160 Tasting Notes

80
drank Classic Matcha by Red Leaf Tea
160 tasting notes

This matcha whisked up in a jif and smells nice and sweet. The flavor is a nice balance of vegetal, sweet, and bitter. This is a very well-balanced matcha so it is aptly named if it’s considered the “classic”. The color is a deep foresty green. There’s a bit of tanginess or sourness that lingers on the tongue after a sip, similar to lemon juice.

This one is actually pretty good. It has all the qualities I’ve been finding in the different matcha teas from Red Leaf all rolled into one, a good intermediary.

Flavors: Astringent, Grass, Sour, Sweet, Tangy, Vegetal

Preparation
165 °F / 73 °C 0 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 3 OZ / 88 ML

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72
drank Imperial Matcha by Red Leaf Tea
160 tasting notes

Whoa! I have to admit I was not at all prepared for this. I almost spit the matcha out after whisking it up and drinking a deep sip of it simply because I did not expect the reaction it had in my mouth. As soon as I felt this very tingly, intense vegetal presence in my mouth I was expecting an intense bitterness to follow. It is definitely astringent, but surprisingly not in the bitter sense. It’s like biting into a grapefruit wedge. It makes your tongue prickle and your mouth pucker, though the flavor is much more akin to seaweed or bok choy.

This one was really shocking. My description probably sounds kind of wonky. As far as matcha goes, this was a close encounter of the Third Kind. Really unexpected. Very intense flavor.

The Anaconda Malt Liquor of matcha teas right here… Gives ya WOOO!

Flavors: Bok Choy, Grapefruit, Seaweed

Preparation
165 °F / 73 °C 0 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 3 OZ / 88 ML
TeaBrat

sounds like fun… :-p

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70
drank Royal Matcha by Red Leaf Tea
160 tasting notes

This matcha had a very mouth-filling taste and texture. It is bold in a sense, but in a very easy-to-handle kind of way. I really can’t pin down what flavors this has. Mostly it is sort of green and reminds me of tree leaves and fresh tree wood. There’s also a bit of metallic or mineral taste and a very subtle bitterness in the aftertaste that is definitely not too much for me.

This one was interesting. Nothing particularly stood out to me. It all seemed like one big bold mouth-filling flavor. It was a really different experience than I’ve had with Red Leaf’s other matchas, so I liked it. On the other hand, nothing stood out enough to make me particularly enthusiastic about it.

Flavors: Forest Floor, Mineral

Preparation
165 °F / 73 °C 0 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 3 OZ / 88 ML

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85
drank Sencha of the Wind by Obubu Tea
160 tasting notes

I couldn’t tell you what went wrong the first time I brewed this. I am brewing it just the same way but with more leaf to water ratio than the last time. Last time I tasted some relatively strong bitterness in the finish but that is not evident at all this time, so I’m leaving a new review with a higher rating.

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 definite umami richness with a vegetal taste and there’s a subtle honey-like smell in the cup after emptying it. There is no bitterness in the sip, but just a bit of a lasting bitterness after you swallow the tea.

Like some other sencha I’ve tried from Obubu, the second infusion has a bit of a minty hint in the finish. The tiny bitter hints are 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.

Flavors: Sweet, Sweet, warm grass, Umami

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 1 min, 0 sec 3 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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66
drank Tofuku Matcha by Red Leaf Tea
160 tasting notes

This is one of the more complex tasting matcha from Red Leaf Tea. The flavor starts sweet and then it gets a little roasty tasting, finishing in more sweetness accompanied by a pretty moderate dose of bitterness. There are sweet bready notes to it and notes of fresh sweet grasses and flowers.

This matcha is pretty good overall. It whisks and foams well, the color is a nice deep emerald green, and the flavor is not dull or uninteresting. The one downside of it to me is the bitterness which lingers on your tongue for a while after the sip, but oddly there is a sweetness that lingers there too, so the flavor is two-fold.

