More excellence in my chawan today as I tasted two more quality matchas from Sazen tea. In my last post I compared Organic Matcha Kin and Matcha Homare-no-Mukashi, so I thought it was only fitting that I compare another organic blend with another high quality matcha. Today’s pair are the Organic Matcha Gin and Premium Narino.
Right off the bat, I knew both of these matchas are stellar. Opening both package my eyes were dazzled by the enticing vibrant emerald green color. After sifting easily, however, the Organic Gin appears a tad darker, yet still vivid and bold. The aroma of each of these gems was fresh, sweet and a bit floral, and both whisked into a creamy broth, although the Organic Gin had a few larger bubbles and more foam.
The taste is where these two excelled and differed. I was seriously surprised by the smoothness and creaminess of the Organic Gin. With only a tad bitterness, certainly less bitterness than the Organic Matcha Kin I reviewed last week, the umami flavor lingered longer than I anticipated. I was impressed… then I sipped the Premium Matcha Narino. This elixir slowly cascaded across my tongue, sparking waves of tingling along its path. Absolutely no bitterness whatsoever and a finish that remained for several minutes after my chawan was empty, most likely due to the fact that this tea is shaded for over 50 days to help produce its enticing umami quality. The quality of this matcha is exceptional and unequaled among matchas I have compared from Sazen thus far. Intoxicated by this tea, I had to learn more about this remarkable tea, and fortunately, Sazen shares the details.
As the story goes, Narino matcha is grown in the Okunoyama tea garden in the Uji area, which happens to be the only remaining tea garden of the original seven distinguished tea gardens in the area during the Muromachi Period (1338 - 1573). Okunoyama garden grew over 1000 various indigenous tea plants, yet in 1981 they began a mission to grow the finest Uji Tea possible to pass down to future generations. This lead to extensive selection, tasting and research on their cultivars. Starting with 53 kinds, in 1994 they narrowed their selection down to only 2, “Narino”, the matcha I tasted today, being one of them. In 2000, the tea garden submitted these two kinds of tea with The Registry of Plant Varieties, and 2 years later their Uji teas were registered. 8 years later in 2010, Narino became recognized as the number one matcha in Japan by receiving the Minister’s Award from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
Because Narino matcha is a single-breed, non-blended matcha, production is limited since on a specific amount can be harvested every year. Furthermore, the tea garden painstakingly decides whether or not the harvest meets their quality standards. If it does not, Narino will not be sold that year. Fortunately for me, 2018 was an exceptional year.
Overall, both of these matchas are wonderful. The Organic Gin would make an excellent choice for daily consumption. But if you only looking for an unequaled matcha steeped with a rich history from a tea garden dating back hundreds of years, look no further than Narino matcha. You will not be disappointed.