Country of Origin: Japan
Leaf Appearance: dark green, needle-like
Steep time: 2 minutes
Water Temperature: 175 degrees
Preparation Method: kyusu
It’s been several years since I’ve reviewed any offerings from The Tea Spot. They recently sent a big batch of samples, so I’m excited to share those with you all as I taste through them. First up is 88th Night, a special shincha that was made using 100% Okumidori cultivar. It is Hachijyu-Hachiya, which means that it is poetically harvested 88th nights after the Japanese lunar new year. I was particularly intrigued because it was hand-picked. That is not something that you will often see in Japanese teas.
The dry leaves were super dark green and needle-shaped with a brilliant sheen. My camera had a hard time capturing it, but it was a lot more brilliant in person. The aroma was fresh and clean, with the faintest hint of sweet florals. I prepared this tea using The Tea Spot’s recommendations in a non-porous kyusu. My water was 175 degrees with a first infusion of 2 minutes. Subsequent infusions were just a few seconds long, as is my personal preference for Japanese teas.
88th Night brewed up a yellowish-green liquor. Some small leaf pieces were visible, but it had nice clarity. The taste was incredibly smooth and sweet. There was umami in spades with notes of cherry blossom. A surprising hint of vanilla lingered long after each sip. That aspect kept me sipping even after the leaves were steeped out. The mouthfeel was thick and viscous with hardly any astringency.
This tea would make a great starter shincha for someone new to Japanese teas. It isn’t super finicky but still a delicate and complex flavor. I had to laugh a bit when looking at the reviews on The Tea Spot’s website. There were so many complaints about this tea being oceanic or vegetal. That is what Japanese green teas are supposed to taste like! It’s important to take comments like that with a grain of salt if you don’t know the person’s experience with tea.
Have you ever tried 88th Night? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!