd infusions, and today am noting clearly the brininess that was mentioned by LuckyGirl. The later short infusions have thinner liquor than the longer ones I did yesterday, but are still quite rich and deep and vegetal, and no hint of bitterness.

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Doubling my fun this morning by brewing this side by side with the sencha select from the Cultured Cup that I have been drinking a lot of lately, to get a better sense of the differences in their flavors.

Went back to gaiwans for purposes of comparison and decreased volume, 2.7g leaf to almost 3 oz water, water 160 degrees and first infusion 45 seconds:

This tea still tastes brinier, and more strongly vegetal--I keep thinking 'deeper' but there has to be a better word for it--not bitter,just deeper, and less sweet. At the 2nd infusion, those differences fade, and both teas are starting to show a little bitterness with a 20 second infusion, along with more nuttiness. The 3rd infusion, something between 20 and 30 seconds, was again a little more distinctly deep/briny vs sweet.

Normally I drink my sencha with 2 infusions mixed in my cup, so some of these changes in the SS were surprising, because it's been a while since I drank it this way.

Tomorrow I'll try to compare it to the Dens Fukamushi Sencha.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I finished my sample this past week in two tastings.

For the first brewing I stuck closer to the recommendation of 1 gram of tea per ounce of water and 150 degrees. I used 4 grams to 4 ounces of water. The first steeping went for one minute. I love the balance between the sea and vegetalness that this tea has. I again found the vegetal noted along the lines of swiss chard or maybe spinach and ever so slightly sweet but not in the sweet tart way of some of the oolongs we've tasted. The sea note is a bright brininess that is like the sea without the fish. This tea has a nice full and round body and mouth-feel. It almost has a creaminess to it.

The second steeping went for the suggested 30 seconds. I felt that 30 seconds did not give the tea enough time. I found the second cup to be more thin than I cared for and the sweetness and creaminess were lost. The third steeping I let go for a minute 15 seconds and I got more out of the tea though the slight astringency came on the end but not enough that it bothered me.

My third season with this tea was back to my usual course method of brewing. I put the tea that was left (5-6 grams? I didn't weigh it) into my 12 oz mug and filled it with water. This time used water at 160 F and let the tea steep for 2 minutes. This was my favorite cup so far. I had all of the elements I so enjoyed back when I made my first cup and only the slightest, wispiest bit of astringency on the end.

I fell in love with this tea and what a great time of year to discover it as the tea is just as much about spring in my mouth as the weather is outside.

I feel like I want to move to a Japanese green tea as my morning cup at least for the springtime. I am ready to move away from the oolongs I've been drinking at least for the morning or maybe for the season.

Thank you so much to yuuki-cha for providing us with this tea and Richard for facilitating the tasting.

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I feel like I want to move to a Japanese green tea as my morning cup

That does feel like the right way to start the day to me too. I love my oolongs and puerhs, other greens and white teas, but somehow the senchas are particularly kind to my not-yet-fully-awake self and empty stomach in the morning, without being as demanding of attention as a more complex puerh or oolong.

Just not sure what to order next--I'm about done with the current sencha supply. So many lovely choices: light steamed, mid steamed, deep steamed? briny or pea-like? decisions, decisions, decisions...

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Finally following up: my last planned infusion with this sencha was derailed by a spill of most of the remaining leaf, so I ended up combining it with another tea to fill a morning pot.

Ooops.

Final impression, then, is that this is a deep, rich, and mildly briny tea. Beautiful stuff.

Edited by Wholemeal Crank (log)
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Thanks to Wholemeal Crank and LuckyGirl for participating in this Tea Tasting & Discussion - and to Dan at yuuki-cha.com for providing the free samples of this fine organic sencha.

Dan and I are working on another TT&D, so stay tuned! If you subscribe to this Coffee & Tea forum, you'll be among the first to know.

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Richard, it would be great if you participated in the tastings with us. Any chance of that? I understand the idea that you might want to refrain from giving us your tasting observations until we have tasted but I think it would be nice to interact with you or at least get your ideas on the tastings we do. What do you think?

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Yes, I usually have a little something to say at the end. This time I thought I had nothing much additional to add to what you two posted. I am 3/4 the way through a second bag of this sencha and I love it. I have been brewing it in several Japanese teapots and have so far liked it best out of a 50 year old one made by the Japanese ceramic artist Kizan Shibaoka. But it has been delicious in all of them.

I guess I could point out that the recommended temp on the yuuki-cha site is 70 C, which converts to 158 F rather than 150. This would make a little difference in the brew. I don't know exactly how much since I have not tried the lower temp.

As usual, my suggestion is to brew initially at the tea merchant's suggested time, temp and leaf:water raio, and then make small adjustments to learn what happens to a series of infusions and what works best for you. This sencha works well for me at the suggested 158 F, 1 g leaf/30 ml (1 ounce) water, with a first infusion of 60 sec, second of 10 - 30 sec and third of 30 (sometimes longer). Pulling back on the second infusion will thin it out, but also may allow for a very nice fourth infusion.

It's always interesting how much individual tastes can vary for the same leaf.

Edited by Richard Kilgore
temp correction; add re parameters (log)
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I brewed this Organic Kumamato Sencha Supreme on Easter for friends unfamiliar with Japanese green teas. It was wonderful watching their faces as they met the grassy-vegetable aroma and the briny, sweet asparagus flavor for the first time.

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