I’d say it’s a good brisk wake-me-up matcha for people who like a stronger beverage. I tend to stray from bitter flavors though, so I’ll pass on purchasing this one. I will, however, savor the samples I have left. :3

Flavors: Baked Bread, Bitter, Sweet, Sweet, warm grass

Preparation
165 °F / 73 °C 0 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 3 OZ / 88 ML

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37
drank Tenryu Matcha by Red Leaf Tea
160 tasting notes

Here is another tea from Red Leaf that just didn’t want to froth. The foam depleted and disappeared within moments, despite getting a pretty heavy froth going with very tiny bubbles. The color is sort of an olive drab.

This one has a sort of tangy bitterness to it. It’s hard to describe. There’s a really subtle hint of a honey like flavor but it gets overtaken by the bitterness in the finish of the sip. This tea has a bit of a sourness to it like biting into a lemon. It’s interesting. More unique in flavor than the Shokuku was, but also not as agreeable, and overall not one I would recommend for sitting and drinking. Might be good for the kitchen.

Flavors: Bitter, Grass, Sour

Preparation
165 °F / 73 °C 0 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 2 OZ / 59 ML

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40
drank Shokuku Matcha by Red Leaf Tea
160 tasting notes

This matcha does not foam well. I tried twice to be sure it wasn’t a user error, used much less water to powder ratio the second time and got the same result. The foam simply dissolves very quickly after whisking it. The color is a sort of sludgy algae green.

The taste isn’t bad. It’s a subtle grassy kind of taste with little notes of weeds, hay, and earth. It’s not bitter at all, which is nice.

This seems like kitchen-grade matcha to me, so I do not recommend it for anyone looking to drink it by whisking in a chawan. Maybe those looking for something to mix into lattes or desserts would like this one. It has a rather straightforward grassy taste with little hints of sweetness that linger on the tongue.

Flavors: Earth, Grass, Hay

Preparation
165 °F / 73 °C 0 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 2 OZ / 59 ML

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Alright, I’ve completed the full Yunomi/Kurihara Tea Farm gyokuro tour!

This time I used the brewing instructions on the packet. I had thought they were the same as the ones I had found online. I like to cross-reference things before I brew something new because I’ve had plenty of vendor suggestions that were flat out awful ways to brew their tea (I’m lookin at you Adagio).

Anyway, Yunomi sent me a printout on Gyokuro steeping method and it is identical to the one on a Japanese blog I found called Tales of Japanese Tea. I used this method for the first three samples and boy was it intense (too much for me)! It took me till the last sample to notice that the printed suggestions on the packets are just slightly lower leaf to water ratio and produce a bit less intense of a result, so I used the printed method from the packet this time. It still makes a very small amount of tea like the other “traditional” methods I found, very thick and syrupy, but not quite as potent and harsh on my poor umami-starved western palate.

The difference in the leaf to water ratio between the two steeping methods I have tried for gyokuro now is about a 40% difference in intensity, so it made quite a difference.

But anyway, with this slightly lighter preparation method, I could really taste and enjoy the umami flavor more without the bitterness overwhelming me. The overall scent of the tea was like sweet vegetation and seaweed, and the taste was like meat or a really rich broth made from boiled bones.

I’m still not going to rate this stuff because it is just so new to me and I haven’t had enough gyokuro to really know the good from the bad. I can say it was a really interesting experience and pretty fun to try. For the price of this stuff though, I highly doubt I’ll ever be buying a full order of it. I prefer more aromatic teas to these heavily umami intense Japanese ones. It’s not that I don’t like it. I do. I just have to really love it for the price these fetch, and I don’t think I really love it… yet.

Flavors: Broth, Meat, Umami, Vegetal

Preparation
2 min, 0 sec 4 g 2 OZ / 65 ML
TeaBrat

I got an email from Yunami today that Obubu is 20% off – tempting!

Lion

Yeah a friend of mine was telling me that too! My best advice is to cross-check any teas you might be interested in buying directly on Obubu’s website and not just on Yunomi’s, because their prices are around 30%-60% cheaper than Yunomi’s on every Obubu tea I’ve looked at.

www.obubutea.com

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This review is mostly a clone of the last one, because the differences were minute in my experience.

