I am not very knowledgeable about Japanese teas (yet although I am willing to learn more about them), but I can tell a good oolong. With the excitement that I was going to try Japanese oolong, came with ‘high’ expectations. I do not mean to sound arrogant or harsh. Still, this Japanese oolong is simply nowhere good enough to be sold in the international tea market. This is because despite the well-known cultivar this tea comes from and its good-looking medium level oxidation, the tea only offers an intense bitterness that I rarely come across in the world of loose-leaf teas.
I thought that this bitterness might be masking some of the underlying flavours, and I changed my steeping methods to get a different result. While the result was different, it was equally disappointing.
Koushun is a single cultivar on the south slopes of Mount Fuji, and well-known for its light steamed sencha with floral and mineral tastes. Apparently, also Koushun “Bao Zhong” is produced, and I read some positive comments about it. I am thinking about what might have gone wrong here. Firstly, it could be that the oxidation level is very low. Oolongs with high oxidation tend to be less bitter. Secondly, this could be a summer harvest tea. When the leaves are exposed to high amounts of sunlight, more polyphenols and catechins are produces, which results in more bitterness. Thirdly, the leaves might be overroasted, or another processing mistake might have occurred.
While I do not like this tea, I would support the tea master who made this to continue experimenting. I sincerely hope one day they will make a groundbreaking improvement.
Origin: Shizuoka, Shimizu, Japan
Harvest time: 2019
Leave colour: Tones of brown and dark green
Liquor colour: Cupper
Tea aroma: Smoky with malt aromas
Tea taste: Bitterness
Steeping/brewing: Place around 3 gr (to reduce bitterness) in a 150 ml teapot or gaiwan and brew with 90°C water up to 20 seconds in gongfu style or up to two minutes in Western-style. You can brew the leaves many times (until the taste is lost). To each infusion add additional time. Experiment for a result that suits your taste.
Shelf life: Up to 3 years or more