For those who are still surprised to see me come out now with a 2016 gyokuro, please refer to, for example, this article about the Gokô gyokuro from Kyô-Tanabe, or this one about the Gokô matcha Gokô from Uji.
Uji-tawara, Shirakwa district in Uji, Kyô-tanabe, I proposed this year a beautiful range of Gokô cultivar gyokuro. This is indeed one of the most representative cultivars (=tea plant variety) from Uji dedicated to shade grown tea. On the other hand, I proposed only one Samidori, which is nevertheless the other cultivar very representative of the gyokuro, but also of the tencha (unmilled raw material for matcha). After that of Kyô-Tanabe here is another one coming this time from Shirakawa in Uji.
Very often Samidori cultivar may appear more classical and simple, less characteristic than Gokô or Uji-hikari for example. Yet, this new gyokuro shows a strong personality, with very remarkable aromatic qualities.
Like the one from Tanabe, this is an entry-level into the restricted club of true gyokuro, harvested manually in a “shizen-shitate” plantation (the tea trees are not pruned, after the only annual spring crop, shrubs are cut to about 30 centimeters from the ground, then grow freely until the following spring), shaded under arbor for more than 3 weeks (4 weeks in the case of this one).
This Shirakawa gyokuro is characterized by a very intense perfume and aromas, which are both floral and evoke sweet citrus fruits, such as orange or tangerine. Shirakawa in Uji is known as a string scent gyokuro production area, also, for the fall-applied fertilizer only press cake were used, which could have accentuated this perfume. However, these perfumes, present throughout the tastings on 4 or 5 infusions, offer a delicious aromatic sensation that marries perfectly with umami always very present in the mouth.
If the liquor does not have the purity and the gigantic volume of higher end gyokuro, one never really feels astringency nor heaviness either.
Thus, this gyokuro offers a very accessible entrance door to this kind of tea.
Of course, I strongly recommand a tasting in parallel with my Samidori gyokuro from Kyô-tanabe, more conventional but equally excellent and affordable.