280 Tasting Notes
I had this for the first time yesterday; yet another of the free samples that Thes du Japon included in my order.
Wow! I mean, I knew from the description that it would taste or be reminiscent of an Oolong, but wow. The dry leaves filled the whole mini-package full of a flowery ali shan or tie guan yin aroma. The leaves were also very much intact, some as long as 1" (before infusion!).
I was a little intrigued by their infusion directions – 158F, 40 seconds, 3-4g per 70ml (2+oz), because it looked like they were for a fukamushi sencha. But, I heeded them.
And, this tasted just like a green oolong up front (flowery), followed by the nice refreshing bitter-sweetness of sencha.
I am very impressed… I just kept taking sips couldn’t believe this was a Japanese green tea! The fragrance and flavor were very strong and pleasant.
Interestingly, the wet leaves opened up huge to show mostly whole leaves, and many of them had a lot of browning along the edges, as a result of the withering/partial-oxidation process.
What a fun experience! This is an awesome, unique tea, and I look forward to comparing this sample, to the other micro-oxidized tea that I actually bought from them.
This came as a free (unexpected) sample, in my first order from Thes du Japon.
(Actually, they included 3x this tea, and 4 others!). I love free samples. But, I guess, who doesn’t?
Not surprisingly, this tea reminds me very much of ‘Fukamushi Sencha Yame’ from Den’s Tea. It has that familiar, slightly-roasted aroma and flavor, that I love so much. This tea is apparently light-steamed, though the leaves are more broken up than what I’ve come to expect from a typical asamushi (ie from Uji or Honyama, etc.). Anyway, perhaps it’s on the ‘deeper’ end of light-steamed teas.
The aroma continues to be strong, and very enjoyable through three steepings. As their description states, I think anyone new to green teas, who likes a strong flavor, would enjoy this. It doesn’t have any of the typical bitterness that can turn people off of green tea.
For a first impression, this is definitely a good one. So far, I like teas from Yame, the extra ‘hi ire’ that seems to be typical of their Sencha (I think that’s the word for the roasting) is unique, and I just happen to really enjoy it.
Finally drank the last of this today. Used a lot of leaf (probably slightly more than 1g/oz). The flavor had clear notes of sweet orange/citrus, and left a delicious aftertaste that lasted (I kept noticing the flavor in my mouth, even 15 – 30 minutes later, which was really a surprise).
This is an excellent shincha. I hope they offer it next year!
This is a good tea, even better iced actually.
Its easy to brew, turns out well at 170, 180, and boiling… probably other temperatures, too. It isn’t bitter (at least in my experience), but has a nice fresh, grassy, semi-sweet flavor, that’s a little astringent.
(This is definitely worth the price, though, if I was looking for a tea from Den’s at this price range, I’d probably go for Green Kukicha instead, as that is even better!).
Wasn’t I surprised by this tea?
This was the last and final tea of the gyokuro sampler from Maiko tea, that I bought when it was on sale towards the beginning of the year… otherwise, I never would have tried this, as it is just too expensive. In the sampler though, it became much more reasonable. Anyway, I simply went through each tea, from the ‘lowest quality’ (though all 5 were, according to Maiko, of exceptional quality) to now this, the supposed ‘highest quality’.
In fact, this is not just supposed to be a extremely unique and well-made tea, but it’s also entirely made by hand (instead of a machine rolling the leaves, it’s all rolled by hand).
But, to my surprise, this wasn’t my favorite of the 5.
Now, the trouble with samplers, is that you only get one shot… so if you mess up the brewing, you’ll never know. I usually think I need at least 50g before I can get a decent idea about a tea, so, this review is hardly sufficient.
Nevertheless, while this was definitely delicious, and high quality (in terms of my own experience only, which is limited), it wasn’t nearly as good as the two others from the sampler that are supposedly not quite as decadent.
Once I opened the small bag, it had a very nice, pure sweetness to the smell. The sweetness actually masked the expected marine gyokuro aroma I’ve come to expect. This was very nice, and made me look forward what I hoped would be pure, sweet, and subtle.
