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Recent Tasting Notes
I’ve had the sample pack of this tea (unopened) for a few years now, which admittedly might have impacted the taste, but I thought it was getting around time to try it and that a tasting note wouldn’t be amiss.
The first scent I noticed from the dry leaf was tobacco, but after a few more sniffs I can also pick out a leafy smell — it reminds me of the woods in the fall. Not generally what I expect from tea, but I’ve never had houjicha before.
1st steep – boiling water, 30 seconds:
The liquor smells like tobacco too, but in a surprisingly pleasant way. A lovely golden color! I’m glad I’m using a clear mug. There’s not much that surprises me about the flavor, honestly — it’s got a smoky kind of flavor, although much weaker than I get from, say, lapsang souchong. There are some definite woodsy notes as well, and the flavor lingers in the throat after swallowing.
2nd steep – near boiling, 60 seconds:
There’s a pretty similar flavor profile here, although it’s less complex now. The leaf notes have now really taken over.
Ultimately this isn’t really my preferred flavor profile (I do enjoy smoky teas, but I’m not so fond of the other notes), but it’s a very interesting sipping experience and I’m glad it was included in the sampler! I can see it being particularly pleasant to sip on a cool fall day.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Smoke, Wood
From the UnflavoredTTB.
Brewed with a red clay kyusu. First infusion: 175°, 60 seconds. Second: 195°, 30 seconds. Third: 205°, 15 seconds. Forth: 205°, 15 seconds.
I reviewed this tea before, when I ordered the sampler. Thought I’d give it another go since I haven’t had it for more than year. I couldn’t smell the dry leaf very well – might have been due to the ziplock baggie – but the wet leaf aroma has strong buttery, squash, and spinach notes. The leaves are dark green and short, many broken up (not due to traveling, as I remember from the sampler packet). They produce neon green liquor which contains leaf particles, has a thick texture, and is full-bodied, flavorful, and wonderfully bitter and vegetal. If you’re interested in trying Japanese greens or want to get a general idea of how sencha tastes, I point to this tea.
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Flavors: Earth, Honey, Tobacco
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Flavors: Sweet, warm grass, Vegetal
I’ve never had a genmaicha like this before. A fine coating of matcha is dusted on everything, which looks pretty darn cool looking.
I saw the directions had instructions for icing this, and even though I basically ice or cold brew everything, I’ve never thought of trying a genmaicha cold. So obviously that’s what I had to try.
I combined both the first and second steepings and iced them. Dang, I like this. I’ve had roasty teas iced, and I’ve had green teas iced, but never together. I already know that I love the combination of roasty toasty comfort, with sweet delicious vegetal when hot, but cold it’s so similar, yet different when cold. Instead of being warm and comfy, it’s refreshing and complex. The notes are all the same, but the tone is different. This is another one I’ll need to restock.
Smelling this tea, it smells just like everything I love in a green tea: sweet vegetal spinachy goodness.
I set my stopwatch, and waited 45 seconds for it to steep. I let the leave float free, planning to strain it through a basket, but right before it was time to strain, I knocked the basket on the floor, and had to rush to go clean it, of course causing it to over steep.
The liquor smelled delicious and mouthwateringly vegetal. Unfortunately, sipping it was a bitter astringent mess. This cup went down the drain, and when I resteeped, I made sure to pull the leaves out at exactly 15 seconds. This cup was much smoother, sweeter, and more vegetal, but also mellow.
I had enough leaves yet, so I tried again, pulling the fresh leaves after 30 seconds just in case. Much better than the last first cup. I got all the vegetal spinach notes of the resteeping of the last cup, but a bit stronger and with a slight astringency. Definitely a good vegetal fresh green tea. Might need to restock this one.
I typically really enjoy senchas – and the flavouring seemed spot-on when I sniffed the bag – so I’m not sure what went wrong with this one.
The sencha base tasted really bland – more of a generic “green tea” than the more nuanced and complex flavours I’m used to – and although there was a great artificial grape smell when the tea was hot almost none of it came through to the actual flavour of the tea.
So I wasn’t all that impressed with the tea. I wanted it to live up to the expectations built up by the delicious scent…but it looks like it just couldn’t.
Yum, toasted rice! It’s been a while since I’ve had a (traditional) genmaicha. This one is definitely my favorite out of the three I’ve tried. It’s the smoothest and has a lot of yummy toasted rice flavor. I can taste the green tea in the background but it’s not rough or grassy like other genmaichas can be. I still don’t taste the matcha. I don’t feel that I necessarily need a traditional genmaicha in my cupboard right now. I have Laoshan Black Chocolate and I think it about covers my lovely toasted rice tea slot.
