This mysterious cultivar unfolds itself, with smooth spinach vegetality and green grape sweet astringency
Out of all the Senchas from Mr. Takaki, the Z1 stood out to us, not only because of its mysterious origins, but also because of its clarity and smoothness. We are living in a golden age of Japanese single-cultivar teas. As Japanese farmers are moving to organic and becoming more export minded, they are exploring cultivars other than the dominant Yabukita cultivar, which once made up 80% of tea, in favor of more naturally pest-resistant cultivars.
Z1 is a mysterious cultivar not much known about it’s origins besides that it came from naturally bred Tamamidori, but its been used to make more popular cultivars like Fuushun. Z1 was given this name because it was not registered due to the difficulty to grow. However in the hands of skilled farmers like Mr. Takaki, this tea can be grown beautifully as it naturally strong against grey blight.
The 2022 harvest of Z1 immediately caught us with the rich spinach umami dry leaf aroma, however when drinking it’s much smoother than the aroma would lead you to believe. Not too catechin rich, which leads to a pleasant astringency ride and easy on the stomach. It has notes of green muscatel grape after the umami subsides, and has a nice juicy salivation.
The lightly steamed tea leaves have a beautiful dark green color. This tea was made at the remote mountain valley “Hoshino”(means “star field”) by Mr. Takaki. Due to the lower temperatures in Hoshino mountain valley, the harvest begins about a month later than in lower and flatter cultivation areas such as Shizuoka. Similar to parts of Taiwan, the rainy misty weather and large temperature difference between morning and evening causes the teas to produce more amino acids and catechins as a way of protecting itself from these conditions, which in turn produces more intense and complex aromas.