Among the novelties of 2018, I have just added to the my Thés du Japon selection two Uji teas made from the Uji-midori cultivar.
Uji-midori is, as its name suggests, a tea plant variety originally from Kyoto Prefecture where it was selected in 1985 from a seed of zairai (native) tea trees from Uji. Like all Uji cultivars, it is considered a shaded tea cultivar. It has remained very rare, and it is more rarely used for high grade gyokuro or tencha (matcha). The most common cases are shaded kabuse-cha or sencha. It is a cultivar very interesting, as shown by the kabuse-cha that I could propose in 2016.
This year, here is a kabuse-cha from Uji-tawara and a sencha from Wazuka!
Let’s start with the rarest, Wazuka sencha, grown without any shading. It is rare with this cultivar, and it is relatively rare anyway for an “Uji tea”.
For the first infusion, I think that water between 70 and 80 ° C is suitable. A little less than a minute, 45 seconds even with water around 80 ° C.
This sencha expresses very little on the nose. On the palate, there is at first a hint of bitterness, light but rather characteristic. Afterwards, we feel a great aromatic richness in the after and by retro-olfaction. No strong umami but a sweet velvety sensation, with creamy and milky aromas. Aromas of bitter almond and aromatic herbs give a good echo to the slight bitterness of the tea brew.
The whole is very fluid, but not too light, borne by the density of aromas and their length in the mouth.
If the final drying hi-ire is weak, this tea does not give a greenish impression.
The following infusions are very aromatic in the mouth with a slightly tannic character.
It is a sencha that might be difficult to understand at first, yet it will give a great feeling of satisfaction to all those who love sencha very “typically sencha”, without outstanding umami, refreshing and aromatic.
Here is now a Uji-midori shaded for a long time, 20 days.
For this kabuse-cha we use less water than for a sencha, lukewarm water, for a longer infusion too, 80-90s.
The first surprise is the relative weakness of the umami given the strong shading of this tea. On the other hand what a nose! A superb creamy and milky sweet perfume. On the palate these aromas are found with more strong floral notes. It is a round and silky liquor. Dense but not heavy.
The richness of aromas and perfumes is amazing for a kabuse-cha (we remember then Gokô, which also gives very strong aromas as shaded tea).
Always with this milky impression, the following infusions offer aromas of citrus, rather sweet at first, then lemony, with a very slight tannic impression in 3rd infusion.
This Uji-midori is an interesting case of cultivar whose aromas seem to be sublimated by shading, while not shaded, these are lighter though still characteristic.
Also, the relative absence of umami for a shaded tea cultivar may explain why it has not spread much and is almost never used for high-end tencha and gyokuro (?). Of course, the very special aromas of a cultivar are often, and unfortunately, a drag. Today, however, these are strong aromatic characteristics that interest us, and these two teas confirm my belief that Uji-midori is a valuable cultivar that deserves to be more exposed.