111 Tasting Notes
This tea tastes very green in the vegetal sense, and there are bean-like flavors present. If I didn’t know any better I might think this is a Chinese green tea. It has more of that flavor profile. There’s a nice sweetness to it and it is lacking the ocean and algae flavors I tend to encounter in a lot of Japanese green teas. There’s this subtle tang on the back of the tongue that is really interesting to me. It kind of reminds me of the tangy feeling of ginseng on the tongue. It’s only just slightly bitter in the finish.
The leaves of this sencha are very long and unbroken. There seems to be a lot of care in their production and handling. Often I encounter senchas with very small and broken up pieces. It makes for a cloudier brew and can be a bit of a mess, but this sencha brews up crystal clear with a ghostly pale green tinge. There are many factors in brewing this tea that make it clear to me these are very high quality leaves, and as this is a sample from a friend I have no idea about the source, company or price at this point.
A second infusion yields a heartier brew with a nice sweetness to it and some interesting notes of cinnamon, camphor, or clove… something on that spiced spectrum. The flavor is just wonderful. I find nothing lacking or “missing”. There’s nothing I can imagine that would improve this tea for me. It’s not the kind of flavor that knocks my socks off, but it is pristine, and that is saying a lot considering I’ve had this tea in a tiny ziplock bag for at least a couple months, so it has not been stored the way sencha aficionados would suggest you need to store it. It has maintained great qualities despite not being kept airtight.
I brewed this tea in a gaiwan. The first infusion was at 158F and I increased it to 167F on the second infusion and 176 on the third. This gentle way of brewing Japanese green teas has never done me wrong. As for infusion times it was 1 min, then 20 seconds, then 30 seconds.
The third and final infusion I drank was even more mellow, with similar flavors to the second infusion but a sort of “bready” taste in the background. This tea is very comforting. I had meant to drink it on a wonderfully warm and sunny day in the summertime to do justice to its name, but I kept forgetting about it and finally just got to it here in the crisp, cool beginnings of Autumn.
I can feel the sunlight and warm breeze and smell the green leaves, regardless.
EDIT: I am revisiting this tea after eating some Barbeque (a suggestion they made on the website, hehe). I brewed it a little stronger than the last time. It’s got a very zesty flavor with hints of pleasant bitterness. There is an almost orange-like flavor that lasts in your mouth. It’s great stuff!
Flavors: Beany, Camphor, Clove, Sweet, Vegetal
The dry leaves in the warm kyusu smelled faintly of fruit tree flowers. After the infusion the wet leaves smell sweet with a slight green bean or snap pea scent.
The flavor’s really milky and creamy to me. It’s light and delicate with a very full mouth feel that makes me salivate. Predominantly the flavor reminds me of sweet cream with a mild grassy backdrop.
The second infusion was mildly floral and sweet, and left a sweet sensation in my mouth for quite a while after.
This is perhaps the most delicate of the Obubu senchas, really lacking in astringency and not a really bold flavor either. It’s really smooth.
Flavors: Cream, Flowers, Sweet
With the dry leaves in the warm kyusu, after a minute I uncovered them to smell them. They have a really sweet fragrance that is green and light, similar to Obubu’s “Sencha of Brightness”.
The wet leaves have an almost floral aroma, reminding me a bit of a Taiwanese high mountain oolong. The flavor is light with a good deal of sweetness and a slightly astringent finish. Strangely, the sweetness is so abundant up front that it’s difficult for me to describe the flavors, so I’ll say it’s kind of a sweet grass taste. There’s a subtle honey-like smell in the cup after emptying it. Maybe it’s because the front end tastes so sweet that I feel like the bitterness in the finish of the taste comes on stronger than with the other sencha I’ve tried from Obubu. They describe this one on their website as having very little bitterness.
Like some other sencha I’ve tried from Obubu, the second infusion has a bit of a minty hint in the finish. The bitterness is still there, so is the strong sweetness up front.
If you like a sencha that starts really sweet and finishes with a bit of bitterness, this is the one to go to. It’s the only one in the Obubu sampler that seems to have that kind of quality. It’s dynamic within the sip rather than dynamic from one infusion to the next.
I’m finding a weird pattern to my Obubu reviews. I have preferred the lower grade and cheaper varieties to the higher grade more expensive ones. Lucky me! :D
Flavors: Bitter, Sweet, Sweet, warm grass
This one’s off to a nice start, with the dry leaves in the warm kyusu having a scent of moss and crisp iceburg lettuce. The wet leaves smell like more moss and a sort of fruity smell that is like the inside of a melon or a pumpkin, also like the smell of fresh strawberries. I don’t mean the smell of cooked strawberries or strawberry ice cream or anything like that, but the smell of the berries fresh off the vine, tart and ripe.
