Hey there Teacups! Despite the fact that the first week of January 2021 has already been pretty crazy out there in the would, I hope you’re all doing okay. We’ve just been put on national lockdown again here in the UK until mid February but at least we’ve got tea to help us get through it! I can’t even begin to imagine what lockdown without tea would be like, it’s not even worth thinking about is it! Today I’m back with a Let’s Talk Tea post and this time around I’m going to be reviewing the November 2020 tea from the Tomotcha tea subscription, which was a Riguri-Yamacha (りぐり山茶) from the prefecture of Kōchi (高知), on the island of Shikoku (四国).
Here’s what Tomotcha have to say about this tea over on their website (I love that they include so much detail about each tea over on their company blog because they are constantly introducing me to so many new teas and the fact that they include so much in depth information on the website enables me to learn so much in depth information quickly all in one place straight from the source): ”In this region of the island of Shikoku (四国), the word “riguru (りぐる)” means “elaborate”. Then, we use an indigenous tea cultivar that grows spontaneously here and there in the mountains. Hence the name of this tea: elaborated “riguri (りぐり)” from the mountains “yama (山)”, that is to say “Riguri-Yamacha (りぐり山茶)”.
“The precise region of production is called Inomachi Ogawa (いの町小川), and is located in the Shikoku Mountain Chain (四国山脈), right in the middle of the island, in the prefecture of Kōchi (高知県). The tea trees grow between the world of nature, and the world of humans. After picking up organically grown tea leaves, we roast them in a cauldron. Since tea leaves are well dried in the sun before roasting, we can feel the aroma of the sun. This Riguri-Yamacha has a specific nutrition, and a mellow scent coming from the mountain. People in this region describe it as “the scent from the forest in May (皐月の森の香り)”. Riguri-Yamacha is in the same category as Zaracha (ざら茶).”
Tea Tasting Notes
For this tasting session, as I had never heard of this tea before I followed the brewing instructions over on the Tomotcha blog which are as follows: “A tea spoon of Riguri-Yamacha for 200ml (7oz) of spring water. The infusion should last 3 to 4 minutes in water above 90ºC (190ºF). For the next infusions, raise the temperature and reduce the infusion time.” Usually I would steep a tea like this in my gaiwan but this time around I decided to steep this western style as it seemed to me like a tea that was going to be pretty versatile, but even though I did steep it western style I did steep it 3 times and I did still use freshly filtered water. I like my tea on the stronger side so I used quite a bit of loose leaf for my first steep and steeped the leaves for 3 and a half minutes.
While steeping, the aroma of the first steep gave off a cooked fruit note (which is also present but much lighter in the dry leaves), alongside a light vegetal note and subtle earthy note. It steeps up a golden / orange colour reminiscent of a beautiful sunset and taste wise it has to be one of the most unique teas I’ve tired in a while honestly. It is vegetal but in a way that is slightly reminiscent of aromatic herbs and conifers rather than grass, with a slightly earthy underpinning.
But there are also some fruity notes in it’s flavour profile like including a naturally (but not overwhelming) sweet pineapple and melon (which isn’t my favourite normally, but in this teas flavour profile it works) and the slightest hint of almond you can imagine in it’s aftertaste (so slight that it took me a good few sips to even notice it but once I did I couldn’t miss it and it). The second steep and third steep were just as fantastic only once I got to the third steep the melon note and the almond note were all but gone, but that didn’t stop me enjoying this tea at all. I also cold brewed my leaves from this session, which was also just as delicious as just a tiny bit more vegetal and sweet than the hot steeped version.
Discovering this tea for the first time was such a great experience and I am so thankful Tomotcha gave me the chance to do so. I’m honestly kicking myself that It has taken me so long to discover this tea because it’s phenomenal, but at least I get to enjoy it throughout 2021 and add it to my list of new teas to continue to explore and learn about going forward.
Overall Teacup Rating: 5/5
If you want to find out more about Tomotcha and subscribe to their subscription service, you can do both here. As always if you have any questions at all either stick them in the comments or send them to me on Twitter/Instagram @teaisawishblog and I’ll answer them as soon as I can.
Speak to you all again soon. Happy Steeping – Kimberley
*The tea featured in this post was gifted to me for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own and have not been paid for*
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