Two teas from an area southeast of the Abe River in Warashina and from nearby Ôma, Ôkawa District.
As its name indicates, Warashina is the area located on both banks of Warashina River (which is westernmost on the map, and flows into Abe River downstream).
Here is an Oku-midori cultivar. The leaves are very beautiful (some of you may perhaps remember the 2013 Oku-midori from Ashikubo, which was also very affordable), and their fragrance is that of sweetness on a texture that recalls dry grasses.
Infusion confirms the initial impressions, producing liquor with a powerful, mellow fragrance. The aromas are slightly creamy and warm, like good bread. Very appetizing, this liquor is also quite strong in the mouth. Very round and sweet, it is not very complex, but it is very effective, with a lot of aftertaste and length. Creamy flavours dominate the first infusion, which has no astringency and a very assertive presence in the mouth. You need only pay a minimum of attention to the brewing time: it is virtually impossible to make poor tea with this sencha.
In the second infusion, this tea becomes lighter, but the aftertaste becomes even stronger! With more or less astringency, this lighter liquor finally gives us a pleasant break before allowing us to take advantage of the mouth-watering length that perfumes the throat.
Finally, a third and final infusion brings out something more “fresh” in the fragrance. This time with gentle astringency, it becomes airy, very smooth, a real pleasure for the throat, and the length is still present.
A very nice little tea. It may not have quite as much complexity as other Hon.yamas, but it is already strong and mellow, and the price is entirely reasonable.
Continuing upstream along Warashina River, the road finally leaves the stream and climbs the mountain, with ruts in the middle of the road, monkeys and serows (Japanese goat-antelopes). This hillside “road” leads us to Ôkawa, and then Ôma.
It is there, at 650-700 m (around 2200 feet) in altitude, that we find Mr. Nakamura. He produces one of the tardiest Shizuoka teas in this environment. He begins harvesting at the end of May, and does not finish until the beginning of June.
This Yabukita cultivar sencha begins by showing more complexity: its leaves have a lively, sweet fragrance that gives a “wild” impression with something of humus and also a touch of mineral.
If you prepare it with coolish water, you should not hesitate to leave it to brew for more than a minute, but it is also a tea that is very rewarding when made with hot water.
This is what I like about mountain teas: their strong, sweet peaty fragrance. There is something rich about them, in the culinary sense of the term, yet once they are in the mouth they are very delicate. It is not that they are lacking in flavour, much to the contrary, but the liquor is not heavy, and it is so velvety in the throat!
Nonetheless, the liquor of this tea is remarkably dense. It is sweet, but not excessively full of umami, and there is a little astringency. In fact, it is very well balanced.
The aftertaste is phenomenal! Wonderful length!
In short, there is no heaviness or drawback, but a great deal of power.
This sencha from Ôkawa-Ôma remains just as strong in the second infusion. Its fragrance becomes more fruity, and it is a touch more floral in the mouth.
The third and fourth infusions continue to please the palate and throat with rich, velvety liquor that nonetheless becomes slightly more tannic.
It is difficult to compare it with the Warashina, but I would say that with this sencha we have of course a richer, more complex tea, but also one that is more masculine. It is more difficult to appreciate at the beginning, but it nonetheless has more possibilities, and it is also a tea that you will not get tired of.