Peter Stanik, the owner of Pu-erh.sk, kindly sent me samples of two new Japanese teas in his offering, teas that seemed interesting just from reading the description – one Sencha and one Kabusecha from Ohira tea estate, a grower who's never sent his teas abroad before. Moreover, grown in mountainous part of Shizuoka – when talking about Japanese teas, elevation of 500-1000 meters above sea level can almost be considered high-mountain.
First, I have decided to try Ohira's Kabuse. This tea has shorter, probably medium-steamed (chumushi) leaves; beautiful shiny, dark green, almost blueish needles. They emit a soft, sweet smell of ripe fruit, flowers and cream.
The preheated Shiboridashi intensifies this aroma. As the water cools down, the first infusion is prepared – transparent, light yellow in color, with a taste that is round, clear and light - lighter than most shaded or half-shaded teas, actually. Tones of grapes, milk, hazelnuts and apple juice. Though light overall, this brew also shows significant amount of umami and warm, creamy sweetness. Long, refined aftertaste; not too strong, not that aggressive, but indeed complex, deep and dominated by green grapes and light sweetness. All this accompanied by a calming effect on mind, again, different from most Kabuse teas – again, quite light, yet perceivable.
The second infusion gains strength as expected. Its color is now green, still transparent and very clear. This brew tastes slightly sharper, though still very light and pure, with strong umami, predominant fruity tone of apples and grapes, followed by creamy sweetness, milk and nuts. The aftertaste is, again, light but long, just a little shorter than before, very pure and with nuances of fresh, green fruit, vanilla and leaves an unexpected feeling, reminding me of pines and conifer forests – a walk in the mountains, almost. I'm always fond of such an effect in Japanese teas.
The third brew keeps the second's green color and returns to the rounder character of the first infusion, though providing less deepness and more of the nutty, spicy tones with slightly weakened sweet, milky notes. Still very pure and light, this brew has a medium-long aftertaste, more mouth filling than before and dominated by vanilla, hazelnuts and apples.
One more infusion is prepared with significantly hotter water; a touch of sweetness, green freshness and spicy, woody simplicity. A warm, satisfying finish.