This was the third Asamushi-style sencha I tried from Norbu. I didn’t know much about the leaf cultivar going into it, but it possessed a wonderfully vanilla scent to the dry leaves. That same characteristic also translated to the liquor’s taste. I never call sencha creamy, but this definitely was on the foretaste with a strong fruit note. My heart still belongs to guricha and Fukamushi-style senchas, but this ranks well up there.
Yamakai Sencha - 2010 1st Harvest Shizuoka Sencha
This beautiful Sencha hails from the Ushizuma area in Aoi-Ku (ward) of Shizuoka. It is composed entirely of Yamakai cultivar tea plants, and it comes from a small scale/single estate farm which specializes in Munouyaku farming. Munouyaku is a term which basically means “no agricultural chemicals,” but it is important to emphasize that Munouyaku is not a regulated term or certification of any sort. In the case of this tea farm, it means that the farmers take great pride in managing their farm in a natural manner, from intensive, hands-on natural soil management without chemical fertilizers to careful weeding by hand. They also use hand operated trimmers to harvest their tea instead of the large tractor-type harvesters used on large scale farms. Basically, the people who produce this tea love the land it is grown on as much as they love the awesome final tea they produce, and the extreme care taken throughout cultivation is clearly evident in the beautiful deep green of the leaves before, during and after steeping and the brilliant yellow-gold of the infused liquor.
Our Yamakai Sencha is a light steamed tea, allowing the delicate but distinctive flavor of the Yamakai culitvar to come through in the cup. The infused liquor is delicate & sweet, and the aftertaste is perfectly bittersweet, mouth coating and long-lasting. It is a rare treat to find a tea like this one that has been produced with such obvious love for the art and science of traditional tea farming.
Because of the delicate nature of this tea, we strongly recommend steeping this tea using 140°F water (no higher than about 150°F maximum) and somewhere between 1 and 1.5 grams of tea per ounce of water used. It has been my experience that using a high leaf to water ratio and a relatively low steeping temperature really brings out the sweet subtleties of this awesome Asamushi Sencha.