100

Ho… Ly… Schiznitbajesushotdiggitygollygoshdangdarndamnit!

New benchmark matcha. Gotta dock the Hibiki-an Pinnacle score as scale adjustment.

Brewed with 2g in about 25-30mL water just off a boil in my summer chawan to make a koicha that pours a bit slower than wall paint but faster than honey. Unreasonably delicious. Really. Consumables have no place tasting this good and offering such a rich and satisfying an aroma and flavor presenting a HUGE progression of flavor with such a wonderful balance of sweet, bitter, sour, and umami (saltiness is absent, otherwise all bases covered in taste). I have to call it intense in expression just ‘cuase it’s koicha but it’s very mellow. Intense like a rich but mild stew with egg and baked potato. No, this doesn’t taste like stew or potato (egg is very much present though far more obvious when prepared as usucha). Heavy stuff and in a very good way.

Dark Jadeite coloration makes other matcha look yellowish by comparison (Forest/Jungle Green compared to Kelly/Emerald Green). Deep color goes hand-in-hand with the heavy, rich fragrance of greenery and a touch of hothouse flowers in the dry fragrance.

Pushed through a sieve with the chashaku into the bowl.

Wetted it whisks easily and even forms a hint of a froth layer despite how thick it is. Doesn’t clump and flows well. Texture is thick and eggy and silky smooth.
All kinds of greenery characteristics come out in this ranging from Nori and Wakame Seaweeds to cucumbers to kale to steamed cauliflower and broccoli florets to edamame to heaped piles of moist freshly mown grass to celery to honeydew melon flesh and watermelon skin. Aroma feels like it leads the way into the mouth followed by the initial shock of flavor and then wave after wave of shifting masses of flavor encompassing the above and mixed with various florals that I honestly didn’t feel needed to be disseminated out from the bunch as any combination would not really mesh to give a good approximation of the impression. In general, take the smell of a warm spring day of all the smells across a field, evergreen forest ravine, and the fresh air off a seaside bluff and mix with the heady impression of a hothouse with flowers, large-foliage orchids and bromeliads, and Nepenthes and then mix with the fresh crisp smell of a cut flower shop and fresh produce stand. Then take this swirling, shifting mass and let it flow at you like a heavy ocean fog rolling over and up a hillside into you in waves of clearing then intensifying mists and breezes and vapor. Ever hike Point Reyes or Big Sur on a warm late spring – early summer day giving way to a cool evening as the fog reclaims the land? Marin Headlands north of San Francisco and the Carmel/Monterey area sort of get this too, but it’s the oceanside hills in the coniferous forest bands that really get this effect. But yeah – that. In your mouth. With added awesome levels of epicosity.

Now I need to go off and find a higher grade matcha to force my benchmark higher since I know there’s way better out there. I’ve heard good things about Way of Tea and I know a couple folks who teach Japanese Tea Ceremonies who I told I wasn’t into the full ceremony but if experiencing better tea than this is the reward than I think I can deal with some leg pain and cramping from sitting seiza.

I also took the remnant koicha, diluted it to about usucha strength and whisked for a pleasant but light matcha. Did a second round on the stronger side of usucha for a superb and more cucumber-kale focused matcha. This tea reeeeeally does best as thick tea, though.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C
Bonnie

Having been in all those places and know in my memory the smells of the Marin Headlands and Carmel/Monterey with the pine/sea/sand-salt…brine and everything else…even the flower growers…I can’t imagine this in a tea. Where is the have to try this button. BAM!

Thomas Smith

Hahaha, agreed.
Keep a mind that those greenery flavors greatly supersede the floral ones and sort of envelop them all. It’s pretty darn difficult to disseminate characteristics in koicha since it’s so freakin’ thick and laden with so much flavor (good or bad). The mashup aromas described here are mostly a precursor and intertwined ephemeral quality with the heavy greenery of the liquor. The only actual aromatic cues that I was able to glean for myself were Coastal California Poppy, Lowland Nepenthes pitchers in a hothouse, and Orchid… Though only the first is the smell from the flower – the others are foliage.

