This tea is a beauty all the way around. A lighter steamed sencha, the 2011 108th Nights Shincha from Denshiro Shirakata Shoten has such long, gorgeous needles that I could hardly scoop it up with my teaspoon. My first experience with this tea was a bit more subtle and built up nicely, but this time it exploded from the get-go. Both times I used a preheated (~7oz) kyusu,
First Steeping (145/90 secs) — A wonderful balance of sweetness and fruity notes. The tea glides across my tongue effortlessly; leaving a silky smooth mouthfeel behind, with a teensy bit of bitterness towards the back if you focus hard on it. I notice very little astringency — afterwards, you’re left with a smooth tongue, and lingering citrus/plum notes. Very nice umami.
Second (160/45 secs): “Mellow Yellow.” This cup tastes like a natural continuation of the first cup — smooth, soft, but somewhat unremarkable aside from the bitterness that is now present “up front.” I think I should have gone with a slightly higher temperature (closer to 170) for around a minute — we’ll see how the third session goes!
Third (185/2 mins): Now, the bitterness is really shining through. I think I may have gone a little overboard with the temperature here (or sapped out all the tasty subtleties earlier), as I’m not getting much more than that “overdone sencha” taste.
Fourth (Boiling/4+ mins): Since I obviously screwed this session up, I went ahead and brewed this last infusion strong and tossed it over ice with a pinch of sugar. What surprised me here was how little bitterness/astringency came through, and how it still gave me that silky mouthfeel I tasted earlier. A nice way to finish a botched session!
In summary: this is a tea you have to keep your eye on. The first time I brewed it, I used a little less leaf at a slightly higher temperature, and it held up a bit better through multiple infusions. This time, I had an incredible start, and it fell flat afterwards. I think I’ll try less leaf in my houhin next time, and see how things go!
(Thanks again to Shinobicha for the help ordering this tea direct!)