Popular Teas from Sakuma Bros.See All 2 Teas
Recent Tasting Notes
Sakuma farms manages the only tea plantation in the Pacific northwest, and so far as I can tell, the only tea plantation in the western half of north America. I was enthusiastic that I might be able to drink tea grown in my own region!
I like it, but I don’t love it. Sakuma Farm’s Oolong tea has a delightful, sweet flavor, almost syrupy. I miss the roasty or flavor that I usually look for in oolongs, but the flavor is very pleasant. Another comparison with other oolongs: I can usually steep oolong teas two or three times before losing flavor, but Sakuma’s oolong loses most of its flavor in the first steeping making an already expensive tea much more dear. Perhaps I got an odd batch, but it’s not my favorite tea.
appearance: the leaves are brittle and include broken pieces, but are so minimally processed I’m quite smitten with how natural and simple they look. The leaves darken after an infusion. Liquor: pale amber-yellow. Smell: simple, vegetal, with a hint of essential oil fragrance. Taste: muted, smooth, and simple. I found this very soothing. The second infusion was also quite nice. 6/10.
Appearance: these pictures show the leaves dry and after initial infusion. The leaves are roughly curled and unfold beautifully after infusion. I can see little red spots on the edges of the leaves that at least seem very natural. I’m not sure whether the leaves of this oolong or of the green are more impressive after an infusion. Liquor: amber. Smell: slightly smokey, clear oolong smell. Taste: mildly smokey, light oolong flavor. It’s considerably more mild than some oolongs like an Iron Goddess. I preferred the flavor warmer than cooler. I liked this but didn’t think the taste was unique enough to prefer it over the other Sakuma Bros. options, or another oolong. 6/10.
So very long overdue for a post. A lingering seasonal cold and throat surgery has had my normal acute senses in disarray and even though I have been drinking endless cups of tea, I have been skirting my collection, avoiding the rare gifts that have been sent to me for evaluation and exploration…my last sojourn with a full range of taste buds was some rare pu erhs (sheng and shou) and I will be giving them just due and I also owe a number of reviews to kind vendors (many of which you my kind fellow steepsters have also already illuminated and I wish I could have added my light as well). So with a goal of resuming my frolicking and regular posts I felt it was only appropriate to share my first full cupping in a while with a splendid offering from Washington soil.
I stumbled upon the Sakuma Bros. website and immediately became curious. With a farm with so many gifts, fruit and vegetables, to find that it also produces tea and has for over 10 years fired the imagination. I know the area quite well (having been a wanderer of the NW after nearly 17 years of being a commercial fisherman in Alaska) and with the localvore food movement growing in Ohio, I thought was an amazing chance to connect this farm with tea drinkers in my state.
The details on this site are as follows:
• The Sakuma Brothers have been growing tea for over 10 years.
• We are one of the only two commercial tea growers in the entire United States.
• More than 5 acres of the fertile Skagit valley have been planted with Camellia sinensis tea plants.
• When the tea leaves are ready for harvest, we hand pinch off each leaf at the stem.
• Only 2 leaves and bud at the end of each branch are used for Sakuma tea.
• The leaves are heated, rolled and dried.
• The brittle flakes of tea leafs are steeped in water and served as tea.
• A refreshing unique tea grown in the rich alluvial soil of Washington State’s Skagit Valley. Our high latitude location give Camilla Sinensis a distinctive taste.
• Sakuma Tea is a unique type of WhiteTea.
I will take a picture and update this as review as well, as the leaves are an amazing sight to behold.
My cupping notes are as follows:
White Tea #1 Sakuma Bros. Spring harvest.
Dry aroma: Intense fruity/muscatel, spicy aroma with an undertone of yellow mustard greens and dried brown mustard seed.
Wet aroma: Fresh, bright muscatel, tart almost citrus undertones with hints of stewed fruit and spicy aromas similar to wild fields.
Appearance: Large, whole and mostly intact leaves with long stems – 3g being nearly 4 tablespoons in volume. Brown, dark umber to fresh green olive colors speak of almost autumnal or verdant spring vegitation, displaying a crisp visual cue of bruising and oxidation, rapid drying, and careful handling. Few, short buds, resembling dark, velvet antlers and elk horn tips. The leaves are nearly 2-4" in length as are some of the stems, breaking the resemblance to bai mudan from the sheer unbroken character.
Cup: Golden, bright yellow extraction. Intense, crisp flavors with clean body and flavorful, back cuspid-grabbing fruity, floral tartness. Buckwheat honey, mulberry flavors, fades to a spicy walnut, almost Vietnamese cinnamon finish that escapes in a nearly ethereal way from the palate.
2nd and 3rd extractions were equally strong with cinnamon and almost toasted almond notes rising inside the clean, fresh floral flavors, eluding the palates desire to simply define it as ‘spicy’.
As I have had teas from S. Charleston, the Sakuma bros. truly exhibit a craft that is distinct and defining, showing that the US can grow tea and produce a quality that is not only consistent with its origins, but is a gift of its new terrain. I look forward to sharing and cupping further samples.
A huge thanks to Geoffrey for sending some of this tea my way. I tried some from the previous harvest, but am glad to try this harvest as well. This is really a delightful white tea. I love that it is grown here in Washington State, I love how refreshing it tastes – sweet, light, and a wee bit creamy. So nice.
I think I’m going to up my rating on this, just because I remember really enjoying it last night.
Thank you to Geoff for sending me some of this tea! It’s splendid! And I’m not at all biased because it was grown right here in Washington State! But, I was quite stoked to learn of Sakuma Bros., since I am in Washington State, and I love supporting local whenever I can.
I don’t think I’ve ever tried a white tea quite like this one. It has many of the characteristics I’d expect from a white tea: clean, fresh flavor and pleasant sweetness, but, it has some other interesting qualities to it as well. It has a creaminess to it that I don’t ordinarily experience with white tea, and it has a fruity backdrop to it that tastes a bit of apples and makes me wonder how close the tea bushes are to an apple orchard…
I think I have just discovered where I want to take our next family vacation!
A vendor friend past on to me some of the Sakuma Bros. Sun Dried White for 2012. Holy heck, it’s like night and day from the 2011 batch! Their isn’t much of a creaminess there, as their was with the year prior. Instead, it’s fruit – particularly tart strawberry leaf, pears, and a dash of lemon. Not sure what happened to their plants in the last year, but wow…just…wow.
I’m sorry I don’t have any better superlatives.
I found out about this Washington outfit in ‘09, but didn’t look for the website until a year later. The white tea finally became available for online order this (or last?) month. I instantly picked up some. Finding good “A-MURR-ican” tea had become somewhat of a sub-hobby. I was a little turned off by the dry appearance. They looked like normal leaves with a wildernessy smell. Nothing special.
That all changed in taste, however. This is one hearty and buttery white tea. Best obscure comparison I can make is to an Oothu estate Indian white tea; same type of bold, fruity and creamy characteristics. It also had a bit in common with Milk Oolong by way of a Bai Mu Dan and lasted for nearly four infusions. Quite frankly, I’ve had nothing like it. But I DID like it. A lot.