Thomas Smith

But yes. I’d say “Must. Buy!” But I’m left wanting to find out what is even better still since I know this is actually somewhere near middle-quality range.

Bonnie

That’s scary! I used to work in a winery in California, and sometimes even the aroma of some tea’s is someone punched me in the nose it’s so complex and powerful! Wine can be like an elevator that has lost power. All of a sudden, you’re falling rapidly through flavors trying to catch each one in your memory.
Tea is rarely like wine but this one seems to have been that type of experience for you. A better one…oh my?!

Azzrian

I almost placed an order with them last night but was not exactly sure what I wanted – was looking for creamy and buttery teas, then with the cost could not risk not loving what I got.

Thomas Smith

@Bonnie — What winery and whereabouts? I’ve lived in Petaluma most of my life, just recently moved a tad north to Santa Rosa, and work at a company based in Healdsburg so I’m just a hop, skip, and a jump to quite a few wineries.

I had a Dian Hong the other day from Zomia Tea that seriously had an aspect similar to the aroma of walking through a cellar with Chardonnay in French Oak, though stone fruit was dominant over it. Maybe not quite like wine, but related to it!
Yeah, it can be tough picking through the more assertive teas and wines. In matcha it’s way easier to pick apart when prepared as thin tea; for koicha the consistency is thicker than many forms of paint or melted chocolate so it takes an already assertive tea type and compresses everything and then the body actually inhibits your ability to figure out where in the mouth would typically be highlighted the most (kind of a big thing for me). This particular tea coats the mouth like sipping cocoa and goes down with a similar pleasant light bitterness and overall smoothness. Didn’t think to say that earlier as I was sorta lost in the texture and didn’t bother trying to relate it apart from it being silky and lacking in clumps. On that note, I’m going to edit a typo I noticed – I brewed with about 1oz water, which is about 28mL not 15mL!

Thomas Smith

@ Azzrian — I’ve tried and loved their Gyokuro, Kabusecha, and Sencha offerings but this is the first time having a matcha from them appropriate for koicha. I had always thought Gyokuro was their strongest suit and some do match what you are looking for (when brewed with lukewarm water).

Bonnie

Well, I’ve stayed in Windsor 5 or 6 times but my family (dad) was from Yountville and brothers moved to Napa later. My cousin Norma has a vineyard in Ukiah contracted to Beaulieu Vineyard (where my dad trimmed vines in the 1930’s as a child). (I love going to Calistoga to visit the wineries close by and the small Russian Orthodox Church and Monastery attached with the gardens planted by the Priest who is a botanist.) I worked at Fortino’s in Gilroy (Santa Clara County) but would venture South to Paso Robles for the sunny fruity ‘Reds’ I love. (that’s were I had some of the most spectacular multi-leveled wines). Along the Sonoma Wine Trail I liked visiting the organic growers and Gloria Ferrer for the Asian Garden (I have a bio pic that I use now and then of me looking over a small bridge that was taken there). Do they still BBQ oysters in Healdsburg at the Brewery on Friday nights? That with beer…nice!

Azzrian

Thank you Thomas!

Geoffrey Norman

I just drooled a little.

Thomas Smith

I haven’t dined much in Healdsburg, but hear Bear Republic is a good brewery and restaurant – if they do barbecued oysters I’m going to have to start visiting! That’s right around the corner from work at Flying Goat Coffee and right down the street from the new teashop Zomia.

Bonnie

That’s the one. But it was quite awhile ago that I remember them having the Friday Nite BBQ’d Oyster’s. They did have some nice bar grub though at the time for lunch without going broke.

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Bonnie

Having been in all those places and know in my memory the smells of the Marin Headlands and Carmel/Monterey with the pine/sea/sand-salt…brine and everything else…even the flower growers…I can’t imagine this in a tea. Where is the have to try this button. BAM!

