Tea—like all agricultural goods—is a product of the seasons. In winter: hibernation. In spring: regrowth. In summer: reaping of spring's rewards. And in autumn: preparation for the solitude ahead and a transition towards sweeter, more comforting brews.
Green tea in particular is a product of the seasons. Crafted directly after harvesting—with minimal processing or intervention to change the flavor profile—green tea represents its terroir and a moment in time, preserved. Green teas generally do not age well and should be drunk as soon as possible. After all, there is always next year's tea.
When it comes to aging green tea, however, one should choose a tea that has a high amount of umami and plenty of sugars on the tea leaf that will sweeten and mature with time. You'll want to keep it vacuum-sealed in cold storage, where oxygen, light and heat cannot destroy the leaves' delicate fragrance.
Such is the case with Kuchikiri, a new sencha tea I am excited to introduce from the same producer who crafts our ceremonial matcha, gyokuro, and shirahime sencha. Each year, this producer takes a small lot of the tea harvest in April and stores it in 3ºC below freezing until October, allowing the tea's umami and sugars to develop and fresh grassiness to subside.
With a richly sweet aroma of roasted sweet potatoes and cloves, it is a wonderful brew as we head into colder winter months.
You may remember a tea from last year's collection called kukicha, a low-caffeine green tea made from the tea leaf stems of the year's harvest. This producer, based in Shizuoka, Japan, produces a kukicha that is extraordinarily sweet and easy to brew—neither complex nor difficult, it is one of my favorite everyday teas to brew in a large pot and sip throughout the day.
Though we received this year's kukicha in July, we found that our producer's kukicha also ages phenomenally, tasting sweeter and more viscous the longer one waits. We have been maturing it in vacuum-sealed cold storage Stateside and I am pleased to introduce our 2020 kukicha as part of this autumn's tea releases. We hope you enjoy it!