Sencha Ren, flavor of the floating world
A classic among classics, it is the most produced and consumed tea in Japan: sencha green tea. And yet, sencha continues to surprise with its diversity, and the multitudes of varieties and flavors it can offer.
The Ren sencha I am discovering today is a perfect example: a fukamushi sencha from Chiran, produced by Shimono-san, whose versatility and depth transported me to new gustatory shores. You can shop REN here.
What is a sencha fukamushi?
A fukamushi sencha is characterized by its prolonged steaming process, 2 to 3 times longer than that of a classic sencha. In doing so, the leaves become more fragile and tend to break more easily.
Thanks to this method, the tea develops a characteristic emerald green liquor. Fukamushi sencha quickly develops stronger vegetal aromas of cooked vegetables, a strong and deep umami flavor, and less bitterness and astringency.
This rich, umami flavor profile typical of sencha fukamushi is making it an increasingly popular tea in Japan.
Chiran, a region offering exceptional tea
Located in the southwest of Kyushu Island, the Chiran region has a unique geography that contributes to the richness of its soil. It is close to an emerald sea and has a mild, humid and windy climate. Imagine tea fields growing near both volcanoes and the Pacific Ocean.
Teas that draw all their richness from this abundant environment, powerful in umami, and an abundant palette of flavors and aromas: vegetable, marine, sweet or floral...This is the incredible richness that Chiran teas offer in the mouth.
If you are not familiar with this famous tea area, have a look at our special gallery here.
Tasting the superior quality Ren sencha tea
Produced by Shimono-san, Ren is a blend of four cultivars: Yutaka Midori, Yabukita, Sae-Midori and the rare Asatsuyu, also called "natural gyokuro". Although not certified organic, Shimono-san's tea is certified "Eco-farmer" because of its sustainable farming method, using as little fertilizer and agrochemicals as possible, and favoring natural fertilizers.
The leaves of Ren are very small and homogeneous needles, although some breaks are visible. As it is a fukamushi sencha, steamed for a long time, the extraction of the flavors of this tea is easier and faster, that's why a short infusion of one minute is recommended.
Once brewed, one can admire the bright, quality and uniform leaves. You can already smell the vegetal and marine odors emanating from the hot leaves by removing the lid of the kyusu.
The first steep reveals a very clear, flabby yellow-green liquor with a slight deposit of tea chips. Smooth, aromatic, and herbaceous, Ren is at first reserved, before a big wave of umami breaks, persistent on the whole tongue, with iodized marine aromas, tending to the salty flavor, and vegetal aromas of cooked broccoli.
The second brew offers a new dimension to this sencha: its beautiful yellow-green mustard liquor gains in intensity, bitterness and astringency, to offer a more harmonious and balanced taste. But the most astonishing thing comes from the marine aromas which withdraw to give place to light floral aromas of fresh flowers, balancing the umami flavor. At the end of the mouth, we appreciate a sweet, silky and refreshing finish, with soft notes of chestnuts.
Of great quality, Ren allows up to three infusions. This last cup, more delicate and light, closes the tasting by bringing apeasement, softness and serenity, as after a nice walk by the sea...
How to prepare Ren sencha ?
To appreciate at best this sencha, it is preferable to associate a small quantity of water to a larger quantity of leaves for a short infusion time.
Preparation according to Shimono-san (for two people):
Pour 6 grams of tea leaves into a teapot, preferably a kyusu. Heat 200 ml of water to 70C (158F), then pour into the teapot. Let steep for one minute. Pour successively in each cup and taste.
For a second infusion, brew at 80C (176F) for 30 seconds.
For a third infusion, infuse at 90C (194F) for 30 seconds.