Sakuma Brothers

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185 °F / 85 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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Appearance: these pictures show the leaves dry and after initial infusion. The leaves are curled and maintained their shape better than the Sun Dried White. I think that’s to be expected because there is a little more processing (my guess is steaming). I found that I needed to use more leaves than other greens to get the strength I like. Liquor: light green, jade color almost. Smell: vegetal. Taste: vegetal but nicely sweet (sweeter than, for example, the Monkey King I recently reviewed). Consistent flavor as the liquor cooled. Good second infusion, weak third infusion. 8/10.

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I have been so far rather “wow’d” by the smoothness at total lack of bitterness, the durability of the teas to long steeping without a hint of over-extraction, and yet still able to provide multiple steeps. It makes me wonder at the difference of various varietals as well as the potential affect that even modern production/shipping takes on all the teas that are imported and if this tea’s fresh appearance, aroma, and its steeping durability has something to do with ‘local’ harvesting. I recall having the teas from South Carolina and being very unimpressed, but I will admit that my tea understanding and palate was not ‘mindful’ and I can’t equivocate the two, except to say I much prefer the shining example of the Sakuma bros.

To get to the tea at hand and so share and show to amazing difference between production styles…here’s tea #2:

Market Stand Green Tea #2

Dry aroma: toasted, mineral, citrus, fruity, with a hint of fresh sockeye salmon flesh (I know this is a strange distinction, but having been a fisherman for 17 years in Alaska and also having a oddly acute sense of smell, I can actually smell the difference between species – I also should mention, this is a smell that is distinctive and should not be equated to ‘fishy’ but rather one of ocean brine and cleaner oceanic life, not the funk of groceries, open markets, or river fish)

Wet aroma: Fresh green beans, asparagus, citrus, trout, and marsh grass. (and yes I mean the flat, earthy fish aroma from freshly cleaned trout)

Appearance: Twisted- knotted, dark olive hued, almost camouflage like colors across the leaves.

Cup: 1st extraction. 3.1g in 8oz porcelain gaiwan, in 190 degree filtered water steeped for 2 minutes
White grapefruit hued liquor, soft mineral-zinc like initial flavor that finishes clean but leaves a almost vibrational feeling in the mouth, particularly along the back cuspids, like a merging of the body and flavor into a single fluid sensation.

2nd extraction: 200 degree water, 3 minutes
Strong lemony yellow hued liquor. Rich mineral front notes, clean and smooth body and finish, with a note of fresh asparagus and clarified butter.

Notes: This tea reminded me a lot of a number of green teas that I have had in a Mao Feng style but grown and produced in Ceylon and coming from the Camellia Assamica plant varietal. There is a similar signature in the mineral-like flavor and rich body. The color is also similar.
Some might be immediately turned from the descriptions of salmon, trout, and mineral, but as every palate perceives in a different way, I very much encourage people to try this tea as its character is so distinctive that is seems to suggest that it grows with natural sea fertilizers and perhaps is even translating the micro-climate of being in the Skagit valley.
Its very drinkable and seems impervious to over extraction and the leaves are large and carefully tended and it shows in the large leaves and the colors in them.

Thanks again to the Sakuma bros.!

190 °F / 87 °C 4 min, 0 sec
E Alexander Gerster

It is interesting that they don’t have their teas separated into #1, #2, etc for any of the different types on their webpage. The two greens and one white that you have reviewed so far made me want to check them out. It would be nice also if they told you the vintage of the tea… Spring, Summer or Fall plucking. Sounds like great potential with Sakuma Brothers, and always appreciate your thorough reviews and tasting notes!


I would be happy to send you some of what I have left….I’m in a dialog now with one of the Sakuma brothers to see if we might be able to carry some of those teas through our retail stores here in Ohio….He sent me an email today with more info that I will share with my reviews of the oolong and the other white tea that might illuminate some of your questions.

E Alexander Gerster

Very cool! I’m never one to turn away trying a new tea! :)

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Continuing with presenting from the rare and wonderful offerings from the Sakuma Brothers, who were kind enough to send me a box of samples, so I feel that the least I can do is turn their gift into a shadow of words and hopefully intrigue others to try it.
I want to also mention, that the tea arrived in 5 separate samples:
White #1, White #2, Green #1, Green #2, and Oolong.
I elected to start with the most delicate and move towards the more complex, knowing in advance that there are many processes that can transform a tea and wondering after a number of factors that transform a tea and its flavor (from the processing and growing side). Now after tasting the white and both the green samples, I’m even more curious.
I would be interested in learning:
what type of Camellia plant it comes from?
what type of companion plants grow beside it or shelter them?
what elevation and degree of slope the plants grow on?
and if hillside grown, what direction the hill faces?
In any case all of the teas have been interesting, complex, and distinctively crafted. They all have a freshness about them and a fruitiness, which by itself doesn’t distiguish it as unusual, but the smell and the specific character of each tea carries with it a type of rare expression that is worth the experience.
I deliberately labeled this tea #1 and will be writing separate reviews on both green tea samples, as they both have unique qualities worth mentioning.
Green Tea #1 – Sakuma Bros. Market
Dry Aroma: Dried cherries, sweetened. Brown sugar and raw hulled barley and brown rice.

Wet Aroma: Nutty, almost pistachio-like. Uncooked, fresh from the earth spinach.

Appearance: Large, mostly whole leaves, twisted like knotted roots or a coiled wet towel. Green bean colored in hue with slight blond and brown variation.

Cup: 1st extraction/3g/7oz porcelain gaiwan/190 degree filtered water
Pale, lemon-yellow liqour. Fine reddish/orange particulate, resembling slivers of chicory or rooibos, almost like pollen, that settles and lightly floats in the cup in suspension. The texture of the cup is ever so perceptably granular, but the strong nutty flavor and slightly mineral aspect to the finish (almost like a very subtle aftertaste of a zinc vitamin) fluidly masks the perception that the tea is anything but smooth. There is a very fresh mineral, citrus, and fruity dominate flavor, fading into a clear lime finish that grows as the tea cools. It finishes with a sweet and tart cleanliness that is pleasant and this intensifies with following steeps. 2nd – 4th steeps were done with 200 degree water, steeping for 3-5 minutes. Consistent color, aroma, and body was present in all steeps, with lime flavors growing clearer and dominating. It should be mentioned, that this is the flavor of the lime zest, or white membrane and less like the juice, though there is some hint at it. This flavor also harks at almonds and perhaps even yuzu. I kept getting the impression that these flavors would intensify with a cold, overnight brewing. Eating the leaves, there was a slight residual bitterness, usually indicating that more steeps were hidden in the leaf (but I wasn’t able to continue). It took nearly 3 steeps for the leaves to fully unfurl from the twisted shape and when they were fully extracted they were nearly all 3" in length, usually consisting of the stem, 1 large leaf, and 2 smaller leaves.
Amazing to see what we can grow in beautiful Washington.

190 °F / 87 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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