Dôsenbô is a mountain town in Minami-Yamashiro in the south of the Kyôto prefecture. It is traditionally a sencha production area, with real non-shaded sencha, a rare thing for an “Uji tea”. Located at 400-500 meters above sea level, the harvests are particularly late, which means that even high quality, these sencha are hard to sell at correct price in the market where the hasty sencha are often the most prized. For a tea not shaded, it is even more difficult. Thus, it is a pity to see more and more producers abandoning sencha shifting to the production of tencha (raw material of the matcha) of low quality that they will be able to sell at better price with less labor.
It is in these difficult conditions that Mr. Yuki continues to make very nice sencha, with personality, reflection of this terroir of Dôsenbô.
For the last two years I have been offering on Thés du Japon his Oku-midori, and this year here is his Kanaya-midori, a cultivar that I love quite much. Indeed, Kanaya-midori is relatively ancient, and was fairly widely distributed throughout the country. Today Kanaya-midori remains a relatively widespread cultivar, but it is losing ground against a multitude of new cultivars, which are not all yet so interesting. Kanaya-midori, like Sayama-kaori, is one of those cultivars that have been registered since the late 1960s (1970 for Kanaya-midori), which remain safe value, with clear characteristics for the consumer. It is said to have robustness and milky flavors. Kanaya-midori is the “parent” of a large number of cultivars, including the famous Kôshun or Haru-midori.
On the nose and in the mouth, this Kanaya-midori from Dôsenbô stands out clearly from the Oku-midori. While the latter is dense, round, sweet, rice-flavored Kanaya-midori is more green with invigorating aromas, evoking the perfume of conifers.
Their common point will be the fluidity in the mouth and the fine balance between very light astringency and elegant umami (while being unshaded, both seem to me typical of the sencha of this region). Also this kanaya-midori is cultivated on a clay soil whereas the oku-midori comes from a sandy soil.
The fragrance, fresh and sweet, gives an impression of pine, citrus, but also, this milky side.
This milky tonality is found in the after-taste, after a first attack that is dominated by the umami, after which the infusion gives more depth in the mouth. We have a subtle tea, but still present in the mouth.
The creamy impression seems stronger from the second infusion while fruity aromas and black pepper taste appear. The umami becomes more discreet still, but the astringency remains delicate.
It is a refreshing and rich sencha, really very interesting. It is one of my favorite and very must-try recommendation of this season. It is even more interesting in comparison with the Oku-midori of the same producer and the Kanaya-midori from Mariko (with the extraordinary milk and creamy perfume) and finally of course that from Shimizu.