As everyone know, Shizuoka mountains are full of wonderful teas and passionate producers. Hon.yama in particular is a real “gold mine.”
This is a very small introduction to present the Kogane-midori cultivar sencha simply translated as “green gold.” One just has to see the leaves of this Japanese green tea to understand the reasons for this name. This is an original cultivar (I do not think it is officially registered) isolated and developed by Mr. Satô in Morokozawa. Morokozawa is a locality of Ôkawa fairly remote area upstream of the Warashina River (and neighboring Ôma, from which the excellent sencha by Mr. Nakamura comes).
This beautiful golden color dry leaves could also be seen in the plantation. This cultivar was isolated from a branch of Yabukita having pushed through natural mutation of this resplendent color. From a single small cutting, it took 20 years to Mr. Sato and his father for obtain a plantation which could provide enough tea for being sold. Of course, the color of the leaves (this is rare but not unique, but, in most cases, cuttings ended up giving a usual green shrub) was not the only motivation of this heavy task. This is also the fact that these leaves gave a very sweet tea, naturally rich in umami (so rich in natural umami flavor …).
An interesting phenomenon is how these rare varieties with very clear bright yellow or green leaves appear. This Kogane-midori, contrary to what might suggest its sweet flavor, is grown entirely without shading. Indeed, shading makes it loose its characteristic color. However, if we take the Hoshino-midori cultivar from Yame (the famous “shiracha”or “white sencha”) is at the opposite phenomenon, where the tea bushes need to shading to stay white).
Finally, I would add that Satô-san works pesticide free and with very few fertilizer.
No shading, no fertilizer, umami, the sweetness of this sencha is quite different from that of gyokuro or sencha grown with many nitrogen fertilizer.
The dry leaves emit a very light fragrance (final drying “hi-ire” is very low), but soft and warm.
Assume that the infusion recommendations made by the producer are the best solution to enjoy the features of this tea. 3g for 30ml of ice water. 5min. Operation can be repeated a large number of times for a strong drink, sweet, but not heavy, and fine.
However, personally I’m not a fanatic of cold infusions, and I would brew it a different way.
5g to 60ml of water at 50 °C for 90s.
The result is a liqueur with green and fresh scent, sweet and light.
The first attack is powerful. With lots of volume, we have a lot of umami sweetness, offset by a small touch of astringency.
Then settle in the mouth fresh and green flavors, not grassy, slightly sweet. This fresh mellowness finds wonderful echo in the throat.
Despite the strength of flavor, this tea is mellow, airy, and the strong umami isn’t heavy, with nothing artificial.
We are facing a great mountain tea, very fine, very elegant.
By increasing the temperature each time, we get four beautiful infusions, all dominated by the delicious and sweet freshness, while the astringency increases slowly. But still, the liquor is very clean, not any hitch in the mouth or in throat, no bitterness.
So getting away even more from the idea of enhancing that characteristics mellowness, why not switch to a more conventional preparation?
4g leaves, 70ml of water at 70 ° C, 60s.
The result is still very interesting, very good. The liquor is now more stimulating. The sweetness is there, with more astringency, even more relief. These green and fresh flavors remain in the background, quite delectable. Despite the invigorating character of this liquor, it is still velvety, a joy that flows smoothly into throat.
So this sencha is confirmed to me like a great mountain tea, meticulous work. Finally, the incredible color of the leaves could be let as a simple background which enhance the quality of the leaves and the deepness of this Japanese ‘gold’ tea.