Sunday, October 3, 2010

2010 Ureshino Tamacha

Autumn is already in its full-strength in Slovakia, expressing itself by rainy, windy days and cold nights. Even though this definitely isn’t the best possible weather for green tea with all of its freshness, I’m going to continue posting about these teas, though I also drink significantly higher amount of oolongs and teas with warmer character in general these days.

Still, I won’t give up Japanese green tea just because of autumn and winter (Moreover, Kuchikiri no Gi took place today, so it's somehow even seasonable).

Tamacha comes from Ichibancha harvest, picked around the town of Ureshino in Saga prefecture of southern Japan. It’s quite a novelty and one of those lesser-known, untraditional teas, brought to Czech Republic by Teamountain. Last year, I had a chance to try it as well and I really enjoyed its pleasant simplicity – something I’m also expecting of this year’s version.

Most obvious difference from all other Japanese teas can be noticed on the shape of dry leaves, majority of which have a form of small, hard dark-green balls, slightly reminiscent of lighter Taiwanese oolongs. Apart from these, there is also a significant amount of “non-ball” leaves, which are quite curly and similar to typical Tamaryokucha, proving that Tamacha is pan-processed.

This tea gently smells of sweet almonds, combined with fresh fruit, particularly white grapes. Adding these leaves into the preheated Shiboridashi, this smell slightly intensifies, though it still isn’t that deep, massive aroma which can be found in some (mostly Fukamushi) teas, but instead a subtle, delicate and enjoyable scent.

First infusion is very light and transparent in color as well as the taste, which is soft, light and humble yet very harmonic. It lacks the deeper tones often found in higher grade teas, though in this case, it definitely isn’t a minus.

Second infusion is already a bit more intense in taste and color, result of the way Tamacha is processed – being curled into small balls, which gradually, yet slowly unroll during the infusions. It tastes of almonds, hazelnuts and, most surprisingly, raspberries.

In contrast to other Japanese green teas, third infusion is the most flavorful of all, as all the balls are now unrolled, ready to get out everything they have. It maintains its nutty and fruity character, being followed by mild, yet noticeable milky aftertaste.

Fourth infusion is a bit harsher than the third one, but it still maintains all of its pleasant, light tones.

This tea is also taken into fifth infusion, which reveals more roasted, bread-like character of its taste, somehow typical for latter brews of Tamaryokucha.

Similarly to last year’s version, this is a simple, yet complex untraditional tea, being much lighter and literally less heavy than most Japanese green tea. It’s refreshing, enjoyable and, being really inexpensive, has much more to offer than the price can imply.


  1. Strange that it would be less expensive! I would think that labor costs in Japan would make a pan fired tea fetch higher prices.

  2. William,
    Japanese pan-fired teas are in fact mostly less expensive than those which are steamed, at least in Teamountain offering - even competition grade Tamaryokucha which can be found there is surprisingly inexpensive.
    Moreover, I believe that even the pan-processing of this tea is made by machines instead of being handmade, it's made in Japan, after all ;-) Though it's only my personal guess. Maybe Martin Spimr of Teamountain can tell us more about this if he'll stop by sometime.

  3. The reason why it is so, I am not sure, but Tamatyokucha which I am bringing and which scored 2nd prize in NAtional tea competition of JApan is cca three times less expensive the gyokuro with the same prize and just awesome. Tamacha is actually side product of Tamaryokucha as well as Mecha (or Jin)is side product of sencha or gyokuro production. Its tips part of the leaves which forms in ball shape in rolling process. Thats why tamacha costs such friendly price and its not seen very often in the market. And I think its really worth of the money.

  4. Martin,
    thanks a lot for explanation! This makes Tamacha even more interesting in my eyes. It definitely is worth the money - actually I think it's much more than worth it, as I've already mentioned in the post, its quality definitely exceeds its price.
    I can't wait to try those prize awarded teas!

  5. well, my pleasure. Also be informed that our friend from closed his business and we will be sending teas directly to Slovakia together with

  6. I know about Tealand's closure, it's quite a pity, as it really was a great shop.
    But I'm glad to hear these news, I was actually thinking about writing you a mail asking whether it will be possible to order your teas from Slovakia, so now I don't have to ask, as you've already answered ;-)

  7. it was and his owner was also enthusiastic and pretty knowledgeable about teas. Its a pity but I noted recently that its not easy to survive economically just by selling the teas in small countries like Czech and Slovakia are. And despite the fact we have really great teas here not many people appreciate them and even less are able to evaluate them. I think that soon we will make web page together with in euro prices so that its easier for our abroad customers to order. But we have to find time first...:-)

  8. Martin,
    true words... unfortunately.
    I'm looking forward to that webpage, good luck with it ;-)

  9. I think it will take some time :-) But even now we will be sending orders from our shops together...