Here comes a passionate and longer than normal review.
Recently I was gifted 5 grams of some Temomi Shincha which was picked in April from Wazuka Kyoto. All these words means nothing to most because Japanese tea isn’t as drank or studied in the western community as Chinese and Indian teas. So what makes this so special? Well, first of all it is a first flush green tea from Japan; something that the western world had no access to for quite a while because it doesn’t stay fresh for long. Shincha and Sencha/gyokuro/tencha…. Have all become available to the market place due to the internet, but this is a little different: This particular tea is produced fully by hand and takes hours until it is finished; now that doesn’t mean it is better, but it does say something about the processing of the leaf. When it went to auction it hit $1400usd per kg! Due to that price and the supply/demand, World Tea Podcast only obtained 25g which means I was gifted 1/5th of what was there!!!
What a treat, the most expensive tea I’ll have drank to date and I look forward to it.
At first, I noticed the leaf was broken and that was to be expected with shipping and all that; I won’t let that stop me from brewing this up right though! Since my Yunomi purchase came in only 2 days later, I was able to use this unique kyusu which makes it even more enjoyable because I was able to get over 7 infusions out of the 5g; this is a lot for a Japanese green tea. Here’s an ‘eh’ video of the beginning of the session which I ended up taking outside after a few steeps: https://www.instagram.com/p/BHQNcmmguTD/
Now the first steep was like straight tea clipping… imagine a lawn mower just ran over the tea plants and shot everything into your mouth. Fresh leaf and incredibly vibrant. After that, things changed a bit because I started to introduce my new way of drinking Japanese tea. Let me explain because I hope I can help others find a new way to drink green tea.
Step 1, put your tongue at the roof of your mouth
Step 2, pour the liquid toward the bottom of your mouth and let the liquid hit your inner cheeks before your tongue
Step 3, compare to drinking directly to tongue at first
What I find this method to do is avoiding the upfront astringency that can eliminate any undertone sweetness. With high quality Japanese tea I have found a freshly picked honeysuckle taste to come out from the grass while the buttery texture is created; try it for yourself, something about the liquid being at the bottom of your mouth than the top makes the liquid seem to have more of a viscosity.
Now this tea was very gentle and subtle with fresh grass taste while keeping the vegetable notes in the background, but with the way I drank it…. There was a texture to the liquid and a mild sweetness that popped out towards the end. Towards the end of my session, I began to find the more seaweed and cucumber notes. This tends to occur when I am brewing leaf that is about to die. Something about little to no flavor ends up resulting in a small amount of cucumber as if the tea is fading and light cooling notes are left.
In the end, would I pay almost $5 a gram for this? Heck no. However, I can say that this was quite a nice experience. It’s like Whit2Tea Last Thoughts in the sense that you’re tasting purely what is meant to be tasted, there’s no deviation of taste coming from the production. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can find it with really high end Darjeeling teas but you have to go through quite a few until you find them. This was a great experience and I was surprised that I was able to get a good 7 steeps out of it. Tasty leaf that gave me all the right vibes that this was carefully produced.