Wednesday, September 7, 2011

2011 Ureshino Kamairi Tamaryokucha

I've been traveling quite a lot during the second half of august and, luckily for me, had enough time to drink teas at such amazing places as a meadow inside a pine forest, surrounded only by green hills and a couple of good friends. Originally, I intended to take some photos of these sessions and share them on this blog, but I ended up just enjoying these moments and surroundings, documenting them only with my own eyes and mind. Looking back, I think it was a good decision.

Meanwhile, new teas arrived – thanks to their preciseness, started offering some fresh Teamountain teas to Slovak tea-lovers almost immediately after they were listed available on TM website.

This year, Teamountain's Japanese teas arrived significantly later than usual – caused mainly by the Earthquake and its consequences and the fact that big part of their offering used to consist of Shizuoka teas from Mr. Katahira's farm, which, unfortunately, they decided not to sell this year. However, first wave of these teas is finally here and, so far, it seems like it really was worth the wait.

This Kamairicha from Ureshino has been a stable part of Teamountain offering for quite a few years and it's the most basic Tamaryokucha they offer – this being said, it still is a high-grade, hand-roasted tea made of Yabukita cultivar.

Its dry leaves are a bit less uniform than those of competition grades of this type of tea; even though, they are good-looking, curly and vivid green in color. They emit a strong smell, which is soft, fresh and a bit nutty.

The first infusion is light green in color, transparent and very aromatic. Its taste is similar to the smell in a way that it is vivid and soft at the same time, being milky, fruity, very nutty and sweet with fine umami tone. Almonds and sweetness are the dominant tones in aftertaste, which isn't long, but very pleasant nonetheless. This brew also seems to have nice, gentle awakening effect on mind, making it calm, simple and yet sharp, just as the tea itself.

The second infusion is poured off immediately as the water touches the leaves and is lively green and a bit opaque. Being more mouth-filling and pronounced than the previous brew, it's dominated by notes of fruity sweetness and umami, followed by unusually fresh, cooling feel on tongue and a roasty, nutty touch in aftertaste, which is now longer and sharper.

Similar intensive green color shows up as the third infusion is prepared, now a bit less sweet and more refreshing and sharp, reminding me of freshly picked young green apples. The nutty tones of almonds and hazelnuts as well as the previously vivid umami are still detectable, though they now seem to be quite covered over by the fruity, fresh character.

One more infusion is prepared with freshly boiled water, cooled only for a very short amount of time. It shows the complete departure of former sweetness and milkiness, being sharp, refreshing and a bit astringent. The aftertaste is simple, having the same pronounced character as this infusion's taste.

Judging from this humble, pleasant Kamairicha, this is a promising year for Ureshino. I'm looking forward to encountering other teas from this region soon – hopefully also the competition grades of Tamaryokucha, which I really grew quite keen of during the last season.


  1. I have been getting to know Kamairicha this past week as I received my order from Yuuki-Cha. Both Kamairicha, the Tokujo and Okumidori, come from Miyazaki in Kumamoto Prefecture south of Mt. Aso on Kyushu. This seems to be the region that is producing some of the best Kamairicha, so I've read. While I have a preference for the Tokujo as being easier to brew with sweeter and long lasting finish, both yield up a full flavored tea that can stand on its own relative to its more well known siblings, sencha and gyokuro. Since it's a roasted tea (not to the point where you are tasting roasted flavors), the mouth feel will be different than sencha and that nutty quality without the oceanic umami is more prominent. I'm happy to have discovered these teas and will pursue more of them.

  2. Ho Go,
    I personally haven't tasted any Kamairicha from Yuuki-cha yet, but their offering seems very interesting and, most importantly, diverse. In my eyes, these teas are a world on their own - very fascinating one indeed. It seems like every single Kamairicha (or, in wider sense, Tamaryokucha, both Kamairi and Mushisei) I ever came across was significantly different from the others - there are big differences even between styles of tea from prefectures which are located relatively close to each other, such as Saga and Kumamoto. Thanks to this fact, it never seems to get boring to try more and more. :-)
    Thank you for sharing your experience with this kind of teas!