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Recent Tasting Notes
Ever since I found out that this tea existed, I’ve been wanting to try it. Houjichas and genmaichas are two of my very favorite types of teas, and I am always turning to one or the other for comfort or as a palette cleanser or for any other excuse. Today is a warmer day, so I opted to steep this one extra strong and pour over ice to drink as an iced tea. As it was steeping, I really could smell the strong genmaicha toastiness. When the tea finally cooled, I was surprised to find that the dominant taste was houjicha in contrast to the smell while it was steeping. In fact, for the first couple sips, all I could really taste was the houjicha. After settling into it, though, I can definitely pick up the toasty genmaicha toward the end of the sip. These teas blend together so perfectly! Perhaps they don’t quite contribute completely unique flavors to the tea, but I’m okay with it. I love my roasty Japanese green teas :)
Tasty green tea! Brothy mouthfeel, but the flavor is relatively mild and not astringent. I usually like a stronger vegetal flavor in my greens, but sometimes I want something lighter. This certainly isn’t the lightest green tea, don’t misunderstand my, but I mean only relative to what I usually drink. I love me a strong unami, but it’s one of those things I can easily get too much of and need a break from it. This tea is perfect for that.
Flavors: Broth, Vegetal
It’s freezing in my office! I needed something warm and toasty to soothe myself, so this roasted bancha from my Den’s Tea sampler should do the trick!
First steep 30 seconds: Brewed, this smells salty, like the Laoshan Black from Verdant smelled salty, but this one doesn’t quite have as much body behind it. My office mate described it as “everything-bagel tea”. The roasted flavor is not nearly as strong as some oolongs I’ve had before, but more warming, like fresh bread out of the oven that you know will taste sweet! And once it cools off some, I am getting a sweet aftertaste! This is a super enjoyable cup, just what I want right this moment. I’m going to have to get me some houjicha before cold weather rolls around again (maybe sooner if the office is going to stay arctic).
Seconds steep of 15 seconds: Darker color than the first, but flavors much more muted. still smells very nice.
Flavors: Roasted, Salty, Sweet
What a perfectly well-rounded and tasty sencha! So long as one pays careful attention to the color of the steep, you can expect a full bodied, toasty sencha with every infusion, and I typically enjoy five or six steeps. I mention color because there’s a lot of power in these leaves, and it’s easy to oversteep on the first brew. I just wash the water straight through and enjoy.
It’s funny how a tea so well balanced can leave me without something in particular to say, for good or ill, but you should consider that a form of praise itself. Be sure you enjoy a potentially strong green tea with a fantastic roasted flavor. If you do, you’re all set. Enjoy.
Yum! So smooth and green!
I’m thoroughly enjoying this cloudy cup from my Den’s tea sampler pack. I’m using the looseleaf version for this review.
First impression: so, so, so smooth! Maybe I’m just not used to good green tea, but even the brewed leaves are super soft! It tastes like spinach, fresh from my garden like I was munching on yesterday, minus the drying effect that spinach has. As it cools, it gets a little nutty, with a veggie-sweet aftertaste. When it was really hot, my first sip had a bit of a seaweed quality to it, but I couldn’t confirm on my second sip. Not near as roasty as I was expecting it to be. I guess the matcha is what is contributing to the thick mouthfeel, as well.
Seconds steep 15 seconds: Obviously a much clearer cup, without the matcha. I again got seaweed on the very first sip, but now with it is just slightly sweet veggies with a vague nuttiness. Still really nice!
Yay! My sampler pack is here!
I thought that my first introduction to Japanese green teas should be the classic, so I chose this sencha in a teabag for a first try. I chose the teabag version over the loose leaf because I wanted the save the latter since my tastes may be off from my particularly oniony lunch.
The smell of fresh green leaves, with an edge of sweetness, hit me the moment I opened the bag. The first steep of 60 seconds was a pleasant pea green, with a fresh veggie smell. It tasted slightly astringent, like raw collards, especially when hot. It definitely got sweeter once it cooled down, but the astringency never left, just got less dry. It’s a unique kind of astringency that I haven’t experienced in tea before. It makes your mouth water, like sucking on a penny does. The feeling and flavor of this aftertaste reminded me of the feeling in my mouth after I have just finished eating an artichoke.
The second steep (15 seconds, as per the directions in the nice booklet included with the sampler) is a touch fishy! I had heard that many Japanese greens have umami notes, but it is strange to experience it! There is little sweetness and no astringency. In fact, most of the flavors and scents from the previous steep are absent entirely! It reminds me quite a bit of my seaweed crisp snacks, minus the salt. I’m getting sesame, seaweed, and a hint of bok choy (cooked in broth). Interesting!
