Review: Norbu Tea Kondouwase Arashiage Asamushi (2010 Spring)

Green Tea, Norbu Tea, Sencha Tea, Single Estate Tea Add comments
Geoff’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Once the stars (and dog) finally aligned so I could do it right, the liquor brewed a decent - if pale - green, with a grassy-sweet nose."
Geoff’s Teaview: 9/10
Other Teaviews: Jamie gave it 7/10
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The background for this sencha can practically be deduced by the name. First off, "Kondouwase" refers to the varietal of leaf grown. Norbu Tea explains that it's an unregistered hybrid between a Shizuoka cultivar (likely Zairai or Beni-Fuki) and possibly Indian assamica. "Arashiage" is a sword-making term referring to an unfinished product. This sencha - according to the vendor - closely resembles "aracha" or "unrefined" sencha in its shape and cut; hence the metaphoric moniker. "Asamushi", like Fukamushi, is a steaming technique - in this case, lightly-steamed. Fascinating, eh? I think so. (You in the back, stop yawning!)

Mariko is a growing region in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan that I was accustomed to in the oddest of ways. A rare black tea (or "kocha") I tried hailed from that area. It has a rich and vibrant tea history, one that has even been depicted in ukiyoe prints over 170 years ago. To this day, it is one of the best places to acquire quality, small-scale single estate green teas.

This spring harvest green was quite unusual on first impression. The leaves, indeed, looked unrefined - long, rough-cut, and somewhat lighter in color. Most senchas I've come across were small, uniform, and bold forest green. On sight, this resembled the Chinese sencha variant often used as the base for green tea blends. The aroma echoed its roughness with a grassy bend similar to bancha.

Norbu Tea recommended a light steeping approach to this, similar to gyokuro; roughly 1 teaspoon per cup, and water at a temperature of 150F-155F. I went with the lighter temp but stuck with the rest, including the two-minute infusion time. Can't go wrong with subtlety with a Japanese green.

Truth be told, I was having considerable difficulty brewing this; not because the tea was difficult, but because of outside distractions. Our puppy - a rather large Saint Bernard - kept trying to snag the sample bag away from me, thus allowing me to forget a step or two - particularly temperature monitoring. Once the stars (and dog) finally aligned so I could do it right, the liquor brewed a decent - if pale - green, with a grassy-sweet nose. The taste also echoed that impression, resembling celery sticks lathered in honey-flavored peanut butter. The finish was deliciously fruit-ringed, closely mimicking another green tea fave - tamaryokucha. There was a vegetal profile to it, but so much more was at work here to contrast it. One of the better regular senchas I've had in a long time...without the word Fukamushi in it.

— To purchase Norbu Tea Kondouwase Arashiage Asamushi (2010 Spring), or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.

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One Response to “Review: Norbu Tea Kondouwase Arashiage Asamushi (2010 Spring)”

  1. Ananna Says:

    When I saw this title on my home page I ran to my cupboard and yes, I have a package of this. After reading your review I will try it tomorrow.

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