An early cultivar, the Kondo-wase by the young tea producer, Mr. Matsukawa in Mariko, Shizuoka is the second 2014 shincha available on Thés du Japon. Like Sôfû, Kondo-wase is a cross between Yabukita (male) and Inzatsu 131 (female). It is thus a cultivar that has ¼ Assam blood. Its special feature is its sweet floral scent, which can be compared to grapes and jasmin.
During my visit to Mariko on March 25, I was able to meet the producer and admire his plantation. Kondo-wase accounts for only a small part of the area. The tea plants are not pruned; the harvest is thus by hand.
Have a look at the beautiful setting.
This rare sencha was picked on April 19.
The powerful, mellow fragrance of the dry leaves is already wonderful, brought out marvellously by just the right amount of roasting. No roasted scent, but no green grassy odor either.
Frankly, this sencha is a stunner. No matter how it is infused, it produces a beautiful, deep mellow liquor, with a luscious floral, fruity aftertaste. You should inhale the steam from the teapot after brewing!!
However, how can we bring out the strongest fragrance in the liquor?
First, one thing is obvious: with time and a little maturing, this kind of tea will show what it is really worth. Even just one short month after the package has been opened, it will already be much more assertive, and of course once we get to the fall and winter, the fragrance will have really come into its own.
In any case, it would be a mistake to think that this sencha is good only for its fragrance. No. It is a tea with a very rich aroma in the mouth. Natural sweetness, very little astringency (which makes it radically different from its Inzatsu daddy and other very floral Kôshun-type cultivars). I have also often noticed that the fragrances of this type of cultivar do not necessarily need very hot water to come out.
This is a very high quality tea, handpicked from unpruned plants, so beginning with a relatively lukewarm infusion is, in the end, not a bad idea.
On 4-5 g (around 1 tsp) of leaves, 60 ml (2 oz) of water at around 65°C (150°F). I tried 45 seconds. A bit too short. A bare minute would be better perhaps. Mellow, rich liquor. Fragrances of jasmine and grape dominate a powerful aftertaste.
For the second infusion, 70 ml (2.3 oz) of water at 80°C (176°F), pour 40-50 seconds, approximately. Still, once again, a lot of mellowness, rich aromas and exceptional length!
At least 4 infusions are possible.
In fact, the fragrances develop a lot in the throat, more than in the nose.
We can also be a little more original, with a first infusion at 80-90°C (176-194°F), 10 seconds, not too much water (50-60 ml / 1.6-2 oz), then 80°C (176°F ) with 70 ml (2.3 oz) for the second infusion. This produces a very concentrated, very dense liquor.
To tell the whole truth, it is even harder than usual to make real recommendations for this tea. However, at the same time, what is wonderful is that everything seems to work really well. This sencha seems almost impossible to brew badly. Thus, more than ever, I want to say that you should experiment and have fun with this little marvel.
Only one thing is certain: I can’t wait to see this Kondô-wase mature over time. (Last year we ran out too quickly…I ordered a little more this year.)