Fukamushi-cha from Nearai, Shizu-7132

For the details of Mr. Tarui’s teas from Nearai (Shizuoka, Hamamatsu City), I invite you to read this article about its phenomenal Inzatsu 131. In short, the peculiarity of these fukamushi cha comes from their method of manufacture, on an Akitsu type production line. This manufacturer no longer exists, and these machines are therefore very rare. First of all, after steaming the leaves, instead of being cooled as on a usual line, the leaves go through a hot air ventilation stage, which while chasing moisture accumulates their surface keep them warm. Then the Akitsu line is composed of the four stages of kneading-drying, sojû 粗揉, jûnen 揉捻, chûjû 中揉 and seijû 精揉. But here, these steps are not fixed over a definite period of time for a definite quantity of leaves, here the leaves are continuously fed through the different machines (ryûdô-shiki 流動式). Thus, the time spent in each machine being short, several (two or three) identical machines are connected end to end to obtain a sufficient kneading. Only the last stage (seijû) works in the same way as usual, showing the limits of this system inspired by the concepts developed by Professor Arima after the war. This Akitsu system allows to process continuously, without laying, leaves always hot. This would make fukamushi more fragrant. Honestly, I do not know how far the taste of Mr. Tarui’s teas really is conditioned by the Akitsu line. In any case, it is nevertheless certain that the treatment with hot air changes radically what happens after the steaming usually.

P1240351If the production of Inzatsu 131 is very anecdotal (only 15 kilos in 2017), Shizu-7132 is the main cultivar used by Mr. Tarui. Even more than Yabukita (It also produces some very rare Karabeni, of which I propose black tea).
Like Yamakai (Shizu-7166) or Kurasawa (Shizu-7111), Shizu-7132 is part of this famous series 7000, cultivars with all special aromas selected from seeds of Yabukita. 7132 is known for its scent reminiscent of sakura-mochi, Japanese pastry with pickled cherry/sakura leaf.
P1270446It is one of those teas that need time and maturation. Also, after opening the bag, the leaves will take their beautiful sweet fragrance after few days.
It is not always easy to infuse the best of this fukamushi. The first infusion could sometimes lack aroma. But again, it is true that these leaves need to breathe a little, and it is a few days, a few weeks after opening the bag that this sencha will really prove.
I recommend hot enough water; use a good amount of leaves.

P1270448A good first infusion reveals then this particular sweet perfume of sakura-mochi, certainly light but sufficiently present to be appetizing and mesmerizing. However, it is best to wait for the tea to cool a little before diving into it. We then find these aromas in the mouth, in the throat. We do not have here the thickness and heaviness of many fukamushi. Let’s not forget that this is an unshaded fukamushi, something not so obvious nowadays, even in Shizuoka. Without a strong umami, this tea has a nice sweet roundness with at the same time a tannic, stimulating texture, which confirms that this sencha is a fukamushi. In short, the whole has a significant presence in the mouth.
Where this fukamushi sencha surprises may be the most it is by its endurance to the number of infusion. It is known how fukamushi can sometimes fade as soon as the 2nd infusion. Here it is not so, and we can get at least four infusions. Then we see the tannic pole increase, without this tea never really becomes very astringent. The sweet flavors so special to this cultivar continue to accompany us throughout these infusions, can even more clearly than on the first infusion.

Thus, this sencha of Nearai cultivar Shizu-7132 may not have the impact of Inzatsu 131, but it is also easier to drink and will be appreciated by more people. The characteristics of the cultivar are not as pronounced as on some mountain sencha, but it also has a typical fukamushi-cha strength that makes it a tea that is appreciated in a different way.


Categories: Reviews

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