My fondest memory of Chiran comes from the summer of 2009. Since I was young, my Dad and I would go up north to a friend’s log cabin. For the summer of 2009, Matt was able to join us.

The tea we brought with us was Chiran. We brewed by the river that the cabin was situated on, in the living room, on the veranda, and perhaps most memorably, in the loft.

If you’d like to stroll down memory lane with me, here are a few photos from the trip. 😛 (click to enlarge.)

the cabin from the back

the cabin from the front

Matt and myself holding a turtle

Five years later, I believe it’s time for a review. 🙂

Background

Chiran is named after the town it originates from in the southern prefecture of Kagoshima. It can be purchased at O-Cha.com. The particular sencha I am reviewing should not be confused with O-Cha’s Organic Chiran Sencha, or their Chiran Asatsuyu.

chiran sencha leaves

New for 2014, Chiran is now a mid-steamed sencha, rather than deep-steamed.

The leaves are a rich shade of green, and are of medium length. The aroma is wonderfully grassy with some sweet aspects.

Brewing

Leaf: 4.3g (1 tbsp)/125ml
Temp: 70C(158F)
Time: 0:45 sec

Brewing Chiran with different parameters can yield very different results. I prefer a light taste that is full of grassiness. A low brewing temperature as well as a short infusion time can make this possible.

70C (158F) is at the low end of the temperature scale for sencha, but it unlocks a mellow flavour profile in this tea.

I also find that steeping the first infusion for 45 seconds brings out the grassiness, but keeps the vegetal tones subtle.

Observations on Chiran

japanese green tea in nature

The first infusion isn’t overly cloudy, but it has enough tea particles to make it a rich, medium shade of green. The aroma is a pleasant bouquet of seaweed, grass, and slight honey notes.

The taste is well defined, light, and refreshing. It is a clean, grassy flavour that leaves only a bit of astringency in the back of your throat.

Later Infusions

Chiran offers four solid steepings. For the second, brew for 10 seconds, 45 seconds for the third, and 1:30 for the fourth. Increase the temperature by 5-10C each time.

As pictured, the second infusion is very cloudy. The third and fourth retain a high level of cloudiness as well.

second infusion of cloudy sencha

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately with the cabin, 2009 was the last year we were able to go. The family friend who owned it ended up selling it to the owner of the cabin next door. Regardless, I am happy that I was able to spend my last trip with Matt and my Dad. As I envision sitting by the river, sipping on my tea with Matt in the misty morning, I can’t help but think that Chiran more than deserves its title of the first – and only – Japanese green tea to be consumed at the cabin. 🙂

Griff is the co-founder of The Art of Japanese Green Tea website and video series.

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Ryan

    This year’s version of Chiran does have some sweet aspects. I am thinking the terroir of the Kagoshima region contributes to that slightly sweet, almost tangy profile. So even those this version is from Yabukita, it still retains some flavors that are reminiscent of Yutaka Midori strain. That said: There could be some Yutaka Midori strain blended in.

    Your parameters are really interesting. I’m definitely going to try the shorter steep, and lower temperature to bring out the grassiness.

    I’m rather fond of this year’s version. It’s what I would call a memorable tea.

    1. Griff

      Hey Ryan,

      I also found my brewing parameters a little unusual. Typically, if I cut some aspect of my brewing short – be it time, amount of leaf, or temperature – I will make some other aspect compensate. Originally when I decided to brew for only 45 seconds, I decided to increase the temperature. This made the grassiness less present. So I figured, why not try both a lower temp and shorter time. Since deciding upon that, I haven’t looked back. 🙂

  2. François

    Hi Griff

    I see Chiran really evokes pleasant memories for you. 🙂

    Out of all the senchas I have tried to far, Chiran is not my favourite. O-cha’s kabusecha (also medium-steamed), for me, smells far better (an important factor) and is both grassier and sweeter, while being easier on the stomach. Hope you review it at some point 🙂

    I have to say, however, that I found that combining the first and second infusions of the Chiran sencha increased the flavour profile quite a bit (while reducing the “beefiness” I have mentioned before).

    Of course, I am still new to senchas and even tea in general, so everything I say and write needs to be taken with a large grain of salt.

    1. Griff

      Hi François, thanks for reading my post. 😀 Yes, I have had many pleasant times with Chiran.

      As long as you enjoy what you drink, then there is nothing wrong with any brewing technique, including combining the first and second infusions.

      And keep in mind, you must take my reviews with a grain of salt, too. The brewing parameters I post are what suit me the best, and nothing more. 🙂

  3. Jason

    This is the first time I’ve had Chiran. I’ve had other tea from O-Cha before. I tried your brewing parameters and
    I’m not good at describing tea and it’s flavours so I don’t usually review tea, but it’s very wet outside today and I’m stuck indoors…so here it goes!

    I just opened the package…wow, it is packed full of aroma. The tea itself is very fine, similar to fukamushi.

    I’m currently sipping on the first steep. It’s full of grass, which for me is only an ‘ok’ quality as I don’t usually like my sencha overly grassy. The vegetal tones are there…I’m enjoying those. Not much bitterness or astringency (nice). It’s very powerful overall and a great morning tea to wake you up. While I do have some muesli and fruit sitting in a bowl to eat alongside my tea, I did take the first few sips of tea without eating or drinking anything. Now that I’ve had a few morsels of breakfast, I find this rounds out the flavour of the tea as I finish the first cup (I’m going to have to start a thread about eating/not eating when drinking tea–when you wake up, and at other times of the day as this is something I’ve always contemplated).

    I’m now having the second steep (70c for :10). I’ve never brewed any tea for so short a time. Usually with fukamushi the second steeping is 20-25 seconds. Funny, it’s not easy to brew something for so short a time and do so for exactly 10 seconds. In any case, the resulting tea is much cloudier than the first steep. There is less of everything (grassiness, astringency, aroma, etc.), but I like the roundness of all the taste sensations more than the first steep. It’s smoother, like an aged wine versus a newer harvest. I’m happy I steeped this for only :10 as much more would have likely impacted the flavour quite a bit and I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much.

    On to the third steep (80c for :45). Most of the flavours from the first two steeps are now lost. Given my schedule, I usually only steep my sencha twice, so I can’t compare to previous sessions that went beyond two. There is a flavour that has come forward though I can’t describe it. It’s nice though.

    1. Griff

      Hi Jason, thank you for such a wonderfully detailed comment! 😀

      I agree that it’s oddly difficult to brew for such a short time on the second infusion. I feel with Chiran (as well as some other deep steamed selections) that steeping the second infusion for more than a handful of seconds makes the taste overpoweringly strong. I find tea to be at its finest when the subtleties in the taste are in balance with the main aspects of the overall flavour. In order to achieve this, I believe a short second infusion is necessary.

      1. Jason (JVM)

        I changed the parameters a bit this morning: 7.5g of leaf, 250ml of water, 75c, 1:00. The result is more to my liking. Not as grassy, very smooth and quite sweet. I will still go short on the second infusion. Next time I may try 72c for :50 to see if I can notice a big difference.

  4. Ryan

    You made a good discovery with lowering the temperature and making the steep time more conservative. I do appreciate the more subtle tasting grassiness, minimizing the vegetalness, these kind of parameters bring out of the Chiran.

  5. Pingback: Chiran Asatsuyu: A Deep Steamed Sencha Review

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