Hon Yama greens

Non-oxidized tea
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Baisao
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Sun Nov 28, 2021 11:05 am

faj wrote:
Sun Nov 28, 2021 8:29 am
Baisao wrote:
Sat Nov 27, 2021 9:03 pm
It’s an older expression. Most people said fermentation but meant oxidation 15-20 years ago. And 15-20 years from now people might think it quaint that we say oxidation but mean enzymatic reactions. All these tea norms/conventions evolve over time. I imagine translations are last to catch up.
I know nothing about biochemistry, so out of curiosity I went and checked the definition of "fermentation" from a few sources. Here is an exerpt from Merriam-Webster, which is representative of what I found.
the enzyme-catalyzed anaerobic breakdown of an energy-rich compound (such as a carbohydrate to carbon dioxide and alcohol or to an organic acid) by the action of microorganisms (such as bacteria or yeast) that occurs naturally
Is "fermentation" technically wrong because the actual enzymatic reactions are actually aerobic? If not, why is it not a proper term for what happens to tea?
Because the oxidation step does not require microorganisms afaik.

Back to your regularly scheduled programming: Hon Yama!
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Baisao
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Mon Nov 29, 2021 8:22 pm

@LeoFox, have you been able to ascertain what qualities make them unique?

I mentioned the Honyama, Takayama, yamakai cultivar sencha above. It was picked in late April of 2021 yet still has a lot of pectin in the liquor. Drops of tea form momentary beads above the surface of the cup. It’s peaty yet has a sweet berry flavor that lingers long after each session.
faj
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Mon Nov 29, 2021 10:20 pm

Baisao wrote:
Mon Nov 29, 2021 8:22 pm
I mentioned the Honyama, Takayama, yamakai cultivar sencha above. It was picked in late April of 2021 yet still has a lot of pectin in the liquor. Drops of tea form momentary beads above the surface of the cup. It’s peaty yet has a sweet berry flavor that lingers long after each session.
It is a tea I ordered a couple of times. Going through my notes, I see repeated use of "sweet", "candy", and words in the "roasted" spectrum (Florent rates it 3/4 on his "firing" scale). Probably our notes roughly align?

This probably is the tea that got me to pay more attention to that "firing" aspect in sencha, which I am not excessively fond of once it crosses the threshold where I can separate it from the rest. It is a tea with which, both times I ordered it, yielded sessions I found superb, and others less so. I had successes and failures with both my typical first infusion parameters (4g/100ml, 30s-40s, 70C-75C) and something with less leaf (2g/100ml, 90s-120s). The couple of times my notes mention a session with a bit of bitterness (just a bit, this is not a bitter tea), it felt like a good thing.
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Baisao
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Mon Nov 29, 2021 11:42 pm

@faj, I am thinking that the firing results in that peaty flavor. I think Mr Fox may be able to elaborate.
faj
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Mon Nov 29, 2021 11:50 pm

Baisao wrote:
Mon Nov 29, 2021 11:42 pm
faj, I am thinking that the firing results in that peaty flavor. I think Mr Fox may be able to elaborate.
Yes, I think those were different words we used to express roughly the same aspect of that tea.
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LeoFox
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Tue Nov 30, 2021 8:16 am

The firing seems to confer at least the following based on my readings and experience:

1.) Taste of firing- which may include things like smokiness, peatiness, toastiness etc. When done well, it adds a very nice dynamic element- with the firing taste coming and going across different infusions.

2.) An enhanced aroma - esp with higher firing as seems to be commonly done with yamakai for tdj - based on his blog, this is intentional to bring out the special aroma as much as possible

3) warming sensation that makes the teas great for winter drinking.

4) greater stability. Tdj blog specifically mentions resting sencha for several months in cold storage to enhance aroma - and higher firing may help with this

5) reduces a raw greenness. Raw greenness is considered a big no no for Chinese greens but seems acceptable to a degree in Japanese greens
Last edited by LeoFox on Wed Dec 01, 2021 5:54 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Baisao
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Tue Nov 30, 2021 12:59 pm

@LeoFox, have you been able to ascertain what qualities make them unique?
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LeoFox
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Tue Nov 30, 2021 6:00 pm

Baisao wrote:
Tue Nov 30, 2021 12:59 pm
LeoFox, have you been able to ascertain what qualities make them unique?
Need more time, hahahaha
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LeoFox
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Mon Dec 13, 2021 3:08 pm

Finally tried Hojo's hon yama sencha. I had thought maybe this tea's farmer is the same as the okawa oma farmer that provides some of the hon yama teas for TDJ since they are both named Nakamura. After seeing some pictures of the farmers, I realise they cannot be the same (see opening post of this thread). More importantly their yabukitas are very different. This is hojo's:



Tdj's Nakamura:
viewtopic.php?p=40104#p40104

A key difference is that the firing in hojo's tea does not give the impression of hojicha like tdj's does. Also Hojo's tea is much more nutty and similar to chinese greens though tdj's tea also has elements of this. Both present an "unctuousness".Tdj's tea is more smooth while Hojo's is more complex and deep. Hojo's tea is also a bit more expensive.
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teatray
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Sat Jan 15, 2022 5:04 am

Further exploring TdJ's ultra-short steamed, lightly fired Tōbettō after my first session. 8g, 120ml 63°C, 1m20s steep. This time I warmed the teapot more carefully. It takes time for the water to cool down to 63°C in a samashi, so if you empty your teapot of warming water and put in leaves too early, out of habit, they may become too cold for the brew while you wait. The warming water was exactly 60°C when I poured it out, then I put the leaves and quickly poured for the steep at 63°C. Result was very different from my first attempt (6.6g, 100ml 60°C, 1m10s), where the first infusion was a bit weak. Not sure which variable (slightly hotter water, higher volume, proper warming) contributed most, but it was a phenomal steep. More umami, much more sweet, much less bitter, delivering a full thick soupy kick, like a deep-steamed sencha, but without any grassy or hayey notes whatsoever. Some notes are reminiscent of a sweet matcha, some go in a fresh, grainy direction, maybe like sweet corn or a genmaicha (but without any of the burnt/toasty notes, obviously). Very satisfying. Second steep (usually my favorite for sencha) at 64°C for 30s was also excellent, no bitterness, a tiny bit inferior to #1 (will try 40s next time). Things were going so good, I thought I had gotten the knack of this tea, but #3 at 71°C for 1min was again overkill, resulting a bitterness that flattened the complexity. #4 (at 71°C) was better, #5 ok/good, #6 at 75°C/3mins not as great as in the previous session. I also drank #7 and #8, which brought interesting notes with increasingly hotter water, but I should have just pushed #6 harder to conclude with a very good steep.

As Baisao noted (and the seller instructs), this tea seems to really like cooler temps. I think it's critical for the first 3 (4?) steeps, but then you should not be afraid to get much hotter. My next attempt will be 63°|65°C|68° (1m20s|40s|50-60s) for the first three, and then go according to feeling but push hard, esp. after #4, aiming for a total of 5 or 6. I have the budget-unfriendly feeling that this may turn out to be my favorite sencha, esp. if I am able to better tame/distribute the bitterness consistently. (I usually prefer full-bodied, deep-steamed sencha, don't mind / actually like grass and hay notes.)
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LeoFox
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Mon Feb 21, 2022 10:49 am

Another hon yama winner from tdj: yabukita from umegashima.
https://www.thes-du-japon.com/index.php ... ts_id=1290

Vendor describes it as:
Sugar, woody, undergrowth, forest
And, regarding umegashima
Hon.yama broadly refers to all teas produced in the mountainous area north of Shizuoka City, located along the Abe and Warashina Rivers. Within this area, there obviously exists many regions. Umegashima is one of the most remote and furthest upstream on the Abe River. On the banks of this river is the small town of Nyûjima, which is where this Yabukita sencha originates. While a mechanically harvested version was available on Aozuru-chaho Thés du Japon, this is a handpicked Yabukita.
What's interesting is that I am getting a lot more red berry sweetness than undergrowth or humus, which some suggest is a hallmark for honyama. Instead, what seems to tie these teas together for me remains the creamy unctuousness that shows up in later, longer infusions. This particularly tea feels especially refreshing.

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LeoFox
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Sun Apr 24, 2022 1:35 pm

SENCHA FROM HON.YAMA, TAMAKAWA, KÔSHUN CULTIVAR from thes du japon

https://www.thes-du-japon.com/index.php ... cts_id=274

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LeoFox
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Sun Apr 24, 2022 6:48 pm

A sad reality check about hon yama

https://japaneseteasommelier.wordpress. ... -in-japan/
Although it is difficult to summarize Shizuoka tea in a few words, the general trend remains towards non-shaded teas, and rather fukamushi. As for the roasting, it is generally quite strong, but the variety is very large in Shizuoka.

Fukamushi was indeed invented in Shizuoka after the war for the development of tea production in the large plain areas of Kakegawa, Makinohara, etc.

Conversely, in the mountain areas, Hon.yama, Kawane, Tenryû, we continue to produce beautiful sencha with low steaming. These areas are unfortunately increasingly deserted.

Despite the aging of the population, the ever-increasing number of abandoned plantations, Shizuoka remains the inevitable hotspot for Japanese tea due to its diversity and technical level.
Considering the situation, in the short term light steam high mountain teas from semi abandoned farms will be kept cheap. This is great for the consumers who are into this! And indeed these same qualities make "semi wild" "naturally farmed" teas in Taiwan and China very expensive. But long term, as the younger generations refuse to continue farming in these areas for lack of demand/profit, these teas will disappear- and / or become price gougingly expensive (a la teacrane).

It's sad that low land deep steamed is so popular instead. Not really sure how different that is from the bits that go into teabags. I've completely sworn them off.
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LeoFox
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Fri May 06, 2022 9:52 am

 SENCHA FROM HON.YAMA, UMEGASHIMA, TOMOCHI, SAYAMA-KAORI
One of the best hon yama I've had this past season

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