After the rare and very early-wase Mariko Kondo in Shizuoka, the arrival of the sencha from Kirishima Saemidori cultivar may be the true beginning of the 2016 season in Thés du Japon. This Saemidori happens to be this year with a light roast, I do not know why, I asked “as usual”, but after all, why not, it makes this tea be a “real” novelty.
Thus, this sencha has necessarily a lighter fragrance, greener than previous years. The scent of liquor is greenish with subtle hints of fresh herbs like fennel.
Prepared with warm water, with a good quantity of leaves, the first attack is lively, with much umami (even strong as we think about the fact that Mr. Nishi teas are organic grown). It is then that we feel vegetal aromas, reminding more the cooked vegetable than the cut grass. Therefore it remains in the field of the umami mellowness. I also feel something animal, much like with Asatsuyu but softer (Saemidori is a crossbreed between Asatsuyu and Yabukita). The after-taste is not vegetal but sweet.
A second hotter infusion highlights (naturally?) fragrance, slightly vegetal and sweet, with notes of leather. In the mouth, the liquor is softer, less rich, more refreshing. The powerful umami of the first infusion disappears, but it still appears no astringency.
This is a delicate and soft tea, well balanced and without excesses, with a good length, light but really nice.
But finally, for those who like more impact, I would suggest in fact, as in previous vintages, to forget that this is a fukamushi harvested manually and started directly from the 1st infusion with enough hot water, 80 ° C at least. We see then appear astringency, tannin, but simple and the light umami get deeper, sweeter as he create an interesting balance with the vegetal aromas. On the following infusions we still have a tea that is more refreshing, no astringency, playing on a very pleasant after-taste, that is getting more and more powerful in the mouth as and as time passes, and seems to have no end.
Finally, the impression that finally lets me this tea is that of a pure, almost “traditionnal” sencha, not that of a fukamushi, shaded, with thick liquor.
2016 will be another difficult year. A particularly strange climate, this year, no winter, abnormally hot days in April, more than ever put the talents of producers to the test. Some teas are very early, others very late, many “never seen”. If the frost were not completely avoid this year, it appears that the damage is relatively well limited, even with promising plantations in a grandiose form as I found out during my last travel in Kyôto (Uji) area.
So many complain of a lack of fragrance this year, there are teas that belie these claims, as the next shincha to be available on Thés du Japon, a Kanaya-midori cultivar sencha from Mariko with an incredible scent.