RYU is grown wild in rocky soil without compost and is so rare that it only produces 10 kilos per year. This tea is not wilted after being plucked and is a classic tamaryokucha that has been steamed immediately then wok-tossed.
What makes it unique is the wildness of the leaves. They are tougher than most leaves and hold the natural leaf shape after steeping, similar to a Chinese oolong. The taste is actually quite light compared to the Furankou but you will still be able to identify it as a tamaryokucha with the iron influence from the hand-tossing. The steeped whole leaves did not show any indication of oxidation but did yield multiple brews.
CHOUSHUNKA is grown from a seedling that has been planted but is then left to grow wild without further interference. The wild leaf is plucked and then put into the bamboo basket to mildly wilt overnight in the dark before being treated in the wok. To be honest, this tea is even lighter in taste than Ryu but suddenly an intense sweetness takes over about 5 minutes after finishing the tea. This is a sign of a high quality tea.
IWAKURA is grown wild deep in the middle of a shaded forest high in the mountains. The tea hunters only seek out the baby leaves from the wild tree plants and pluck those. Due to the gentleness of the leaves, they are not wilted but steamed and processed like a classic tamaryokucha. This tea, with light green, almost yellow leaves, is very mineral-rich from the type of soil surrounding the plants.
Iwakura has a remarkable resemblance to Jasmine tea but is still quite light, unlike a Jasmine pearl from China. The flower essence comes directly from the leaves and no flowers are added during the process. This tea is lovely after a heavy meal!
Stay tuned the next few months for the other four teas…and if the farmers have enough to sell. Drop me an email if you are interested: firstname.lastname@example.org
Images provided and copyright held by author