Monday, October 31, 2011

The Return of Autumn

The leaves are changing, it's 40-odd degrees out, and I'm using extra blankets at night to keep myself warm. It's an excellent time for a sencha.  Tonight, I'm looking over O-cha's Kabusecha.  This was one tea out of five that was presented in the 11th OTTI (Official Tea Tasting Initiative) from TeaChat.  Thanks to everyone who made this possible!

Fresh out of the sample bag, this stuff was quite dark green, and it had a roasted, grassy aroma rather than the fresh, bright aroma found in other similar tea.  While I have my ideas about what this may mean in terms of flavor, I will not share them here - as aroma and appearance do not always indicate kind of flavor will be present.

This kabusecha was medium-steamed and of the yabukita varietal.  The leaf itself is mostly shiny and somewhat thin and small.  

For the first infusion, I used 160 degree water for about one minute, and noted a thick tea liquor with a rather   intense umami and greenness.  The sweetness lasted for a long time after the 'gulp' - over 30 seconds of time went by before I started focusing on the retro-olfactory senses and the aftertaste.  The vegetal nature of this tea was overpowered by the umami and sweetness, and an hint of 'ocean' crept its way up midpalate before fading away.

Once the initial intensity of the first infusion had gone away, the tea became roasty and had a genmaicha sweetness to it, rather than just a pure sencha flavor to it.  Fern leaves, fresh salad greens (think Romaine lettuce) and more briny ocean-like flavor.  No surprises here, but I am enjoying the complexity.

Cup three continued the calmness of the last cup, but this time, the flavor made its way into new territory.  I experience what I can only describe as eggs with tabasco sauce.  I sat dumbfounded for a moment, asked the other members of the tasting about what they were thinking, then went right back into it.  As the unusual flavor faded, a distant planty sweetness slowly made it's way to the forefront.

Cup four showed a bright, sugary sweetness, light plantiness, and a fleeting hint of roast.  The mouthfeel had become thinner, but the flavor remained enjoyable for such simplicity.  The aftertaste was a spot-on reminder of fresh-picked sugar snaps.

The flavor ended at cup five, where it was just a light green liquid with a hint of sweetness.  All in all, I enjoyed this tea for it's complexity throughout the session, and the calming simplicity as it's end.  Farewell, kabusecha, you were quite educational.

Chopin drifts off during a tea session



  1. One of these days I'll break out of my Chinese tea focus and try a sencha. Your description is lovely. No doubt I'd love it. And anyway, I always trust a cat's intuition :) Chopin has clearly given approval!

  2. This tea, while interesting, lacked the 'shining brightness' that I've experienced flavor wise from other sencha. Hakoniwado's Gokujo sencha, in my opinion, had a much better profile overall.

    The funny thing is, sencha is actually what got me into tea in the first place!

    Take Care. :)