Saturday, December 22, 2012

2012 Sencha Kaori & Some Thoughts on “Perfect Teas”

Christmas holiday, finally. At last, I should have enough time to talk about all the interesting teas that have been accumulating on my shelf for quite a while.
Let's start with yet another Katahira – or let's get back to Katahira, to be more accurate. Here's a tea from this great Nunosawa, Shizuoka-based producer I haven't talked about yet – a tea, which is, among his classic Senchas, presumably of the highest grade.

Purchased from quite a while ago, Sencha Kaori was picked in May 2012 and is a blend of four different breeds - 30% Ó Iwase, 30% Meiryoku, 20% Yamanoibuki, 20% Saemidori.
Its leaves are long, light-steamed shiny green needles, very beautiful and obviously processed with great amount of care. They have a sweet, fine smell; one that is fresh, fruity and creamy.

The first infusion is light-yellow in color and gets gradually more opaque as it cools down. Its taste is sweet, very refined, deep and complex – from tones of ripe fruit, such as pears and gooseberries, to sweet cream, milk and vivid umami, almost reminiscent of half-shaded or shaded teas. These notes are continued in a long, mouth-filling aftertaste, again very deep and sweet, though also fresh and very fruity.

The second infusion is yellowish-green in color, very clear and slightly cooler in taste. Again, tones of fruit, sweet cream, umami, deepness and overall refinement. A medium-long aftertaste; slightly lighter than before, more refreshing and, for a second brew, still very sweet without any sharp notes.
Two more infusions are made of these leaves; the third one still a deep, complex brew with sweet fruity and creamy notes, getting just a bit drier in the ending.
The fourth, the final – light green color, a lighter, drier and simpler taste, less deep, though still mostly fruity, creamy and very clear. This taste stays in the mouth for along time, the aftertaste still doesn't get any less refined. All the sweetness and creaminess previously encountered, still not planning to leave. Impressive.  

I've purposely made the taste notes shorter this time to get to the question already mentioned in the name of this post - this tea seems almost perfect. Sometimes I think it's too perfect, actually. There's this thing about such high-grade, traditional Sencha teas, especially the blended ones – they are very refined and good from all points of view, mostly, which, actually, detracts a bit of surprise from the experience. It is important to say that this has nothing to do with quality of tea in any way – it's just a matter of personal preference. I seem to enjoy teas that are able to surprise me, teas that get stuck in my mind for whatever reason more than teas which are just great – in a classic, conservative, traditional way. Just one example, purposely from the same producer – Sencha Tsuyuhikari.
This tea, Sencha Kaori, tastes exactly how it's supposed to taste. Exactly how a Sencha of such a high grade is supposed to taste. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
It's just that sometimes I think tea is quite similar to people. When you're around someone who is perfect all the time, there is quite a high chance you are going to get bored.
Of course, these teas are not meant to be consumed every day, so such case probably isn't going to happen.

This is definitely a great tea. Try it, drink it, enjoy it. You won't be disappointed.
You might not be surprised. But, after all, that is not what these teas are meant to do.


  1. I completely agree with you regarding the high-grade teas. It often happens when i drink high-grade teas that i'm missing the surprise, the "something" that makes this particular tea special. Those teas are "only" perfect. I'm pretty sure japanese feel the same way as wabi-sabi is in their hearts. Isn't it the same with for example cars? Driving a luxury car might be perfect, but it's more fun to drive for eg. a mini cooper :)

  2. mrbase,
    I like your comparison to cars. It's very accurate, when I think about it :-)

  3. I find this is the case with high end greens and oolongs--delicious, but never surprising, just not enough complexity. High end puer is a different story..often both tasty and continually surprising.

  4. Hi, i'm from Germany but I have to tell you, that i like your tea blog. The pictures are very nice and your descriptions of the tasting shows that you have the gift to dive deep into the ocean of the different green tea tastes and desribe it accourately. Unfortunately it's only available in german but this is the biggest and most informative german side of green tea:

  5. I love green tea. I'm just little sad, that in my country good green tea isn't so popular. We have a lot of tea kinds but the good ones are not so often.

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