Yet another Houkouen tea – Houkouen is the name of a company operated by Mr. Katahira, a well-known Shizuoka farmer and producer.
Purchased from Slovak shop Pu-erh.sk, this Sencha is made of a single cultivar – Tsuyuhikari. Again, a classic in Mr. Katahira's offering, Tsuyuhikari is a breed grown mostly in mountainous areas of Shizuoka.
This tea was picked in May 2012 and comes in a form of some really nice, shiny, long green needles. These leaves have a lovely fresh smell with tones of young fruit; this smell seems to be slightly lighter and fresher than that of most Sencha teas by Mr. Katahira (maybe with the exception of Koushun, which I will talk about soon, hopefully).
The first infusion is yellow in color, slightly opaque and has a refreshing, clear taste with tones of green grapes, young peas and overall freshness. This tea is sweet, but not too sweet; also, being as refreshing as it is, its taste is surprisingly deep and refined. It lacks any astringency and instead leaves a long, evolving aftertaste which fills the mouth with fruity coolness, mild sweetness and a very well-balanced amount of light, green freshness.
Just few seconds of brewing for the second infusion; the resulting cup is once again yellow in color, though now more transparent. Its taste is slightly sharper, warmer, dominated by tones of autumnal fruit – apples, mostly. There are also some nutty and slightly spicy tones – and even with all these notes, the freshness is still here, especially in the aftertaste. It feels almost like a surprise – after such a warm brew, the aftertaste feels unusually cool and refreshing. Another part of this tea's interesting character.
The third infusion marks the return of first brew's character, being lighter, almost greenish-yellow in color, transparent and pure in taste with overall lightness, freshness and tones of grapes, pears, young peas and just slight nuttiness. Somehow, this one is the sweetest of all infusions. The following aftertaste: moderately long, mild and refined. Fruit, sweet cream, freshness.
One more brew is prepared. Greenish-yellow, completely transparent, warm in character and quite simple; this is a nice, nutty finish with mild woody and spicy nuances. Warm enough not to leave you cold even on a chilly November day like this.