A new futsumushi sencha from Miyazaki, from the town of Miyakonojô 都城, more precisely. It is a “mountainous” area where the slopes are frequently cloaked in mist, providing choice conditions for growing tea, which has been a tradition here since ancient times. Moreover, this area is in the south of the prefecture, neighbouring Kirishima in northern Kagoshima (in fact Mount Kirishima is located in Miyazaki Prefecture).
This tea is a few notches above the Oku-yutaka described earlier. Splendid, long, deep-green leaves that are shiny, smooth, silky, slender: all in all, they are of an exemplary uniformity, have a sweet fragrance and a strong green colour.
We are used to finding the Oku-midori cultivar as a fukamushi sencha, especially in Kagoshima. This tea shows that Oku-midori is also perfectly adapted to normal steaming. It is a late cultivar, rather sweet, which produces pretty liquors and thus high-quality tea, even though it does not have any special features in terms of taste.
It doesn’t really matter because this tea passes all tests with flying colours: its special feature is its quality and refinement.
Let’s try the first infusion: 4-5 g (1.2-1.5 tsp), 1minute 20-30 seconds in 70 ml (2.3 oz) water at 60-65°C (140-149°F).
Marvellous vanilla and hazelnut scent. Perfectly translucent liquor, a light taste, that is nonetheless full, rich in flavours, mellow and without astringency. Kyûshû can produce extraordinary futsumushi senchas, and it has no reason to be jealous of the excellent teas from the mountains of Shizuoka.
When we increase the temperature and allow the second infusion to last only 20 seconds, the liquor is light, not as sweet, and still has more or less no astringency, but this time we can detect discreet notes that are more floral, refined. This is confirmed in the third infusion (1 minute), which produces a delicate astringency and a very pleasant vegetal aspect recalling the flavours of freshly steamed tea leaves.
The reader has probably divined that I appreciate this sencha in a very special way. It has all the qualities of a great futsumushi sencha from the mountains, with rich flavours that change over several infusions and a deep fragrance. It is also a perfect candidate for infusions using a large quantity of leaves and very hot water for a very short time: 7 g (2 tsp) for 70 ml (2.3 oz), water that is almost boiling, 10 seconds, 5 seconds, 5+ seconds, 10 seconds, etc. It can then be appreciated in a completely different way, and gains unsuspected strength, new fragrances. I am repeating myself, but the great joy with futsumushi/asamushi teas is all the possibilities that they offer in terms of preparation, aromas and fragrances. Simply looking at and smelling the leaves of this type of tea when they are still dry is already an exquisite pleasure.
It is worthwhile to note that futsumushi is not so common in Kyûshû (Kagoshima, Yame, etc).
Miyazaki Prefecture really is a region that deserves greater recognition!