The city of Yame in Fukuoka Prefecture (Kyushu) is famous for its tea production. The production extends over a large part of the territory of the city, including mountainous areas, the best known are the village of Hoshino, the town of Jôyô and, perhaps the most remote, the village of Yabe.
It is from this village that comes the sencha that I present today.
It is an area where it snows a lot every year, as it was the case in early February when I went there. While on the way, in Kuroki commune, the weather was simply cloudy, I could see the mountains in front of me, in a white haze, and indeed, climbing a little to enter Yabe, I began to see the snow falling. That said, according to my host, the producer Mr. Harashima, this year there is rather less than usual!
For the little story, in Yabe is the Yametsuhime Jinja Shrine 八女津媛神社. It may have been built in 719. The Nihon-Shoki (one of the oldest historical document picturing an antic history of Japan) reports that the emperor visiting Kyushu would have in the country of Yame seen beautiful mountains and found there a particular mystical presence. To which the master of the region would have replied that a female deity named Yametsuhime had always lived in these mountains. It is this deity who gives his name to Yame.
In the shelter of a cliff, this small sanctuary bathes in a very particular atmosphere, a feeling reinforced by the climate of the day. It is a splendid place.
But let’s go back to tea. Mr. Harashima’s plantations are between 500 and 600 above sea level. He works in organic agriculture, and uses only fertilizers of vegetable origins, preferring the lightness that gives them to the teas against the robustness and the thickness that can sometimes give fertilizers of animal origins. Also, even though on the whole he makes fukamushi as is the standard in Yame, his steaming is rather short, giving very delicate Yame teas. Here again in Yame’s habits, he shade his plantations, but for a short period of 4-5 days.
Nevertheless, the sencha that I present today, shaded 4 days, is very little steamed, with a competition style kneading, and no roasting. We are very far from the usual image of Yame’s teas. It is a manual harvest, on Yabukita tea plants.
A classic brew, 70-80ml for 4g of leaves (even a little less), a little warm, 70 ° C seems to me correct, but it will also be possible with one a little warmer still to push with more leaf and less water.
We then obtain a perfume giving a delicious impression of freshness both vegetal and sweet, very pure, typical, with floral aromas almost evoking roses.
In the mouth, if the infusion is indeed pure, refreshing and velvety, it also offers a beautiful umami, subtle and elegant, but very present, with enough volume. The sensation is vegetal but not grassy, nor even too green. There is the sensation of nuts, cereals specific to Yabukita cultivar, giving a sweet final touch. We then have a long sweet but discreet after.
The second infusion puts more emphasis on the floral pole of this sencha. The infusion is then much lighter in the mouth, more refreshing and still fluid, despite the appearance of a tiny astringent note. The third infusion continues, naturally, in the same direction.
This sencha has of course nothing representative of Yame teas, but it is a very beautiful high-end sencha, simple and typical, extremely pure and refined, which is not limited to us to taste the umami, but leaves a beautiful part to perfumes.
Next season, I will present one more typical sencha from this producer.