Tasting Single Origin Cultivars

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James Edward
Posts: 14
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2020 7:13 pm
Location: Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan

Wed Jul 01, 2020 12:20 am

Happy 1st of July!

Allow me to share some thoughts:

Usually my daily breakfast routine goes: yogurt, juice, and a cup of deep emerald green Fukamushi-cha (deep steamed green tea) to start the day.

However on this day the first and only thing I wanted to touch my lips is this cup of fine Sencha cultivated in Sayama city of Saitama Prefecture in Japan. The cultivar is Yume-Wakaba, a first try for me.

By all means please learn about tea along with me. I have no intention to teach but rather to share my experience with anyone who wants to listen.

Each tea has a unique story, flavor, and characteristic. Depending on period and methods of cultivation and processing techniques involved in harvesting raw leaf up until processing the leaves into “Aracha” or crude tea and the subsequent “shiage” refining (firing and sorting, etc.) of said Aracha into a final product for consumers, the flavor of tea is determined.

So much goes into a cup of tea it is definitely worth studying and reflecting on.
And writing books on..!

The mainstream approach is to blend teas cultivated from various estates that are then refined to create a blend that is consistent (fiscal) year to year to meet market demand.

However a new trend is gaining momentum is Japan which is:

Enjoying fine teas like a fine wine.

Recently wine glasses are used to enhance the teas specific aroma and to give tea drinking a new sense of style.
With a decreasing trend of tea purchases in Japan (a peak in 1965 then slow ascent followed by a stabling with the advent of bottled green tea in the 90’s and continued decrease in recent years) tea companies are now looking to the international market to make sales.

As recognition of tea’s health properties and the Matcha boom continue to increase, consumers in America and Europe etc. are taking interest in the more “exotic” varieties of Japanese tea. However unfortunately there is not a huge “tea culture” in America outside of powdered teas, Matcha, and tea bags.
Even then green tea remains little known except among enthusiasts, and black tea and coffee is the norm.

Coming to Japan I, and many others like me, have discovered the charm, beauty, zen-like simplicity, and relaxing effects of preparing tea using a Kyusu 急須 or Japanese tea pot.

Drinking different cultivars of tea carefully harvested from single origin estates as opposed to blends is finding a foothold in the blend-dominated market.

With these teas you get to experiment with various ways of brewing to bring out a tea’s particular characteristics. You also can “sense” the region the tea was cultivated and refined in. People living in the big city can find an “escape back no nature” by savoring a fine cup of tea, essentially tasting the soil, mountains, and streams that tie into the product’s origin.

The tea I am drinking in the pictures shared above is from Sayama, Saitama 狭山煎茶 and the cultivar is Yume-Wakaba (as opposed to Yabukita).

An in depth explanation of this tea can be found here:
https://www.thes-du-japon.com/index.php ... cts_id=451

The company that makes this tea and others from all over Japan available is called Thés Du Japon.
Thés Du specializes in single origin cultivars, meeting farmers all around Japan, and gathering many different cultivars and making them available for sake domestically in Japan and around the world.

My impression of this cup of tea:

Upon opening the bag and smelling the tea, it has a fruit-like and creamy apricot / peach scent with a strong yet mild presence (also described on the company’s website and verified with my personal experience).

The leaves themselves contain a nice glossy appearance / luster and are well rolled, retaining a proper needle shape.
I found the flavor to also be floral with a kick of the “umami” flavor brought about the tea’s high Amino acid count. This lingered in the mouth / on the tongue after drinking Before moving on to cups 2 and 3.

I found the flavor did not “dilute” on subsequent infusions, making it a good experience from brewing in my kyusu tea pot to drinking.

No roasting or firing was involved in this tea so the teas true flavor could be enjoyed fully.

I definitely recommend any tea lover to try this tea out! I’m a guy who entered the tea world in Japan through the door of Fukamushi-Sencha, which I also love and drink daily when I can.

However I’m happy to say I am now broadening my understanding of other teas. The world of Japanese tea is so intriguing it is certainly a life-time endeavor and path of study.

While studying for the Nihoncha Tea Instructor certification, it is definitely worthwhile to try many kinds of teas to supplement the study 📖

Thank you reading and cheers!

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Posts: 3285
Joined: Wed Oct 04, 2017 8:55 am
Location: Taiwan

Wed Jul 01, 2020 12:49 am

That mirrors my experience. I’ve never really liked Japanese tea until I got to try single origin teas.

No love for the blend masters of ippodo and the likes from me... :lol:
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James Edward
Posts: 14
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2020 7:13 pm
Location: Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan

Wed Jul 01, 2020 7:50 pm

Bok, right on!
Blends do have their place and convenience and I’ll pick up a 100g bag of quality deep steamed tea as my go to, but when writing and sharing about tea nothing beats the single origin teas and their diversity.
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Joined: Fri Sep 29, 2017 4:35 am
Location: Chicago

Thu Jul 02, 2020 9:09 pm

hey @James Edward, nice review.
i agree, japan has a lot to offer beyond yabikuta!
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James Edward
Posts: 14
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2020 7:13 pm
Location: Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan

Fri Jul 03, 2020 1:42 am

pedant wrote:
Thu Jul 02, 2020 9:09 pm
hey James Edward, nice review.
i agree, japan has a lot to offer beyond yabikuta!
Yes it certainly does! Luckily Thés Du Japon is in the business of making rarer teas widely available.

The company representative Florent is a good guy and I’m working on getting him on a bilingual tea podcast before too long.

Yabukita yields plus quality maintenance make it the largest grown cultivar but there is much more to be explored.
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Location: Bangkok

Fri Jul 03, 2020 2:24 am

James Edward wrote:
Wed Jul 01, 2020 12:20 am

The tea I am drinking in the pictures shared above is from Sayama, Saitama 狭山煎茶 and the cultivar is Yume-Wakaba (as opposed to Yabukita).
If you like this cultivar, you might want to try this. This one is Fukamushi.

Posts: 255
Joined: Tue Dec 12, 2017 12:30 pm
Location: Canada

Fri Jul 03, 2020 8:44 am

Nice write up @James Edward

Although I've been getting deep into the weeds of Pu'er in the last year, I still drink Sencha every day. I used to start the day with it, though now I'm enjoying it around lunch time. The brewing experience is calming and I always feel refreshed after a session.

I'm fairly cheap so I'm usually only buying the US$15-22 bags, often from Thes Du Japon. I have tried more expensive Sencha and was also able to taste the difference in quality (it was worth it for the price), so if you haven't tried the more expensive offerings I believe it's worth it, just to be able to compare.

I've always wanted to keep a log for taking notes when I'm trying a new tea, or having it again after multiple sessions, but I prefer to just drink and enjoy the tea without spending the time on notes. Though i find value in 'thinking' of what you're drinking, the smell of the dry leaf, wet leaf, how it brews out through multiple steeps and whether it's sweet or floral. One day I may get more involved with documenting my sessions.
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