It really is very slowly that this 2017 season begins; After the delay of the beginning of the crops, things accelerate, but it is then the finishing work (sorting, final drying, etc) that does not follow.
For the mountain teas, whether in Shizuoka or Takachiho and Gokase where I visited last week, or for Uji shaded teas, the harvests are still unfinished, and the arrival of the 2017 tea will still spread out for several weeks.
Finally, after a number of early cultivars (Inzatsu type for most), Yamakai cultivar from Takayama, Saemidori and Asatsuyu cultivar from Kirishima, are finally available, and today is a Tsuyu-hikari from Wazuka.
I recall that Wazuka, in the Kyôto prefecture, is the most important production area of ”Uji tea”, with a lot of sencha and kabuse-cha.
This sencha by M. Minato Ken.ichiro, from the area of Kamazuka, was shaded (direct cover) for 6 days (in Uji, are designated as kabuse-cha tea having been shaded more than 14 days), and harvested on 4 may.
Tsuyu-hikari is a crossbreed of Asatsuyu and Shizu-7132.
A first approach with this tea gives an impression of quality, nice leaves, good fragrance of shaded sencha. Another impression after tasting, that of a tea rather light (One notices this seems to be the tendence this year with the teas which taste is based on the umami), thus, with this type of shaded tea, one can choose to make a fairly heavy infusion, 5g for 70-80ml of water at 70 ° C, with 70-80s of infusion. In short, it is taken more like a kabuse-cha.
The tea soup then arrives in the mouth very full, but also very tender. The umami dominates. Then, we feel clearly tones of ripe fruit. No astringency at all.
But as always, there is no ideal recipe, and above all, the idea of always wanting to infuse lukewarm often make a lack of aromas. Then, you can also use hotter water, 80-85 ° C, a little less leaves, and brew for 60s. The umami is always present, but less dominant. We feel a greener aftertaste. The aromas, especially the nose, are richer, with more fruity notes of cooked green vegetables, and something slightly floral.
In this case, the liquor is more incisive in the mouth, but one cannot find either truly marked astringency.
In both cases, one remains in the umami, the sweetness, green “shaded tea”, with a particular freshness appearing on the following infusions, and one can say that it is both a good Tsuyu-Hikari and a good “Uji sencha”.
By the way, this year, this kind of good umami base mellow sencha are rare and high-priced….
To counter-balance, the unshaded sencha, Yabukita from Wazuka-Harayama 2017 is also available.