Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Tea Review: Matcha Oku no Yama (Sazen)

Matcha Oku no Yama/抹茶 奥の山
Sazen & Horii Shichimeien/堀井七茗園
Type: Green
Origin: Japan, Kyoto Prefecture, Uji
Product Description:  Oku no Yama is an even-keeled blend of tangy, sweet, and lightly bitter tastes. Taken as usucha (thin tea), it is a harmoniously refined tea devoid of extremes. Prepared as Koicha (thick tea) it presents more vigorous and distinct flavours. It opens with tart aromas but then a sly sweetness follows close behind, concluding with a tart finish. To bring out the best from this tea’s most sophisticated flavours, we must be mindful of water temperature: too low a temperature will disrupt the delicate equilibrium of the tea’s flavours, nudging them towards over-bitter accents.

Temperature: 175° F
Tea Amount: 1 gram (1 teaspoon)
Water: 2 ounces (1/4 cup)

The dry matcha powder is vividly green and the aroma is nutty, savory, and spring green with notes of antique wood.

The aroma in the warmed bowl is very nutty, rich and savory, reminding me strongly of peanut or almond butter.

The whisked aroma is sweet and green and reminded me slightly of sugar peas.  The taste is clean, smooth, and sweet with no notable astringency and a refreshingly light, sweet green finish.

Okunoyama, owned by Horii Shichimeien, is the only remaining tea garden of the Uji Shichimeien (seven distinguished tea gardens of Uji) designated by the Ashikaga Shogunate during the Muromachi Period (1338-1573).  At one time, the garden was home to over 1,500 indigenous tea plants.  Today only 2 cultivars remain, both suitable for tencha.

Most matcha on the market is blended to bring out specific flavor and taste profiles.  I could not pass up the opportunity to experience this unblended matcha produced from one of the original Uji cultivars, Oku no Yama.  I've never encountered a matcha with a nuttier aroma in the warmed bowl and the taste was very palate-friendly.  While the froth wasn't as thick and creamy as it is with some other matcha, the tea was delightfully smooth on its own.

This tea was purchased by me.

1 comment: