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Tea Tasting by Alex Ahearn. MIRAI

12
October
2021

Name of the Product: MIRAI (shop here)
Type of tea: SENCHA
Producer: Koga Kumiko of Kogachagyo — 4th generation of tea masters 
Location: Yame City, Fukuoka Prefecture, northern Kyushu, Japan
Harvest: Shincha — May 2021

Read about the incredible work of Kogachagyo below. 

Kogachagyo, established in 1938, is a family business operated by Koga Kumiko san and her mother and father. Koga san represents the fourth generation of tea masters from the Fukuoka prefecture. The business produces a stunning national prize-winning Gyokuro, and one of its Sencha is served on the renowned Seven Stars train that travels across Kyushu Island. 


Enjoy this tea like Koga san!  

Koga san’s recommended steeping parameters 

80°C (176°F) water
3g (~1 teaspoon) tea for one person
150ml (~5 fl oz) vessel 
60-second steep 

As I cut open the package, the anticipation of enjoying this tea made me increasingly excited, as its rich and aromatic aroma escaped the bag. The aroma had an assertive vegetal quality with hints of spring flowers. Koga san’s attentive craftsmanship is highlighted by the pristine balance of this tea, apparent in its aroma. You can tell that the liquor of the tea is going to be as captivating as the aroma of the dry leaves. The long, needle-like leaves are beautifully shiny with a rich emerald hue, and felt very delicate in my hands. 

Perfect combination : MIRAI and some Wagashi (traditional Japanese sweet)

I kept smelling the dry leaves as I prepared my table and made space for my scale, kyusu, and cup. The aroma changed over the few minutes it took me to set up everything; it was now sweeter, subdued with hints of sweet corn and gardenia. After placing the glossy leaves into my freshly warmed kyusu, I briefly closed the lid and lifted it just enough to smell the leaves once again. The bright aromatics of this tea filled the kyusu, enveloped by a faint steamed vegetable aroma, like edamame and steamed asparagus, and a slight nut-like characteristic. 

A similar emerald hue of the leaves filled the kyusu as I poured in the water. I patiently watched as the leaves sank to the bottom. As soon as the tea was ready, I watched the striking pale green liquor, with a hint of rich yellow, filled my cup. Very fine particles settled at the bottom of my cup while I smelled the wet leaves in my kyusu. Familiar notes of steamed vegetables filled my nose, along with notes of crisp snap peas and blooming hydrangea.

I lifted my cup to my lips and admired the rich green-yellow liquor. As the tea passed my lips, a coating mouthfeel with a lingering sweetness filled my mouth. Hints of bitterness and astringency accented the sweetness that remained. There were just enough umami characteristics and bitterness that mellowed out to subtle sweetness, which made me want to enjoy the tea more. Koga san’s steeping parameters accentuate the tea’s depth and complexity while admiring the lingering sweetness of the tea’s tender leaves. This tea is made with a blend of the Yabukita and Saemidori cultivars. 

Enjoy MIRAI at any time of the day! 

Hot preparation:

If you would like to enjoy this tea by itself, I would recommend following Koga san’s steeping parameters as they highlight the exquisite balance and lingering sweetness of the tea. You may steep the tea another time with slightly warmer water, at 80°C (176°F), for 30 to 45 seconds. The second steep will increase the tea’s flavor intensity and prolong its lingering finish. Its more developed vegetal and umami characteristics are best paired with a light sweet or wagashi, a traditional Japanese confection.

For enjoying this tea with a lighter preparation, I would recommend preparing the tea using 75°C (167°F) water, 5g tea (1 teaspoon), 150ml (~5 fl oz) vessel, and a 45-second steep. The umami and vegetal characteristics of this tea are even more noticeable with this preparation. The tea liquor is slightly less aromatic but has a rich and more developed body. You will notice more of a lingering finish and sweetness. The tea can be steeped again for an additional 30 to 45 seconds with slightly warmer water at 80°C (176°F).

For preparing a larger serving of this tea, I would recommend steeping 7-8g tea (~2 teaspoons) in a 200-250ml (~6.7-8.5 fl oz) vessel with 75°C (167°F) water for 45 seconds. You may steep the same leaves again for 45 seconds using 80°C (176°F) water when making a second cup. With each subsequent steep, the tea’s body and characteristics will lighten. 

Dry leaves of MIRAI, first and second steep
© Alex Ahearn

Cold brew preparation:

This tea can be enjoyed as a cold brew made in a 750ml (~25.4 fl oz) cold brew bottle or a pitcher. This preparation method highlights the underlying umami characteristics and sweetness of the tea that are not as apparent when prepared hot. Put 8-10g (2-3 teaspoons) of tea in the bottom of the bottle. Fill the bottle to the top with cold or room temperature filtered water.

Place the bottle in the refrigerator and allow the tea to steep for 8-12 hours. You can taste test the tea throughout its steeping and enjoy it at any point to your liking. After the desired amount of time has passed, strain and enjoy the tea. Store in refrigerator up to one day after preparing. 

Food pairing recommendations 

Koga san’s tea can be enjoyed by itself or paired with a light chicken salad topped with toasted white sesame seeds and nuts or with a simple salad with cucumber and wax or green beans. Fresh green salads with a blend of lettuces and a small amount of arugula would also pair nicely with the tea. As mentioned earlier, the stronger second steep can be enjoyed with a light sweet like wagashi or thin cookies. 

Wonderful liquor of MIRAI, first steep
© Alex Ahearn

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