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Tea Tasting: Two 2010 Japanese Shinchas


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Dan at yuuki-cha.com in Japan is contributing two organic 2010 shinchas for this Tea Tasting & Discussion. Yuuki-cha.com is the leading on-line purveyor of organic Japanese teas.

The two organic shinchas are the 2010 Organic Kagoshima Shincha Saemidori and the 2010 Organic Asahina Kabusecha. I will mail free samples of 15 grams of each of these shinchas to up to three eG Society members.

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

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Organic Kagoshima Shincha Saemidori is a deep steamed organic fukamushi shinchacomprised of the precious young leaves that appear in spring. The saemidori tea bushes used for this shincha are specially cared for and given priory by its cultivator. They are harvested only once a year and harvesting only takes place at the optimum timing in spring. In addition, a plantation area with the most suitable fertile soil, correct altitude and safest growing environment were carefully selected. Soil is managed throughout each harvest year with only natural fertilizer and with the utmost of care. As a result of all of these factors, the quality of this organic fukamushi shincha is maintained to a high standard.

The flavor is sweet and smooth with very little astringency, and it's accompanied by a wonderful fresh aroma and beautiful green tea liquor. It's an organic Kagoshima deep steamed shincha of exceptional quality!

Saemidori is a hybrid offspring of Yabukita and Asatsuyu tea breeds that was developed, researched, and tested from around the 1970's. In 1990, it was finally registered, and is now successfully cultivated for the production of matcha, gyokuro, and high quality sencha in a number of tea growing regions of Japan. It is generally only cultivated by organic tea farmers that, above all, seek to cultivate superior quality green tea.

LLasahinakabusecha.jpg

This organic kabusecha is a mid-steamed green tea, known as chumushi. It comes from Asahina which is a famous tea region of Shizuoka that cultivates many covered green teas e.g. gyokuro and kabusecha. This particular organic kabusecha is made from the high quality tea breed known as “Okuhikari” which is well known for its umami tastiness! Infused, this tea has prominent umami taste, unique fragrance, wonderful balance between sencha and gyokuro, green liquor color, and a very clean and refreshing finish!

OKUHIKARI: Registered in 1987, Okuhikari is a cross between Yabukita and a Chinese tea breed known as “ShizuCY225”, it’s most suited to cultivation in the mountains making it a good choice for organic tea growers.

While the tasting is open to all members who have posted at least 25 substantive posts (simply a matter of questions, answers, comments that add to discussions) in the eG Coffee and Tea forum,
preference will be given until midnight Monday July 12th, 2010 to those who have not participated in the last two tastings
.

The free samples are available to members who 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 the free samples and participate in this Tea Tasting & Discussion.

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The period giving preference to those who did not receive free samples in the last two Tea Tasting & Discussions is past. The free Japanese shincha samples are now available to all eGullet Society members. Three sets of free shincha samples are available. If you are interested, please review the first post above and PM me for details.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Tasters - You should receive the free samples of the two organic Japanese shincha samples contributed by Dan at yuuki-cha.com sometime between Monday and Wednesday. If you do not, please let me know. Since I am running a little behind and a third member did not sign up for the samples, I have assuaged my tea guilt by sending each of you a little more than 15 g of each shincha.

Brewing suggestions to come.

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First try with the Saemidori today: 4.2 grams in my 5 oz kyusu, preheated, water at 165 degrees, 30 second first infusion: first impression is warm, vegetal, umami, no astringency or bitterness. The strong sweetness that I crave is not there.

Second infusion, 10 seconds: lush spring vegetables, with a little more sweetness coming out amidst the flavors of peas and asparagus and young leafy greens.

Third infusion, 30 seconds, increased temperature to 170 degrees: warm, vegetal, the umami is a little lighter, a little less lush, and the sweetness is barely still there, just under the surface, but again, their is no hint of bitterness.

Fourth infusion, pushing this time, water at 185 degrees, 90 second infusion: the umami is fading a little more, not surprising for a deep-steamed tea, but that lets the little caramel come more to the fore, and the vegetable taste is a bit sharper--a bit more spicy/herbaceous, but still, even pushing it hard, not a trace of bitterness or significant astringency.

This is quite an amazing tea: rich, lush, umami, but the umami is velvety and not a harsh brininess; there is no bitterness even when I push it rather hard (compared to my usual, at least); and though this hasn't converted me from preferring the light-steamed asamushi senchas, it did give me pause. Lovely stuff.

Edited by Wholemeal Crank (log)
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Now onto the Kabusecha: same setup, but done serially--couldn't do this parallel because I don't have a duplicate set of kyusu and cup for each tea. So 4.3 grams of tea in the 5 oz kyusu. Just weighing out the tea, the leaf fragments are smaller, sweet deep vegetal scent.