I usually don’t like Japanese greens—too seaweedy for me unless it’s a flavored Sencha. This is lovely. Dry leaf has a sweet grass smell, wet leaf gets wonderfully nutty. It tastes sort of like a roasty Longjing but with a subtle seaweed taste. Not fishy by any means.
I’m an awful horrible person when it comes to brewing Japanese greens. I look at the steeping instructions – 3 oz for 1 tsp, for 1 minute, say – and say “Eff that!”
So I took the entire little packet I had of this (I think it was a swap from Jude? Or Ost?) and put the whole thing into my 24 oz teapot, brewed for 1 minute at 70ish.
The resulting liquor was a murky pea green and tasted umami and seaweedish and grassy and even slightly creamy from the matcha.
Technically I suppose I could get a second steep out of this, but I’m happy either way to have sipped down something else from the cupboard.
I am going to probably be covered in chiggers. I decided, I am tired of this stupid Midwest pointy grass and chiggers, and the inability to roll around in the grass, so I found a MASSIVE patch of clovers and just flopped down into it, soaking up the sunlight. The inevitable itchies are probably worth it, I will give a definite on that after they happen. Sometimes a nature lover like me has to to take one for the team in order to recharge my batteries after a long (ok actually it was a really warm) winter.
Since it is Thursday, that means it is time to blow the dust off my tea notebook pile and review one of the teas from my distant (like a year and a half ago) past. Reading the notes of these teas sends me back to the time I drank it, I might not be able to remember what day of the week it is half the time, but I can remember the way things taste and smell from years ago. I have a very strong yet very selective memory! So, today’s tea is Houjicha Gold from Den’s Tea, and boy do I feel sheepish for not visiting their site in a while, because they have some new and exciting teas! I feel a fondness for them since it was where I got my first Kyusu, and a Green Tea Starter kit, I was not at all new to Japanese teas, but I was new to Den’s Tea, and this seemed a good way to try their teas, Houjicha Gold was included. This is their roasted Bancha (as Houjicha tends to be) specifically from the Yabukita Cultivar grown in Shizuoka. The aroma of this tea is fairly mild, on the lightly toasted spectrum of Houjicha, blending a faint sweetness with autumn leaves and a touch of loam. Towards the finish there is a blend of nutty and toasted seaweed, giving it a savory, umami finish.
Into the kyusu the toasted leaves go, and man are my photos so bad! I am glad I finally figured out how to take indoor photos, one day though I am going to have a very well lit tea room! Preferably one with a sink…and very close to a bathroom! Ah, a girl can dream. So, after brewing, the leaves take on a stronger kelp and toasted note, even adding in a bit of smoke, no more sweetness this time, just toasted umami notes. The liquid, well, time for a little head-jerk of contrast, because it is super sweet, like toasted marshmallow and roasted nuts. Toss in a little campfire and you have a delicious smelling liquid.
The taste starts a touch smoky and very umami, with strong toasted kelp. This pretty quickly moves to sweet toasted marshmallow and nuttiness with a delightful lingering sweetness. The mouthfeel was a bit dry, not a sucking dryness, but not the coating feeling you get from its less toasted green cousin, it is a dryness I associate with toasted teas, distinct but not at all unpleasant. As the tea cools, the notes of smoke and roasted tea become stronger and linger much longer, leaving a smoky aftertaste. This is an excellent choice as a introductory Houjicha, it showcases the aspects you expect without any of the quirks of a more specialized Houjicha.
This comes my way from Stephanie via Terri. I’ll admit at first i was a little hesitatnt about this but figured what the heck! I’m so glad that i tried this out. Seriously..this is like iced coffee without the caffeine or that coffee after taste. i am a fan. I can see these being great for the summer – no fuss, coffee grounds or anything. yay!
This one’s from the March Amoda subscription box. I still haven’t finished all of my February teas, but when I saw this sample I couldn’t wait. I love pineapple; and I’ve been searching for the perfect pineapple tea to replace Butiki’s Flowery Pineapple Oolong which I’m coming closer and closer to finishing off.
I cold brewed my sample because I saw that this was recommended as an iced tea. I don’t regret the decision to do so even in the slightest. I’ll break it down in a second; but I’m just gonna jump the gun and say that, next to Flowery Pineapple Oolong, this is the best pineapple tea I’ve ever had. MAYBE even just as good. And considering this is on a green tea base that’s such high praise coming from me.
The pineapple flavour in this is over the top, 100% authentic, freshly cut pineapple with all the natural sticky sweetness and tang from the juices – and the tiny touch of coconut in here makes it pop and invokes a lovely tropical flavour that’s perfect for this time of year when all the snow’s melting and the weather is wishy-washy. It’s an instant vacation in a cup or, in this case, mason jar. Plus, the coconut just touches on a creaminess that really rounds out the brew.
