Saturday, July 10, 2010

The 2010 Yuuki-Cha Kagoshima Shincha Magokoro

Having been a long-time sencha drinker, I decided to give Shincha a shot.  This is Fukamushi, so I know my kyusu will most likely spill a good bit of the smaller, broken stuff.
I will purchase a new camera soon

The leaves have a pleasant shine to them, and have a sweet aroma with the hint of some kind of vegetable - Asparagus, perhaps?  

50, 2, 2, 5, 15

I had hoped to get more than five infusions from this stuff, but from what I understand, 4 grams of leaf is not enough.  This isn't chinese style, mind you, so the 7-10 grams per session is way too much.  So five or six grams should do the trick when I taste and review this again.

The first cup was extremely bright and sweet tasting, with a rich umami profile that seemed to stay with me after the gulp.  The smoothness!  It had the smoothness of a high quality young-pu-erh, without the thick liquor, of course.  Some grassiness crept in as the tea cooled.

Cup two was flash brewed, revealing a much darker colour and a thicker mouthfeel.  The sweetness and tartness here were much more balanced, having enough of each so that they complemented one another. I detected herbal notes here, something that I have never tasted in a Japanese green tea before.

Cup three revealed to me that flash brewing can only work for so long - and in my case, shorter than expected.  The colour of the liquor was incredibly pale compared to the rich neon green colour from last time.  The flavor was mild, with only a tiny bit of sweetness and a slightly grassy aftertaste.  

Despite the lack of flavor in the previous cup, I continued on with the last two.  I increased the infusion time to try and get something from the leaves, and it worked!  The flavor was sweeter, with a more pronounced mouthfeel and a hint more of grassiness.  The umami was present, but rather small.

Cup five had faded into warm blandness with a livid green colour.  The aroma of the liquor had even faded somewhat, something grassy with a creamy sweetness.  
A new camera or photographer is greatly needed!

Overall, the tea was enjoyable.  I could fault it for it's short brewing time, but I also figure that my lack of skill in brewing this tea may have contributed to it's short life.  There were no toasty notes present anywhere, so I suspect no baking or either a very light baking.  If you have 20 bucks to spend on a few ounces of tea, give the stuff a try.  You might like it!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The 2009 Haiwan Pasha Mountain Organic pu-erh

When I had first read about Haiwan, it seemed to me that it was mostly bad news.  My education has taught me that no matter how much someone praises or criticizes a certain tea, the best experience lies in tasting it yourself.

Thar be the Leaves...

This leaf was aromatic - much more than I had anticipated, given how I had preconceived notions about this tea (a big no-no on my part).  The sweetness reminded me of gummi candies, the kind with the slightly tart tasting ingredients to help balance out the sweetness.  The aroma of  sweet peas and purple coneflowers hinted that this might be very, very strong.  From my experience(and my water and brewing techniques) super-sweet smelling teas can be rather bitter.  I do not know the reason behind that, but I'm sure I'll find out one day!

8 second rinse,
5, 3, 4, 4, 5, 7, 12 

Despite the risk of bitterness, I added about 7 grams of leaf.  That is slightly more than I would usually add, but I figured I could always remove leaves if it became overwhelming.  Sure as sunrise, the first infusion was bitter, but not too bitter.  In fact, it added some interesting dimensions to the flavor:  Mid-level white wine, tropical fruits, cereal grains, and various spices.  One of the more interesting aspects was the mouthfeel, which was already quite thick.  I wasn't expecting that, but I wasn't complaining either.  The aftertaste continued on for a while with more fruity flavors - pineapple, slightly under-ripe mango.  Interesting!

The second infusion was the other more interesting cup, with an even thicker mouthfeel and grain and sweetness flirting with a Xiaguan darkness and tobacco.  As the liquor cooled, hints of smoke came through, which seems to explain the lack of bitterness in this one.  Dryness and fruit follows in the aftertaste.  

Cups three through five showed a slight increase in acidity, with basically the same flavors of smoke fading into creamy leather notes with sparks of grain and fruit zapping my tongue.  The drying, fruity aftertaste continued on.
Cup Five- the Turning Point

By cup six and seven, I reminded myself that all good things must come to their end.  The flavours faded gradually, while the acidity increased alongside the bitterness.  By the 7th cup, it was basically hot, bitter water with a rough feel.  

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by this stuff.  I didn't get an insane amount of bitterness, and the roughness arrived when the tea was at it's end, which is just fine.  Due to it's complexity, I think that this tea would be a decent candidate for aging.  If you have the money (I don't) then give it a try and see what it does in your individual storage conditions.  Thanks for reading!