Wednesday, May 21, 2008

2008 Uji Kirameki Shincha

Class: Green
Origin: Uji prefecture, Japan
Year: 2008
Vendor: O-Cha (Product page)
Price: $37.95 (110g)

From the O-Cha page:

It's O-Cha.com's pleasure to be able to provide you with hand picked "Kirameki" shincha, from Japan's oldest teashop, Tsuen Tea. Picked by hand using only the top select leaves from the first harvest, it is harvested in a way no machine can ever hope to match... This is a limited edition green tea and will only be available for a short time in limited supplies, here is your chance to try some of the best of what Japan has to offer in Japanese green tea.


What a CV! I couldn't resist ordering it this year. It's pricey, but hand-picked teas are a rarity in Japan, so it seemed like it could be worth it.

Outdoors

As you can see, I decided to brew this outside today. Now that I'm back home and not in a dorm, I can actually enjoy being outdoors again. Now I just need to get a portable heat source so I can keep a kettle warm out there! Maybe I'll cobble one together this summer. Anyway, before I get too wrapped up with the possibility of getting new teawares...

Dry LeafThe dry leaf is quite lovely for a sencha. It is dark green, and the leaves are, for the most part, pretty big. This is clearly on the asamushi (light-steamed) side of the spectrum, in contrast with the 2008 Yukata Midori I wrote about the other day. The leaf's aroma is mild, but pleasant; grassy and slightly sweet.

InfusionThe tea brews to a yellow-green color (the yellowness seen here is largely due to the direct sunlight), and has much more clarity than more heavily-steamed sencha, as the leaf is generally more intact. Depending on what you want to get from this tea, you may want to brew it with a heavy hand. If brewed with a regular amount of leaf, it yields a mild, sweet cup. With more leaf comes more flavor, but less sweetness, resulting in a fairly grassy cup. This tea doesn't get very astringent or bitter, even with a lot of leaf, so go wild.

Outside notes

If you like grassy and mild, this is for you. Personally I prefer the Yukata Midori, as it is sweeter and a bit bolder, but I can definitely see that this is a very high quality tea. Is it worth the price? Well... maybe. If you love teas like O-Cha's Hatsumi, Fukamushi (supreme or regular), or Yukata Midori, or Den's Fukamushi or Maki, I would probably spend your money on something else. If you like guricha/tamaryokucha or Chinese greens though, this might be worth a taste.

Tree

Expect more outdoors-themed reviews/photos in the future. :)

12 comments:

Bamboo Forest said...

All I have to say, is making and enjoying tea outside is the ultimate. I haven't done it yet -- but when the circumstances are right, I will definitely do it regularly!

You could always get a portable butane burner. You can get them in Asian grocery stores etc. They are very inexpensive. You simply use one of those, and put a kettle on top, simple. Will bring your water to a boil in no time. And, reheating the water will also be a breeze.

As much as I enjoy the Kirameki, I really enjoy the Miyabi more. So, this teaches me something. Hand picked doesn't guarantee better taste -- not by a long shot. Not with Japanese green tea. Many more factors go into what the quality of the flavor will be like beyond whether it was hand picked or not. But indeed, hand picked is a rarity in Japan.

Lewis said...

Gorgeous pictures - I can almost feel the sun.

I have that same kyusu, and it can be difficult to get a good shot of the front. You capture it well.

I also have some of the '08 Kirameki shincha. I think it's about time to open it up!

Hobbes said...

Dear Brent,

I'm looking forward to seeing more sessions al fresco!

How do you manage for hot water? I see a large (electric?) kettle - do you rely on it staying hot for the duration?


Toodlepip,

Hobbes

Brent said...

Bamboo,

I've been thinking of putting together a denatured alcohol burner + terra cotta pot contraption. I'm still considering my options though, so thanks for the tip!

Lewis,

Cool! I haven't heard from anyone else who has such good taste. :D Let me know how you like the Kirameki.

Hobbes,

That's actually just an enameled (cookware grade, think the Le Creuset iron wares, not crummy tetsubin enamel) cast iron kettle that I heated on the stove. As much as I had hoped it would, it didn't stay hot enough for an entire session, so I had to run inside and reheat. :)

Thank you all for the comments!
Brent

Salsero said...

Lovely post. I have some of the Kirameki in my fridge waiting for me and my green team to consume some of our open shincha, so this pre-taste you are offering is especially appreciated.

Brian Lavelle said...

Wonderful review, Brent. And your photographs set this off beautifully; the brewing of tea outdoors, something I've never had the opportunity to do, adds another item to the list of things I need to do. More please!

aflak said...

Beautiful pictures! I also like the new heading - very nice.

Philippe said...

The first photo is so powerfull and a real dream for my eyes !

Brent said...

Thanks to all who commented, and to each of you...

Salsero,

Have you tried it yet? Let me know what you think when you do.

Brian,

It's definitely worth trying. I'm thinking, for next time, that a thermos might be a good way to keep water hot for a longer session. Anyway, good luck!

aflak,

Love ya!

Phillipe,

Merci beaucoup! I admire your skill as a photographer, so your comment means a lot. :)

-Brent

~ Phyll said...

That seemed like a wonderful tea session outside, Brent!

Tea aside, how do you like using that Staub kettle? Good handling?

Brent said...

Phyll,

Long time no see! It's good to hear from you again. :) The Staub kettle isn't that great, sadly; the pour is very awkward. I'll probably keep using it until I find a nice tetsubin or something to replace it with, though.

Brent

~ Phyll said...

I suspected as much that the Staub kettle would not pour nicely (hard to control the water outflow). I saw the purple one on sale at Sur La Table but decided against buying it.

(Thank you, btw)

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