I still really need to try that buckwheat tea! I bet it’s just like this but without the green tea flavor at all. OM NOM NOM TOASTED RICE!
There was definitely a bit more than a teaspoon left, but I decided to use all of it because it didn’t look like enough for two cups. And it doesn’t seem to have come out super strong or anything weird, so I guess more was okay! I am definitely a fan of roasty notes in tea, and this is as roasty as they come. However, the flavor is definitely more “rough” than other similar teas like genmaicha, some blacks, roasted mate, etc. It reminds me of drinking dry autumn leaves. And while I do find it enjoyable, I tend to prefer the softer roasted flavors of the other roasty teas. So I don’t really feel the need to keep a houjicha around at the moment. Still good though, and thanks again for the sampler, Den’s!
Aroma: Fresh, sweet cantaloupe
Liquor Color: Emerald Green
Liquor Flavor: Mineral, savory, vegetal
Notes: This one was interesting. I had a hard time placing my finger on what I was tasting. It’s grassy and green but I got this fruity sweetness to it. It lingered in my mouth, kind of a mineral linger. I’m really having a hard time describing this. But I liked it in a strange way. Not usually something I would pick, but after having the sample, I enjoyed it.
Aroma: Deep, roasted, corn, brown rice
Liquor color: Light amber
Liquor Flavor: No bitterness, roasted flavor, rice, corn sweetness
Notes: This reminded me of genmaicha, the leaves looked like little pieces of bark. It was very smooth but rich. I still prefer genmaicha over this but it was a pretty good alternative.
Aroma: Fresh, grass, vibrant
Liquor Color: Bright green
Liquor Flavor: Bright, very clean, light astringency, mineral, very crisp with an underlying sweetness.
Notes: Drinking this hot made me want it cold. I’m noticing a pattern with wanting senchas iced. Felt so crisp and clean that I could see this as being energizing.
Aroma: Roasted nuttiness
Liquor Color: Bright green
Liquor Flavor: Roasted, nutty, warm smooth, rich with a sweet base
Notes: Yummy! Full flavored, I really enjoyed this. The popped rice is so delicious, making this a comfort tea. I could see this paring well with a chilly autumn night. The matcha adds a slight sweetness which I really enjoyed. I will be ordering this again.
Aroma: Sweet grass
Liquor Color: Deep yellowish green
*Liquor Flavor: Crisp grassiness, refreshing with a light sweetness
Notes: Bitterness is not something that’s a bad bitter in this tea. The sweetness is well balanced. I would not use the word bitter to describe this but instead, crisp. I think this would be a delicious energizing iced tea for the summer after a workout. I’m pretty new to Japanese greens but this one was pretty good.
I wanted to love this, I really did, but unfortunately I did not.
I followed the provided directions: 180 degrees F, 60 seconds, 1 tsp to 3oz
This was a rich dark green, and smelled sweet and vegetal, a good sign. Unfortunatly it didn’t taste how it smelled. Theres a strong sharp bitterness to this tea. I can detect a slight vegetal note in the background, but the bitterness masked it. I don’t know if all the little bits at the bottom continued to steep while it cooled, or what, so until I try it again I’ll put off giving it a rating. As is though, it would be about 25.
Steeped this up according to the directions, and this is quite roasty!
Flavor-wise, this is so toasty and roasty, with a slight natural sweetness. It reminds me a lot of a genmaicha, but with a less vegetal green notes. Not bad at all.
I needed a little break after drinking new black teas all day! This sample is from KiwiDelight. I checked the Den’s website to see what exactly fukamushi sencha is. Turns out it just means that this is a deeply steamed sencha!
The aroma is very mild and sweetly vegetal with a little bit of wet grass. This is definitely the most seaweedy tasting tea I’ve had yet. And I don’t necessarily mean that as a bad thing! The primary taste is definitely seaweed, but there are also spinach and grass notes common among most senchas I’ve had. The flavor is quite mild, which I wouldn’t expect from something “deeply” steamed. I guess it has the opposite effect of what I would assume! Not to be confused with shaded sencha! :) Tasty, but not my favorite sencha ever.
Flavors: Grass, Seaweed, Smooth, Spinach
Den’s Tea sent this along as a sample with my order. I’m generally not a fan of powdered teas (matcha excepted, since it’s prepared differently). It’s really hard to get them mixed in properly. With this one, most of the powder settled in the bottom of the mug within a minute or two of mixing. I tried stirring again but the powder settled anyway.
