Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Tea Review: Hachiju Hachiya Shincha & Fukamushi Sencha (Sugimoto America)

I was challenged to do a side-by-side tasting of these two 2014 teas.  Both have some similar characteristics and I was curious to see how they compared.

Hachiju Hachiya Shincha
Sugimoto America
Type: Green
Origin: Japan, Shizuoka
Product Description: Hachiju Hachiya means "88 nights" and refers to the eighty-eighth day after the first day of spring on the traditional Japanese calendar. Tradition has it that the 88th day is the best time to pick tea, and to this day, Hachiju Hachiya Shin Cha is prized as high-quality green tea. The Japanese traditionally believe that drinking tea picked on the 88th day fends off diseases for the following year.

Temperature: 155° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 1 minute

The dry leaf aroma is a fresh grassy green, lightly salty, buttery, nutty, and savory.

The infusion is bright jade green with an aroma of warm butter and macadamia nuts.  The taste is moderately astringent, lightly umami, grassy green, lightly nutty and umami with a long brisk green finish.





Fukamushi Sencha
Sugimoto America
Type: Green
Origin: Japan, Shizuoka
Product Description: This is our signature Sen Cha. "Fukamushi." refers to the deeper (longer) steaming process after the harvest. This extra steaming time results in finer leaves, and the taste is richer and more full-bodied than regular Sen Cha. Depending on steeping conditions, it has a bit of sweetness and outstanding fragrance.

Temperature: 155° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 1 minute

The dry leaves have an aroma of roasted nuts, green salty-marine kombu, and butter.

The infusion is bright jade green and golden with an aroma of warm butter, edamame (cooked soybeans in the pod), and macadamia nuts.  The taste is grassy green, moderately astringent, nutty, with a pronounced umami/savoriness, and hints of nori.  The finish is clean and green.




Color:  The first infusion of the Shincha had a bright green liquor while the Sencha was bright green with a touch of gold .  During a second steeping of 30 seconds both teas became cloudy with the Shincha becoming significantly more opaque than the Sencha.  Both became noticeably clearer during a third 30 second steeping.

Aroma:  The Sencha had a savory aroma where the Shincha was slightly sweeter.  Both had the bright, fresh green notes I would expect from a spring harvest.

Taste:  Both teas had a desirable umami (savory) quality.  This was less pronounced in the Shincha which tended greener and slightly sweeter. The Sencha became boldly astringent during the second steeping and smoothed out during a third while the Shincha continued to be powerfully astringent throughout a second and third steeping.

Time and Temperature:  The time for three infusions (1 minute -> 30 seconds -> 30 seconds) and temperature (155° F) produced good results for the Fukamushi Sencha and I would expect to get several more good infusions.  The Hachiju Hachiya Shincha was flavorful and aromatic when steeped at 1 minute for 155° F, but I would lower the temperature (140° F) or shorten the steeping time to 15 seconds for consecutive infusions.  The astringency was fairly intense and tended to overlay the savory umami and other flavor notes that could easily be enjoyed throughout several infusions.

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