Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Yunomi: Koukaen Tea Factory: Nishio Tencha, Comparing Two Tencha!

I have to admit, today's blog post has me way too excited, not only do I get to do a side by side of two different Tencha, they are from the same year (vintage 2016), same factory (Koukaen Tea Factory), same region(Nishio)...what makes them different is their cultivar. Reviewing Tencha is something I have wanted to do on the blog for a while, so I am glad it is starting with such an interesting comparison. We have one that is a Yabukita and one that is Samidori, Yabukita is most often made into Sencha (not being the best suited for Matcha, the inevitable end goal of most Tencha) and Samidori is most commonly made into Matcha and Gyokuro, so there is a pretty big difference between them.

Yabukita

First up, the Yabukita, the aroma of this tea is not what I expected! It is floral, like cherry and apple blossoms! There are also notes of freshly broken leaves, fresh grass, and undertones of soybeans, I would not say this tea smells savory, more light, fresh, and green like a spring day complete with blooming fruit trees. Brewing it up gives it a touch more sweetness, much like fresh hay, but mostly after steeping the aroma stays the same. Tasting this tea, well, it tastes like nectar! Again notes of fruit tree blossoms (definitely apple and cherry) giving it that combination of pollen, very light floral sweetness and a touch of nuttiness I most often associate with fruit blossoms. Along side these notes are gentle hay and corn silk adding to the overall sweetness. The finish is a light soybean and wildflower honey note that sticks around quite a while. Overall this tea was light and very pleasant, perfect for the warm spring weather!

Samidori
This was a bit more of what I was expecting from a Tencha (I have had Tencha before, just for reasons could not blog about it, it was tough!) The aroma is nutty and sweet, like chestnuts and sesame seeds with strong undertones of cut hay, sweetgrass, and a finish of crisp fresh soybeans. Brewing it up gives it a more sharp fresh vegetation and savory toasted seaweed undertone, which goes well with the nuttiness. The taste is wonderfully sweet with a pleasant thickness in the mouthfeel, notes of fresh sprouts, soybeans, sweetgrass, watercress, water chestnut, and sweet chestnut blend together for a refreshing and combination of savory and sweet taste that is honestly pretty amazing. The aftertaste is vegetal, much like lettuce and with a refreshing cooling finish that lingers for a short time. I really enjoyed this tea and I am glad the sample sent has enough for a few sessions!

I greatly enjoy Tencha, it might be my favorite Japanese green tea, it combines the best aspects of Matcha, Sencha, and Gyokuro I think. Plus it is versatile, you can brew it like a Sencha (like I did for the reviews) and get a light, sweet and very refreshing drink...or you can brew it like Gyokuro and get an umami bomb. Cold steep it, grandpa steep it, flash steep it with high heat...it can take it and give you something delicious!

Teas sent for review

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