Here is a sencha of Mimasaka. It is not in my selection a tea you would call a very great vintage, but it is simply a good sencha, with enough force and personality, a crush for me actually.
Even for Japanese tea lovers, it may be necessary to explain about Mimasaka. This production area is located in the northeast of the Okayama prefecture, north of Bizen city. Indeed, the department of Okayama is known more for its Bizen pottery, the legend of Momotaro and pastries called kibi-dango, or even for fashion fanatics, its high quality denim. Yet Mimasaka, Kaita area in particular is a region that produces tea since the Edo period. Today, if the Mimasaka bancha (simply boiled and sun dried leaves) seems best known, sencha is still produced. But very little known, this output is less important, and only few producers have successors. However, Mr. Kurosaka holds, taking even when possible “abandoned” plantations. He’s growing a relatively large number of cultivars, and meanwhile those which only just have been planted, that’s Ryôfû 涼風 cultivar that called my attention. Despite its name, I do not think this cultivar will bring to all the Japanese tea industry a “fresh wind”, but this little sencha is really nice.
Here the plantation late September 2015:
Despite a steaming about 50s long, the leaves are not too broken, they are fragrant, fresh, mineral and sweet, reflecting a medium “hi-ire” roast.
This tea could easily turn with a short tannic first attack but this could be rounded up by brewing parameters. For this, according to my tastes and habits, I use a leaves ratio slightly lower than usual, 3.5 g, and a short infusion time, 40 to 50 seconds in order to use water not too warmed, about 85 ° C to enhance out the fragrances and flavors of this cultivar.
The scent of the liquor is warm, sweet, slightly peaty, it also evokes leather smell.
In the mouth, depending on the brewing parameter, one could a slightly astringent touch, very brief but aggressive, which can still be avoided while maintaining a strong liquor. There is a diffuse umami, melted from mineral aromas and candied fruits. This tea gives a soft after, very powerful, in which there are some green notes, first absent in the mouth.
The following infuse confirm the impression of a rather rough tea, but not without finesse, especially rich. A sencha far from perfect but it gives a lot of himself, and managed to delight the senses with happiness. The soft after tastes returns are strong, making drool with delight, and the taste last long time on the palate and throat.
Mr. Kurosaka is a producer with whom I’d like to do more in the future.