WOW, that subtle berry-like flavor really comes through in the taste as well, reminding me a lot of strawberries, particular the taste you get from biting into the seeds or the green part of the fruit. There are background notes with gentle nutty, creamy and woody qualities. A subtle grain-like taste may be a more accurate way to describe it, like rice or oatmeal.
I drank the first cup of this really fast. I could not stop. The flavor was just so good!
The second infusion is more light and sweet, definitely getting hints of pumpkin this time, and I promise you that’s not just because this is an Autumn themed tea. Haha. It’s in the last part of the sip, there’s a mellow pumpkin or gourd kind of taste.
This tea is unbelievably good for the price. I will be ordering some with my next order from Obubu.
I seriously left my room and came back minutes later to a room that smelled like strawberries…
Flavors: Grain, Moss, Pumpkin, Strawberry
Another Obubu tea is gracing my new kyusu. I have ordered Obubu’s Tea Sampler so you’ll be seeing me review all of these at some point or another.
After putting the leaves into the warm kyusu and letting them sit for a minute, the smell they emit is that of fish or lake (Hey, don’t knock it! Lake is one of the 8 fundamental elements in Taoist cosmology!) ;3
In goes the 158F water for 1 minute. The scent of the wet leaves is somewhat like green beans, with a hint of a meaty note like pate, there are also hints of seaweed, sesame and spinach. In contrast, the taste of the tea is really mellow and nutty with a hint of wood bark. There is a green grassy quality too the taste as well but it is on the more dark and soily side of that spectrum, not a bright, fresh dewy tasting grass. This tea is really umami and makes me salivate a lot. The mouthfeel is thick and while I may have used a bit too much water, there is really almost no bitterness present. Sencha of the Earth is a really perfect name for it (really, they’ve all had perfect names that I’ve tried so far) because it is a relaxing, stabilizing and grounding kind of energy this tea has. None of the fishy lake flavor came through in the flavor for me. I wouldn’t have minded a little of it, but for some of you reading this that might be a relief to hear. ;3
The second infusion is more rich and flavorful than what I got with the second infusion of other Obubu teas I’ve tried so far, and now there is a hint of cooling mint-like flavor at the end of a sip. The flavors have become just slightly more “peaked”, a little more tangy a little more astringent. It’s pointing up instead of down now. Interesting! Maybe a little tree has sprouted from the earth. ;3
Though the astringency is very mild, there’s a slight citrusy flavor that starts late int he sip and lingers in the mouth. Pretty awesome stuff. Some sencha are not very dynamic from one steep to the next, but that is definitely not the case with this tea.
The third infusion is really muted and mild, as is usual with sencha. Not a lot to note about that but it’s good enough to drink and come down from the experience with. :3
Flavors: Bark, Grass, Nutty, Umami
This is my first time having bancha. The leaves are all wiry and long and unkempt, pretty fun to look at.
The flavor is subtle and sweet, with a mostly buttery, nutty taste and a grassy smell. The smell of the wet leaves reminds me of wild prairie grasses in the late spring or early summer when they’re still wet and green.
This tea is very mild. I think I could have brewed it a lot stronger than I usually brew sencha and it would have tasted just fine. I can see why this is considered an everday tea. Everything about the flavor is agreeable but not remarkable. It’s the kind of tea you can appreciate without having to give your full attention to, a casual tea-drinker’s tea. I could see myself loading up a tea thermos with this to drink at work, but at home my time is usually filled with higher grade teas that are more of a centerpiece and a dedicated moment of the day.
For an everyday tea though, this has a really nice taste and quality to it. It’s charming and relaxing. As it’s cooling, I’m catching a little bit of seaweed/fish kind of taste, but I’m also alternating this with eating some food now. Otherwise until this point it was mostly just sweet.
Flavors: Grass, Nutty, Seaweed, Sweet
This tea is chock full of umami flavor, very savory. There are hints of brussel sprout and grilled cheese sandwich (mostly the flavor of bread that’s been toasted in a pan with butter). It leaves a really savory flavor in the mouth. I wouldn’t say this one is sweet particularly, just really rich and mellow.
By the second infusion the tea tastes a bit metallic as it cools down. It seems to have expended most of the flavor on the first infusion (only 1 minute). There are fresh green bean and mild nutty flavors, overall it seems very subdued.
I’m a little new to sencha, so I’m not sure how much flavor should be present in the repeat infusions. It seems from my experience that it’s usually a lot more muted after the first, so most of my rating for the tea comes from there.
I actually really preferred Obubu’s Sencha of Brightness to this top-of-the-line sencha from Obubu that is double the price.
