Friday, July 23, 2010

2010 Tokunaga Seicha Ureshino Tamaryokucha

Weather outside is literally unendurable. Temperature is reaching 35 degrees everyday for whole week, air is extremely sultry even in late night hours and almost unbreathable. Luckily, this is supposed to end tomorrow and the temperature is, according to the weather forecast, going to fall on 21 degrees. I can't wish for more, to tell the true. Even all the flowers outside are burnt by the sun and dying from an absolute lack of rain.

This tea was kindly sent by Mike of Karatsu pots, along with two of his beautiful teacups. One of these got unfortunately damaged on its way around the world, so I glued it up the best I was able to and will probably use it as a small vase on my tea tray, or just as a very nice decoration.

Tea was made by Tokunaga Seicha, producer from Ureshino, Kyushu. Ureshino is well known over the world for its Tamaryokucha, though the offering of these teas is quite limited around here – even though there are few Ureshino teas available every year, most Tamaryokucha on Czech and Slovak market comes, for some reason, from Uji and Shizuoka and therefore are different in character.

Dry leaves are quite small, curled, dark green, glossy and overall seem to be of very high quality. Smell is very vivid; deep, sweet, intensively nutty and a bit roasted – typical for good, fresh Tamaryokucha.

This tea is prepared in a small kyusu and drank from cup made by Mike, as it goes perfectly with character of this tea.

the second infusion.

Fist infusion is yellow in color, being brewed according to Mike’s instructions with water far below the boiling point and longer infusion time. I generally prefer to prepare Japanese teas like this, as this method gets out that milky, creamy taste I adore so much.

Taste of this infusion is very deep, intensive and with noble tones of almond and something like forest fruit.

Second infusion is poured off immediately, as its color is already deep green and opaque. This brew is surprisingly very different from previous one, with distinct umami taste, more typical for Gyokuro - making this tea even more interesting.

Third infusion is also dark green in color and fruity in taste, though the creamy tones are less vivid and the aftertaste and general feeling of this brew is somehow lighter, though more refreshing.

Fourth infusion is prepared with freshly boiled water and left in a teapot for quite a long time. It also is the last infusion, as the tea already got out all of its charm.

Overall, this was a very pleasant tea, quite unique even for a Japanese green tea - in a positive way. I will probably seek more teas from Ureshino and Kyushu in general from now on, as they are great alternative to teas from Uji and Shizuoka, being really markedly different in character.

Thanks once again for your kindness and an opportunity to try this tea, Mike.

In the end, this is a detail of bottom side of a teacup I drank from. In a moment of boredom I had yesterday, I added characters for "Karatsu-yaki" - correct me if these are wrong.
I enjoy the earthy, natural look of this cup and am looking forward to see how will the inner glaze of it change as the time goes by - that, to me, is a true charm of this style of teaware.


  1. I admire how you describe the tea, its leaves..the aroma...

    I feel ashamed for not enjoying more tea while my stay in China.

    If I go again (hope I will soon) I promise I'll try to learn more about the tea.

    Thanks a lot.Have a nice cool weekend. Same hot here.


  2. Dani,
    thanks a lot!

    I also hope you will be able to go to China again soon and learn a lot about tea ;)

    The weather here already cooled down and now it's just 19 degrees Celsius now, so I'm enjoying the cold, breathable air.
    Have a nice weekend as well!

  3. Dear Michal,
    I'm glad you enjoyed the tea. I enjoyed reading your impressions of it. The second infusion is always my favorite, but I didn't want to say anything ahead of time and color your experience.
    The cup should develop with use, even the exterior after a time, since the clay still absorbs a certain quantity of water, being as rough as it is.

  4. Mike,
    I'm glad you liked my impressions of this wonderful tea. I understand why you like the second infusion the most - it had best color, intensive umami taste and was overall most pleasant.
    I'm really looking forward to see how the cup will develop after some time - I can already say that I will use it intensely, as it goes really perfectly with good Japanese teas.
    Thanks once again!