Given the time of year, some may find it strange that I speak of gyokuro and matcha. So, I repeat, the gyokuro and matcha from Uji are teas that are in principle never sold at the time of the spring new harvest. These are teas that are usually release from the fall after a maturation period. And in many cases, it is even from the following year that these teas arrive at their best time to be enjoyed. So do not ask “when are you going to sell the shincha matcha?”. This is almost an heresy, although some sellers do it for pure marketing purposes, usually with low-end products.
Moreover, some tencha (unmilled raw material of the matcha), will require more or less maturation. Products rather based on taste and umami such as those of Kyô-tanabe will soon be pretty good, those known to be more fragrant like those of Uji for example, will have a greater need of maturation to take enough volume in the mouth.
To propose, as I do, a rare thing, non-blended matcha (from single plantations) makes it possible to feel better this evolution over the course of the year. Thus, with my matcha from Shirakawa in Uji by Mr. Tsuji, we also see that two different matcha, made with different cultivars but by the same producer, in the same terroir, can have different maturation need. Indeed, if the Samidori ground in September was already wonderful, for the Asahi, it was still a little early.
So, here is a new matcha, from the city of Uji also, not from Shirakawa district but from the district of Uji, historical center of the place. It is another producer (on the recommendation of Mr Tsuji) who does not wish to be named (perhaps in this environment in Kyoto things that can be tricky, since these producers can supply certain old and famous store).
This time it is Saemidori, this cultivar, basically dedicated to Sencha, has a very rapid diffusion from Kagoshima to the plains of Shizuoka, not only for the sencha but also for the tencha and the gyokuro. Beautiful color, early, high concentration of amino acids (= lots of umami) are the qualities at the origin of its success. On the other hand, its great sensitivity to the cold makes it hard to grown in mountainous areas. About amino acids, especially theanine, it develops more than the shaded tea cultivars of Uji (Samidori, Goko, Uji-hikari, Asahi, etc.), which explains also its recent success with producers of gyokuro and tencha. Nevertheless I think it could lack a typical perfume in comparison to the cultivars of Uji.
By both cultivar and producer are different, so here is a matcha with different profile than those of Shirakawa. It is, of course, a manual harvest in shizen-shitate plantations (uncut trees, a single annual harvest possible)
It is not always easy to describe the flavors of matcha, and I do not know what to add to my description in Thés du Japon, but it can be said that this matcha first offers a perfume that looms around two poles, greenish and sweet. There is a spring feeling of fresh cut grass, but also mellow notes, a sensation of sweets more than pure umami.
In the mouth it is very velvety, without any astringency, but we do not find the creamy, milky or chocolate aromas of the Samidori and especially Asahi from Uji-Shirakawa. If those matcha offer in mouth a voluminous umami, the first impression is still vegetal. Then, appear these sweet flavors of fruit candy. This dominant sweet general impression is what seems to me most remarkable with this matcha, especially since this impression remains strongly in the after-taste, very long lasting in the mouth.
It seems to me that this Saemidori matcha gives an aromatic tendency very different from those of Shirakawa, allowing to perceive a difference of manufacture (the teas of Tsuji-san might have been fired stronger) but also and especially characteristics of cultivars radically different .
Comparative tastings with Asahi and Samidori will be very instructive. The compositions of you own blends with these matcha, Saemidori, Samidori, Asahi and Yabukita also will be a real pleasure.
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Finally, this matcha also suits for koi-cha.