|" The flavor really hit it out of the park for me."|
Mellow Monk presents Crimson Grove, one such kocha not produced in the usual region of Mariko, Shizuoka Prefecture. Instead, this hails from the Kumomoto region of Kyushu, which popularly produces the sencha variant known as tamaryokucha ("curly green tea") - my favorite type. Yabukita cultivar leaves are processed in a way similar to tamaryokucha but are lightly fermented after steaming. This marks the second kocha I've had the pleasure of trying. I liked the Shizuoka one I sampled, but it wasn't my favorite. I had higher hopes for this.
The leaves were larger than the Shizuoka black, at least in terms of cut. Instead of looking CTC-grade, these resembled curly leaves that'd been blackened. Longer, gold-colored twig pieces also dotted the canvas. The aroma was also quite pleasant, resembling a medium-bodied, sweeter oolong rather than a black tea.
Brewing instructions - per the Mellow Monk site - called for 1 tsp of leaves per 8oz of boiling water, steeped for two minutes. Successive (and optional) steeps at thirty seconds to a minute. I had no qualm with these recommendations. Sounded about right to me. I went to work.
At the two-minute mark, the liquor infused to a prime gold color. Not quite what I was expecting from a dark-seeming "red" tea, but no matter. The aroma could've almost passed for generic black tea if it weren't for a kick of sweetness toward the end. I likened it to kukicha and a Taiwanese black on scent. The flavor really hit it out of the park for me. The initial foretaste was typical in its...uh...black tea-ish-ness, but followed that up with a middle texture that reminded me of sweet tree sap and/or honey. The aftertaste screamed oolong but without the dryness. A fruit note also appeared on the finish that was wonderfully inviting. A second infusion didn't fare as well, ending up a bit too woody. Overall, though, Mellow Monk does it again.
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