Most sencha is a blend of many different teas. Whether it is made from different cultivars, vintages, harvest seasons, steaming types, or leaf sizes, a sencha is almost always a blend several different teas. Our Sencha Asatsuyu is unusual because it is a single cultivar, medium-steamed tea that was harvested last year during the end of the May.
Sencha made from a single cultivar was at one time somewhat unusual. As Western tea drinkers have learned about Japanese tea, the popularity has increased. An understanding that the cultivars and processes are as varied as the ones used in wine production has fueled this appreciation.
The namesake Asatsuyu cultivar is prized for its ability to produce the amino acids that give this tea its umami-rich flavor. Our Sencha Asatsuyu was processed to highlight the inherent umami character. The spring harvest contains the most amino acids, while a lengthy steaming process preserves them. The small grade of leaf allows for rapid extraction, while lending a vivid green color to the cup.
Surprisingly the flavors aren’t overshadowed by the deep umami. Even though there are flavor notes of sesame and toasted seaweed, the flavor remains bright and fresh with above average sweetness, and a slightly brisk finish.
Like most sencha, tinkering with the steeping process will pull out a wide range of flavors. I try to balance the umami with a bit of sharpness in the flavor. In a 400ml kyusu steep 8 or 9 grams of tea using 160°F water for 1 minute. Steep a second infusion for 20-30 seconds. Most medium-steamed sencha takes well to cold brewing, and this one is no exception.