Japanese Shin Cha Cupping Event Results …. Week 1

IMG_4930Focusing on the prized first teas of the season, the next ITCC Cupping Event is investigating 8 teas from different regions of Japan and of different processing styles. Cuppers from several countries are simultaneously preparing these teas using standardized procedures used by professional tea tasters in Japan. Infusions were made using 3 grams, steeped in 180 degree water for 2 minutes. The cupping equipment for this event is different than others; notably the leaves were infused in a tasting bowl and then removed with a special strainer which was also used to judge the aroma of the infused leafs. Here are the Cuppers’ comments for the Week 1 teas. Seven out of sixteen Cuppers sent in their evaluations. Additions will be updated as they are received.

Cupper                        Water pH        Source             Leaf     Temp   Time
1                                       7           Filtered Well          3g    180F    2 min
2                                       7.5        Bottled Spring       3g    180F    2 min
3                                       7           Spring                     3g    180F    2 min
4                                       7           Spring                     3g     85C     2 min
5                                       7.5        Bottled Spring       3g    180F    2 min
6                                       7.1        Tap                           3g    180F    2 min
7                                       7           Double Filter Tap   3g    180F    2 min

Sample #001- Ara Cha 619-A Dry Leaf Appearance:
- Dark green leaves with some yellow stalk. Some 1 inch long needly shaped leaves but mostly small broken pieces.
- deep green with some lighter green ranging in size from pieces to long thin rolls
- sword-shape flat leaf, mostly dark green, some light green, assorted sizes
- big needles some dark green some yellow, silky
- Dark green with some pale green interspersed, needles of varing size. Some very small unrolled leaf parts. - fresh, green cylindrical, pieces, some light, vegatative, needles
- long dark green leaf with short pale and white components good  uniformity

Dry Leaf Aroma:
- Light, green, pasty, rich, sappy. Vegetal with stronger low notes.
- sugary sweet, vegetal dry hay
- vegetal, light aroma
- hay containing dried flowers
- Fresh mown alfalfa with mimosa in background. Intense aroma dissipates after 10min open.
- fresh hay, grassy, dry
- mature deep grassy/vegetal aroma

Wet Leaf Appearance: - Deep but bright green. Fresh, vital. Choppy and a bit mushy.
- bright green mostly even color - broken leaves, different sizes, bright green
- dark greeen, crushed, some yellow pieces (stalk)
- Full leaf, leaf parts, an occasional bud, & stems of varing size. Sea green color. Typical aracha pluck, with a little bit of everything.
- Dark Green, chopped spinach, shredded
- very rich green 

Wet Leaf Aroma:
- Light, fresh, sweet, floral but vegetal. Fresh, young and tender leaves with blanched spinachy notes. Perfumey and juicy.
- vegetal, mild damp grass
- cooked spinach, cooked artichoke
- spinach, white flower (syringa)
- Wet grass with very slight nutmeg in background.
- Herbaceous, spinach/asparagus, fresh and pleasant
- deep grass, watered lawn, creamy

Liquor Color:
- Rich yellow with slight green tint. Cloudy but deep. Some sediment.
- clear light yellow
- clear yellow-green
- golden yellow
- Light green with aroma of baled hay. Brightness - medium.
- Pale, light green with yellow undertones, clear - pale yellow

- Thick, juicy, vegetal with mild astringency. Kale and carrot tops. Some hint of sweetness which quickly give way to astringent, vegetal notes. Smooth finish.
- vegetal front, asparagus middle, with mild bodied, pleasant astringency
- slight astringency, sweet grass, bitter finish
- astringent then sweet, green vegetables (spinach) - 1st sensation - seaweed, followed by Chinese broccoli, Overall sensation is of a winter salad. Bitterness builds as cools. Medium balance. After taste hangs about 4 min.
- Herbaceous, light spinach, light flavor, some astringency
- gently brisk to astringent. Especially tip of tongue later numbness on lips. Lingering pleasant finish

- A nice drinking tea though a bit more astringency than I like. Nice hint of sweetness. Uniformity was not very consistent but ok given ara cha.
-  I am fascinated by how bright and green the infused leaves are. Beautiful. I also like the sugary smell of the dry leaves. My inexperience may be causing me to reserve the highest score as I "like" them but I'm not sure I'm ready to commit to "love." :)
- not a well-balanced tea - nothing really stood out for me.
- x
- x
- x
- favorite of first three

Rank: Combined scores for all Cuppers. Cuppers were asked to score the sample based on four criteria. The chart below shows the overall ranking of each attribute. The rank range was 1 to 5 with one indicating most appealing and 5 indicating least appealing. A higher number indicates more Cuppers agreed on the same ranking.

1=Most Appealing 1 2 3 4 5
Leaf Appearance 1 2 3 1  
Leaf Aroma   5 2    
Liquor Aroma   4 2 1  
Liquor Flavor   3 3 1  

#002   Sencha of the Earth Dry Leaf Appearance:
- Light yellow-green leaves and a lot of stalk. Some very long pieces but some very small pieces too. Big leaves/stalks have flat shape.
- moderate green short to long thin rolls sprinkled with lighter greenish yellow rolls
- different sizes, shapes, and color from dark green to straw
- very leaves green and pale yellow
- Dark green long rolled needles with large number of pale green needles interspersed. Also, contains what looks to be straw.
- some twigs/stems, long dark green, various sizes and shapes, mixed chopped
- dark green intermixed with some lighter green leaves

Dry Leaf Aroma:
- Rich, light toasty, baked with light sweetness. Fresh cooked (fried) leafy vegetables.
- vegetal dry grass
- fresh, sweet grass, mushroom
- flowery (white flowers) meadow
- Alfalfa & butter with slight vanilla. Intense aroma dissipates quickly.
- grassy, sweet, woody, some hay
- subtle vegetal reminds one of matcha aroma

Wet Leaf Appearance:
- Yellow-green leaves. Chunky. More stems. Not so mushy.
- moderate green leaves and many stems
- broken leaf of various shapes and sizes
- very long leaves with pieces of stalk, pale green
- Army green broken leaf with stems (1mm - 2cm). Pale stems remain & are very thick. Leaf parts on some stems. Fairly uniform pluck.
- twigs/stems, chopped leaves, green leaves and yellow twigs, twisted
- darker green lighter stems 

Wet Leaf Aroma:
- Some steamed fishy note (ok). Medium rich. Not so complex. Not so sweet but ok. - cooked spinach
- rich vegetable stew, artichoke, carrot
- flowery, flowering meadow
- Grassy with pine & very slight olive.
- Some brussel sprouts, mushroom backnotes, citrus undertones
- less intense than dry leaves

Liquor Color:
- Thick, yellow with some green, tint. A bit cloudy and not as bright.
- moderate yellow with "dust" particles
- a little cloudy, yellow-green
- pale yellow lightly brownish
- Very light green. Aroma fairly close to dry leaf.
- Light green, clear, bright
- pale yellow

Flavor: - Good body but not as complex. More cooked grass taste with light fishy note (nice). Faint floral. Some (darker) juicy stem sappiness. Raw peas.
- grassy front leading to buttery notes ending with a balanced slightly bitter character
- sweet & savory, vegetal and fresh, with a round satisfying finish
- flowering meadow, hay, astringent then sweeter
- Mimosa. Slightly phenoloic. Good balance between shibumi & umami. Cold: Shibumi predominates but retains mouthfeel. Minimal legs warm, but improves slightly cold.
- slight mushroom, little hay background, fresh, smooth finish, some sweetness
- overwhelmed by astringency little to no throat feel

- Toasty notes made the flavor and mouth feel more smooth but the trade-off was less fresh, green character. Fishy notes were ok but not expected.
- I most appreciated the green variation in the color of the leaves and their length. Beautiful dry leaf.
- The leaf appearance was all over the place, but the taste and aroma made up for the primitive appearance of the leaf.
- x
- x
- x
- unpleasant. nothing enjoyable about this tea

Rank: Combined scores for all Cuppers. Cuppers were asked to score the sample based on four criteria. The chart below shows the overall ranking of each attribute. The rank range was 1 to 5 with one indicating most appealing and 5 indicating least appealing. A higher number indicates more Cuppers agreed on the same ranking.

1=Most Appealing 1 2 3 4 5
Leaf Appearance 1 3 2 1  
Leaf Aroma 2 2 3    
Liquor Aroma 1 1 5    
Liquor Flavor 1 3 2   1


Sample #003 Ureshino Kamairi Cha

Dry Leaf Appearance:
- Medium grey-green leaves. Rolled and some curly shape. Smaller and more uniform grade. Some small broken pieces.
- deep green short to moderate length thin rolls
- delicate small arch-shaped leaves, very consistent
- small pieces dark green with clearer pieces
- Dark green short curled needles with very small uncurled leaf parts -- needles 2mm - 2cm
- fine chop, green, looks like green sawdust, particles
- short hard leaves nonuniform size color and length

Dry Leaf Aroma: - Very rich, sweet, strong, full, baked but not high fired. Fresh cooked lettuce (fried).
- toasted wicker with light rain on grass
- sugar cookie, sweet bread
- ocean air, iodine, grilled grass
- Baled hay dried in the field - vegetal but with underlying straw (not quite wood). Aroma still strong at 10 min open.
- bright, grassy with some corn flower
- roasty

Wet Leaf Appearance: - Deep green with some yellow tints. More uniform leave shape.
- moderate green, uniform
- small leaf of uniform size and green color
- small pieces pale and dark green - Bright green leaf parts, a few buds, with a large number of 1 - 2 cm stems.
- green, freshly chopped parsley, some gold
- dark green became richer green 

Wet Leaf Aroma:
- Strong, full baked aroma but with vegetal and sweet notes. Grainy quality like cooked or popped rice.
- toast green vegetal
- spinach pie, freshly baked
- grilled grass, warm hay
- Pan seered bok choi - medium intensity.
- Spinach, asparagus
- mild vegetal some butter

Liquor Color:
- Light yellow with green tint. Bright, clear and lively.
- moderate yellow
- clear bright straw yellow with green hints
- pale yellow
- Pale green with yellowish tint. Not cloudy, but not totally clear. Brightness OK. - light green, clear
- pale yellow

- Roasted, sweet, medium body. Some thickness and light astringency (ok). Definitely tasted the fire but not at all burnt. Finish lasts and remains pleasant.
- vegetal front develops to slightly complex with nuance of umami
- sweet and umami vegetal broth, well-structured with long balanced finish
- thick, sweet, mostly grass
- Predominantly asparagus with grass, followed by some bitterness. Astringency gives thin body. Minimal umami. Bitterness builds as cools, but vegetal subsides. Acts like a Chinese tea. Little after taste.  Balance: disjointed.
- Bitter up front with some asparagus following, collard green undertones, long finish
- more depth but very astringent finish

Comments: - Very aromatic. Made my mouth water. Really enjoyed this tea. The firing was just enough to give a fried depth but without any burnt taste. Second infusion was still sweet. Also brewed this in cold water for 10 minutes. No astringency and quite sweet but with nice depth.
- This was the most familiar in taste. I suppose that is because it is roasted. I enjoy the toasted aroma.
- There wasn't anything I didn't like about the Ureshino Kamairi cha. Balanced, structured, delicious. Bravo!
- x
- I am a huge fan of kamiricha, but I've never had it vegetal before and this is biasing my review.
- x
- not as astringent as #2 but not pleasant. Would not try drinking for enjoyment or serving others

Rank: Combined scores for all Cuppers. Cuppers were asked to score the sample based on four criteria. The chart below shows the overall ranking of each attribute. The rank range was 1 to 5 with one indicating most appealing and 5 indicating least appealing. A higher number indicates more Cuppers agreed on the same ranking.

1=Most Appealing 1 2 3 4 5
Leaf Appearance 1 5 1    
Leaf Aroma 2 4   1  
Liquor Aroma 1 3 3    
Liquor Flavor 2 3   1 1


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10 2015

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  1. 1

    What a great first week!

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