I wanted to thank Nio Teas for the opportunity to try this amazing Tamaryokucha from Kumamoto on the island of Kyushu. The farmer, Satoru Fujisako has been producing teas like this for decades, and really puts an exceptional amount of care into the teas he creates. This particular blend has been made from the younger leaves of the tea plant, and it includes less stems. This makes the end product greener and less bitter when compared to the hinokuni tea.
If you are wondering how I know this, I have been following some of the free educational videos Nio tea has been putting out on their Facebook and youtube channels. This is a great resource for anyone who wants to learn a little bit more about fine Japanese green tea. They will be adding a lot more content in the next few days because they have just recently returned from a trip to Japan. If anyone is interested in learning more about how Japanese green tea is produced, what the different varieties of Japanese green tea are and what differentiates non-organic and organic farms, please follow them for some exciting new educational videos!
This tamaryokucha is a lot different than the last one I tried. First of all, the leaves are much different. They’re a deeper shade of green and there are far less stems in this one. This gives the tea less of an astringency, which is a nice treat for those of you interested in Japanese green tea. There are less curled leaves here and more tightly coiled balls. Although the tamaryokucha hinokuni I tried was great, I personally prefer this one, the tamaryokucha bessaku. The bessaku has much more of a vegetal taste, and is a more premium variety of tamaryokucha.
The first steeping was great, it was a nice balance between some of the teas. It had a nice vegetal taste to it with a creamy umami aftertaste. The fact that there are less stems in this particular blend of tamaryokucha really makes a difference in the final flavor. There is much more of a vegetal flavor, and less of a bitterness, yet the tea still has a body to it, which should appeal to a wide range of tea drinkers. You notice the taste, not quite in the back of your throat or the roof of your mouth but on the top of your tongue somewhere in the middle. The mouthfeel is a little on the dry side, but no where near as astringent as some of the other teas I’ve had in the past.
In the second steeping, you tend to lose a lot of the vegetal and umami flavors, but the body of the tea is still there. It tastes a bit watery but it is still enjoyable after a few steepings. I generally don't enjoy the second and third steepings of a tea, but I do like the idea of making some extra that I can enjoy drinking all day. The first pot of tea is definitely something I want to savor and sit down to enjoy, but the steepings after that I can take with me while I’m running errands. The tamaryokucha is a pretty good tea cold, so if you want to ice the second steeping, you can try that as well.
If you use a higher temperature water when steeping, you will definitely begin to notice more of a bitterness with this tea. Try to get the temperature of the water at about 60 degrees Celsius. If you do not have a specialized tea kettle, you can just use a thermometer to make sure the temperature is correct. This seems like a very low temperature for tea, but with these Japanese green teas you really need to follow the instructions otherwise you will start to lose some of the more subtle flavors. If the tea gets cold, you can always heat up the tea later once you have finished steeping and taken the leaves out.
I really enjoyed this tea, and would highly recommend it. Like the sencha I tried just recently, I think this tea is a good gateway for people that are curious about Japanese green teas, but are not sure whether or not they will like them. The flavor of the Gyokuro that I have tried is quite intense, and it is definitely an acquired taste, but I think this one is more suitable for someone used to more basic teas. Once you get into the habit of enjoying this tamaryokucha, you will soon want to venture into the world of Japanese green tea.
Thank you so much for reading, I really hope you have enjoyed this tea tasting! I’ll keep putting out some more tea tastings as often as I can so keep checking the blog for new content.