First infusion: 160 degrees, 30 seconds. It is lighter liquor, not as densely green, but the flavor is surprisingly deep from this lighter green liquor. There is a little more sharpness here--not bitter or astringent, but there seems to be less caramel-sweetness to temper the vegetal flavors.

Second infusion: 160 degrees, 10 seconds, and this time a deeper, denser green liquor, as expected. Sharper, herbaceous, a little briny.

Third infusion: 170 degrees, 30 seconds, and a little more sweetness is coming out now, with the dominant flavor still strong, vegetal, umami, leafy green vegetables, a sense of contained bitterness. I think this is the best infusion so far.

Fourth infusion: 180 degrees, 90 seconds, and now the umami is much decreased; sweetness and bitterness are dueling now--parsley and pepper and a light refined hint of sugar. I think this one is done.

This is my first Kabusecha, and I was expecting something closer to the Saemidori, with that deep velvety umami. Instead, it is the sharper one. Any possibility the labels could have been switched?

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Thanks for the detailed report. No label switching. From what you describe, I think you have them identified correctly.

I have been brewing the Kabusecha (pre-heated pot and cup) at a lower temp, about 149f - 150f for the first infusion. Then after the second infusion, very gradual increases 4 - 5 degrees at a time. My infusion lengths are about the same as yours. I think you may find a more balanced result using the lower temp, and would interested to see how that matches your palate. I generally use a slightly heavier leaf:water ratio than you do, as usual, but regardless, the lower temp may make a difference.

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Just think of it as a cross between a sencha and a gyokuro and what that may mean for brewing and taste.

What's interesting to me is that the Saemidori gave me exactly that impression: sencha sweetness mixed with a gyokuro-level of rich umami.

But will try again with the kabusecha at lower temp, and see if the flavor profile smooths out to something similar.

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147 degrees when I added the Kabusecha to the prewarmed kyusu this morning, for 30 seconds first infusions: the temperature difference softened it very nicely. Still umami that outweighs any sugar-sweet, but the edge of harsh brininess is completely gone.

So easy to see, with a tea like this, how I initially was very frustrated and indeed skeptical about all green teas, because I was starting with water that was way too hot. I had some vague idea, a couple of years ago, that water should sit a bit after boiling before preparing my then-favorite jasmine green tea, but it was still so often bitter. And when I started trying other greens, I was doing the same thing: trying not to use water right at boiling, but had no idea what temperature I was really using. So I had one lousy cup after another, and discarded several of those teas. Wonder how many of them might have been good if I'd known how to brew them?

Just give this Kabusecha the temperature it wants, and it shows its true character: at the second infusion, just 10 seconds, there is rich vegetable greenness, abundant umami, a hint of spiciness, a gentle touch of brine, just enough to accent the smooth richness of the umami. A 3rd infusion, again about 30 seconds, water a little hotter now, up to 149 degrees, is very similar, a little lighter. Tried for a 4th infusion, but the water in the pot was depleted, so this was a 'double-concentrated' version, let go a shorter time because of that, about 30 seconds, and it was about the same: vegetable, umami, not bitter, not sweet, just fresh spring vegetable--asparagus stalks, peas, green beans.

Next up, maybe tomorrow, I will be trying a head-to-head in gaiwans, which will be a little tricky since I need to use different temperature water. I just want to compare them directly, since this infusion now very strongly resembles my taste memory of the Saemidori.

Edited by Wholemeal Crank (log)
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How about brewing the Kabusecha at 140f for the first infusion and see what difference that makes.

My suggestion for the saemidori is to start at 1 g leaf per ounce of water, 158f with infusions of 30, 10, 30. On the third and following infusions, try raising the temp about, say, 4-5f per infusion. That's with a pre-heated pot and cup, and using a very slow pour (as slow as humanly possible). You could then try pouring the second infusion immediately, but still with the very slow pour and see if that gives you something interesting on the third, fourth or fifth infusions. sometimes it does for me.

Have fun!

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That's almost exactly what I'm doing already for the saemidori: set the teapot for 160 degrees, preheat the kyusu, weight the leaf out until I have something between 4 and 5 grams, and then fill the 5 oz pot completely if I end up with 5 grams of tea, or a little less if I end up with 4 grams and a bit. And then watch the temp gauge on the teapot until it is within 2-3 degrees of the goal, and pour into the kyusu. The less water in the pino, the more it tends to over- and undershoot as it attempts to keep the temp close to the requested setting.

First infusion 30 seconds, second infusion--where I believe the wet leaf is already releasing a lot of the things that we want in the tea liquor into the water that clings to the leaves--little more than a flash rinse, and 3rd infusion back to about 30 seconds, or a little longer.

May try the head to head with slightly lower temps for the kabusecha, but it's going to be tricky to manage both at once. Might be easiest to just tote the office pino home for the event.

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