The first steeping was good (around 120F for 2+ minutes, 8g sample to 2oz water); there was a soft sweetness present, and I felt like there was a lot going on – macademia nuts, a hint of cherry, and definitely a salty marine/seaweed— more like stir-fried bok choy. However, instead of the tea leaving a strong sweetness in my mouth after the first cup was over, it left a strong, somewhat nutty flavor. None of the pure sweetness that I detected in the aroma. I enjoyed it, but it was strange, not what I expected from gyokuro.
I enjoyed the color of the tea, which was a pale yellow. The 2nd and 3rd steepings, (I went up to 5, but the last two were unremarkable) were decent, the 2nd similar to the first just less intense, the third finally added some of that sweetness I detected in the aroma as well. But, nothing to knock one’s socks of or to pay as much as they’re asking.
One last thing that surprised me about this tea, is that, though it is supposedly hand-rolled, it was nothing like Sugimoto America’s Temomi Shincha (that I had last year). That tea was simply perfect, whole, rolled up leaves that were not broken at all. This tea had many long leaves, but also plenty of small bits and other broken leaves. It just didn’t look like temomicha… though again, my experience is limited.
To conclude this rather long note, I’d say if you’re really splurging, go for Yamshita’s Takumi, Nomigoro, Shuppin, or Jirushi (all of these I’ve posted notes of here on Steepster)… or just go for the sampler, as it is well worth the money. As for this offering though… the jury’s still out.
I have been wanting to try this tea for quite a while (about a year).
When shincha season came up this year, and I saw that Den’s Tea was not offering it, I was disappointed… but then I discovered that one can order from their Parent Co. directly in Japan (though, it is a bit tricky to do so).
And with the help of Google translate, I saw they were selling this tea!
It has intrigued me for several reasons; first, it is a high elevation tea, and that often can mean good quality. Second, the method and care described by which the farmer, Sugiyama, goes about growing the tea was fascinating and the results just called out to be experienced. Finally, this tea is not the usual Japanese green tea cultivar, Yabukita. Instead it is ‘Zairai’ which I’ve wanted to try for some time, as well.
My first time having Zairai though, was not this tea, but Obubu (they offer a few, but their best of this cultivar is Sencha of the Earth, definitely recommend!).
Anyway, Zairai is quite interesting to me because it is actually the original tea cultivar that was brought from China (at least, if I’m remembering correctly) when tea was introduced to Japan.
This shincha has been excellent so far. The aroma of the dry leaf is especially strong and delicious. I typically enjoy the smell of dry leaf, but it is often not very pronounced until the leaves have been brewed for the first time. Not so with this tea!
It smells strongly of pine, somewhat sweet, somewhat (pleasantly) bitter—just irresistible.
I’ve managed to get three good infusions out of it each time. I might be able to get a decent fourth, but haven’t had the time to usually do so.
The tea reminds me of Sencha Zuiko (also by Den’s Tea), but it is less like fresh-baked bread, and more pine and lemon. There are probably other nuances to it that I can’t remember right now, but I’ve enjoyed every cup.
My intrigue in this tea has not been disappointed!
Thanks to Cole for the sample of this. This is the only other Sakura sencha that I’ve ever had (the first, and still favorite, being from Den’s).
The fact that this is mostly kukicha makes this fun (and different from the true sencha version of the other). The aroma is really strong and probably the best thing about this tea. The flavor of cherry is definitely present, but not overpowering… actually it’s pretty amazing that this has such a nice flavor and aroma without anything other than sakura leaves (no flavors, oils, etc.). Nothing wrong with flavoring of course, but it surprised me.
There really is nothing to not like about this tea. It is one of those things that anyone would enjoy, from those who only know tea as coming from a bag, to those who drink “the real stuff” all the time.
This is a very enjoyable, great quality fukamushi sencha, all around.
It’s isn’t quite as good as a few others I’ve had, but looking at the price O-cha asks, as others have said, it is great value. I would buy it. I’ve gotten 3 excellent steeps out of it today, and can probably get a decent 4th.
Thanks Cole for the good-sized sample!
Thanks to Cole for the nice sample!
This tea is very similar to O-cha’s (formerly offered) organic sencha, Okitsugawa Supreme.
Meaning, I found it to be a nice-tasting sencha, but unremarkable, or just simple. Since it’s not obtainable anymore (at least currently), it won’t make for a good everyday organic sencha…but if it was available, I’d say it would make a good every day green tea.