This 2020 shincha is a beautiful example of Shirakawa Guchi's terroir. Rocky soils and varying temperatures yield a bright, clean sencha with high notes of pine needles and celery; after a few sips, umami appears. The aftertaste reveals layers of nori and fruit.
ABOUT THE GROWER
Watanabe Kazumasa (渡辺憲正) is a 7th generation tea grower; his family's tea history runs back to the second half of the 19th century.
Watanabe-San’s tea trees are on some of the rockiest soil we’ve seen in Japanese gardens; the tea flavour is heavily influenced by the intense variation in temperature that this garden experiences in early spring, from frosty mountain mornings to sunny afternoons. The garden is located right under a cedar forest that nourishes these tea trees and shelters a good number of wild tea trees of unknown cultivar.
ABOUT THE CULTIVAR
Tsuyu Hikari is a fairly new cultivar (1972), created by crossing Asatsuyu and Shizu-7132. Like Asatsuyu, it has very rich umami; unlike Asatsuyu, Tsuyu Hikari is a hardier tree that is ideal for the frosty mornings of Shirakawa Guchi.
It is considered an early harvest variety, usually yielding tea leaves a couple of days before its yabukita counterparts.