I found that for the most part the green base was very masked by the extreme pineapple flavour; and that suits my tastes well. But, what I could taste blended near seamlessly into the fresh pineapple and provided a very faint grassyness that just worked well with the other flavours. It was highly refreshing and thirst quenching.
I know this isn’t oolong, and it doesn’t have the floral component that Butiki’s kick-ass pineapple tea has, but to be honest I didn’t miss it. I honestly think this is what I’m going to be replacing Flowery Pineapple Oolong with once I’ve finished it off. It was SO GOOD.
Good find Amoda, good find!
Flavors: Coconut, Cream, Grass, Pineapple, Tangy, Tropical
I’m traveling all week and drinking what I have in teabags, including this from the Den’s Tea sampler. I brewed it using water heated by a Keurig, which was just cool enough not to make it bitter. Still, it’s not my favorite kind of thing — grassy, vegetal, kind of like drinking spinach. In terms of salad-like greens as tea, I think I might prefer something like arugula, which is at least peppery. And although this is a whole-leaf tea, plenty of dust came out of the bag and sank to the bottom of my cup. Still, points for no bitterness in a dusty teabag. I just prefer teas that are well on the way to high oxidation.
Also, it did not make me feel nauseous, so that’s a relief.
Flavors: Grass, Spinach, Vegetal
I’m really impressed with this tea! It definitely tastes roasty like genmaicha but in my opinion has a better overall flavor. I personally really am enjoying this cup versus the genmaicha I wasn’t a big fan of. This tea would go well with a grilled type of meal or as an afternoon tea. Definitely nothing sweet about this tea, it hits much more of a savory note.
Flavors: Earth, Nutty, Roasted
This tea was pretty amazing for a fuka style. It was a bit different than I usually like my green teas [i prefer them lighter steamed] but it was still really good. I kept thinking how smooth it was and that it had an almost buttery affect on my mouth as I sipped it. I would highly recommend this tea in general but more so for a seasoned tea pallet and not so much for a newcomer.
This is really good. I love genmaicha, even though it is a bit odd because it just yells POPCORN to me. I drank some…and then made popcorn because it induced a craving. That said, this being good green tea, it tastes a bit more like veggies and popcorn. Popped veggies maybe.
This is good, with pronounced roasted almond flavor, but it’s not as good as the Yunomi Naturally Grown first flush hojicha with sencha leaves. I don’t detect much of the sweetness that tea has. The roast is a little heavier than I’d like. Maybe the fact that this uses bancha between 2nd and 3rd flushes means it just isn’t quite as good or as delicate. I do enjoy the toastiness. At this point, I’m beginning to think it would be hard to create a houjicha that I hate, so I enjoy drinking this, but… It’s disappointing partly because I drank the Yunomi every morning for the past 3 days before ever trying this.
Flavors: Almond, Roasted, Roasted Barley, Roasted nuts, Toasted, Toasty
Thank you stephanie for sharing this one with me via Terri :) I’ve been wanting to try this one forever but since i know i’m not the biggest sencha fan, haven’t gotten around to placing an order. With butiki gone, i need to find a suitable replacement for my pineapple tea that doesn’t have coconut. blech. this one is pretty good. It’s still not as pineappley as i want it to be but it IS pure pineapple and green stuff lol. I mean, i can taste the sencha, which is a good thing as far as teas – you want to be able to taste the base imo…but for me, i’d love this just a little more if the base backed off a bit and let the pineapple be stronger.
All that aside though, this might be a good fix for those times that i just want pineapple damnit! :) Thanks for letting me try this one stephanie!!
Genmaicha was the tea that got Hubby into tea, so I’ll always have a huge soft spot for it. And it’s hard to go wrong with such a staple tea.
This is one of my favorites, though.The matcha adds such a wonderful sweetness to what was already a roasty toasty cup of comfort, that it becomes something you can just fall happily into. I like the balance of this cup too, with the matcha just edging out the nuttiness of the rice as the dominant flavor.
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Found a sample of this at the back of my tea drawer, and admittedly, this has got to be old…like, real old, since I haven’t ordered from Den’s tea in quite some time (not because I don’t like their tea…I just don’t have enough money to order all the tea I want to. haha).
Anyway, even being old, I really like this. It’s bright, with that vegetal bitter note I was expecting. I don’t think I’ll rush to buy it (again…in my dream world, my tea budge would be HUGE….), but it’s definitely a nice cup.
I wonder what it would taste like if it hadn’t been hiding in my tea drawer for such a long time….