A short article to discuss a Sencha who deserve more: the Sôfû from Ashikubo (Shizuoka city, Aoi ward).
I had last year release this beautiful sencha at fall to let the flavors of this type of cultivar Inzatsu (Yabukita and Inzatsu 131 crossbreed) appear, but this year it is enough already tasty in the spring.
The leaves themselves are very tasty, by their appearance but also by their scent as a subtle potpourri of sweet flowers.
I repeat it often enough, but the idea that high grade tea must be brewed with warm water is an idiocy. Low temperature only serves to retain astringency and bitterness to better highlight umami. This is so for the teas grown for the specific purpose of being very mellow, like gyokuro, or competitions sencha. It is also sometimes used as a cache misery with teas that only the price is high end, which has certainly much umami but also many flaws that too hot water put forward.
The highlight of Sôfû is primarily individual aromas in the nose and in the after-taste. This is not an especially rich in umami tea, his roots from Assam gave him a natural tannin touch that nothing embarrassing. This also applies to cultivar like Kôshun but it is more natural, more sense to prepare this sencha with hot water between 80 and 85 ° C (starting with too hot water would make it more difficult to prepare the following infusions requiring to increase the brewing temperature). After, when the leaves begin to have opened significantly, this is the time to pour, and enjoy the amazing scents of Sôfû. They are floral, slightly spicy, but with something sweet as a candy fragrance.
In the mouth, the first attack is stimulating, some astringency, followed by a little sweetness, umami back ground taste. But all is as worn by floral aromas that appear in the after-taste, and something creamy.
This is a truly brilliant sencha without major defect, with lots of personality, strength too. His “exotic” inzatsu type flavors may be little less obvious than in Kondô-wase (from Mariko), but it seems simpler to prepare, maybe more stable. We do not find the purity and sweetness of the Sôfû from Tamakawa, but instead a greater complexity is found there, more temperament.
To return to the issue of water temperature, with this type of very fragrant cultivars, not playing on umami, no need of warm water I was saying. Or, in an opposite way, you could go for “mizudashi” brew with cold water. The result is amazing. This gives a very refreshing tea, but also the scent that then filled the glass is amazing. Always a little floral certainly, but confectionery aromas takes on a whole different scale, entrusted with the fruit, it would feel almost like cotton candy. Two or three infusions are possible. We can then finish with hot water brew.
Again, do not be mistaken, the “iced tea” is not to be reserved for lower quality teas, on the contrary, it is rather the high ranges of teas rich in flavor that best lend themselves . Kôshun or 7132 are often formidable in mizudashi. (For these infusions in ice water, more generally, teas with middle or strong hi-ire are very suitable)
While summer is well underway, it is good to remember!