Fuji Akiyama, Inzatsu 131, handpicked

 

The Inzatsu 131 cultivar from Fuji by Mr. Akiyama Katsuhide is now a classic in my Teas of Japan selection. It is a futsumushi (in other words, asamushi, traditional normal steamed) sencha that is handpicked and comes from Fuji.

Even though I have already mentioned this, I want to point out again that Inzatsu is a cultivar that is more than atypical, one might even say it is a little singular. It comes from a cross of an unknown Japanese cultivar and an Assam cultivar, Manipuli 5. The latter is known for a very strong, aggressive floral fragrance that reminds me of lily of the valley. (Through crossings with Yabukita, it is also the father of Sôfû and the mother of Fuji-kaori.)

So, here is the 2012 version.

P1100513(1) Very true to itself, this sencha has pretty needles, slender, shiny and silky. Nice work. Akiyama-san knows what he is doing. However, the leaves are not the ideal emerald green, but a more grassy, light green, which is in the end characteristic of this cultivar and others known for their very personal fragrance (such as the 7132, for example).
The important point is the fragrance of the dry leaves, which is already very pronounced and special: something floral mixed with dry grass.

While the photos show a relatively heavy dose, finally I think that a smaller quantity is better, partly to limit the tannin in this half-Assam cultivar: 3 g (1 tsp), 70 ml (about 1/4 cup) of water at 60°C (140°F) to begin with, for 70 or even 80 seconds.

P1100532(1) P1100540(1) This sencha seems to have a light taste, and yet its fragrance is of a strength rarely found in Japanese tea. We are almost stormed by the scents of spicy flowers. Of course we find it all again in the mouth, but also in the throat: a magnificent lasting aftertaste.

P1100543(1) Next, with slightly warmer water and only 10 seconds of brewing, Inzatsu 131 asserts its personality even more strongly. The second infusion, if done according to these parameters, is astounding. While with the first the liquor was almost airy, all fragrance, it becomes heavier in the second infusion. Astringency appears, but the texture does not recall a lot of tannin, as it would with a heavier dose. In compensation, the mellowness of the aftertaste, which could already be felt in the first infusion, becomes much stronger, adding depth to the medley of flavours.
A vanilla touch also appears in the bouquet of floral scents.

P1100548(1) In the following infusions, a little longer and a little warmer, the liquor takes off again towards lightness, but the fragrance, the aftertaste, the length remain with us.

P1100556(1) I like this cultivar a lot: its aggressiveness, its almost strange fragrance, its flavour, which is the opposite of the usually desirable umami, even though there is umami in the persistent length in the mouth and throat. This cultivar can be quite surprising. You have to be forewarned.

 

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