Thomas Smith

Hahaha, agreed.
Keep a mind that those greenery flavors greatly supersede the floral ones and sort of envelop them all. It’s pretty darn difficult to disseminate characteristics in koicha since it’s so freakin’ thick and laden with so much flavor (good or bad). The mashup aromas described here are mostly a precursor and intertwined ephemeral quality with the heavy greenery of the liquor. The only actual aromatic cues that I was able to glean for myself were Coastal California Poppy, Lowland Nepenthes pitchers in a hothouse, and Orchid… Though only the first is the smell from the flower – the others are foliage.

Thomas Smith

But yes. I’d say “Must. Buy!” But I’m left wanting to find out what is even better still since I know this is actually somewhere near middle-quality range.

Bonnie

That’s scary! I used to work in a winery in California, and sometimes even the aroma of some tea’s is someone punched me in the nose it’s so complex and powerful! Wine can be like an elevator that has lost power. All of a sudden, you’re falling rapidly through flavors trying to catch each one in your memory.
Tea is rarely like wine but this one seems to have been that type of experience for you. A better one…oh my?!

Azzrian

I almost placed an order with them last night but was not exactly sure what I wanted – was looking for creamy and buttery teas, then with the cost could not risk not loving what I got.

Thomas Smith

@Bonnie — What winery and whereabouts? I’ve lived in Petaluma most of my life, just recently moved a tad north to Santa Rosa, and work at a company based in Healdsburg so I’m just a hop, skip, and a jump to quite a few wineries.

I had a Dian Hong the other day from Zomia Tea that seriously had an aspect similar to the aroma of walking through a cellar with Chardonnay in French Oak, though stone fruit was dominant over it. Maybe not quite like wine, but related to it!
Yeah, it can be tough picking through the more assertive teas and wines. In matcha it’s way easier to pick apart when prepared as thin tea; for koicha the consistency is thicker than many forms of paint or melted chocolate so it takes an already assertive tea type and compresses everything and then the body actually inhibits your ability to figure out where in the mouth would typically be highlighted the most (kind of a big thing for me). This particular tea coats the mouth like sipping cocoa and goes down with a similar pleasant light bitterness and overall smoothness. Didn’t think to say that earlier as I was sorta lost in the texture and didn’t bother trying to relate it apart from it being silky and lacking in clumps. On that note, I’m going to edit a typo I noticed – I brewed with about 1oz water, which is about 28mL not 15mL!

Thomas Smith

@ Azzrian — I’ve tried and loved their Gyokuro, Kabusecha, and Sencha offerings but this is the first time having a matcha from them appropriate for koicha. I had always thought Gyokuro was their strongest suit and some do match what you are looking for (when brewed with lukewarm water).

Bonnie

Well, I’ve stayed in Windsor 5 or 6 times but my family (dad) was from Yountville and brothers moved to Napa later. My cousin Norma has a vineyard in Ukiah contracted to Beaulieu Vineyard (where my dad trimmed vines in the 1930’s as a child). (I love going to Calistoga to visit the wineries close by and the small Russian Orthodox Church and Monastery attached with the gardens planted by the Priest who is a botanist.) I worked at Fortino’s in Gilroy (Santa Clara County) but would venture South to Paso Robles for the sunny fruity ‘Reds’ I love. (that’s were I had some of the most spectacular multi-leveled wines). Along the Sonoma Wine Trail I liked visiting the organic growers and Gloria Ferrer for the Asian Garden (I have a bio pic that I use now and then of me looking over a small bridge that was taken there). Do they still BBQ oysters in Healdsburg at the Brewery on Friday nights? That with beer…nice!

Azzrian

Thank you Thomas!

Geoffrey Norman

I just drooled a little.

Thomas Smith

I haven’t dined much in Healdsburg, but hear Bear Republic is a good brewery and restaurant – if they do barbecued oysters I’m going to have to start visiting! That’s right around the corner from work at Flying Goat Coffee and right down the street from the new teashop Zomia.

Bonnie

That’s the one. But it was quite awhile ago that I remember them having the Friday Nite BBQ’d Oyster’s. They did have some nice bar grub though at the time for lunch without going broke.

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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.

Location

Santa Rosa, California, United States

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