I was actually given some of this tea by a Japanese woman who works at a cafe I frequent on the way to class. She helps me with my Japanese and I help her with English (not that she needs it). She told me that the tea was produced by some of her family members who work on a tea farm in a place called Yame （八女） which literally translates to 8 women. I was given the impression that it was 8 of her sisters, cousins and aunties producing delicious tea on the island of Kyushu. This is apparently not the case.
Now I’m not actually sure as to what kind of tea it is, as all she had told me was that it was ‘YAMECHA’. After a few cups and a whiff of a Gyokuro at a nearby tea supplier, I surmised that it was in fact a Yame Gyokuro (similar leaf colour and aroma, and apparently about 50% of Gyokuro produced in Japan is from Yame, so the odds are in this assumption’s favour!)
I was very grateful for the tea (she had given me a lot of it), and was eager to figure out how to brew the stuff.
One of my Chinese acquaintances, while we were having a tea session, exclaimed that he knew exactly how to brew it: he took a huge scoop of the tea, ground it down to a powder in a pestle and mortar, and then poured the powder into a tall glass and proceeded to pour boiling hot water over it.
The product was an extremely bitter brew that nobody could finish.
So that’s not how you do it.
I was still curious as to how to brew it, so once I got home from the taste testing I gave it another go, using only my instincts.
I brewed it as you would brew a regular green tea (about 80C for about 1.5 minutes), and it produced a very murky cup of tea. It appeared that due to the varying sizes of tea leaf particles, a good portion of the tea had passed through the strainer and into the cup. In addition, there was a mysterious white foam collecting around the rim of the cup. I thought to myself, “protein?”. Not entirely sure what was going on there. It was a pleasant cup of tea none-the-less.
I decided today to give it a traditional brewing: sitting down with all the bits-and-pieces, my tiny tea gong and my laptop at hand to record the fleeting sensations and the pass through my sensory faculties.
Brewed at 70C for 1.5/2 minutes
This tea has a very warming sweetness, delicate grassiness and faintly nutty flavour. It has a satisfyingly full mouth-feel, and lingers long enough for you to be able to fully appreciate it, as well as time to bid it farewell. The flavour is deeply rich, much like the ‘Pakistan green’ of the leaves (I had to look that colour up; it seems like a slightly awkward descriptor though).
Aroma: Again very warming, deep and rich.
The colour of the liquid is a nice bright green, however I notice that there are particles of varying sizes swirling in my cup, giving it an almost murky appearance. Once they settle it is almost a ‘Paris green’ (again, had to look it up – so many types of green!).
I’m not entire sure what is meant to be done about the particles. Are they an intended feature of the cup? Or perhaps a fine strainer is necessary? I’m not entirely bothered by them, simply curious as to their intentions. Perhaps they add to the mouth-feel that was so satisfyingly bold.
Either way, this is one of my favourite green teas to date, and I intend on making each cup as special as the last.