Spring 2010 Hon Yama Zairai Sencha
from Norbu Tea
This is a sweet, nutty, vegetal sencha without the strong briny umami that I so often find offputting in more heavily steamed senchas and gyokuro.
The leaf is deep rich green, medium long fragments--not quite as long as the Sayamakaori from Yuuki-cha, but longer than my average Asamushi sencha, very sweet smelling, even a bit nutty.
2.5 grams of leaf in a small gaiwan, about 2.5 oz or 75 mL of tap water per infusion
1st infusion, 30 seconds
sweet, vegetal, nutty, very nice
2nd infusion, 10 seconds
vegetal, sweet, nutty--the nutty is a hint of astringency, I think, but not bitterness, and a hint of toasted/roasted flavor
3rd infusion, 45 seconds
again, the toasty, vegetal nuttiness, astringency, but light
a 4th infusion, 1 minute
still nutty, vegetal, now fairly astringent
The finished leaves are bright green, and moderately broken up, although I did fine one or two small whole leaves
I think part of the astringency is the brewing, here, because just for accuracy's sake, not really for comparison, I'm brewing up some of the Yuuki-Cha Sayamakaori sencha at the same time, and finding some of the same elements in it--not the roastedness, but more astringency than I'm used to. I think my leaf-to-water ratio is really not quite the same as in the kyusu. But I've got a pretty good idea that this is going to be a very nice sencha, and am looking forward to first proper session with the Tokoname kyusu.
Both with this and with another new green tea I tried this weekend, it's quite clear that despite attempts to control conditions, changes in brewing conditions for the purpose of doing these comparisons--brewing sencha in my gaiwans instead of my kyusu--sometimes distorts the results, because I'm moving outside my usual comfort zone.
A 2nd set of infusions, in the 5 oz kyusu with 4 grams of leaf, tap water 160 degrees at first, infusions 30", 15", 30"; raised temp to 170 degrees for 45 seconds and 1 minute infusions, worked out better, still some astringency but not as much.
This is a nice, vegetal nutty sencha.