|" I could see myself drinking this in lieu of a glass of wine at dinner and being completely content. "|
This tea in particular is called Artisan's Reserve by Mellow Monk. It hails from the Aso City in Kumamoto, Japan. It is a wonderfully aromatic and flavorful blend of special sencha tea called tamaryokycha or guricha. That means curly green tea. The leaves in the blend are a 50/50 split of shaded (kabusecha) and sun-grown leaves. This results in a dynamic flavor profile with many facets. The rich volcanic soils at the foothills of Mount Aso, where the plants are grown, provides a rich flavor and heady aroma, with little to no bite, that other soils cannot match.
Lets get into the cupping shall we?
Starting with the brewing conditions, I used 2 tsps of tea and 16 oz of water heated to 164ºF. I let the leaves infuse for 2 minutes while I preheated my mug.
The aromas eminating from the dry leaves was interesting to say the least. Seaweed and briny sea water flooded my nostrils. Then hints of green fruits and grass followed. The leaves themselves were a nice vibrant army green and seemed to be broken in tiny strands. Imagine blades of grass that were dried then cut into tiny lengths.
The aroma of the wet leaves was identical but intensified 10 fold.
The liquor was very nice to see. A shockingly bright lime green. Slightly cloudy and fluorescent. The smells throughout this cupping remained the same. Some more muted than others. The dry leaves were medium intensity, the wet leaves were very intense, and the liquor was just hinting at the brininess. The flavor on the other hand was delicious. Briny, salty, savory, sweet, woody. All capture this tea perfectly. There was a tinge of bitterness on the back of the throat but it did not linger and added to the refreshing nature of this brew. Light to medium body with a short to medium finish. Creamy on the palate, dynamic and smooth. Wonderful tea.
If I was to pair this tea like I would pair wine in the restaurant, I would recommend seafood, especially scallops or shellfish, or salty-hard aged cheeses. The briny nature of the tea would mirror the salty, crumbly texture of most hard aged cheeses. Italian parmigiano reggiano comes to mind instantly.
Overall, I give this tea a solid 7. I could see myself drinking this in lieu of a glass of wine at dinner and being completely content. Grand job Mellow Monk!
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