drank Genmai Cha by Tavalon Tea
953 tasting notes

This is a sample in a tea bag that I got with a Tavalon order a while back. I didn’t pick it, it just showed up.

The bag looks like a little evening bag. It has a string that attaches in two places rather than one, so it looks like a little gauzy pocketbook. The bag itself looks scarily like a bandage. On the plus side, it has an opening that is folded over, and if you feel curious you can peek inside and see the tea rather than having to hold it up to the light to get a feel for what the tea looks like.

This genmai cha has more “popped kernals” than others I’ve had. It really does have a popcorny look about it, and I should know, having just eaten a bag at Toy Story 3 last night. (Great movie, by the way. Enjoyed it at least as much as my kids did.)

I’m having this at work, and yes, I did forget to bring a thermometer yet again. I have a mental block about it, I think. I figure the water quality is going to suck anyway, so trying to control for other variables isn’t going to make the brewing conditions perfect no matter what I do.

The tea’s aroma is curiously sweet, giving the tea an almost kettle corny smell. Almost. I don’t mean to suggest it’s bordering on cracker jacks by any stretch.

It has the expected toasty rice flavor over a mild, slightly buttery green tea. It’s not as toasty and nutty as some other genmai cha’s I’ve had, but it has more tea flavor than some others.

I suspect I’m going to settle in on Den’s as my genmai cha provider of choice with an occasional dip into others like the Samovar Ryokucha, but I’m glad I got a chance to try this.

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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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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