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Recent Tasting Notes
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
Another tea from my Den’s sampler! The dry tea is medium brown leaves and stems with some broken leaves mixed in. It smells like toasted nuts or grains. Yum, I love toasty teas! I steeped this for two minutes.
The brewed tea smells, unsurprisingly, very toasty. There is also a smell that reminds me of piles of dried leaves in the fall, and a hint of grassiness. I was a little bit surprised that the first thing I tasted with my first sip was bean sprouts. However, this quickly changed to the toasted grains and autumn leaves flavors I was expecting. It’s interesting that there is still a manifestation of green here even though this is obviously heavily roasted. For some reason, this tea made my mouth feel grainy or dusty or something. I wouldn’t really call it astringency but I’m not sure what caused it. Overall, a very tasty tea and I could see this being good with milk. I may try steeping this for longer or with more tea for an even stronger toasty flavor.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Grain, Toasted Rice
This is my second loose sencha from my Den’s novice sampler. The loose leaves are long and slender and a beautiful rich green color. They smell very sweet and vegetal, mostly spinach. I brewed a teaspoon of leaves for one minute.
The brewed tea smells similar to the leaves, like sweet steamed spinach. At first sip, I was very surprised by the strength of the brew, even though I only steeped one minute. The same flavors that were in the other sencha are present in this one, but in different amounts. It has the same steamed spinachy flavor but there is much more sweetness here and a strong sweet grass note. The squash is there but less so, and there is no bitterness, there is a sweet aftertaste instead. Overall, this sencha is much stronger in flavor, with a deeper spinach flavor and more sweetness. I think I actually prefer the cheaper version. Maybe I’ll be a bancha kind of person. :P
Flavors: Grass, Spinach, Sweet, Vegetal
I got two senchas in my Den’s novice sampler. I decided to try this one first since it’s the… I don’t know whether to say “lower-grade” but it’s the less expensive of the two. I must say, I’m very pleasantly surprised by the volume of these loose samples. There’s enough for at least 3 or 4 cups in here! The dry leaf smells like a mixture of dried and cut grass, but it’s also very sweet and almost creamy-smelling as well. I brewed one teaspoon of leaves for 1 minute.
The aroma of the brewed tea is very distinctly vegetal. I catch mostly scents of steamed spinach and butternut squash with grassy notes blended in. There is still a hint of sweetness. This tea tastes quite vegetal as well – still maintaining that steamed spinach flavor mixed with a nice grassiness. At the end of the sip, there is a pleasant bitterness which mixes very well with a note of butternut squash or pumpkin. I was shocked to find that neither squash nor pumpkin are options when choosing flavors! I did send a suggestion to add these two to the list. Overall, I found this tea quite delicious and I’m glad I have more of it, and I’m excited to try the other variety from Den’s.
Flavors: Grass, Spinach, Vegetal
This is the second tea I elected to try from my Den’s novice sampler. I figured I would get the tea bags out of the way and then get into the loose leaf varieties tomorrow. This also happens to be my first sencha. Like the genmaicha, there were no instructions for western style. The dry bag smelled strongly of grass with a little sweetness. I brewed it for two minutes.
The brewed tea smells vegetal and grassy. The taste is spinach mixed with sweet grass. There’s also a touch of asparagus (the tea bag was covered in quite a bit of powder – I’m not sure whether it was matcha or just powdered sencha leaf). I found this tea satisfying and quite delicious. As it cooled I started to get a slightly bitter note, so the next time I make sencha I’ll be sure to drink it faster.
(holding off on the rating until I can compare it to the loose leaf versions)
On a side note, I would love to get some general advice for steeping these Japanese greens teas western-style. In particular, the ones I have are senchas, genmaicha, and one houjicha. I would really love to just get some general guidelines for temperature and time for steeping these types of teas in 8 ounce quantities. Thanks in advance! :)
Flavors: Asparagus, Grass, Spinach, Vegetal
I recently ordered the green tea sampler for novices from Den’s Tea. I really love that they offer something like this to new customers. It’s only $3 and I got two tea bag samples plus four loose samples plus a booklet. AND they give you a coupon code for $3 off your next order of $15 or more, making the sampler free if you make a purchase later. Fantastic, thanks Den’s!
I’ve been curious about genmaicha for a while now, so this had to be the first one I tried. I actually got both a sachet and a loose sample of this tea, so it’ll be interesting to compare the two. The packet didn’t have brewing instructions and their instructions for genmaicha were tuned for a very small amount of water, so I read through some notes from other people and decided on a two minute steep. The dry sachet smelled mostly of matcha and vegetal green tea and there was quite a bit of matcha dust clinging all over it.
I was amazed by how roasty the brewed tea smelled! It basically smelled like all toasted rice with some of the green tea peeking in from the background. Yum yum! I was so impatient while waiting for this to cool so I could try it! XD I must say, this tea is delicious. It’s an excellent mix of spinachy green tea and asparagus-like matcha with a strong toasted rice flavor in the background, supporting the other flavors. The aftertaste is slightly bitter, but in a pleasant way when combined with the rice. I can’t wait to try all of these other green teas.
