drank Ryokucha by Samovar
953 tasting notes

While I was waiting for the water to heat up to black tea temp this morning I thought I’d give this a try, since I’d seen a flurry of notes and comments about it recently.

Interesting. The dry mixture looked and smelled identical to the Den’s Genmaicha Extra Green. Seriously, I couldn’t find a difference, except perhaps that the Den’s leaves were a bit longer. I liked that one pretty well, so I expected to like this about as much.

The first departure was in the steeping instructions and in fairness, I really should do a side by side comparison of the Den’s using the same steeping parameters. That one called for 30 seconds/boiling, but I followed the instructions on the Samovar sample packet and used cooler water for a longer time with the Ryokucha. The liquor of the Ryokucha was reminiscent of the Den’s but not as atomic-green. More of a chartreuse.

The nose was toasty rice, as expected. But the defining characteristic for me is something Ricky mentioned and that I echo. The sweetness. There’s a green, juicy sweetness to this that dances with the rice flavor in a really interesting way. It’s almost like a very very light soy sauce. Or the aftertaste of edamame. In any case, I’m not sure it’s crack (I guess that’s what they all say the first time) but it’s worth getting to know. I do like it a bit better than the Den’s on this try, but I will go back when I get more of this and do a side by side to be sure it’s not just the Olympic effect (i.e., that the last to go tend to get the higher marks).

175 °F / 79 °C

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I’ve updated this bio as it’s been a couple of years since I “started getting into” tea. It’s now more accurate to say that I was obsessed with tea for a while, then other things intruded, then I cycled back to it, and I seem to be continuing that in for a while, out for a while cycle. I have a short attention span, but no shortage of tea.

I’m a mom, writer, gamer, lawyer, reader, runner, traveler, and enjoyer of life, literature, art, music, thought and kindness, in no particular order. I’ve recently started writing fantasy and science fiction under the name J. J. Roth.

Personal biases: I much prefer to drink tea without additives such as milk and sugar. If a tea needs additives to improve its flavor, its unlikely I’m going to rate it high. The exception is chai, which I make on the stove top using a recipe I found here on Steepster. Rooibos and honeybush were my gateway drugs into the harder stuff, but once I learned how to make a decent cup of tea they became far less appealing to me. That said, I’m not entirely a purist, and I enjoy a good flavored tea, particularly flavored blacks.

I like all kinds of tea depending on time of day, mood, and the amount of time I have to pay attention to preparation.

Since I find others’ rating legends helpful, I added my own. I’m revising them slightly to make them less granular as I don’t really find myself hating most things I try.

I try to rate teas against other similar versions. So I rate Earl Greys, for example, against other Earl Greys, rather than against all teas. If something rates very high with me, though, it probably means it’s a stand out against all other teas I’ve tried.

95-100 A once in a lifetime experience; the best there is; will keep this stocked until the cows come home

90-94 First rate; top notch; really terrific; will definitely buy more

80-89 Excellent; likely to become a favorite, will likely buy more

70-79 Very good; would enjoy again, might buy again if in the mood for this particular one or a better, similar version not available

60-69 Good; wouldn’t pass up if offered, but probably wouldn’t buy again unless craving this particular flavor

50-59 Okay or run of the mill

Below 50 So-so, iffy, would definitely pass
or ick. The lower the number, the closer to ick.


Bay Area, California



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