86

Wow, did not think this would hold up so long while the Pinnacle has deteriorated so much. Both are still very good, but this still tastes freakin’ awesome.

This has been vacuum-sealed (after flushing with a mix of N2, CO2, and Argon) since June and kept around 13C this whole time with very little temperature flux, so I kinda hoped it would still be good. I opened up the Pinnacle about a month ago (nearly the same storage conditions apart from a wider temp range from 13-21C) and was really disappointed with the quality drop, though I wasn’t surprised. Still good, just not wondrous.

I bought this in May and it has actually changed very little since June – especially considering Hibiki-an makes a point of selling Shincha with slightly higher moisture content. Even after vacuum-sealing, most of ‘em decline sharply around 6 months.

Brewed 7g leaf per 200g 75C water in a non-porous Kyusu with about 2cm headspace. Three back-to-back 1 minute infusions with water 92-89C in the kettle weighed out into a glass Chahai to settle down to 80C for pouring onto the tea, which evenly knocked down to 74-76C in the Kyusu.

This still smells and tastes great. Mellowed out from the potent vibrancy it once had, but it’s more approachable this way. Also, the bitterness is a tad lighter and sweetness a little higher (particularly in third infusion).

Leaves are bright “radioactive” green with stripes of green-yellow and folds closer to hunter green. Looks a lot like strips of grass cut lengthwise into quarter-widths. Somewhat lower percentage of small broken bits than most Senchas… Actually a little less than my bag of Pinnacle, which may be a part of why one staled a bit more.

Dry fragrance is like a watered lawn in spring. Wet leaf aroma is the smell from the mulch bag after mowing that lawn. Liquor aroma is the smell of an overgrown yard after a shower or heavy watering on a warm day (about the same smell from a rice field) and a tinge of hay or the smell that comes off a tatami mat.

Really good body for Sencha. Right at the higher end of what I’d call medium body for the first infusion. Light, crisp acidity and faint astringency are both evocative of Jade Rice. There’s this rich pollen character in the first infusion that drops to coyote bush flower notes in the second and light carnation notes in the third infusion. Very refreshing, lightly grassy-floral with a lingering vegetal sweetness. Second infusion has a light tartness like a bing cherry, but it’s just an accent note. The third infusion’s finish is surprisingly evocative of the finish left by peanut butter on wheat toast… Now that’s a characteristic I’ve never gotten nor expected of a Japanese green! Just a light accent in the third infusion’s aftertaste, but really pleasant and interesting. It sticks around for several minutes, too. Yummy and unexpected.

This is an excellent tea that is a great call-out to spring. It’s kind of uncomfortably warm out today, so I’m in summer-tea mode. Yesterday was 26C out! I guess California’s skipping straight from Autumn to Summer with only a couple weeks of spring-like winter between. As a foul weather outdoorsperson, I’m a little at a loss for my usual birding, hiking and kayaking season, but it is certainly helping me burn through my holdout green teas that are hiding about.

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

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Bio

Tea Geek.

My focus is on Chinese Wulongs and Pu’er but I’m all over the place. I tend to follow a seasonal progression of teas, following the freshness curve of greens through summer and rounding the cooler months out with toastier teas and Masala Chai.
With the exception of Masala Chai milk tea I’m a purist at heart. While I was originally snagged by Earl Grey with bergamot and make blends for gifts, I very rarely go for scented teas or herbals and can’t remember the last time I bought a tea that was blended. Pure tea is just more interesting to me than the product of mixing flavors. I do understand and appreciate their existence, though.

I upload some blends I make or special prep teas I nab under the company name “Green Raven Tea and Coffee” and the vast majority of these posts will be blends crafted to create flavors/characteristics not inherent in any one particular tea.
I’ve worked as a tea buyer for a smallish cafe and try to keep apprized of shifts in offerings even when not selecting for a business so I wind up sampling a ton of wholesale samples from a couple companies in particular but try to branch out to as many companies as I can find. Until Steepster integrates some form of comparative tasting feature, none of my cupping notes will make it onto my reviews unless wrapped up into something I feel compelled to drink multiple times on its own.



Since all the cool kids are doing it, here’s my big fat ratings scheme:

0-12…..Ugh, don’t wish on anyone
13-25….Bad, won’t touch again
26-37….Huh, not worth the effort
38-50….Meh, unremarkable
51-62….Okay, good tea
63-75….Tasty, really good tea
76-87….Yum, wonderful
88-100…Wow, really spectacular

There shouldn’t be many postings at all from me ranked 26-50 since unremarkable teas are unlikely to make me remark on ’em but to “earn” a score 37 or below I have to be disappointed to the point where others may ask for a refund or turn down offers even when free or offered as a gift (beyond stale).

I’ve got a ton of respect for anything rated 63 or higher.

For a tea to get 71 or more, it has to be pretty special and kinda blow my socks off.

The 90s are reserved for wonders that make me reevaluate my views of the world of tea as a whole.

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Santa Rosa, California, United States

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