Wednesday, December 1, 2010

2010 Kanbayashi Sencha High Grade

Snow! The weather suddenly changed few days ago and sunny, windy autumnal days were completely replaced by typical winter atmosphere with temperatures dropping under zero and whole country being covered in snow and mist – it's snowing heavily even now, as I'm writing this. Don't get me wrong, this definitely isn't complaining - after spring, winter would probably be the season I enjoy the most.

This tea is the second sample kindly sent by Calogero of Just like the first one, it was produced by Kanbayashi and originates in Uji, Kyoto.

Labeled “High Grade”, this Sencha is lower grade than Premium, being the less expensive one of two Kanbayashi teas in Ochaya offering.

Its dry leaves are shorter than those of Premium grade, less uniform and lighter in color. Compared to the Premium grade, their smell is less sweet and nutty with more vegetal tones, though still is as deep as I would expect of good Ujicha.

Brewing temperature is just a few degrees higher than that used for this tea's Premium counterpart, resulting in a light-yellow, clean first infusion, just as clear and light in color as in taste, which is buttery, deep, milky and fruity, leaving a cool, balanced aftertaste with tones of plums and vanilla. There also is a significant sweetness in this infusion, which wasn't that vivid in smell of dry leaves.

The second infusion, prepared with water of the same temperature as the first one and brewed for shorter time, has light-green color and is more opaque than the previous brew. Its taste is fuller, more intensive and with vivid note of ripened fruit, especially apples and pears. The aftertaste is milky and creamy, though surprisingly shorter than that of the first infusion.

The third infusion is then prepared with warmer water and enhanced brewing time and once again has light yellow color similar to the first infusion. The taste is light, similar to the previous brew in its fruity character and milky aftertaste, though it is generally much lighter and humblier, resembling the first infusion a lot in its clear simplicity.

This tea is then brought to one more infusion – very mild, woodsy and dry; still enjoyable, though the flavor is already quite flat.

Though this tea offers smaller range of tones and is much more simple and mild than Kanbayashi Premium, these two still have something in common – both are deep, fruity and good representatives of Uji Sencha. In my eyes, Premium is more of a “special-occasion” kind of tea, while High Grade is an ideal daily-drinker Sencha; that kind of tea which is simple, yet still won't get boring after some time.

As a bonus - have a blurry picture of today's snow in Bratislava, taken from my apartment's window few minutes ago:


  1. It is the first day of snow here in the state of Indiana as well! It is nice to be able to look out on December fist and see snow. It is fitting with the season.
    Time to bring out the black teas, the roasted oolong teas, and the shu pu'erh teas! Those are my favorites this time of year!

  2. William,
    nice to hear that you are enjoying snow as well! I just hope it's going to last at least till Christmas :-)
    I'm especially looking forward to autumnal flush from Darjeeling and Nepal these days. They are already in the shops around here and I think they fit the season perfectly!

  3. I am awaiting the Autumnal flush darjeelings as well. They are my favorite of the flushes, so once they are in I will be having very enjoyable tasting sessions!

  4. I really love how you shared the photo of the snow; I find that snowstorms really change my experience of food and drink.

    Reading this post makes me want to try more good sencha; it's not a tea I have a whole lot of experience with. The sencha so often sold and served most places in the U.S. is pretty generic and I have not yet sought out much higher-quality sencha.

  5. Alex,
    the weather made me happy and I just felt that I have to share it with someone - I originally haven't even intended to do so in this post, but couldn't help myself in the end :-) It's snowing everyday now and it still gives me good mood, though it causes some serious traffic jams around here... well, every weather has its minuses.

    I'm glad the post is inspiring at least a bit, if you ever get the chance to experience some good Sencha in the near future, definitely go for it; the world of Sencha is just as diverse and rich as the world of green tea in general!