|"This is what every green tea aspires to be. It was silky, fruity, slightly sweet, and with a bit of a buttery sensation on aftertaste. Floored? Nay. I was flattened."|
Luckily, one of the review samples I had - a couple of years back - was a tamaryokucha from TeaGschwendner. However, it was the pan-fried variety - very good, mildly berry-ish, but not perfect. What I really wanted to hunt down was the steamed variety. Of the many online distributors out there, only one advertised having a tamaryokucha that was steamed, first flush, and imported from a privately-owned tea farm. At the time, alas, it was out of my budget. As tea luck would have it, though, it came up in review circulation.
Mellow Monk's Top Leaf™ is exactly what I've been looking for. On their site they give detailed explanations of how great care is taken in tea cultivation. All of their teas are guricha-style (tamaryokucha) green teas. All come direct from a private farm in the Aso region of Japan. And, of course, my favorite description...all of their leaves are steamed, not pan-fried. One of my biggest complaints of most Japanese green teas is the pan-fried taste.
The appearance of these sampled leaves was majestic. They were vibrant and (boldly!) dark green. To the nose, the batch met the Wiki description perfectly; hints of mandarin oranges, a freshly-mowed lawn, and a grape-like aura. Not muscatel, however, more like Riesling.
Brewing instructions on the Mellow Monk page were favorably detailed. They recommended 1 heaping teaspoon per 8oz cup of 167F (75C) water for three minutes. The added minute was a surprise to me. Most of the time, folks recommend only two minutes for high quality Japanese greens. I went with two minutes, thirty seconds instead.
The liquor brewed bright green, the way I've seen refined sencha infuse. The aroma was fresh, grassy, but with a dash of mint and citrus. On the flavor front, there is no gentle way to put it other than it made my fingers curl as I typed this. It was perfect. Absolutely perfect. This is what every green tea aspires to be. It was silky, fruity, slightly sweet, and with a bit of a buttery sensation on aftertaste. Floored? Nay. I was flattened. It even surpassed good matcha.
Mellow Monk also noted that this could be infused two more times, but recommended not doing so for more than a minute each. The water I used had cooled to 145F, so I risked another full two-minute-thirty infusion. After that time, it brewed to a foggy, matcha-like green. It retained a grassy nose and its fresh fruit taste. While a crisper, lighter brew, it still lived up to its perfect first.
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