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NAOMI Sencha, An Enthusiastic Summer Freshness

Sometimes labelled as "the king of green teas," sencha remains the benchmark Japanese tea. Lightly or deeply steamed, sometimes covered for a few days like a shaded tea, each producer is ingenious in reinventing this great classic.

That is why I invite you today to taste a sencha with a complex and original aromatic profile: NAOMI, a premium organic tea from Chiran, a volcanic region with a sunny climate and very rich soils. You can shop NAOMI here.

Producer's Recommended Steeping Parameters:

Temperature: 70-80°C (158-176°F)

Water: 200ml (6.7 fl oz)

Tea: 6g (1 teaspoon)

Brewing: 40 seconds


Tasting Naomi Premium Organic Sencha

This organic sencha is produced by Orita-san. Grown in Chiran in the Kagoshima region, it is a premium first-harvest tea. It comes from the Kanaya-midori cultivar, known for its characteristic aromatic power that makes it particularly well-suited to sencha.

This tea is the result of decades of passionate work: since 1970, Orita-san has been committed to producing high-quality tea in compliance with organic standards and production methods. This is a major challenge, as without chemical fertilizers, the tea bushes are more fragile and require special care to ensure that the taste of organic tea is as satisfying as that of conventional tea. His success was crowned in 2000 when Orita-San was awarded the Japanese JAS organic certification.

Father and Son - The Orita Family

To begin this tasting, I first observe the quality of the leaves. NAOMI's leaves are a lovely shade of green, between imperial and almond green, and take the form of fine, homogeneous needles and breaks, characteristic of a Fukamushi sencha (deep steamed tea).

Traditional Fukamushi (deep steamed) broken leaves.

As the extraction of the compounds present in the leaves is facilitated by prolonged exposure to steam, the first infusion is very short: just 40 seconds are enough to feel the aromatic power of NAOMI. For a more balanced, mellow taste, I prefer to infuse at 70°C, although the producer recommends a warmer infusion at 80°C. This can be a bit too strong for first time Fukamushi drinkers, since the producers always like their tea stronger that we are used to.

Once brewed, the leaves are fresh and of good quality, with a rather fatty, tender texture. The color lightens slightly, turning to bladder green. On the nose, herbaceous and seaweed notes promise freshness and aromatic complexity.

First steep, using a special Fukamushi teapot (you can also use a tea strainer).

I now observe the liqueur: a shiny canary-green-yellow, it shows a few breaks, which manage to pass through the filter of my kyusu.
On the palate, this first infusion has a smooth texture. It has a lovely, persistent aromatic intensity, giving pride of place to the vegetal and marine aromas already perceptible on the nose when smelling the infused leaves.

The flavors, for their part, are surprisingly multi-faceted: I first experience a moderate umami flavor, i.e. balanced and salivating, followed by a slight bitterness and a saline sensation. The top note is clearly herbaceous, evoking notes of peas, sprouted seeds and fresh spinach. In the heart note, marine aromas, reminiscent of Japanese wakame seaweed. In the background, after several seconds of tasting, subtle citrus notes emerge, which I associate with yuzu. The finish offers a slightly sweet flavor, just right to soften the liqueur.

Wishing to extend the sensory journey, I brew the NAOMI a second time, this time at 80°C and for just 30 seconds. This time, the liqueur takes on an olive hue, a much darker color that already foreshadows an aromatic buildup.

This is indeed the case on the palate: intense and herbaceous, the liqueur loses umami to make way for a more pronounced bitterness, and a liveliness that reinforces the hitherto discreet citrus notes. Notes of yuzu peel provide a pleasantly refreshing sensation, reminiscent of southern summer flavors.

NAOMI offers a powerful, lively taste experience, halfway between a classic and a long-steamed sencha. It stands out brilliantly from the more traditional fukamushi sencha, which offers powerful umami as well as iodine and vegetable broth notes.

How To Prepare Naomi Sencha

Since NAOMI is quite intense, it infuses impressively quickly. For the most balanced results, a very short infusion at a moderate temperature is recommended.
During my tasting, I chose to brew 10° below the producer's recommendation, i.e. at 70°C, which allows me to infuse 2 more times without excessive bitterness.

To go along the summer season, you can also opt for a cold brew. NAOMI then gains in sweetness and umami, but in my opinion, at the expense of its aromatic intensity. To make the cold brew, pour 10 grams of tea leaves into a 1-liter bottle, ideally with a filter. Fill with spring or filtered water.
Leave to stand in the fridge for 8-12 hours and shake well before serving. If you don't have a filter bottle, use a sieve to serve.

NAOMI - Premium Organic Sencha

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