280 Tasting Notes

80

This shincha surprised me because of how deep-steamed that it is. I would pretty much say ‘super’ deep steamed, because there are very, very, few whole needles. I was a bit surprised at that, because typically, if you have lower-quality leaf material to begin with, deep steaming helps to offset that fact and you end up with a pretty tasty tea in the end.

I assume that shincha is comprised of the youngest leaves and buds that have the most nutrients and flavor of all the harvests in the year (ie, pretty good leaf material to begin with), so that is why I was a little surprised at how deeply steamed it is. Is that really necessary?

It makes for a very yummy tea, but it’s hard for me to tell it is a shincha. The thick brothy consistency, the strong veggie and semi-toasted flavors overpower any of the fresh, young, bitterness I expected. Actually, it reminds me very much of two of Den’s Tea: Fukamushi Yame and Maromi.

While I personally don’t know what differentiates this tea from a regular first flush sencha, it is still good and a decent price. There is a little bit of sweetness mixed with a nice astringency in the aftertaste, and though it doesn’t laste long in the throat (like Shincha Houryoku by Den’s Tea), it is very pleasant and enjoyable.

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 0 min, 45 sec
Cole

Either they’re using the dregs of the shincha barrel and steaming the crap out of them, or else they really take the “deep steaming” to heart. I usually don’t get as much of that “fresh bitterness” from fuka teas, but I can see where you’d feel like it was a bit of a lost opportunity with the shincha they started with.

I really enjoyed the Fukamushi Yame I had a while back, but was utterly underwhelmed by the sample of Maromi I tried the other day. Sounds like this one isn’t too bad, but I think I’ll stick with the Houryoku for now. Can’t get that aftertaste out of my head!

Shinobi_cha

Yeah, this is good, but both Yame and Houryoku are (esp. the latter) much better. I actually liked Maromi, as it was almost a mix of sencha and houjicha, but not sure I’d order it.

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98
drank Shincha Kunpu by Den's Tea
280 tasting notes

Found excellent alternative parameters today that are worth sharing for this tea.
The flavor was so good and stayed in the throat for quite a while after the tea was gone.

4g, 4oz water – I poured water (which was boiling in the kettle) into my teacup, then immediately poured it into the kyusu. So, it wasn’t quite boiling, but close. Then I just let it sit 30 seconds and decanted. There was very little bitterness (less than normal, which I like anyway, if you brew at 160F for 1.5 minutes), but very strong, sweet, deliciousness!
The second steeping, I did the same, but near-boiling for just 15 seconds. This time, I got a flavor that I’ve never had in a green tea before – honey! Well, if I have had honey-likeness before, it was never this strong; I seriously wondered if somehow I had accidentally gotten a drip of honey in my cup (I didn’t as the honey was far away in a cupboard). Nonetheless, this honey like flavor lasted the entire cup, and was present for the 3rd steeping, too.

Because of how good this tea was, and how versatile it’s been (delicious at 140F for 1min 45 seconds, 160F 1.5 mins, and now near-boiling for 30 seconds) I’m upping the rating.

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99

Opening the package revealed the most beautiful green needles I’ve ever seen (that weren’t hand rolled ‘temomi’). They were long and uniform, and the package contained very little broken leaves.

I’m just on my 2nd steep, and it is so delicious. It has that fresh bitterness of shincha, but is well balanced – smooth, sweet, thick, nice umami and a little bit of fresh veggies.

After the cup is empty, my throat is still full of sweetness and a tiny hint of the bitterness; such great tea!

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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97

As Maiko’s description states, this has quite potent sweetness, yet it is very smooth. Other gyokuro I’ve had, the sweetness was good far too powerful. The sweetness of this tea is intense, but at the same time mellow; perhaps it’s more accurate to say the sweetness fills one’s mouth, but is simply delightful.

The second steeping was less sweet, but again was extremely smooth and balanced, marine and umami and sweet, but none was too much.

Even though I did the first steeping with ice cold water, I think it would actually be better with warm (140F); , the icy water method is good, but doesn’t yield as intense a liquor, and I think warm and mellow just go better together (2nd steep and on I did do warm/hot but still).

This was very good! Hope to get to try some again some day.

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more
Shinobi_cha

If you’d like to try their 5 high quality gyokuro set, look here: http://www.maiko.ne.jp/english/shopping/yamashita-gyokuro.htm – Scroll to 5 High Quality Gyokuro set. It’s not as cheap as when I got it on sale (about $31 for 5 samples, 8g each), but it’s not terrible if you compare to the cost of buying them individually. It will probably go on sale again next spring.

Jesse Örö

Interesting this concept of kuradashi cha, I had never heard of it before.

Shinobi_cha

Yeah, my experience with kuradashi cha so far has been very good! (2 gyokuro and one sencha)

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98
drank Shincha Kunpu by Den's Tea
280 tasting notes

Yay for 2011 Shincha!

I was surprised by the leaf of this asamushi (light-steamed) shincha; I mean, I assume it is light steamed. There were some extremely long, beautiful needles, but also a lot of smaller, broken-up bits. To me, that suggests this is perhaps not just lightly steamed, but maybe mid-steamed (chumushi) or between asa and chu…
So that surprised me a little, as I was expecting to find mostly needles.

