6 Tasting Notes

100

Since I became interested in Japanese green tea around 12 years ago, I have been searching for competition grade tea from Japan, but it has always been impossible to find here in the United States. I’ve seen competition grade tea from China, but never Japan. So when this became available a few weeks ago, I jumped at the opportunity.

Compared with other matcha, Hibiki-an’s Competition Grade Matcha Pinnacle is much brighter in color: pure green with no brown undertones. If the green color is somewhat brown, then it is lower grade and gets exponentially more so as one goes down the scale of quality. As you can imagine, this tea has no detectable brown tones. It is pure green, like a perfect pistachio. Matcha color directly correlates with flavor, and the flavor of this tea is perfect as well: fresh, smooth and creamy with no bitterness.

Before this tea, the best matcha I sampled was Hibiki-an’s Matcha Pinnacle. It is vastly superior to other matcha due to the ideal color, fresh and creamy flavor with no bitterness, and the fact that it dissolves so purely and evenly when whisked. Both the flavor and texture can be described as soft, smooth and creamy. I fortunately had the opportunity to sample Matcha Pinnacle and Competition Grade Matcha Pinnacle side-by-side. As I had hoped for, the Competition Grade matcha exceeded my expectations and again raised the bar. Both are excellent and amazing teas in a whole league of their own, but the Competition Grade does outshine the regular Matcha Pinnacle in terms of pure green color and smooth, creamy taste and texture.

This is not an everyday tea, but should be seen as a rare opportunity to try something usually only reserved for a select few within the Japanese tea industry. Thanks to Atsushi and Keiko at Hibiki-an for the opportunity to try this special tea. It is truly amazing and I highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in Japanese tea.

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100

Sadly, after trying Hibiki-an’s Matcha Pinnacle, every other Matcha now looks and tastes a little old and dingy. This sounds kind of funny, but I’m being completely serious. Before you try this tea, you should take into consideration whether you are willing to spend $50 for Matcha Pinnacle from that point on, because you will not likely want to go back to regular Matcha.

madness

I agree, except for their Competition Grade Asahi breed Tea, when it’s offered!!

madness

OMG!! I just realized your reviews on Hibiki-an’s site stood out as my favorites and most helpful! Thank you :)

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75

Not the best green tea ever, but certainly one of my favorite Japanese green tea in tea bags. For loose leaf, I would recommend Hibiki-an green tea—but for tea bags for the office or travel, these are quite good and also convenient to use. The brewed tea is full flavored, because each tea bag is sealed in a foil packet for freshness and the tea is not whole leaves but very tiny broken leaves and green tea powder. So, overall, I recommend these for office and travel, but not necessarily if you are looking for something special to brew at home. (This review is for their small paper tea bags, not the larger nylon style tea bags).

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75
drank Genmai Cha by Takaokaya
6 tasting notes

Not the best green tea ever, but certainly one of my favorite Japanese green tea in tea bags. For loose leaf, I would recommend Hibiki-an green tea—but for tea bags for the office or travel, these are quite good and also convenient to use. The brewed tea is full flavored, because each tea bag is sealed in a foil packet for freshness and the tea is not whole leaves but very tiny broken leaves and green tea powder. So, overall, I recommend these for office and travel, but not necessarily if you are looking for something special to brew at home. (This review is for their small paper tea bags, not the larger nylon style tea bags).

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100

It is amazing to compare the green color of this tea to other matcha—it is much brighter green, and the flavor is so fresh. One of the best matcha available anywhere.

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100

Hibiki-an Kuradashi Matcha Pinnacle is so smooth and balanced with a rich and complex flavor—one could almost describe it as soft and creamy or even buttery. Green tea is typically brisk and refreshing. Some might say that in general, Japanese green tea can be somewhat bitter, which I find pleasant in Sencha. However, Hibiki-an Kuradashi Matcha is completely without bitterness and lacks the brisk zing of Sencha. This soft and smooth quality is characteristic of very high grade Matcha. I describe it as creamy because of its rich, smooth flavor and the fact that it lathers (foams) very well when whisked with the bamboo chasen. Similar almost to Matcha Latte, this tea has a sweet flavor, as though there is a touch of sugar added. The color is a beautiful, pure shade of green, similar to their Matcha Pinnacle. The scent is vegetal, with faint aroma of oak or autumn leaves. Following traditional rules for aging tea leaves to create Kuradashi Matcha, Hibiki-an has managed to create a tea that is a perfect blend of two opposites: the fresh and vibrant taste characteristic of high quality green tea along with the complex nuanced flavors that come with age, as with wine and cheese. This tea is on par with their Matcha Pinnacle, one of the best Matcha on the market today. I highly recommend this tea to anyone who seeks out rare specialty teas—this is a unique opportunity to try an extraordinary tea, usually available only to those who participate in the autumn tea ceremony Kuchikiri no Gi in Japan.

Thomas Smith

I love their Matcha Pinnacle and was considering buying this. You say it is on par, but what are the sorts of differences you get?

AzukiGreenTea

I really need to compare them side-by-side to answer your question better. The color is the same pure bright green. The quality/grade is also the same. The taste I get from Matcha Pinnacle is fresh and vibrant, a little sweet and a tiny bit brisk. Kuradashi Matcha Pinnacle is also fresh and vibrant, but more sweet and not brisk at all—completely lacking bitterness. It is slightly more rich and heavy, which is why I describe it as creamy. The flavor and aroma are more complex and nuanced, like any aged product. If you try it, please let me know what you think.

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Bio

Rebekah Mullaney, author and illustrator of Azuki Loves Green Tea. Favorite teas are Japanese green: sencha, gyokuro, and matcha.

Location

New York

Website

http://azukicat.com/

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