I went a little nuts this year with shincha pre-ordering. I had never ordered from Yuuki-cha and they have a fair number of interesting teas – black, oolong and pan-fried Japanese teas. I did try to rein myself in a bit but with so many different and unusual teas, I pretty much blew my shincha budget on the one order and not even all of it on shincha. This one, though, was one of the new-crop teas I picked up.
Honestly, it’s a pretty wild tea. It’s just so flavorful! It’s got notes that I recognize from sencha, but also Chinese green notes. It smells like a thick, green, vegetal honey. And the taste is amazing – it’s sweet. Very sweet. It’s almost fruity in a way that makes me think of slightly unripened mango. It’s a very bright and vibrant taste. The first sip of this tea always surprises me because it’s so sparkly and shiny!
After that surprising first taste of sweet fruit, the tea transitions into this thick, heavy pungency that borders on bitterness but isn’t. It’s a little drying and prickly but not unpleasant, almost like the brine note I get from most Chinese greens, but not quite. The longer I hold the tea in my mouth, the more the thick, textured pungency develops and then it glides down smoothly when I swallow, leaving behind a feeling that gives a post-red wine feeling.
Slurping brings out a new flavor, a heavy, dark grassy flavor that is really delicious. It’s almost dessert-like, if there was such a thing as a desert grass. Continued slurping brings out a muscat-y flavor underneath that, tying in with the unripened mango and red wine notes. As it cools the pungency increases, giving it a heavier mouthfeel and the taste that comes out in slurping pokes out a bit in a sweet dried hay note.
Lots of flavors! I keep finding this tea kind of shocking. It’s so interesting and it transitions through so many different flavors, like a multi-flavored gobstopper but of different tea flavors. It doesn’t seem like the flavors and textures – mango, grass, thickness, wine-like ending – should go together but it does. It’s fascinating to me. I want to keep drinking it because it keeps surprising me, making the last sip as interesting as the first sip. And that’s not something I can say about a lot of teas!
O-cha.com is still probably my go-to place for shincha orders because they have my ultimate favorite Kagoshima Sencha Yutaka Midori and, as I discovered this year when I tried to limit myself to just one shincha order, I can’t do without that tea. But an offering like this? Pretty much makes it a given that I’ll be ordering from Yuuki-cha again.