Each new tea season brings a lot of new, disappointments, surprises, and sometimes there are very special satisfactions. In this way, last week I introduced Yamakai cultivar sencha from Ôma by Mr. Nakamura, which I could have in exclusivity for Thés du Japon. This week I’ll talk about three Tamaryokucha from Ureshino by Ôta Yusuke. I propose for three years now some of his kama-iri cha, but also of tamaryokucha. He’s growing many cultivars, and he’s making his own “home” blends for its tamaryokucha. It is his “number 2” I liked particularly. But those who know me are doubts although I would have preferred his tea by single plantation and cultivar, unblended. He never could / wanted to, but after three years to insist (soflty) I could finally get satisfaction. Shaded Yabukita, unshaded, 200m, 500m, and many other cultivars. A real joy ! and a more comprehensive idea of his work that will serve me again the year. I have chosen to start three teas, an unshaded Yabukita, a Sayama Kaori, and a Tsuyu-hikari. Clearly all different, all excellent. Besides, it is curious to note that roughly speaking it corresponds to the content of the blend 2 (which contains also a shaded Yabu). I would propose later this year a fourth cultivar. Patience.
Tamaryokucha (it is steamed green tea) by Mr. Ota are quite unique in the extent they are lightly steamed (a rarity today in Ureshino) and their rolling / drying gives actually true intermediate between steamed Japanese green tea, and kama-iri cha, what were originally the tamaryokucha (or guricha).
The Yabukita is certainly the most simple of the three teas. The scent is sweet and mineral. The liquor has a good balance, with a first attack slightly astringent, and a sweet after, with a good touch of umami. It’s a good Yabukita, with great force.
With Sayama-kaori the impression is very different. The infusion gives a strong flavor, tangy, slightly vegetal. The first attack is stimulating, slightly astringent, but overall gives a pleasant feeling of freshness, and the liquor is light, with a silky texture. This tamaryokucha gives an impression of delicacy, subtlety, with rich sweet flavor, umami who speak again in the after and length.
Finally, Tsuyu-hikari takes us into an area of very different flavors, with a dense perfume, fruity, we think of candied fruit, vanilla.
If the nose is much more stimulated here than with the previous two teas, the tea soup remains light, without overloading aromas or umami, although this is one who has the most. In the mouth, the aromas are fruity in a first time, in the pefect continuity of the pefume, then, changes in something much more green and vegetal. There is this time absolutely no astringency.
Exploring the very different properties of these three excellent teas, we can better understand how is built the Blend # 2, from where comes each of its flavors. While then comprising the strengths of a good blend, I appreciate more than ever the single plantation teas, for their personality, how they are also built by their defects, and more simply, the fun of compared tasting. And nothing forbid to make his own small blends in the teapot! However, having tasted all first harvest teas of Mr. Ôta, which also includes the kama-iri cha, I also understand that some those teas would not have much interest in themselves, or only sold at ridiculous prices, and thus, from the point of view of the producer, they have a much greater value as an accent or supplement in a blend.