I ramble but it is good to remember that “uji-cha” (Uji tea), designates not the teas coming from the city of Uji, but from all the Kyôto prefecture. In reality, at less than 50% in a blend with Kyôto teas, Shiga, Nara and Mie teas can also be used as Uji tea. Also, a particularity of Uji’s teas is that most sencha are actually shaded (this is also the case most of the time in Yame or Kagoshima). The real sencha are rare, yet these are probably the most interesting and I propose several unshaded Uji teas (of course, I offer only single estate teas, no blend). The one from Harayama sector in Wazuka grows on clay soil, giving a strong tea, quite astringent. On the other hand, those of Dôsenbô in Minami-Yamashiro grow in very sandy soil, giving teas more subtle and round.
Here is another unshaded sencha from Wazuka, from the Shirasu area. It is a place where it comes into contact with clay and sandy soil. The character of this tea, although it is a Yabukita like that of Harayama, is very different.
It offers a sweet, slightly vegetal scent with notes of lemon and almond.
On the palate, one feels from the first attack an elegant and balanced umami, but nevertheless very present. It follows a beautiful feeling of freshness, but nothing too green. It is a kind of very pure sweet plant, a simple harmony that could characterize the unshaded Yabukita with a very low hi-ire (final drying firing).
There is no astringency on the first infusion despite the use of hot water. A second, warmer infusion reveals less umami, giving more place to vegetal and lemony aromas, always with a very invigorating freshness. Again it is difficult to perceive astringency. A third infusion finally gives a slightly tannic liquor, but still extremely pure, with nevertheless sweet after-taste.
This Yabukita sencha from Wazuka is one of the great wonders of this year. Such an umami, so direct, on unshaded tea is rare. However, it is also a fluid and refreshing tea, whose absence of marked astringency makes it a tea of choice also for beginner’s wishes to discover an unshaded but typical sencha from Uji. Of course I recommend a tasting in comparison with the other Yabukita from Wazuka in the Harayama area, or even with Asamiya’s in Shiga geographically finally very close to Shirasu.