Thursday, February 3, 2011

2010 Gokuchanin Hanhakoucha Tefutefu

I apologize for the recent lack of posts – though I had been drinking even more tea than I usually do in January, those teas were used just to keep me going. Time somehow became my enemy and prohibited me from doing anything apart from work-related things. Everything is getting back to the way it was before, so I hope February will be better – I have quite a lot of teas and things to write about, after all.

Being an another experiment of Saitama-based tea master Yoshiaki Hiruma also known as Gokuchanin, this unusual tea bears the name Tefutefu, meaning „Butterfly“ in old Japanese. As the name Hanhakoucha indicates, this once again is an oolong, though this time, the oxidation went farther than in case of Gokuchanin's Hanhakoucha Toyoka, about which I wrote some time ago – Tefutefu is supposed to be inspired by Taiwanese Bai Hao or, in English, Oriental Beauty oolong. However, it's hard to say as to how far the inspiration goes – whether it's only the level of oxidation and following processing method, or also the influence of tea jassids (or some similar pest?). This tea was purchased from Slovak shop, which claims it to be hand-processed.

The package, which also seems to be in accordance to the Taiwanese inspiration, reveals leaves ranging in color from reddish brown and black to hairy white, being smaller, more fragmented and generally quite different from leaves of most original Oriental Beauty teas. Their smell is intensive, sweet and dominated by tones of honey, ripe fruit and flowers, accompanied by slightly acidic hint of orange and lime. Though it bears some similarities to Bai Hao oolong, it resembles other teas as well – Chinese white teas like Bai Mu Dan or even Shou Mei, for example. That seems to be quite a typical thing for Gokuchanin – his teas truly fulfill the meaning of word “experiment”. Even though he usually inspires himself by some famous Chinese or Taiwanese tea, the result is something completely different, new and original, making its comparison to any of its inspiration sources literally impossible.

I've tried brewing this tea in various vessels, most suitable and satisfying of which turned out to be Chinese style of brewing in small porcelain gaiwan. Its pure white color seems to be in a great contrast with darker character of this tea, which I found very pleasant for eyes, enhancing the overall feeling of this session. After being placed into the preheated gaiwan, smell of this tea even intensifies, now being much more reminiscent of Bai Hao oolong.

Prepared with water right under the boiling point, the first infusion is golden yellow in color and very warm and mild, yet aromatic in taste with predominant nuances of citrus fruit, pears and honey sweetness, which lingers in mouth for a long time after drinking and creates a pleasant aftertaste, just as mild and rich at the same time as the tea itself ending with a slight sour note, reminding me of orange and lime.

The second infusion is already a bit darker in color, now being more of an orange-yellow and also significantly vivider in taste with tones of honey and soft, warm sweetness similar to that of ripe autumnal fruit, especially apples and pears. Nuances of citrus fruit are present as well, though they aren't dominant in this brew, being subdued by honey sweetness.

This seems to be the kind of tea which doesn't get any astringent even when brewed for quite a long time – it just intensifies instead, as seen on the third infusion, which I forgot to pour down on time. Even so, its color is very similar to that of the second infusion and so is the taste – smooth, sweet and fruity, full and very reminiscent of honey and very light, mild flower nectar aroma, accompanied by hint of sour citrous notes.

Dominance of slightly sour citrus fruit notes returns in the fifth and continues to get more vivid in the sixth and seventh infusions; though these brews are now significantly less sweet, they are pleasantly light and refreshing with overall feeling similar to that of drinking good, cold fruit juice in summer.

One more infusion is made with enhanced brewing time, still very smooth, refreshing and fruity; this is probably the first time I ever made eight enjoyable brews of any Japanese tea.

After the last brew, the leaves seem surprisingly much less fragmented than in their dry form – even whole little leaves can be found, reminiscent more of a buds than full leaves, which are generally used in Japanese tea production.


  1. The wet leaves look very purple!
    What a novelty tea. I am jealous of your ability to be able to find these teas!
    Happy brewing!

  2. William,
    those leaves really were as purple as they seem and definitely very pleasant to look at :-)
    I'm really glad that I was able to purchase this tea, apart from being an unusual novelty, it seems to never stop surprising me - every time I drink it, it's a bit different, uncovering new tones and tastes.
    Happy brewing to you as well!

  3. Hello,

    That's great to read a topic about Hiruma-San hanhakkoucha !

    You should taste, if you didn't do it already, his Sayamakaori strong dried and Toyoka Hanhakkoucha, I really love that ones !

    Hiruma-San Hanhakkoucha are both picked by hand and by machine, then the tea processing is only done by machine...

  4. fortunato,

    Out of Mr. Hiruma's wonderful teas, I've already tried Hanhakoucha Toyoka ( and, mentioning Sayamakaori, also one Bihakkou made of this cultivar (
    Both were very interesting and enjoyable teas!

    About Hanhakoucha being machine processed, I also think so, yet the shop said otherwise on their website - therefore, I used the word "claims" in this post :-)

  5. Hi Michal,

    I meant Sayamakaori and Yumewakaba Strong Dried Hanhakkoucha, not regular ones... I didn't want to say Toyoka, I made a mistake.

    About his cultivars,ie : you can have with Sayamakaori a Fukamushicha, Bihakkousencha, Hanhakkoucha with different kind of processing, also blended with Yabukita for another Fukamushicha named Fumika and so on...

    That is one of many reasons I think Yoshiaki Hiruma is amazing !!! Doing so many different kind of teas with only one cultivar !

    He's a brilliant tea artist !!

    About machine processed I told you that only because Hiruma-San himself explained me how he made his Hanhakkoucha as here :

    And about Hi-Ire for the Strong driend Hanhakkoucha as the ones I told you above (Sayamakaori and Yumewakaba), he's using that kind of tools :

  6. fortunato,

    I share your enthusiasm for his teas - I think it's great that there is such an unconventional tea master in Japan, creating all kinds of great teas one can imagine :-)
    I will be sure to search up other teas from his offering as well.

    Thank you for the links; they are great insights as to how these teas are made!

  7. Tea is certainly a universal language and yours is very clear and easy to understand. Thanks for advancing my tea knowledge.

  8. Lelia,
    nicely said. Thanks for stopping by!