Our seasonal exploration of Sencha continues with new arrivals from the catalogue of Maruhachi Tea Factory.
Our first sencha is from the Higashitsuno region of Shikokou Island. The Shimanto River, famous for being one of the three clearest river streams in Japan, runs nearby.
Mist from Shimanto hovers over the garden year round, imparting its refreshing and clarifying qualities to the Yabukita tea trees growing there.
This tea is sweet, gentle and incredibly floral, carrying a bouquet of flowers in it almost like a Taiwanese oolong.
Its pale, limelight green liquor delivers a round, heavy mouthfeel. Saline, umami qualities appear in later infusions, along with wispy lines of astringency.
This sencha comes from Takumi, an area situated on the steep mountains of Shizuoka Prefecture, along the upper portion of the Abe River.
The tea trees grow on dramatic slopes, with the tea farm down below them. Their leaves are harvested by hand with fine scissors in early May.
The tea leaves are steamed for an unusually short time - only a few seconds. The result is a brothy and nutritive sencha, akin to gyokuro. It brews an icy, clear liquid that smells floral and complex, like an entire garden.
This tea has a vital, bodily viscosity that feels something like a green spit-transfusion in the mouth. It makes us salivate right away.
Kirishima City, Kagoshima Prefecture, where the tea garden of this sencha is located, faces Sakurajima, the most active volcano of Japan. This is a place known for its special, volcanic “kuroboku” soil.
The dry leaves carry a rich, complex perfume; we smell night flowers, river bed, and baked bread. Once you brew this tea you can taste the mineral in it immediately – like wet rock – making this a deeper and more grounding sencha, with a resolved finish.