Shizuoka 2015, Sencha from Ashikubo, Sôfû cultivar

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.
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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.
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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.

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Very light in the first brew, the following infusions also has aromas of old wood, leather, and especially walnuts. These are the tastes that appear together the slight increase of astringency.

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!P1170792

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Categories: Reviews

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3 replies

  1. I am a Tea Taster of Assam and Indian Origin. I am so happy to learn that the Assam cultivar is adding a bouquet of complexity to Japan’s Green tea . I can relate to the aromas of old wood and spice you are frefering to as characteristics of Sofu cultivar . We find in Some few Assam a woody note and leather as well . The sweet notes are there in cultivars of olden times . The Assam Pungency or astringency is endemic in the Assam cultivars indeed as rated in the new Japanese cultivar Sofu .. we make a cold brew also for iced tea here as well in India but prefer more high grown teas to Assam which is low elevation grown . Assam cultivar iced tea can be used best for cocktails with fresh Fleming juice for example . Let us keep talking Florent San

    • Thank you for your comment.
      Like in the Kondo-wase cultivar (that you comment on another post) but also Fuji-kaori cultivar, the assam variety is only 1/4 but still it gives very characteristics teas. Also, in higher grade Sofu, or Kondo wase, one find absolutely no astringency.

      • Dear Florent
        Thanks for your comments and I am so happy to know that there is a person so deeply involved in characteristics of tea that stand out . We also use single cultivar or cloned cultivar teas with consistent characters . Our top seller is a Cultivar we call Single Malt Assam . This offers pure malt flavour with a sweet fruit note as in a Glenfiddich single malt whiskey. I wish to send you a sample for your comments so do please send me your mailing address . We sell a blend of a tea called Chardonnay . This cultivar’s aroma compounds resemble the citrus and buttery notes of Chardonnay and is delightful . This cultivar is a Assam is plus China origin bush . It grows well in the Darjeeling hills . The Single Malt is also a China plus Assam cultivar . It is broad leafed and has more fiber . Broad leafed cultivars tend to throw up aromas of wood and straw : perhaps due to the effect of firing on fiber of leaf and hard stalk of the base .
        Do please send me your address and I shall be pleased to send you some samples : kind regards

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