Tea tasting: 2022 Shincha – Nakaisamurai Meicha First Flush Organic Green (Nakaya Nouen)

I have been really slack in updating this blog. Too many things happening in real life, well, mostly work. Now that the pandemic has been declared endemic in my country, most things have resumed to pre-Covid days, including large-scale events that I have to attend.

It’s like, I had content materials but then as time passes, they kinda lost relevancy and I kinda lost the motivation. LOL.

Anyway, this is the last shincha I bought for the year. This is first harvest tea produced in the mountainous Nakaisamurai district of Tenryu Village in Nagano prefecture.

This area is accessible via Nakaisamurai railway station, which is on the JR Iida line, known to be one of those rail lines that have many ‘hikyou eki’ or secluded stations. I travelled on this line before, from the urban Toyohashi Station in Nagoya to Iida Station in Nagano and vice versa. I didn’t have the time to explore the other stations, including Nakaisamurai Station, but it’s something I hope to do.

Nakaisamurai has a topographical climate suitable for tea cultivation on its steep slopes, in an area where the beautiful Tenryu River flows through. In most promotional photos of the area, you can see the emerald green waters of the river, but unfortunately in my last trip (back in 2018), it was rainy and the waters were mud brown in colour. Sad.

The tea produced here is also known as ‘phantom’ tea because of its rarity as not much are being produced in one season.

At Nakaya Nouen, teas are carefully hand-picked and processed at Nakaisamurai’s tea factory using the ‘asamushi’ or shallow steaming method.

The teas are cultivated without pesticides, and using only organic fertilisers.

The farm plants three cultivars of green tea, namely Yabukita, Kanayamidori and zairai (which is technically not a cultivar but ‘native species’).

The tea I got here is the zairai, which according to the farm, is the species of tea that existed before the introduction of Yabukita and have not been determined as any particular cultivar. It originated from seedlings, and is said to be rich in minerals because its roots extend deep into the ground.

The packet contained 45g. Actually I had opened it the day after I received it in the mail and since then had drunk this tea many times. I think I’m like halfway through the packet already. LOL. Time just did not permit me to type up my thoughts until today.

The tea leaves were uneven but had a beautiful shade of dark green.

Using 3g of the tea leaves, I brewed them in 150ml water of around 80°C for one minute.

The resulting tea liquor was light yellow-green in colour, with a mild vegetal aroma.

I didn’t expect the sweetness to strike me instantly in the first sip. It was refreshing and soothing in the mouth, like honey.

The second steeping was also similar. It was just sweet all the way, lingering long after it went down the throat. While there was no umami, there was a mild blanched spinach taste, which wasn’t a bad thing. Very smooth in the mouthfeel.

The best thing about this tea? It was good up to 6 steepings. Even at the last steeping, it still had some sweetness left, albeit very mild.

As it was a pesticide-free tea, I ate the used leaves. Instead of with ponzu, I ate them with a pinch of salt and a dash of lime juice, mixed well. It was delicious! Like eating nicely cooked leafy greens vegetables.

I read that Nakaya Farm has started producing black tea in June 2021. Their black tea is apparently the only single-origin black tea produced in Nagano prefecture. I should try that, but probably some other time as I have enough stock of black teas. Hmm, do I? 🤔

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