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Waking up to Keikoku!

13 May 2014

at 13:06 by Seb

As a green tea fanatic, this time of limited selection for fresh green tea (just before the new spring teas arrive) few things are better than the steady freshness offered by a well stored sencha. For the last few mornings I have started my day with a senchado preparation of Sencha Keikoku.

The fine dry leaves of this tea produced in Shizuoka emit a delicate vegetal perfume, almost floral, wonderfully enhanced by the slightly lemony aspect. When placed in the preheated teapot, grilled corn and roasting notes add to the already complex olfactory palate. Never tiresome; inhaling these aromas has become part of my morning routine. For a sencha of this calibre the leaves are very long, largely unbroken and glossy, characteristics of a short steaming, masterly mixing and ultra-fine sorting!

I like a bright and full bodied liquor in the morning, so for a tea of this quality I push the first infusion with 5 grams of leaves 70 to 80 ml of water at 75 ° C for one minute.

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Once infused the leaves emit a completely different fragrance: the delicate vegetal  scent from dry leaves gives way to buttered corn and a subtle herbaceous freshness. In the cup, the first infusion is a clear, light green, scarcely disturbed by a few fragments of leaves. In the mouth, the liquor has a sweet and strongly tannic attack recalling white melon pairing perfectly with the rich buttery, body. An light floral sweetness also coats the mouth for a few moments, before giving way to the long citrus and melon finish.

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In the second infusion up to five seconds.

The liquor, now very dark green-yellow, becomes somewhat turbid. The attack, more gentle and herbaceous, introduces the pallet to generous floral aromas, much less buttery than the first cup. The very fresh persistence, which balances out the bitterness and vegetal, leaves a refreshing, particularly pleasing effect. It goes down easily!

In the third infusion of 30 to 40 seconds, there is the appearance as well as the fragrance of the previous. In the mouth, the floral and lightly roasted aroma take over. The white melon lightly present during the first infusion is now in the foreground and develops to a persistence and a tannic vegetal freshness recalling spinach and mint.

Sencha Keikoku, bright, complex and full in the mouth, is for me the perfect early morning green tea.

Raphaël

On the Road in Darjeeling

2 May 2014

at 8:51 by Seb

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Darjeeling’s gardens are scattered like pearls through the high altitude valleys of the Indian Himalayas, clinging to the steep valley sides and at high altitude sometimes over 2000m ASL.

It takes the tea ‘hunter’ a fair amount of drive, guts and perseverance to visit these places. The roads are long and often difficult.  You may wonder why go to so much trouble when we could buy teas from the auctions and agents in Kolkata. But by visiting the gardens, Kevin also meets the producers and managers, strengthening his bonds with the people and developing his understanding of the intricacies of the product. He is able to snap up a few prize batches of leaf before they head off to the market.  For a passionate taster-importer, on a constant quest to source the World’s best leaves, there is no other way …

Gabriel.

 

 
 

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