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.