Flavors: Butter, Toast, Umami, Vegetables
This will be the first sencha tea to brew and review in my new tokonome kyusu, which is absolutely gorgeous (and my first kyusu). I bought an expensive one because I wanted to be set with one that was really my tastes and not be tempted to buy another down the road. If anyone is curious, it’s this one: http://www.amazon.com/Japanese-teapot-Tokoname-Umehara-7-78oz/dp/B00CD8NPTU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1413654555&sr=8-1&keywords=kyusu+shoji
Anyhow, on to the tea. The scent of Sencha of Brightness is intoxicating after letting the leaves sit in the warm kyusu for a minute. The smell is of sweet corn on the cob, peony flowers and toasted almonds. It’s smelling eerily similar to my all time favorite tea, Kenyan Silver Needle. Let’s see how it brews up.
The brew is a delicate spring green. The taste is sublime. It has an incredibly smooth mouthfeel… and this may sound weird but the texture reminds me of yogurt. It’s velvety and thick. The flavor has a mellow nutty start that changes to a slightly green and vegetal one with afternotes of cooling mint sensation. I can easily see why this Sencha of Brightness was named from the idea of sparkling light reflecting on cooling waters. The tea is very mellow with almost no astringency, only a slight bit in the finish.
On the second infusion the taste is much more mild. It’s still quite sweet and there are little notes of seaweed and grass like one might expect from sencha. The third infusion is also rather light in flavor and tastes similar to the second. I may have used a lower amount of leaf than I should have.
This tea was humbling. I really like it a lot.
Flavors: Corn Husk, Flowers, Nutty, Seaweed, Sweet
I’ve had both good and bad experiences with osmanthus flowers in tea. My first time trying it, it was paired with a rather bland oolong from a non-reputable dealer on eBay. It seemed generic. My second time was with Teavivre’s Osmanthus oolong, which I liked when I tried a sample of, then I ordered some and for some reason I had a change of heart. It was just so overpowering and artificial tasting to me (despite that it wasn’t artificial). I gave it to a friend. Later I had a blossoming tea, which I don’t drink often because they are usually not made with very good tea in my experience, but this one had osmanthus flowers in it and was really sweet and tasty. All that said, I just learned that Huang Jin Gui doesn’t actually HAVE osmanthus in it, but has a similar taste to it and it thusly named. Aha! Let’s give it a try.
The osmanthus scent in this tea is very light, so I think I’m on the right track to really enjoying this one. The first infusion yeilds a light, creamy brew with a hint of sunflower seed and very subtle notes of osmanthus flower that add just a touch of sweetness and a ghost of apricot flavor.
There are some VERY interesting raw puer qualities coming through in the flavor of the second infusion, or at least they are flavors I’d expect more from a raw puer. It’s hard to describe… sort of nutty with little hints of seaweed and evergreen forest, a sort of dew taste as well. There’s an almost minty hui gan sensation on the tongue after a drink.
Third steeping, this tea has a really delicate feel to it similar to a Jin Xuan. It’s kind of creamy and light. There are some hints of vanilla and clove in this infusion, though these are very light and they are paired with a light vegetal/floral on top with a nutty undertone.
By the fourth infusion the flavor is nearly gone already, so that’s no bueno. It’s very light and slightly creamy/nutty. I’ll end my review here.
This tea does remind me quite a bit of the generic vacuum packed oolongs I will get as samples when I buy teawares from vendors on eBay. They are never fantastic but sometimes enjoyable. I liked this one. It was better than some teas from really popular vendors on Steepster, but not one I’ll be interested in purchasing.
Flavors: Apricot, Clove, Creamy, Floral, Nutty, Osmanthus, Vanilla, Vegetal
With the dry leaves in a warm gaiwan, this purple leaf oolong from Tealux smells very heavily roasted with a hint of vinegar. My only experience with purple leaf tea has been with a Kenyan purple oolong that had a nice plum and berry kind of flavor but was easily over or underbrewed, getting a dirty or bland taste if you went much over or under 170F (I have no idea why this temperature is the sweet spot, but it is the one the vendor recommended and I tried many others to ensure this was the best). The tea was fussy. I also had a purple tips loose leaf raw puer from that same vendor and it had a very heavy woody tastes that was simply not for me.
Not really sure what to expect from this Taiwanese version of purple tea, the smell is priming me for sort of a Wuyi Oolong experience.
The brewed tea has about the same color as the Kenyan purple oolong I had. There’s a slight rosey tint to it. Where most oolongs would be yellowish, orange, or even greenish, this one has more of a peach/pink hint to it from the purple tint of the leaves (caused by high levels of the antioxidant anthocyanin).
The taste is just what I expected from the smell! It is really similar to Sea Dyke brand Shui Xian, a heavily roasted Wuyi oolong you can find for a really low price at Asian grocery stores. There is a great deal of roast flavor along with just a hint of dill. There’s a good deal of char taste like you’d taste on the edges of pan-fried blackened food. It has a bit of a salty finish. If there is any sweetness in this tea it is barely detectible.
Repeated infusions yeilded more of the same flavor, but stronger.
I didn’t find the flavor particularly enjoyable. If you like really roasted flavors you might.
Flavors: Char, Dill, Roasted, Vinegar