Origin: Saga prefecture, Japan
Year: 2009 (I think, not 100% sure)
Vendor: Lupicia (Product page)
Price: $10.00 (50g)
This post brought to you by Polaroid! (Okay, not really, but my SX-70 was feeling awfully neglected.)
This is a tamaryokucha, a.k.a. guricha, from the Saga prefecture of Japan. The most surprising thing? I actually like it. It was purely by accident that I bought this, as on the store shelf it was not clearly marked as a tamaryokucha. I had thought that this kind of tea, processed a bit differently than normal sencha, was just a boring inferior version of sencha; apparently I was wrong. Now, I'm not going to say that this is my new favorite Japanese green, but it was certainly good!
You can tell that this is a tamaryokucha by the slightly curly leaves (compared to regular sencha needles) that are not at all visible in the above photo. Trust me on this. :P Not all of them are that curly though, so I wonder if this is only a "semi" tamaryokucha. The leaf smells nice and fresh, with a cute tartness.
The liquor is surprisingly green, which is only visible in the photo due to extensive and probably unethical digital color manipulation. All the non-Polaroid photos I've seen of various tamaryokucha brews show a distinctly yellow-with-greenish-tinge color, while this is far closer to a green-with-yellow color. The flavor is smoother and less astringent than most sencha when brewed at around 160-165F, though it is also relatively light in flavor. It is subtly sweet, and I think it makes a good casual summer tea.
I have learned two valuable lessons today. First, tamaryokucha isn't all bad. Second, Polaroids are terrible for documenting my tasting notes.
Thanks for slogging through this lame post. Here's a cute puppy photo for your efforts (taken with the Yashica 12 I mentioned in the previous post).