I also brewed this a little lower than the suggested 160F (it wasn’t intentional, but I knew it was happening and just went with it). However, the color came out to a beautiful greenish-yellow, just like the color of the smiley face you see when you rate a tea (the one without the tongue sticking out). The color of the liquor, however, (for all 1st-4th infusions) confirmed that this is definitely not a deep-steamed tea.

Upon first sip, I was reminded of the first time I had shincha, one year ago. A very fun memory, and cool that even though I had forgotten the way it tasted, one sip was all it took to bring back the moment!

The flavor, that I can say after this one brewing, was a nice balance of bitter, sweet, and steamed veggies (very much like fresh snap peas) – Den’s Tea describes it as “a sweetness like very fresh green vegetables”, and I’d say that is very accurate.

I look forward to having more/experimenting with different ways of brewing it. Glad that it is shincha season again; even though our modern-day storage methods keep tea just as fresh for a year or more as the stuff that is newly harvested, there is still something special about drinking a tea that was harvested just last week!

Preparation
150 °F / 65 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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87
drank Hoji Cha by Sugimoto America
280 tasting notes

This is an awesome houjicha! Complex, sweet, mellow, smooth, delicious. I’ve had it before, but that was just one tea bag and so there wasn’t enough leaf. It could have gone longer, but it lasted three, full-flavor infusions. As good as the best houjichas I’ve had to-date (with one exception, Tencha-kuki houjicha from Den’s Tea, but that’s almost in a category of it’s own). In summary: thumbs up! Glad I have 2 oz!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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82

(See also http://steepster.com/teas/coffeeam/18137-gyokuro-asahi?post=75734)
I finally finished this one up, and I finally realized something unique, possibly strange, about it. It is astringent! Now, I’ve read (and it’s usually matched my limited experience) that because gyokuro is shaded, it’s usually not astringent. However, the astringency of this gyokuro is not unpleasant, just not what I expected.

However, this tea does have a very nice sweetness in the throat that becomes much more pronounced once your mouth is empty. It remains a couple minutes even after the cup is finished. That is the nicest thing about this tea, since I don’t think the flavors were well-balanced, nor was it smooth or deliciously sweet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a pretty good tea actually, but I’d say this is middle-end for quality.

Preparation
140 °F / 60 °C 2 min, 15 sec

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82
drank Gyokuro Asahi by CoffeeAM
280 tasting notes

I finally finished this one up, and I finally realized something unique, possibly strange, about it. It is astringent! Now, I’ve read (and it’s usually matched my limited experience) that because gyokuro is shaded, it’s usually not astringent. However, the astringency of this gyokuro is not unpleasant, just not what I expected.

However, this tea does have a very nice sweetness in the throat that becomes much more pronounced once your mouth is empty. It remains a couple minutes even after the cup is finished. That is the nicest thing about this tea, since I don’t think the flavors were well-balanced, nor was it smooth or deliciously sweet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a pretty good tea actually, but I’d say this is middle-end for quality.

Preparation
140 °F / 60 °C 2 min, 15 sec

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77
drank Maruyama by Maiko
280 tasting notes

I had a lot of trouble getting a sense of this tea—specifically, deciding whether and how much I like it. But now that I’ve gone through all 100g, I think I can finally review. Part of my problem was that others who have reviewed this tea really seemed to enjoy it, so I had certain expectations.

It took quite a while to find the right brewing parameters (for my own liking at least). I tried first for a typical sencha – 160 for 1.5 minutes — it produced an extremely strong vegetal soup and aroma (what I imagined to be from nitrogen-blasted plants). While I like umami in tea, this was far too powerful to enjoy.

I actually I just realized the problem though—it was out of balance. Perhaps if there had been more sweetness, marine, pine, lemon, bitterness, or even a sense of astringency all working together, it would have balanced out the over-cooked veggie taste this seemed to have. But that just seemed to take over. Unlike other senchas that get more bitter with hotter temps, this tea seems to get more veggie.

However, I did finally try brewing this lower, at 150 for 1 minute. There still was a sense of drinking tea that came from a plant that was heavily fertilized (as I said before ‘nitrogen-blasted’), but there was more balance and subtle flavors that were enjoyable.

In the end, I would say I enjoyed this tea and didn’t have to force myself to drink it, but I won’t buy it again. I’m sure that’s just my own personal preference.

Preparation
150 °F / 65 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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98

The leaves of this tea are beautifully long, thin, and dark green.
After waiting 15 minutes for the water at nearly freezing to unfurl the leaves, the resulting ‘broth’ was very pleasingly sweet and extra smooth. Opening the lid of the kyusu, the wet leaves wafted strongly marine and even peppery aromas, but the tea only had some hints of that flavor; actually I found that quite nice, because the pure green smoothness and sweetness were quite nice enough.

Further steepings (#3 at this point) have all been full of flavor. Not quite as sweet or smooth, the marine or seaweed quality stronger, but still much more of a ‘broth’ still than simply leaf-infused water. There is a bit of returning sweetness in the throat too…

Hopefully I’ll get another 2-3 steeps out of it before it’s gone. What a nice sample!

(part of the Maiko Tea Yamashita Gyokuro sample set, which I found on sale earlier this spring)

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more

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