Mountain Karigane Kukicha tea was supplied by Alexander Seleznev who resides in Japan and promotes Japanese tea to former Soviet Union states and Russian diaspora. His web store is in Russian, but you can easily order directly from him by joining his Japan Tea Facebook group.
The tea I wanted to review grows near Kobe city in Rokko mountains region and considered very rare, because the region is not well known for its tea.
Karigane is a Kukicha green tea (blend of stems, stalks and twigs), but made exclusively of Gyokuro species – highest class of Japanese tea. This tea is not so expensive as Gyokuro, but carries a good value. Chances to have a great taste are high.
Starting from 73°C mineral water, washing the kyusu.
Making my first steep about 1 min. and the result is amazing. The aroma is very good: baked beans with very strong sea weed. Nice green color with yellowish “bean” note. It is indeed ultra-mega sweet tea without any bad bitterness. First steep is awesome. If you want to advocate Japanese green tea to other people, just steep them this Karigane. No one would pass it without falling in eternal love with Japanese teas.
Second steep – about 68°C for 50 seconds. Yes, second sleep should always be slightly shorter, because some water still resides in the teapot and continues to brew, while the tea is very potent yet. Had to use even shorter time, a bitterness appeared, but the tea liquid is still very sweet.
Let’s make the third steep very brief. Water temperature now is about 60°C. So I’ll steep for 40 seconds. It is cleaner taste now, but somehow bitterness of cheaper teas starting to show.
So we could continue with several more steeps, but the amazing first steep will not come back. I think second steep could be great too, but temperature and timing should be lowered seriously. In fact we could cold brew the first steep for some 5-10 minutes. And then to rise the temperature for tasty next steeps. Several more sugar sweet steeps will be a result.
I love this tea, it’s very fresh, sweet and tasty. This time I had to steep it in a more delicate way. It didn’t produce too many good steeps. But first steep already made me happy and with more attention I will figure out the right temperature and timing to have even better next steeps. Will order more.