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Recent Tasting Notes
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.
Got this in a sampler. I am on the hunt for a genmaicha I can enjoy (toasty but not burned) and not easily mess up (bitter due to oversteeping) but have never tried a blend of genmaicha and matcha. Nor, for that matter, have I ever tried matcha alone! I am a real newbie at green teas. So I really wasn’t sure what to expect.
I love the aroma — very warm and nutty. I’m getting a little bitterness so I may have oversteeped yet again. Like others here, I was working under a best-guess theory based on the loose tea recommendations. The bitterness seems to lessen as the tea cools, or perhaps simply as I get closer to the bottom of the cup (see below re: matcha settling.)
There is more dust than I expected to see in the bottom of the cup. I drained the cup in my final sips and there was no grittiness but there does remain a slight slippery, buttery feel in my mouth that’s actually more interesting than the sipping experience itself so the dust must be primarily matcha that settled.
I plan to try a second steeping and check it after 30 seconds. I guess most of the matcha will have washed out in the first experiment. Later today I’ll try the loose leaf sample.
Probably will not buy this in bags again, but it would be convenient in a pinch and if one knew what to expect ahead of time.
UPDATE: Second steeping.
Well, this is interesting! I poured the boiling water back and forth only once this time so the temperature was probably a bit higher. I sniffed the brew after 30 seconds and decided to go for a bit longer as well. Probably ended up with between 45-60 second on this steep. No bitterness!
It is, as I expected, a bit weaker. I am still seeing a bit of dust at the bottom of the cup. With about 1/2 the liquid gone, and noticing a faint sweetness at the back of my mouth, I swirled the cup to distribute the dust (matcha?) more evenly. Yep, that buttery sensation, more than a real taste, is back with the final two swallows. The toasty flavor disappears quickly, leaving behind an aftertaste only slightly bitter, more like another type of green (kale? collards?) than spinach.
Don’t think I’ll try a third steep, but even more curious now about the loose tea.
Flavors: Butter, Pecan, Spinach, Toasted Rice, Toasty
This shincha came from my latest Den’s tea order and is from the 2014 season.
This stuff is amazing! For one thing the color of the tea brews up to be a brilliant emerald green color and is vibrant. The flavor is very mellow and sweet with a hint of grassiness. Evidently this was produced with some extra steaming which accounts for the color and the flavor. They call this herbaceous but there’s almost something creamy about it in my opinion. Definitely glad I got this one, it’s one of the better senchas I’ve had.
I had a sample of this and I decided to make this iced. I don’t know why. I usually avoid trying teas for the first time iced.
This awesome-“leafed” tea has an unmistakable roasty flavor that reminds me of roasted rice in genmaicha and I think it would work great hot but as an iced tea it seems that its most characteristic features were a little jarring. Especially at first. When I have iced tea, it means I’m either driving to work, am at work, or driving back from work, so I don’t pay that much attention to the flavors but with this one I kind of… had to. So roasty!
I still have about 1 serving of this left and I am definitely going to try it hot!
Tea of the morning here after I finished my morning coffee — is that a sacrilege?
This came in my recent order from Den’s Tea. I don’t think this is a 2014 sencha but it is still really good. It’s hard to get pineapple flavored teas “right” — I’ve had ones that seem really sour and downright acidic. This is really nice and natural tasting with not a lot of grassiness from the green tea. Definitely worth checking out if you’re into flavored greens. I might just go make myself another pot of it this morning, I am enjoying it on this beautiful, sunny day!
Tea of the afternoon here. I am not sure what possessed me to buy more tea but I recently got a few things from Den’s. I definitely need to do a moratorium on tea buying after losing my job due to my arm injury.
This is a nice idea for summer time. I love the cold brew flavor of this and the sencha itself is bright and flavorful. I wish I was getting more pear out of this because the pear flavor is pretty mild. I don’t regret buying it though, it’s pretty tasty! To prepare this, you pop a tea bag into your cold water and steep it for at least an hour. I believe I did mine for about 3 hours.
I just read my previous tasting note about this tea, and I think that it really nailed my thoughts today about the thick mouthfeel and sweet, vegetal flavors. So I’ll just say that it’s a really nice tea to warm me up on this surprisingly chilly morning (when will I ever stop being surprised by the weather around these parts?).
My favorite of Den’s fruity senchas. I can tolerate this one hot-brewed: the pineapple flavor doesn’t taste like it’s flavored as much as the others, and it overshadows the low-quality sencha. I definitely prefer it cold-brewed. It tastes so much like pineapple juice. Yum! Very refreshing too. And better than actual pineapple juice since it doesn’t feel like my gums are being thawed away (I read that pineapple has this enzyme or whatnot that is responsible for breaking down meat – now I know why don’t eating the stuff).
The instant I opened the sampler foil package the roasted and sweet matcha aroma instantly made me smile. The matcha appeared to be great quality by the smell and he bright green color. I knew this was going to be a great tea. The first steep I followed the suggested timing and the flavor was an amazing blend of nutty and vegetal with no bitterness. The nutty part of the flavor reminded me of the popcorn kernels(which I love). The toasted rice is also fun to chew on. This tea was overall very enjoyable.
I received a sample of this in a swap with bluebelle. Thank you.
This has a pretty strong scent to it and I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I have 2 cups work left so I brewed this up and had it over ice tonight. It is very tasty. Tasty enough that if I ever ordered from Den’s tea I would definitely pick some of this up. I am not sure I get grape. I get more fruity green. It is sweet and I would say that it taste exactly how it smells.
Since I had more coffee than tea today, so I had this.
It’s called extra green… and it really is. The colour is green, the scent is green, it even tastes green. There is an interesting green flavour. I like both sencha and matcha, but I’m not sure how well it goes together.