This tastes ok. Nothing spectacular, but not unbearable either. A little seaweed-y. Drinkable, if it wasn’t for all that danged powder at the bottom. Wouldn’t buy it myself.
Another tea from KiwiDelight’s Japanese green sample extravaganza package. It’s a sencha tea with the teensiest cherry blossom buds in it. Cute! The smell is a bit odd… I don’t really smell the sencha, just a strange vinegar scent?
After the tea is brewed, it smells more like a sencha, albeit a mild one. It’s grassy and spinachy in a very light way. There’s a light floral note, and that weird vinegar odor is still there in the background. It tastes similar to the smell – mild grassy sencha with just a wisp of floral taste. I taste vinegar in the back of my mouth at the beginning of the sip – strange but not wholly unpleasant. I asked my boyfriend what he thought, and he said it reminded him of apple cider (what?! weirdo). It seems to me that the floral note is mostly in the aroma.
This was definitely a very delicate tea. I don’t think it lent itself very well to western style – either that or I should have used more leaf. Interesting, but I’m not in love. :P
Flavors: Floral, Grass, Sweet
This will be even a lamer note than my last. Wasn’t paying tons of attention to this cup of tea because I was working on a new Steampunk gun. But I can at least tell you that it makes a delicious cup of roasty goodness. ^^ So much better than the last Genmaicha I tried! Thanks, Cameron B. for letting me know about the Den’s Tea sampler! I’ll be sad when I can no longer steep this tea bag.
Sipdown (109)! Wow, I don’t think I’ve ever had so many consecutive sipdowns! Though a lot of other people around Steepster probably speed through three sipdowns like it’s no big deal. Anyway, I’m still jetlagged from Europe, so it just makes me feel confused and uncomfortable all day. Even though it’s getting late, I was really craving a Japanese green, and this one happened to be one of the only straight Japanese greens left in my unpacked sample drawer. It is vegetal and thick as it was before, but also a little more savory today. Perhaps it is because I used a little more leaf than usual to finish off the sample. Anyway, I’m sipping on it while reading The Year of the Flood, and all seems pretty good in the world for now. Though I’m not likely to reorder this one anytime soon (spending hiatus), it was very nice while it lasted!
This is one of the most refreshing teas I have ever cold-brewed. Like other Den’s flavored teas, this tastes better cold. Huge improvement I didn’t mention in my last note (which I wrote more than a year ago) that the flavor tends to be too strong, even bitter, when I use the package’s steeping parameters. I had to really tweak the instructions for the tea to be palatable. With a larger volume of water – cold – the sakura is lighter, not at all overbearing. Very flavorful and yummy. The sencha is fresh, leaves soft enough to chew and eat on its own (I’ve found that this is applicable to other Den’s teas). I will say again that because of the sakura blossoms and the fertile green color of the sencha, the leaf itself is very pretty, both dry and wet. Overall, excellent summer tea.
Yum yum yum. Drinking this with my pizza and it’s so tasty. I actually tried a second infusion this time around (I did 45s compared to 1m for the first) and it’s still delicious. Tastes very similar to the first as far as I can tell, although I’m not sure I trust myself when I’m eating while drinking it. Also, this was my first time using my new Finium brew basket and it’s amazing.
Yay, happy place. Pizza with pepperoni, mushrooms, and olives, and my tasty, tasty sencha. Nothing better!
Yay this is the last tea from my Den’s novice sampler. Gotta try ‘em all! I was pretty excited for this one since I really liked the tea bag version that was also included. The dry tea is a mixture of long, rough-looking, flat leaves with toasted rice and all of it is coated in matcha. The popped rice visually reminds me of Nerds candy and there was one huge piece that I totally considered eating, and I would have if it hadn’t been covered in matcha. The smell is not nearly as strong as I suspected it would be. It’s a light matcha scent and little hint of hay. I brewed it at 175 degrees for one minute.
The aroma of this tea is fantastic! It’s super toasty-smelling. On a short sniff, I don’t get any other smell. If I take a long sniff, I start to get the vegetal scent at the end. Smelling this tea made my mouth water. When I taste it, I get a lot of toasted rice flavor which is amazing. In the middle of the sip, there’s that slightly spinachy green tea taste along with a slightly sweeter hint from the matcha. The aftertaste is all amazing roastiness with a touch of spinach. This tea is very savory, it’s almost like eating instead of drinking. I love it so much!
Based on this, I think I really need to try some bancha! Sooooooon.
Flavors: Spinach, Toasted Rice, Vegetal