Before you read my review, just know that I am brewing this the traditional Japanese way, which is very flavor-intense and different than the way most Westerners brew Gyokuro.

Here’s a very short article about what the difference is:
http://everyonestea.blogspot.com/2014/02/gyokuro-is-not-something-to-drink.html

And the brewing method is here: http://everyonestea.blogspot.com/2010/10/how-to-brew-gyokuro.html

It is also the same leaf to water ratio that was recommended in the gyokuro tip sheet Yunomi sent me with the teas… so I guess this is at least a somewhat common method in Japan.

I mention this because my first gyokuro review had a lot of people wondering why my experience with the tea was so much different than theirs. This is primarily why.

Of the Kurihara Tea Farm gyokuro sampler, so far this one had the least bitterness and some lingering sweetness with the incredibly intense umami that accompanies it. The flavor is intense, fills your mouth very quickly, and it takes a long time just to sip a tiny 20-30ml cup of it. It’s a really interesting experience. It resteeps okay once, but after that you’re digging into the bitter flavors in the leaf quite a bit so I really only drank two infusions of it.

It made a delicious green tea salad afterward.

I’ve decided not to rate Gyokuro teas unless I find myself really loving one. I believe in trying to appreciate them with the traditional method of brewing instead of diluting it to suit my tastes because I’d like to learn how and why this tea is usually appreciated in Japan, and so far the traditional method is just so new and abstract to me that it is very difficult for me to tell if I enjoy it or not. I think the quality of these teas is good, but I cannot particularly evaluate them because the flavor and feeling of this tea is just so unlike anything else I’ve ever had. It can be a little overwhelming, but it is also very savory and enjoyable in some aspects.

If you’ve never used the traditional method to prepare gyokuro, I recommend doing it at least once. It’s a trip. It produces a very thick and syrupy broth that you can sip on very slowly and the flavor will remain in your mouth for literally hours after drinking it.

Flavors: Grass, Umami, Vegetal

Preparation
2 min, 0 sec 10 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Anlina

Oh wow, those are some intense brewing instructions. I can see why you’ve found the flavours a bit overwhelming. I generally use these guidelines for gyokuro and it still makes a very intense cup, with much less leaf to water: http://www.o-cha.com/brewing-gyokuro.htm

I really wanted to try the leaf salad after my last gyokuro session, but I was feeling so intensely caffeinated from just sipping the tea, I was a bit afraid to eat more than a tiny bite of the leaves.

Lion

Anlina, I wish I had realized sooner how leaf-heavy the suggestions I used were. The ones Yunomi sent me on a print out were identical to this too. They suggested 8g/80ml. Then when I finally got to the final sample of the set I noticed the print on the packaging recommends 5g/80ml (1/3 cup), which is almost a 40% reduction in the amount of leaf… I tried that on the final one and the flavor was much more reasonable. It wasn’t so intense. I definitely liked it more when it wasn’t so incredibly strong.

Lion

Also, the leaf salad is delicious, and it releases its caffeine in a pretty slow and steady manner instead of all at once like the liquids do, but it is quite a caffeine boost and I don’t recommend eating it if you are really sensitive to caffeine. I am and I had to be careful to make sure I ate plenty of other food with it so I didn’t get too intensely caffeinated.

Anlina

:nods: I’m glad you got to try at least one of the samples with a better leaf to water ratio. I hope this isn’t the end of your gyokuro adventures – I’ve been enjoying your tasting notes.

I was really impressed by how pleasant and not bitter the leaves themselves tasted. I am pretty sensitive to caffeine unfortunately. The last batch of leaves I had probably would have been okay – after I steeped them hot a bunch of times, I cold steeped them over night, which yielded an incredibly caffeinated cold brew (I made nearly 2L, and I still haven’t finished it, because even one cup makes me feel jittery.) So there probably wasn’t much caffeine left in those leaves. But I just didn’t feel like I could chance it. It’s good to know that the caffeine release of the salad is a bit slower – I may give it a try next time.

