Saturday, January 28, 2012

2011 Horaido Gyokuro Fuuki

The sun is shining as I finally have enough free time for a proper tea session. Other than that, the air is still quite cold – days like these often make me want to drink Gyokuro.

Some of you may remember me talking about the 2010 version of Horaido's Fuuki – I enjoyed it a lot, just as I enjoyed practically all Horaido teas that I've tried up to this day. This traditional, Uji-based shop offers teas, many of which rank among my favorite Japanese-greens every year.

I purchased the 2011 version of Fuuki on my last visit to Brno's Probuzeny Slon teahouse and enjoyed it a couple of times since then, so I guess it's finally time for some notes.

After the package is opened, these typically beautiful, short and shiny dark-green needles emit that amazingly sweet, rich and complex smell so characteristic for a good Kyoto-style Gyokuro. This smell enhances as quite a big amount of these leaves is placed into the preheated Shiboridashi, revealing the pleasantly heavy, milky character.

Using traditional way of preparation, the first infusion is brewed with lukewarm water for four minutes and is yellowish-green in color, thick in consistence and very complex in taste. Within countless tones, umami is naturally the strongest one, followed by sweet milkiness, creaminess and less pronounced (compared to previously described MK Tsubokiri Gyokuro) but still detectable freshness. Next in line is a very interesting tone, reminding me of sweet melon – both yellow and watermelon.

This brew leaves long, heavy aftertaste in mouth, dominated by, once again, umami, noble sweetness and somehow creamy, hazelnut-like nuances.

The following infusion is prepared with a bit warmer water and shorter steeping time, resulting in a greener, less thick and very clear, transparent brew. Its taste is lighter and slightly vegetal, though the noble sweetness and umami remain the predominant tones. The refreshing tone is also significantly enhanced, compared to the previous infusion; so is the green, fruity-like character, now reminiscent of freshly picked green apples and grapes. The aftertaste is shorter, though still very sweet and complex, made of several tones, now especially those of various kinds of fruit.

One more infusion is prepared – with quite hot water and short brewing time, this is a light, nicely sharp ending of a session, now very refreshing, less deep and more straightforward and vegetal, though still practically without any unpleasant tones.

Eating some (or, in many cases, all) of the the spare leaves has became almost a routine part of my sessions with Gyokuros – these beautiful, still lively green leaves are no exception. Lacking bitterness, their mild sweet taste and lightness is a calming experience, prolonging the noticeably awakening, though, at the same time, mind-calming effect.

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