After the mystery cultivar kama-iri from Fujieda, the two Musashi-kaori from Sayama and Hon.yama, I continue on an unusual tea, once again from Hon.yama, a Benifûki sencha.
Benifûki, like all cultivars whose name contains “beni”, is a variety intended for black tea. From the cross Benihomare x Cd86 (variety from Darjeeling), registered in 1993, it is the last black tea cultivar developed in Japan, and also the most used today for black tea.
However, it started out to spread for a very different reason in a large part of the country. Indeed, this cultivar contains a significant proportion of methyl catechin, supposed to have effects on allergies and hay fever in particular. Only, like all other types of catechins, the oxidation inherent in the manufacture of black tea causes the disappearance of this molecule. In order to hope to benefit from its effects it is therefore necessary to make Benifûki a green tea. With the very tannic character of black tea varietals, it is not easy to obtain a good sencha with Benifûki, and there are on the market many sencha Benifûki in instant powder, to drink little by little during all the day in the hope of seeing its hay fever symptoms reduced. In Japan, for the general public, the name of Benifûki is unfortunately much more often associated with this kind of product than with black tea.
With this Benifûki green tea from Hon.yama, it is not hypothetical effects on your allergies that I want to sell you (it would be know me very bad to believe that), but a great sencha.
It is a steamed and rolled sencha after a wilting phase of the leaves.
The result is stunning.
A sufficiently hot infusion is essential, you can go above 80 ° C. The infusion offers a wonderful fragrance that is both fresh and milky. There are floral notes, but above all fruity aromas, evoking juicy yellow peaches.
In the mouth, the first infusion has almost no astringency. At the same time, no umami either, but a fluid, refreshing, very aromatic and creamy tea. There are all the same wonderful aromas found on the nose.
The second infusion reveals just the right amount of astringency to add relief to this tea without anything tannic appearing. The milky and fruity aromas develop in a even stronger and clearer way, many doubtful Oolongs had better watch out! (Besides, as sometimes the case, here is a sencha which will be expressed much better one or two weeks after the opening of the bag.)
Under these conditions, a third infusion is a must. Astringency settles stronger, the aromas are still very milky with this time something greener which induces a more floral impression.
And why not a fourth boiling water infusion? Things calm down, but we still keep, in subtlety, all these gourmet aromas and scents, in the background of a tea certainly astringent but not tannic, not raspy, and above all extremely refreshing!
From start to finish, this benifûki sencha remains rich in aroma, fluidity and incredible purity. I hope with all my heart that the producer will reproduce the same feat with the 2020 spring harvest, because this tea is definitely one of my biggest favorites for the 2019-20 season.