28 April, 2007

2006 Hachiju Hachiya Sencha

There's no place like home,
there's no place like home,
there's no place like home...

Much like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, I'm glad to be back. As usual on returning to the south of England, the weather becomes dramatically more pleasant. Residents of the south always tease our northern counterparts that they live in a cursed, dark land where the sun never shines...

To celebrate the coming of 2007, we're drinking up our 2006s - much like everyone else, I imagine. This sencha is one we've enjoyed before, but hasn't yet made it into the Half-Dipper archives. It's from Kaori teas, in Covington, Kentucky, and arrived with us courtesy of CB - thanks again for the sample!

9cl gaiwan; Caledonian Springs @ 80C; 2 scoops; single rinse.

Dry leaves:
Very sharp and brittle needles of tea, with that glossy sencha shine. A nutty aroma. The "Hachiju hachiya" name allegedly refers to the fact that they were picked on the 88th day of spring, traditionally considered an optimal time for gathering. These tasting notes come from my journal archives, back when this tea was a little closer to that optimal freshness.

15s, 10s, 15s, 20s, 45s:
Cloudy yellow soup. This is, perhaps unsurprisingly, a very fishy tea. "Tender and creamy", says Xiaomao, "almost like porridge". It ends on a pleasantly sour note.

If you're familiar with Chinese seaweed (the actual waterborne plant that grows in thick strips, rather than the curly "seaweed" cabbage that one finds in Chinese restaurants in England), then you're already familiar with this tea. It's like drinking seaweed.

There is a delicious oiliness about the texture of this tea.

This is fine sencha. Surprisingly, it held its flavour well between the original tasting (December 2006) and recently. The 88th-day picking is listed by several vendors as its superior grade of sencha, and there certainly is a specialness about the definition of this tea's flavours.

Not unusually, this tea faded after the third infusion, but was fresh and delicious up to that point. I recall an article at Rec.food.drink.tea searching for a "fishy" sencha: this is definitely for you, lovers of sea-tea. We found this sencha to benefit from a decent heat, perhaps 85C, which is against the grain of traditional wisdom (60-70C is usually recommended).


Vladimir Lukiyanov said...

The description is quite interesting... as always.

I just noticed the dead daffodils in the first picture; it does seem that spring is in another stage right now... here the daffodils are replaced by crazy quantities of bluebells...

Just curious, is that small tea sea from SE?


speakfreely said...

Hmmm...I may have to drink this again soon, as sencha lends itself to early spring. And I don't know whether it will retain its freshness much longer. Glad to hear it has so far.


Hobbes said...


I think the daffs are the "primavera", and now we're into the real swing of things with branches heavily laden with dense flowers. For some reason, spring seems more intense and noticeable to me, this year. The air everywhere literally smells of strong blossom. Am I paying more attention to it?

The little teatray is from Stephane, yes indeed. It's absolutely excellent. I did a little hunting around various vendors to try and find one that (miniature) size without any logos or writing printed onto them - it's rather difficult to find a plain, unadorned tray! Xiaomao and I have one each for our workplace. I'll include a little photo of mine, next time. I call Xiaomao's her "mobile gongfucha station".


Don't wait! It's definitely "on the turn", and won't last much longer. It's getting a little close to that flavour of elderly green tea.

Toodlepip both,