Those who enjoy Japanese sencha understand that Sencha is traditionally a blended tea and that the elements of terroir including tea garden location and tea bush cultivar conspire to create the the many varied tastes of each particular sencha. However these elements are brought together in sencha manufacture by the split-second choices made by the tea blender/buyers while tasting samples of ‘aracha’ at the tea market. Local tea bush cultivars can be ‘heirloom’ varieties while others are new cultivars that have been developed by one of the Japanese government’s tea research institutes or by educated and experienced tea farmers such as Mr. Iwasaki and his son.
This sencha is made from Yabukita, the most widely grown tea bush cultivar in Japan. But as evidenced here, many other elements of terroir such as soil, climate and the skill of the tea farmer come into play to make something that could be ordinary be….’extraordinary’.
This is a carefully-made sencha with a clear, fresh flavor that is ever-so-pleasantly ‘green’, with a hint of the seashore taste characteristic of some Japanese senchas. This tea is a soothing, dark green color – almost greenish-black in some light. Very large leaf particles point to expert handling and Iwasaki ‘s efforts to keep the leaf intact despite the fact that this is sheared leaf.
The tea liquor is pale yellow and for those in the know, shows a high proportion of amino acid content. The fragrance is deep and rich, also signalling the full body and super smooth overall flavor.
This is the Japanese green tea for those who are not yet sure whether or not they like Japanese green tea. Or for those who have not discovered the joys of Japanese green tea. Or for anyone who want an excellent example of a classic Shizuoka sencha.
For the enthusiast as well as the beginner, this tea is easy to steep and utterly delicious.
This tea is the taste of traditional Japanese green tea.
Background on our relationship with Iwasaki and his family:
In 2012 Mary Lou was asked to visit Japan with an international group of tea experts, on a trip to meet with a variety of tea farmers and evaluate the tea market and explore new export potentials for premium tea farmers. In Shizuoka Prefecture she met with a group of farmers who were united in their desire to grow premium tea organically and to attempt to continue to grow some of the more unusual cultivars that many farmers have ceased to maintain. Mary Lou affectionately gave these farmers the moniker of the “Four Musketeers’ of Shizuoka premium organic tea. We have developed a strong relationship with this group in the years since, and their tea has been amazing. One of the farmers in this group was Shinobu Iwasaki. He has been an organic tea farmer for many years and his son is now following in his footsteps.
For this season (2018) Mr Iwasaki, one of the original ‘Four Musketeers’ of SOTFU, wanted to show us examples of the current work of his son who is just now really becoming a masterful tea farmer. Known to his friends and colleagues as “Junior”, he is following in his father’s footsteps and will soon be in charge of the tea garden.
The family gardens are in a region known as ‘Ryougouchi’ which is of historical importance regarding tea manufacture in Japan. This region was traditionally one of the premier locations for tea gardens, but at one point fell into disrepair. Because of the efforts of tea farmers such as the Iwasaki family this area has reclaimed its reputation as a first-class tea-growing region in Shizuoka Prefecture.
We were offered four teas from the Iwasaki family’s tea gardens this season and, on tasting them, accepted all of them without hesitation!
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