Tamaryokucha, otherwise known as Guricha or “curly tea” is a common type of green tea in Japan. What makes this tea different from other green teas is that it is rolled into coiled comma shapes rather then being kneaded into needle like shapes.
This tea is shaded for 2 weeks prior to harvesting, and you will find a combination of deep green leaves with pale yellow stems mixed in. The stems are one of the aspects that makes the flavor of this tea unique. They give the tea a full bodied flavor rather than the full vegetal flavor you would normally associate with a Japanese green tea. I like to think of this as a gateway to the world of Japanese green tea. Some people might have a hard time fully diving into a Gyokuro and Sencha. I always find these amazing Japanese green teas that I am obsessed with and then when I try to share them with a friend or a family member, they end up saying “This tastes like grass!” Perhaps they need to try a middle ground first. I think Tamaryokucha is good for this because it has a full-bodied almost smoky flavor that many people may be accustomed too. The vegetal flavor is still there, but it is subtle. If you hold the flavor in your mouth for a few seconds, you will begin to notice the tartness of the tamaryokucha. You can taste the tart and umami flavors on the back of your tongue and they linger for quite some time. You can taste the tannins as your mouth begins to go dry.
On the second steeping, you get a lot of the original aroma of the tea, but the flavor takes on an entirely different profile. You begin to notice a little bit more of a sweetness and the subtle notes of almond begin to take the front stage, whereas before they were masked by the strong vegetal notes of hay and fresh cut grass. I’m normally not one for a third steeping, so I’m going to leave it here for now. I do however enjoy picking up on the great differences between the first and second steepings of tea.
I loved being able to try this tea and I am so grateful to NIO teas for giving me the opportunities to try all these different flavors. This particular tea was produced by Satoru Fujisako on the Hinokuni Kumamoto tea farm on the island of Kyushu, near by Nagasaki. You can see a small map of the island of Kyushu and where the farm is located on the back of the package, which is a nice touch. This farm has been producing teas for 2 generations that are certified organic not only by Japan, but also the EU, US and Canada.