Monday, August 13, 2012

2012 Kabuse Yabukita Midori

This is another tea from Mr. Katahira's farm in Nunosawa, Shizuoka imported by Teamountain that I purchased on my recent visit to Brno's Probuzeny Slon teahouse. A classic tea found in their offering for years, this is a very high-grade Kabusecha made of Yabukita breed that, according to its description, competes in various tea competitions every year.

Its leaves are beautiful – long, uniform dark-green needles that really make this tea attractive on the first sight. Their smell is deep, milky and fruity, quite typical for good half-shaded teas – ripe fruit combined with fresh greenness.

Kabuse teas are ideal for experimenting – they are, after all, on a half way between Sencha and Gyokuro and using different leaf to water ratio and different water temperatures can lead to very different and very interesting results. However, I most commonly prepare them similarly to the way they're made – something between Sencha and Gyokuro, both in the amount of leaves, brewing time and temperature (slightly cooler water than Sencha and slightly smaller amount of leaves than in Gyokuro).
The first infusion prepared this way is light yellow in color, very clear and has a soft, complex taste made of various tones – plums, grapes, milk, nutty sweetness and nuttiness. Vivid umami note mixes with fresh greenness and creates an interesting combination – while the tea itself seems warmer in character thanks to the sweet, 'shaded' nuances, it has a cooling, fresh finish and long, similarly diversified yet complex aftertaste.  

The second infusion is greener in color, stronger in taste and still very sweet in character – I was originally expecting this brew to be more Sencha-like, but instead got another refined, creamy infusion with vivid umami and nutty sweetness. It also feels very heavy on tongue, reminding me of some lighter Gyokuros. The aftertaste may be a bit shorter than before, but still is a strong one with sweet tones of milk, caramel and just a hint of ripe fruit.
The following brew is light-green in color, sharper in taste and now dominated by spicy, fruity notes, though still strong on the sweet side without any trace of bitterness. In a way, it almost reminded me of apple in caramel and cinnamon. These notes are followed by a shorter, simpler aftertaste which is sweet, slightly spicy and nutty.

One more infusion is prepared - a simple, refreshing Sencha-like brew with green, fresh tones, spiciness and slightly drier, woody finish.

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