(holding off on the rating until I try the loose version!)
Flavors: Asparagus, Bitter, Spinach, Toasted Rice, Vegetal
Teeny Tiny TTB
Well I goofed with this one. By the time I realized that the recommended steep time is mere seconds, I had gone over. However, it’s still not too grassy. It’s buttery with a faint grape aroma and taste. Now, if you read my tasting note about Teavana Chateau Blanc, then you’ll know grape isn’t really a favorite of mine. This is nice enough, but it’s a similar type of grape flavor and so I’m not enthused enough to keep it around or buy.
This is a tea I’ve had a very long time and haven’t tried. I’m finding that I’m leaning more towards unflavored teas, so I wanted to try out some of the ones I had in my stash. I’m using office water to make this one, so these are all at 165.
Attempt 1: Since I only have 165 degree water, I have to search around a bit to get the right time. This one was two minutes. I can get some roastiness out of this but not much. The color was a light and looked weak. I’ll get some new leaves and try 30 seconds longer
Attempt 2: This one is 2 minutes and 30 seconds. The roast flavor seems more full, and I think I can get some of the actual tea flavor now. It’s also brewed up a very nice light amber color. I’ll try three minutes and see how that is, but I’m thinking this might be the winner
Attempt 3: This one was for three minutes. It seems to somehow have traded roast flavor for tea flavor. While this isn’t bad, I prefer the stronger roasted notes personally.
Just a note to say this is really good when it’s cold brewed. Also good when it’s hot! I don’t recall having such a nice pineapple flavored tea, ever. The few pineapple oolongs I’ve had were good, but I like this even more.
I’ve been craving green tea lately. I feel like I could drink a gallon of it every day if it didn’t get me a little too wired.
This is pretty good, but it just tastes like regular (but high-quality) sencha to me. It’s very vegetal—even the dry leaf smells like cooked spinach, and once steeped the flavor is more of the same. I think it might be little more finicky than good non-first flush senchas I’ve tried; it seems to go bitter pretty easily. I’m glad to have tried this, since I was curious what all the fuss was about, but I don’t think I’m a sensitive enough taster to appreciate its nuances.
Teeny Tiny TTB
This is a tasty green tea, not too vegetal, slightly buttery, even. I’m getting a faint bit of apple (which became more pronounced when I added a little bit of sweetener). This is good, but I definitely enjoyed the green tea I had yesterday more. I certainly wouldn’t turn down another cup, but I’m not sure it’s special enough to stock.
Second green tea of the morning here; evidently my plans for the day include getting all wired up on Japanese green teas.
I got this as a 1 oz. sampler pack along with the Shincha Houryoku. Of the two, I think the Houryoku is my favorite. the Kunpu is definitely lighter in color and in flavor and doesn’t have the longer steaming. In color it’s a light yellowish-green.
The flavor of this is very tender and light. It reminds me of gentle cooked vegetables like peas. Some Japanese greens have a more bitter green quality or that of seaweed. This shincha is more on the mild side with a bit of butteriness present and only a bit of astringency.
If you don’t like senchas that are assertive or bitter, you should check out these shinchas from Den’s. I’m really glad I bought them both this year! The package says they are best by February 2015 — I believe I can drink them both in this time frame.
Ah Spring. (Well, if it ever arrive here in Maine).
And this is one of the most anticipated releases of the season. Always amazing, this refined vegetable broth with its dynamic green color and briny base is one of the best teas in the world, IMHO. It’s also an incredible mood-booster, with astronomical amounts of theanine. Scoop it up before it disappears.
Alas, I am beginning to think my taste in green tea is woefully plebeian.
This was in my novice sampler from Den’s. I was pleased to find a strong almond scent in the leaves from the 1st steep, but it was not present in aroma of liquid. First sips revealed no sweetness at all. It was bitter, even sour. And very grassy, not in a good way. I suspect I am not cooling the water sufficiently before steeping.
So I did the 2nd steep with water I had poured back and forth about 8 times in an attempt to cool it to a much lower temperature, and steeped it about 90 sec. This time I got the sweet almond scent both from the leaves and from the aroma of the tea. Before tasting, I let it cool almost to lukewarm. Results: still bitter, the flavor more floral than green.
I have about one more trial of dry leaves on this one, so no numerical rating yet.
First experience with sencha, from Den’s Sampler for Novices. On a hunch, after reading the Q&A comment that Den likes to leave teabags in the cup, so did I.
I was surprised to find this so smooth, no astringency or bitterness at all. There was a whiff of flowery aftertaste when it cooled, gone very quickly. I was not expecting to like this, but I did enjoy it and might buy it again for the convenience.
Looking forward now to the other two sencha samples included in the package.