Ikkyu Ayumi High-Grade Sencha
Country of Origin: Yame, Japan
Leaf Appearance: deep green, needle-like
Steep time: 1 minute
Water Temperature: 140 degrees
Preparation Method: kyusu
Liquor: bright green, slightly cloudy
A few months ago I received a message through Tumblr from Joelle, one of the people behind Ikkyu, a new-to-me tea vendor. The fact that they specialize in teas from Kyushu really caught my attention. Not only was their website full of information, but they also listed an adorable cat named Marcello as one of their team members. What’s not to love? Japanese green teas are a bit underrepresented here on the blog. It’s not that I don’t enjoy them, I just don’t receive as many samples from there.
Although it doesn’t really have anything to do with the tea itself, I am a sucker for beautiful packaging. Japanese teas always seem to take that cake in that department and this one was no different. The leaves were vacuum packed in a foil bag within an absolutely beautiful metallic paper sleeve. It has a pullout sheet, again on beautiful paper, containing information on the region, producer, tasting notes, and preparation directions. I tried to photograph it but really couldn’t do it justice at all.
The taste was brothy and sweet with plenty of umami. It was vegetal as would be expected but there was also really interesting floral notes in the background. There was very little astringency although the overall effect was brisk and refreshing. Cooling minty notes popped up in my second infusion. Of course, I just had to give cold brewing this tea a try. The result was super smooth but still had a ton of flavor and complexity.
This is a great sencha whether you are a seasoned pro or new to Japanese teas. I definitely recommend sticking to Ikkyu’s brewing directions, at least at first. You can adjust to your personal taste from there. For a bolder, more astringent taste try raising the water temperature a bit. At $16 for 100g, it very well priced for the quality.