Until now, my Shizuoka mountain teas selection focuses on sencha from Hon.yama, it was time to present another famous mountain area of Shizuoka : Kawane 川根.
Kawane is located west of Hon.yama and the north of Shimada and Kakegawa cities, along the river Oi 大井川.
The sencha I present now is the work of Tsuchiya Tetsuro, emeritus producer of great reputation. He’s working by minimizing use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, at an altitude of 600m.
This is the Oku-hikari cultivar, crossbreed of Yabukita and Cy225, a Chinese cultivar from Hubei.
If the scent of the leaves is slightly sweet, it’s mostly greenish, with herb aromas.
The possibilities of brewing parameters (temperatures, etc) are relatively large with this tea, but I think it is not too bother to get off too. 80°C will be a good starting point for 1st brew, except for those who want to avoid any astringency.
After a minute of infusion, a beautiful liquor with perfect limpidity provides a warm fragrance, blending smoothly, spices and herbs. After cooling down a little, sweetness takes over, with something like honey and spice.
In the mouth the first attack has flavors of herbs and minerals. Without being completely confusing, it’s not quite usual. Then, as often this is gradually transformed into the mouth and throat into very sweet flavors, plus ‘umami’ mellowness. The aftertaste length is long, so delicious that we cannot resolve to moving on the second brew, just to continue enjoying this aftertaste a little more.
Although having a strong personality, the liquor is very pure, very smooth and easy to drink. The characteristics of this cultivar, Oku-hikari appear with just the right amount of retained. To tell the truth, if this is the first time I present Oku-hikari, it’s because it’s the first time I have one whose characteristics do not repel me. It is a rare and highly valued cultivar, though personally I have trouble to enjoy it. But it seems to me this Kawane sencha find a perfect balance, and I enjoy very much this Oku-hikari.
Spices, herbs, mint scents seem to intensify in the second infusion. However, the liquor is still very clean, tastes are even clearer than the first infusion, however, it’s always complex, and still we have an absolutely delicious after-taste, more ”greenish ” this time. One perceives a slight astringency but also when cooling down, a bit of cooked butter flavors appear. On a slightly different way, the harmony is still there!
Always very aromatic, the third infusion becomes more stimulating. Without being very astringent, one feels there is small peak that stimulates the mouth, and remains in the aftertaste, which is still mellow. It seems to me that the aromatic herbs side comes back here, leaving still airy liquor that smoothly get down through the throat.
Given the performance of this Japanese green tea so far, there is no reason to don’t give a try to a fourth infusion. Nice, this sencha clearly begins to weaken, the liquor becomes slightly tannic, but continues to express happiness in the aftertaste and length.
Personality, complexity, clear variations of flavors on each infusions, excellent length, purity and harmony, this is a tea whose performance is quite exceptional for a really reasonable price. It may not please everyone maybe… but frankly, it is a credit to the reputation of Tsuchiya!
Meanwhile other Kawane teas in forthcoming 2015 season!