Two great teas to discover

June 29, 2010
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From his last visit to Japan, Hugo has brought back two exceptional teas from Saitama, north-west of Tokyo, where the family Miyano make the wonderful Sencha Tokugo and Ichigo.

The place is especially famous for its teas processed entirely by hand (Temomi) specialities of great rarity, only a few tens of producers continue the tradition of this ancient art. After hand harvesting of the leaves, the steps of transformation by artisan, are, for example, around 8 hours of constant manipulation per 350 grams. And we must say that it is not easy task ... the rolling of the leaves is an intense stage, where the craftsman, with fast and precise movements risks sweating buckets! After production, these teas are to be sent to national competitions to be judged. They then take a value ranging from $ 2,000 to $ 15,000 per kilogram! You may understand that both senchas that I present today are not these almost inaccessible teas ...

Before their mechanical processing, Sencha Tokugo and Ichigo are still picked by hand, which in Japan already indicates a high quality and special care focused on cultivation. Only 10kg and 30kg respectively, are produced each year, again indicating that these very small scale cultivations of the Miyano family are precious. Their beautiful emerald needles emit scents of iodine, seaweed and fresh-cut grass. On infusion they release a fresh, slightly floral, vegetable flavor which has a surprising persistence. Please see their datasheets to learn more about their flavor profile.

The infusion method recommended for these fancy Japanese green teas is special. Although they can be infused, as with other Sencha (1 tsp tea/250ml, 3-4min., 75 ° C), these teas have an unusual "extraction": In a small Kyusu teapot (or other small teapot), put about a teaspoon of leaves for only 20-30ml of water at 40-50 ° C. Let steep for about one minute. Pour the few drops that were not absorbed by the leaves - which have a wealth of intense aromas and flavors - into one or a few small cup(s). The mouth receives a kind of explosion of taste! The experience can then be repeated by re-infusing the leaves several times, carefully increasing the brewing temperature by ten degrees each time.

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