From the beginning, I always presented teas by Akiyama Katsuhide, producer Fuji (Shizuoka Prefecture) on Thés du Japon. He’s growing over forty cultivars, experiment many tea processing methods, from the first spring harvest until the autumn harvest. He only has a little time to do the finishing process (sorting, final drying, etc.) on its teas, indeed, I never really know when I would be able to get his new production of the year. Difficult to plan, but it reserves every year surprises (disappointments too). This year, that’s this steamed tamaryokucha (guricha), a priori not very original because it is a Yabukita.
However, looking at the leaves, one could understand it is a very nice tea, very different from most of the super dusty and broken guricha that “dominate” in Shizuoka (this kind of tea still remains a minority). Seeing these leaves, the process difference with sencha is easy to understand (remember, the last phase of drying / rolling of sencha, “seiju” is not performed on the tamaryokucha, replaced by a drying phase in a drum, thus, not a needle-shaped).
The scent of the dry leaves is incredible. Very captivating scents, fresh but sweet as fruit candy, warm, suggesting both an important roasting (rare with that grower), and the characteristics of this type of tea, less kneaded/rolled, more heated. Even before brewing, it is a delight for the eyes and nose.
Water a little warmed water sounds like a good solution to an infusion of 80-90s. It could also be brewed with hot water with obviously a shorter infusion, less than a minute.
The scent contrast very much with those of the dry leaves. While it is very mellow, but more in the field of cooked vegetables, tomato too, with a mineral texture. In the mouth there is a little astringency. There is a discreet umami, and very dense vegetable aromas, almost reminiscent some Chinese green teas but more rustic, not as delicate.
The after is sweet, with very nice length.
This tamaryokucha has a strong character, and differs enough from sencha with the same cultivar, Yabukita, even by the same producer. It seems to me this guricha manage to justifies its difference with sencha, something not always evident, however, both in Shizuoka to Ureshino.
The mineral feeling disappears from the second infusion, leaving the field open to tomato and sweet vegetables flavors. The liquor is softer, astringency disappears. Slightly fruity flavors appear in the aftertaste.
On a third infusion, we see greener vegetable flavors. The liquor naturally loses in strength, in favor of an even more refreshing feeling. After-taste is still poxerfull, with as much length.
This tamaryokucha from Fuji, Yabukita cultivar, is a steamed Japanese green tea not necessarily easy to grasp at first sight, but which has so much more character than one may think at first. Four very good infusions could be done, and maybe even more enjoyable from the 2nd, while the scent of roasting is more discreet.
It is a tea which I was surprised and delighted. A Yabukita challenging off the beaten track.