The first thing I'd like to say about this 2012 Competition Grade Sencha Pinnacle is that I really wish we could purchase it more often (along with the Competition Grade Gyokuro, which I REALLY LOVE!) It really IS that Great and something I would keep repurchasing, but I know that young teas are a personal favorite of mine, so I'm probably biased.
My impressions of this are that it is "Sencha Nectar" (just as I described the Competition Grade Gyokuro Pinnacle Tea) because everything about it is just so light and "lifted" up. I know the same breed is used for much Sencha but each type/grade/finish offered is truly very unique and quite a different Tea experience in aroma, flavor, everything! I feel this aroma and the "very sweet version of Sencha" flavor reminds me alot of the Karigane Gyokuro Premium, which is one of my very favorite Teas due to the wonderfully fullbodied sweet flavor and incredible freshness. I know that each vessel used to brew and/or yunomi you choose to enjoy your Tea from can make a difference, along with the water temperature used as well as steeping Time and I decided to use the Earthenware Kyusu (available in the Organic Tea Gift Set here as well as on it's own) and then the Shiro Inka yunomi/tea cup which is also earthenware (super thin and lightweight, I love them.) I used a bit lower water temperature than what is usually used for sencha to bring out the young and fresh mellow, sweet notes of this special Tea. Although I was planning to steep for the minutes instructed, something interrupted that and my Tea remained steeping in the kyusu for some while, definitely at least 5minutes. I felt distressed that I'd totally ruined my very first brew of this rare 2012 Competition Grade Sencha Pinnacle. BUT, NO I SOMEHOW HAD NOT! Wow, this tea is super forgiving!
The Aroma- superfresh, almost like sweet hay that can cause you to sneeze, because it's so fresh, but this is a GOOD THING, regardless of how it perhaps sounds! :) Scents of sweet grass with some slight floral top notes like some very light, damp and fresh flower petals. The Color- a very clear brew, mine was a definite nice "liquid sunshine" bright, light yellow, not as clear as pictured but I'm sure this was due to my extended steeping time since the following steepings were translucent as pictured and described here. I really expected the taste to be quite bitter, due to my accidental over-steeping and thought I'd be unable to even enjoy or review properly. I was wrong! This 2012 Competition Grade Sencha seems like a sencha blended with a gyukuro to me, the shading really makes a difference I think. There is a sweetness to it that gyokuro has that is usually not present in many sencha Teas. To me, this reminds me a bit of Fukamushi Sencha in some aspects, especially it's supersmooth mouthfeel and fresh, sweetness. Bitterness and astringency were so incredibly slight, even after my long steeping, I was amazed. Pinnacle Sencha seems more "effervescent/sparkling," in my opinion, while compared this Tea is extra smooth and mellow, although it is still a "dry mouthfeel" type of finish. This is also more gentle on my stomach then the Pinnacle Sencha. This 2012 Competition Grade Sencha is SO extremely refreshing to drink. I actually had to force myself to slow down from emptying my cup it was so light, refreshing and easy to drink! As this Tea cools, more floral notes can be detected and the taste and scent become sweeter, especially inside your empty yunomi- it smells very sweet, but it is not the same sort of sweetness as the Kuradashi Autumn Sencha. It is way lighter and will be missed if drank too quickly. This sencha is great, I really like it, all the notes are balanced just right for my personal tastes and it did not upset my stomach, which is a reason I have stopped drinking as much Sencha recently (except for Superior Sencha which is very smooth and gentle with delicious mouthwatering notes I enjoy a Dobin style pot of nearly almost everyday.) Sencha Fukamushi is still a favorite too.
I recommend any fan of sencha to try this because you can really tell much hard work went into creating this super smooth, gently refreshing, light and sweet yet still "crisp" fresh, young Tea experience! Thank you for sharing your Competition Grades with us, HIBIKI-AN!!