I jump from Tamakawa, the confluence of the Abe River, to Ôkawa further south, on the slopes of the river Warashina. Rather, the sencha I present today is from Ôma, upstream rather isolated area 720 m above sea level. It is a very steep road, sometimes obstructs by frequent rock falls, and screwed by the warning signs of landslides, which leads to this small hamlet where are some of the Mr. Nakamura’s plantations and his small factory.
The other two plantations, higher up, at 760-780 m above sea level are not accessible by road, but only by a narrow dirt road, mud, carved on a mountainside. Thanks to the 4WD ! Such a course, it was a first for me.
Surge of adrenaline, but down the road, I a beautiful plantation open in the forest, a rare calm. Just before harvest, the Yabukita cultivar tea plants seem in great shape, vigorous leaves grow very straight to the sky. This is a very auspicious vision.
We are May 20, Mr. Nakamura and his son have just started production with crop from plantations in the hamlet.
This Ôkawa-Ôma sencha is one of the teas that are especially dear to my heart. This is a tea with strong body, robustness. This year, it is again excellent.
The leaves of this sencha are thick, long, their aspect is a bit “rustic”, and fragrance that reminds rusticity, with aromas of forest humus, freshly cut grass, but also mellowness, something sweet.
This is a tea that can be infused both with water at 70 ° C, for a strong but very sweet brew, or at 80 ° C for a more robust and rich brew still, but with very balanced astringency.
In both cases, we have a strongly flavored tea, where notes of roasted nuts dominate, revealing a strong firing, on a rather mineral texture, almost peaty, with pine flavors but also sweet impressions.
The impact is immediate on the palate. Peats, dry grass, humus are some of the flavors that appear in a whole with much gentleness, a well-balanced umami which still reveals forcefully in the after, with an extraordinary length. It is a full-bodied tea, with strength, exceptional. One can get some astringency according to brewing temperature, but never to strong, or even embarrassing, always balanced, and also in the successive infusions.
This is a tea that has strong character, which reflects in my opinion its soil, terroir, without seeking academic perfection. Its power does not even dried on four beautiful infusions. Character does not mean eccentricity, and this sencha also showing indeed the qualities of the cultivar Yabukita. It shows guts from beginning to end, from the scent of dry leaves until the after, from the first to the last brew.
This is one of the teas that I consider truly unmissable in my selection.