Country of Origin: Japan
Leaf Appearance: deep green
Steep time: 1 minute
Water Temperature: 165 degrees
Preparation Method: kyusu
Liquor: deep green, somewhat cloudy
I’ve been posting quite a few blasts from the past lately. Mellow Monk is definitely among those. All of my previous reviews of their teas are from 2012 and 2013. Although it has been a while since I tried any of their offerings, I’ve been avidly following their adventures in Japan through social media. Paul Kotta, Mellow Monk’s co-founder, is a genuinely nice guy and very knowledgeable. He was kind enough to give me the pick of any of his teas. When I saw that the Artisan’s Reserve was a blend of fukamushi and kabusencha, I just had to give it a try.
I really enjoy the depth of information that is provided about each of their offerings. While this kind of information is often available for Chinese teas, I don’t often see similar information listed for Japanese offerings. This tea was made by Koji Nagata in Aso City, Kumamoto, Japan. It’s also important to note that Mellow Monk specializes in tamaryokucha, a style of processing that results in a curlier leaf. You may also see it referred to as guricha. It results in a slightly less astringent taste than the more typical straight leaf sencha.
The taste of Artisan’s reserve was sweet and vegetal with hardly any astringency, even when I went a little heavy handed on leaf volume. A bright citrus note in the finish combined with a thick, almost creamy mouthfeel for a very refreshing effect. My Instagram caption was “Umami for days!” and that pretty much sums things up. Being a blend of fukamushi and kabusencha, it was the best of both worlds. I got the depth of a deeply steamed tea with the delicacy of a shade grown tea.