Tasting Sessions : Ogura Tea Garden: First Flush Yabukita Wakocha

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve done a tasting sessions post hasn’t it! Totally not an intended break at all, but one I just had to take due to medical issues. However I recently tried a new First Flush, Yabukita Wakoucha from Ougra Tea Garden. Over the years I’ve tried a fantastic selection of Wakoucha and while I have thoroughly enjoyed them all, there is just something so unique about this particular tea that inspired me to take the time to put together this post and share my tasting notes with you all.

This Wakoucha, or Japanese black tea, utilizes Yabukita cultivar tea plants, and is grown without the use of pesticides. From the first flush in late spring, farmer Yuki Ogura produces this black tea in the style of first flush Darjeeling tea, withered, rolled, then lightly oxidized. Yuki and Junko Ogura moved to Odawara from Tokyo a decade ago to pursue a life closer to nature, and engage in their passion for tea. Learning from the tea farmers in Ashigara, the town just north of Odawara City, they cultivate tea without the use of pesticides.

Tasting Notes

EYES – DRY LEAF – dark leaves, slightly twisted and ranging in size. Mostly black & dark brown, with some flashes of a dark khaki green. 

NOSE – DRY LEAF – rose, antique woods, milk chocolate, malteasers and malted milk biscuits half coated in milk chocolate. Ever so slightly deep vegetal, roasted sweet potato, double cream fresh out of the fridge. Reminds me a lot of the way a dessert table smelt at family parties growing up, mixed sweet aromas, cream and subtle hints of savoury from the other parts of the buffet table.

NOSE – WET LEAF – floral, seaweed, soy sauce and raw sweet potatoes.

EYES – LIQUOR – throughout all steep it was a mid brown shade mixed with dark orange, like a forest floor during autumn. As the steeps went on, the liquor became the most bright auburn/amber color rather than the brown that was present in the first. 

MOUTH – TEXTURE – liquor is smooth, but does have a dryness in the mouth. But you can only expect that from a tea that has been processed like a Darjeeling. 

MOUTH – TASTE – cherry bakewell, freshly sliced almonds, butter pastry and floral sweetness. A woody and grassy taste develops more in the aftertaste but is somewhat present in the initial sips. The almond notes and sweetness get a lot lighter if you let it cool so I wouldn’t recommend letting it cool too much as those are some of the best qualities of it’s overall flavour profile. The second steep was more savoury and gave notes of toasted wholemeal bread with butter and a sprinkling of matcha salt alongside those cherry bakewell and almond notes, giving it a nice sweet and savoury balance. Subtle malt notes are present in all steeps, but it is not overly malty and balances perfect with the other notes present. Roasted sweet potato notes are also present but I find that almost every Wakoucha I have has these notes so I wasn’t too shocked to see that pop up.

They were subtler in this one than in others I have had, but I feel like it works well because it doesn’t overpower any other aspect of the tea. Slight astringency is present but didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the tea. The last steep step had a mineral quality that swept across the tongue fast and quickly dissipated. Very subtle hay notes were also present in the last steep. I wouldn’t do more than three steeps with this as this is where a lot of its best notes start to get light and I can’t imagine that you would be able to get much more out of it after that.

NOSE – EMPTY CUP – ponzu, seaweed and roasted sweet potato.

MOUTH – FINISH – aftertaste is wood, almond and yuzu peel and long lasting.

EYES – WET LEAF – milk and dark chocolate browns with small flecks of dark green. 

BODY SENSATION – relaxed, cosy and warm.

This is without a doubt one of those teas you could get a lot out of if you experimented with steeping times. As you saw earlier in this post, Yunomi describes this as lightly oxidized and to me I feel like it’s a middle ground between oolong and black tea and not an out and out black tea. That didn’t lessen my enjoyment though. I feel like I would have gotten some of the lighter greener/floral elements if I had steeped this at an oolong temp rather than a black tea, so going forward with this tea I’m going to make sure I focus on experimenting with temps to see what I can pull out of it through multiple sessions.

Should you want to try out this tea for yourself you can find it over on the Yunomi Website and if you are planning on ordering more than just this tea remember to use my code INFKKYU to get 1000yen off of a purchase of at least 5000yen.

Until next time, Happy Steeping – Kimberley

*the tea featured were purchased using a gift card provided to me me buy Yunomi Tea for the purpose of content creations. However all opinions are my own and have not been paid for*

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