Organic Kagoshima Sencha
Saemidori Green Tea

The first harvest of the spring season is not only an exciting time for tea lovers because of the famous Darjeeling first flush teas that hit the markets. Tea growers in Japan also have some highly prized first flush teas, which they refer to as “Shincha”, which translates in to English as “new tea”. This first flush of Japanese grown tea is transformed in to some bright, tasteful, umami-rich versions of sencha, gyokuro, kamairicha, and matcha. Spring time is an awesome time of year to be a tea connoisseur.

The tea I am reviewing today, the Organic Kagoshima Sencha Saemidori from Yuuki-Cha, is grown in the area of Makurazaki, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan. It is located in the south of the Japan archipelago. As the name suggests, this shincha uses ichibancha (first harvest) leaves from Saemidori cultivar tea bushes. The Saemidori cultivar was developed by cross pollination of the more well known Yabukita and Asatsuyu cultivars. This tea is processed in the “fukamushi” (deep) steaming method. This deep steaming gives the finished leaves their dark green color, and helps accentuate the rich umami character of the tea. The tea is certified organic by JAS, as are all of the teas offered on the Yuuki-Cha website.

I always enjoy the packaging that the teas from Yuuki-Cha come in. A good, airtight seal on the packages keeps the contents as fresh as possible. Opening the package releases an explosion of fresh green tea scent. It’s an exciting moment for me.

Let’s get to the review.

Organic Kagoshima Sencha Saemidori Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have two uniform colors, dark forest green and fresh, lighter green. The leaves are machine rolled, giving the standard long, tight roll appearance. There are a few stems in the mix, and no obvious tips, as expected. The leaves range in size from small crumbs to medium size fragments. I do not expect to find any full leaves in this mix. The aroma is incredible, with strong, sweet scents of brown sugar, sweet butter, grass, and cherry blossom. This tea defines freshness to me.

The dry tea leaves were infused in 160ºF water for 2:00 minutes on the first infusion, and 175ºF for 30 seconds on the second infusion.

Organic Kagoshima Sencha Saemidori Tea Liquid

The tea liquid has a beautiful, bright jade green color. The aroma has scents of sweet grass, butter, cherry blossom, cooked spinach, and light touch of fresh kelp. The body is medium, with a rich, buttery feel, and perfectly balanced umami character. The taste has notes of sweet grass, cherry blossom, cooked spinach, kelp, and a slight mineral touch. The aftertaste holds an amazing floral and mineral character, which lingers in the mouth for an extended period.

Organic Kagoshima Sencha Saemidori Wet Leaves

The wet leaves has a uniform fresh forest green color. The leaves have a very soft, delicate, silky texture. The leaves consist of small to medium size fragments, with a few stems and even a few buds in the mix. The aroma has scents of sweet butter, grass, cherry blossom, and a light touch of kelp.

The Organic Kagoshima Sencha Saemidori is exactly what I was looking for in this year’s line of shincha green teas. An amazingly fresh and sensational green tea from start to finish, from the aroma of the dry leaves to the taste of the last drop of the third infusion. The rich, buttery feel and the perfect amount of umami keeps the experience interesting all the way through. The fact that this is an organic product just makes it all the more worthy of my full respect and appreciation. Well done!

You can purchase 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of the Organic Kagoshima Sencha Saemidori from Yuuki-Cha for USD $20.93 plus shipping (which is reasonable, about $4 to Pittsburgh). Believe me, this tea is worth every penny!

By ITMA Certified Tea Professional Kevin Craig

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Purple Leaf Tea from JusTea is organically grown, fairly-traded, one of a kind tea carefully produced by small-scale farmers in Kenya.  It is certainly one of the lesser known types of tea in the market, especially among the casual tea drinkers. The term “purple tea” has created somewhat of a debate in the tea industry, as it has challenged the more traditional classifications of tea (black, green, white, oolong, etc), and the criteria used to determine the classification of specific tea products. And although I can understand the purist viewpoint, I can also understand the marketing benefit of differentiating Purple tea from Green tea, although the processing technique is nearly identical.

I expect the popularity of the JusTea Purple Leaf Tea to increase in the future, as awareness and consciousness of better nutrition and wellness gain traction in the United States, and around the globe in general. In particular, Purple Tea producers and the Tea Research Foundation of Kenya claim that the fresh purple tea leaves contain an antioxidant known as Anthocyanin. This is the same antioxidant that is present in blueberries and pomegranates, and we all are familiar with the healthy reputation of those two products. So expect to see more and more Purple Tea products popping up in your local grocery store.

The dry leaves have a uniform charcoal gray color. The leaves appear to be medium to large fragments, with a few bare stems and buds in the mix. The leaves appear to be hand-rolled. The aroma has scents of dark chocolate, dried plum, freshly picked spinach, light smoke, and light vanilla.

The dry leaves were placed in a ceramic tasting cup and infused with 175°F water for 3 minutes. The leaves can be reused at least 2 or 3 times.

The tea liquor has a color that reminds me of the flesh of a plum, with a pale, light purple color. The aroma has scents of plum, wet stones, and a pleasant earthiness. The body is medium, with a clean, brisk, lively mouthfeel. The taste has notes of plum, wet stones, cooked spinach, fresh swiss chard, and a light earthiness. The aftertaste carries the clean, mineral essence of wet stones and very light plum.

The wet leaves are mostly a fresh, forest green color, with some spots of purple. There are a few bare stems, and a few nicely developed buds. The leaves are unusually thin and delicate. The fragments are mostly medium to large size, with a few leaves that are nearly fully intact. The aroma has scents of steamed spinach, chard, wet stones, light plum, and earth.

The Purple Leaf Tea from JusTea is an excellent escape from other teas, and is certainly unique in its own rite. I really enjoy the tastes of the mineral and earthiness, which is often found in teas that are pan-fired, as the Purple Leaf Tea is. The feel and texture of this tea was also noteworthy, having a clean, refreshing, and brisk character. The color is most definitely unique and interesting, with a pale, light purple color that looks similar to the flesh of a plum. The used leaves were uniquely delicate and soft. The experience of this tea, from start to finish, can best be summarized as unique.

Purple Leaf Tea from JusTea is currently selling for USD $13.60 for 60 grams

By ITMA Certified Tea Professional Kevin Craig