I think that for even very experiencedJapanese tea lovers, the toponym of Tokunoshima is not very familiar. It is indeed a small island of 80 km of coast located in the Amami archipelago south of Kagoshima. It is a sub-tropical island just north of Okinawa and is located in the cultural area of the Ryukyu Islands.
Its agriculture is more oriented towards sugar cane and tropical fruits than to tea, the culture of which disappeared there after the 2nd World War … Before being reintroduced by a family of growers in the 2000s. They turned to tea tree cultivar generally more comfortable in a hot climate, Benifûki, Sunrouge, and finally Sôfû which I present today. This is a March 27th harvest.
I remind you that Sôfû is an Inzatsu type variety resulting from the Yabukita x Inzatsu 131 crossbreeding.
A quick examination of the leaves shows that it is not a “grand cru” by classical standards, but this tea is no less interesting … on the contrary.
Even for a Sôfû it seems completely original to me. While we usually turn with Sôfû around floral, white grapes, sometimes jasmine, here I seem to first feel notes of citrus, orange and grapefruit. Then there are nevertheless many floral notes.
In the mouth there is clearly the sensation of a sencha of the sun. There is very little umami and an obvious tannic structure. However, this astringent sensation gives a lot of charm to this sencha, on the one hand because it is followed on the palate by a strong sweet persistence, and also because it echoes with the aromas of citrus, particularly grapefruit.
Also, there are buttery nuances giving a gourmet touch.
It is a tea to be brew very hot, the aromas will be more evident in the second and third infusions. But also, it can be drunk in a Chinese way in a glass, with very hot water, adding water as you go. It is a good method to enjoy its scent.
Finally, it is an unusual sencha, which also changes from the Sôfû that I have been able to present so far. It is certainly not a tea that plays with finesse and elegance, but it is original from an aromatic point of view, and has a lot of volume.