Lion

I recommend not eating all of the gyokuro salad at once. Maybe eat just a bit of it and see how you feel. You can always refrigerate the rest for later. Another thing I realized is that it will have better flavor if you pull the leaves directly out of whatever vessel they are in and put them into a bowl. The first couple times I tried it I rinsed out my kyusu so the leaves wouldn’t stick and poured all the leaves/water onto a strainer and then pressed them a bit to get the excess water out. All that extra rinsing to get them out of the pot really took out the flavor, so it is better to just pull them out with your hands I guess, even if it is tricky to get the leaves out of the little nooks and crannies of a teapot.

Kittenna

Holy crap. So much leaf for so little water. I probably don’t even have enough gyokuro in my stash to try something like this (or if I do, it’s probably on the old side). Tea leaf salad sounds intriguing though…

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Before you read my review, just know that I am brewing this the traditional Japanese way, which is very flavor-intense and different than the way most Westerners brew Gyokuro.

Here’s a very short article about what the difference is:
http://everyonestea.blogspot.com/2014/02/gyokuro-is-not-something-to-drink.html

And the brewing method is here: http://everyonestea.blogspot.com/2010/10/how-to-brew-gyokuro.html

It is also the same leaf to water ratio that was recommended in the gyokuro tip sheet Yunomi sent me with the teas… so I guess this is at least a somewhat common method in Japan.

I mention this because my first gyokuro review had a lot of people wondering why my experience with the tea was so much different than theirs. This is primarily why.

That said, on to the review. I drank this prior to writing this review so I don’t have it right in front of me and I didn’t take notes. All I can say is I actually didn’t taste a significant difference between this one and the last one I tried “#04 Standard Gyokuro (Kabusecha)” from Kurihara Tea Farm other than this one was slightly less bitter. The umami flavor is intense, fills your mouth very quickly, and it takes a long time just to sip a tiny 20-30ml cup of it. It’s a really interesting experience. It resteeps okay once, but after that you’re digging into the bitter flavors in the leaf quite a bit so I really only drank two infusions of it.

It made a delicious green tea salad afterward.

I’ve decided not to rate Gyokuro teas unless I find myself really loving one. I believe in trying to appreciate them with the traditional method of brewing instead of diluting it to suit my tastes, and so far the traditional method is just so new and abstract to me that it is very difficult for me to tell if I enjoy it or not. I think the quality of these teas is good, but I cannot particularly evaluate them because the flavor and feeling of this tea is just so unlike anything else I’ve ever had. It can be a little overwhelming, but it is also very savory and enjoyable in some aspects.

If you’ve never used the traditional method to prepare gyokuro, I recommend doing it at least once. It’s a trip.

Flavors: Grass, Umami, Vegetal

Preparation
2 min, 0 sec 10 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Bio

I’m a dedicated student and practitioner of Gongfu Cha and you can usually find me brewing my tea in a gaiwan. I tend to stick to straight teas and scented teas most often, though I dabble in tisanes and flavored blends from time to time. I use a Tokoname-ware kyusu for Japanese green teas and a chawan for matcha.

To me, tea offers a time of peace and reflection in solitude, or sharing and enjoyment with friends. It has become a huge part of my life lately.

Aside from tea, I’m a novelist and creator of all types. I love to cook, create music, write, draw, decorate, and do just about anything creative I can get my paws on. I also enjoy creating beverage recipes.

I am really interested in Asian cultures and have a much deeper interest than my shameless love for anime and Japanese video games.

I’m a friend to animals of all kinds. I couldn’t live in a world without animals. Conserving and respecting them is very important to me.

But I am mostly here on Steepster to talk tea! Let’s enjoy the world of tea together!

My Tea Ratings:
0 = Terrible
25 = Uninteresting or harsh
50 = So-So, I’m indifferent
75 = Enjoyable
100 = Incredible!

:3

Location

Kansas City, USA

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