Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mellow Monk's Shaded Leaf Kabusecha

I tried to hold off on posting this review until I got my camera back, but when I finally did, I found my can of tea had magically emptied... Here's a picture of an orange sunset, instead, that reminds me of these mellow teas.

I have reviewed Mellow Monk teas in the past and haven't been disappointed. Even the less expensive and lower quality offerings produce enjoyable cups. On the table now is his Shaded Leaf green tea.

Shaded leaf is a Japanese green tea of a style known as kabusecha. Kabusecha is similar to gyokuro in that in its final stage of growth, it is covered with a woven cloth that diminishes the amount of sunlight that reaches the leaves. This encourages the leaves to produce more catechins and chlorophyll, and less tannins, developing what many consider to be a sweeter flavor. Kabusecha is not grown from gyokuro strains (yabukita), nor is it aged, so it's closer to sencha than gyokuro, and can be prepared likewise.

The dry leaf smells sweet, reminiscent of gyokuro. The leaves are curled like Mellow Monk's other tamaryokucha teas. As per the usual sencha methods, 2 tsp of leaf are steeped in 180ml of 176° water for 1.5 min. The liquor is a light yellow-green with a muted, yet sweet and lightly earthy mellow aroma.

The tea has a silky body with a mineral profile and grassy/marine taste. Overall it is sweeter than the usual sencha and has less of the grassy taste. Surprisingly, it has a long lasting huigan(returning sweetness/aftertaste) that runs into the second steep of the tea. The second steep is made with the same parameters, but for the exception of a ~5 second steep time, and mild splashing to prevent the "stewing" of the tea (During later steeps, sencha-type teas can give a stewed flavor which is hard to determine the cause of, but too much and too little splashing have been put to blame). The second steep is not too different except for the more muted aroma and sweeter, gyokuro-like flavor lacking the mineral profile of the first.

In summary, Shaded Leaf is another mellow (surprise?) green tea offered by Mellow Monk. It's great for relaxing, and is easily enjoyable. Unfortunately, it doesn't have the complexities that I yearn for. It has, instead, an enjoyably sweet flavor, a dominant mineral profile, and an unusually long, sweet aftertaste. The aftertaste brings Shaded Leaf up to my level of teas, and the mineral profile gives a hint of what growing in volcanic soil will do to the flavor of a tea.


Jason M. Cohen said...

Dear Wes,

What do you mean by splashing?

All the Best,

Professional Tea Taster said...

Hey, it's been a while since you updated your blog.

Have you tried any new teas lately?

Wes Crosswhite said...

No blog updates but I'm still into tea. I've been working through Sazentea's catalog. They're a Japanese shop with very reasonable prices. Matcha Aorashi is a wonderful affordable matcha. A lot of their senchas have been great. My puerh is aging well, albeit very, very slowly.