Hon.yama, sencha from Tawaramine, Shizu7132 cultivar

A handsome mountain sencha that is out of the ordinary thanks to the famous Shizu7132 (“shizu nana ichi san ni“) cultivar. I have already mentioned this uncommon hybrid a number of times. It has been grown for many years, but has still never been officially registered, which is why it has no name and is designated by its number at the research centre where it was created from a Yabukita plant and an unknown variety. Initially, it attracted attention owing to its strong resistance to frost, but the fact that its stems are very thick in relation to its leaves makes it difficult to use in tea production. Nonetheless, its exceptional fragrance does not go unnoticed, even though some producers criticize it for a lack of stability.

This is a futsumushi sencha from Tawaramine (Aoi Borough, Shizuoka), and, like the Sayama Kaori presented earlier, a creation by Machizuki Shôji.
The dry leaves uphold this cultivar’s reputation: an astonishing sweet fragrance that is floral, but completely dominated by the scent of Japanese cherry tree leaves. It immediately brings to mind the Japanese sweet called sakura-mochi.

The leaves are gorgeously finished, very shiny, though not pure green, which is a “defect” (according to testing standards) shared by a number of cultivars with very strong fragrances.  (I am thinking in particular of Inzatsu131.) We can also see that there are a lot of the thick stems specific to 7132. According to examination criteria, this would also be a defect, a sign of poorly sorted tea. Yet, the stems provide extra sweetness that balances the taste of the leaves, which are perhaps a little too high in tannin. (This is something we find in highly fragrant cultivars, such as Kôshun and Inzatsu, which is perhaps a legacy from their foreign ancestors.)

That’s enough talking – this fragrance is just too tantalizing.
This time, we are dealing with a sencha that should be infused gently, with a good dose of leaves, 5 grams (1.5 teaspoons), or even a little more, for 70 ml, at 60°C (140°F), for 1 minute 30 seconds.

A little floral, a little vegetal, and very confectionery with cherry tree leaves as the dominant scent. The fragrance is unique, specific to this cultivar. It can be a little astonishing, but one we have gotten over  the surprise, it is simply divine.
The dominant colour of the liquor is strong yellow. This is nothing surprising for this type of cultivar, but it is of very great purity.
In the mouth, it gives you the impression of drinking a fragrance that then invades the throat and nose. It goes down all by itself. However, if we concentrate on the flavours of the liquor a little bit, we find something quite confectionery, something that resembles frangipane, but at the same time this tea is stimulating, not astringent, not at this temperature, and the sweetness is certainly not overpowering. It comes later, in the aftertaste; it is this dulcet touch of sencha that accompanies the cherry leaf’s length in the mouth.As we gradually increase the temperature, there is great stability across the infusions. The astringency increases little by little, but the general aromatic lines remain the same, as if this tea were seeking only to fill the nose with its extravagant scents.

I nonetheless had the impression that the “green” notes in the fragrance became more and more discreet as the infusions progressed, giving way to cherry leaf and, to a lesser degree, confectionery scents.
Moreover, it should be noted that with the hotter infusions the fragrance appears much more clearly after the liquor has cooled a little.

This tea does honour to the nature of its cultivar, to its producer, who has put his name on this superb mountain sencha despite the great difficulty in mastering this cultivar, and finally to the person in charge of finishing it, who has managed to preserve its fragrance by making the perfect choice not to remove the stems.


Categories: Reviews, Tea producing area

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