2018

Sencha Saito Okuyutaka

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Green Tea

 

Sencha Saito Okuyutaka

 

Organic: Shizuoka Organic Tea Farmers Union (SOTFU)


Jien-cha:
completely farmer grown and processed tea
Tea Farmer: Mr. Saito

 

Grade: Ichibancha
Oxidation: none
Manufacture: steamed and oven-fired (baked)
Steaming Method: Asamushi (light)

 

Appearance: dark, pine green color, flat, large leaves
Flavor: bright, fresh, & slightly kelpy
Aroma: a bit of the seashore and salty air
Liquor: medium-straw colored liquor

 

Packaging: vacuum-packed in Japan in a classic foil envelope
Net Weight: 50 grams

 

 

Honyama Tea Harvesting Area
Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan

2018 1st Spring Pluck Ichibancha
(May, June)

Steeping:

 

Japan makes many styles of green tea, and each type requires its own steeping parameters. It is easier to mis-step with Japanese green tea than it is with Chinese green tea because Japanese green teas are more sensitive to water temperature and length of time in the water. Sweetness/astringency in Japanese teas can be influenced by steeping technique. It is important to know for each tea you have what water temperature and steeping time is appropriate.

The reason for this is that premium, spring-plucked Japanese green tea contains a large amount of amino acids and a lesser degree of tannin, which is what makes a tea bitter. Steeping Japanese green tea in cooler water encourages the amino acids to release into the steeping liquid, but not the tannins.

 

We follow our mentor Mr. Saito’s instructions for steeping his tea and he has been spot on.

 

However, we decided to see if we could come up with two different measurements of tea – one for those who like their Japanese green tea lighter and another for those who prefer a fuller dimension of flavor.

What was interesting is that the tea did not become astringent when we used 4 grams of leaf (twice the usual amount).  In fact, the larger quantity of leaf brought a more complete fullness of flavor to the liquor without any bitterness. We tried this test with all the tea from the Shizuoka Organic Tea Farmers Union, and found that across the board these two measures worked beautifully.

 

And for us, Bob preferred the tea steeped with 2 grams of leaf while I preferred the same tea made with 4 grams of leaf.

 

Steeping Instructions:

 

Use 2 teaspoons (2 grams) or 4 teaspoons (4 grams) per 4 oz water

Steep 1-2 infusions at 1 minute each
Water temperature should be 170°F – 185°F
(depending on your preference)

 

Re-steeping:

 

Japanese green teas can generally be re-steeped with delicious results.

We recommend:

4 ounces of water cooled to 160°F
1 minute re-steep
Steep as many times as you can until the flavor is diminished.

 

This tea is classified as Jien-cha, a term that means that it has been grown, processed and packed by a tea farmer.

This is an uncommon situation in Japan regarding tea. Most Japanese tea is manufactured in a small or large tea factory by a company that does not own its own tea gardens. Instead, the factory purchases aracha (stable, semi-processed leaf) from various tea farmers and blends different lots of aracha together to arrive at the flavor that they want. These teas are sold under the label of the tea company and the origin of the tea is usually unknown to the consumer.

While it is unusual for a tea farmer to process his own tea, this is an accomplishment that Mr. Saito and the other members of the Shizuoka Organic Tea Farmers Union are proud of. Jien-cha gives them total control over the finished tea, and also allows them to put all their years of knowledge about tea cultivation and manufacture into making truly delicious artisan tea.

 

This tea is produced by our fantastic tea producer Mr. Saito. His tea gardens are in Honyama, which many believe to be the area that produces the finest senchas in Shizuoka Prefecture. Saito’s tea fields are located in the mountains near the Warashina River. The environment of these tea fields is pristine and filled with natural beauty, healthy plants, birds, insects and all the good components of a thriving tea garden.

Mr. Saito once again has given us a unique tea with particular characteristics. In appearance, the leaf is large and somewhat thick with some coarse bits and a larger particle size than many other Japanese senchas. This means that it holds up well in re-steeping and shows off its coloration well. The color is a dark pine green and the leaf has a nice matte finish.

Sencha Okuyutaka is made from a Japanese tea bush cultivar that offers stylized, abundant taste and aroma. This tea has  a ‘big personality’ in the cup! It has a bright and fresh, much more kelpy flavor with a taste that reminds the drinker of the sea and seaweed and a fantastic Japanese meal.

The body is best described as ‘medium’ because this leaf is focused on providing the unique, complex flavors that make it distinctive. The color of the liquor is medium-straw.

Fans of Mr. Saito may recall that he suffered the loss of most of his tea in the spring of 2015 when he had a fire in his warehouse. We received a small first order that year and then nothing else until the following year. We are pleased to report that his garden has suffered no serious permanent damage from the warehouse and living quarters fire of three years ago, and he is back to full production. Saito’s tea gardens are thriving, and his tea is as tasty as, or even better than when Mary Lou first met him in the autumn of 2012.

Want to know more?

Shizuoka Organic Tea Farmers Union