Review: Hibiki-an Sencha Premium

Hibiki-an, Sencha Tea Add comments
Lynn’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The flavor was robust and vegetal, sliding in a mellow green flood across my tongue and leaving an equally vegetal finish that lingered nicely with a pleasantly mild astringent edge. I found myself wishing for a small bowl of those mixed Japanese rice crackers—"
Lynn’s Teaview: 9/10
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hibikisenchapremium"Our tea farms are located upstream in the mountains, so all of the brooks in and around our tea farms are quite clean, pure and untouched as they come straight out from the mountain rocks and earth." Hibiki-an website

I discovered Hibiki-an a few years ago when I was first exploring matcha tea. Based in Ujitiwara near Kyoto, birthplace of Japanese green tea, they grow and process all their own teas. "I've been working hard to harvest good tea leaves at our family tea farms. I hope our tea leaves will be enjoyed by as many people as possible all around the world," said Tatsumi Yasui, the owner of the tea farms. By growing, processing, and direct shipping their tea, they strive to provide the freshest green teas, which often suffer with poor storage and shipping. I think they do a very good job. They have specials on the new teas as the season progresses, and currently have a page featuring updates on the progress of the first flush of this year's spring growth, sincha.

Their selection is broad—sencha, gyokuro, karigane, and matcha—with five grades, as well as organic offerings. The lowest is House grade, the highest, Pinnacle. I recently ordered their Sencha Premium, second down from the Pinnacle, along with their Matcha Premium, to be reviewed separately. My shipment came, as always, in less than a week, beautifully packaged in colorful Japanese print paper that made it look like a gift.

The long, needle-like sencha leaves were a glossy deep forest green, with a very fresh, sweet aroma, made up of vegetal, grassy notes. I brewed a rounded teaspoon of leaves in 8 oz. of 170F water for one minute, adjusting the temperature in the traditional fashion by filling the small china pot (a proper tetsubin or kyusu is on the top of my tea equipment list these days), then pouring the water off into another cup. I placed the leaves in the warmed pot and poured the water back in. A one minute steep gave me a pale, slightly cloudy peridot green liquor, with a mellow, sweet, grassy fragrance that bordered on floral. The flavor was robust and vegetal, sliding in a mellow green flood across my tongue and leaving an equally vegetal finish that lingered nicely with a pleasantly mild astringent edge. I found myself wishing for a small bowl of those mixed Japanese rice crackers—the ones with the nori-wrapped crackers, those hot red boomerang shaped ones, and the puffy, salty sweet ones with the peanut in the center. It was altogether delicious and left me ready for a second cup.

The leaves were fully open in the pot and looked more like chopped spinach than needles now, still with that sweet vegetal aroma. I used slightly cooler water this time, about 160F, and steeped it again for one minute. This time the color was the same, with a wonderfully mellow aroma and tasty flavor somewhere between asparagus and steamed baby spinach. It was not quite as strong as the first cup, but certainly not weak, either. I took this cup out to the back patio and sipped it slowly, listening to the wind chimes and watching the sun set.

With a Premium grade this good, I'm going to start saving up for Pinnacle! Their teas are not cheap; my 100 g package was $28, but combined with the matcha order, I passed the $38 threshold and shipping was free, a real plus when ordering internationally. And did I mention that they have really fast delivery? Highly recommended.

— To purchase Hibiki-an Sencha Premium, 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.

Teaviews Member: Lynn Lynn
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