Den's TeaEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
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….
oh i do so like this! it’s definitely NOT one of the rich deep-sea brothy senchas, but a nice delicate light (chartreuse!) green that is accented wonderfully by the genmai. TASTY! and a perfect after-meal cuppa, as it won’t weigh you down, not at all.
haven’t tried a second steeping yet, but am thinking of steeping for longer next go-round, just to see what happens.
Flavors: Butter, Green, Popcorn, Rice
Toasty and roasty and delicious. I am SO glad to have found a good teabag option for when I am dog sitting. These have the bonus of being individually wrapped, which I normally would find to be wasteful but make them perfect for my purse tea stash (yes I carry about 10 higher quality teabags in my purse for tea emergencies) or travel.
Writing this on my phone because my computer is broken, the charger port is loose and I am waiting in fear for the repair man to get back to me to tell me how much it will be to fix and how long it will take.
Well, this is the closest thing I have to a grapefruit tea after that Adagio sample. At least I know this one will be high quality! Stephanie and I split a package of this since neither of us wanted a full 2 ounces without trying it first. Yay for tea frens! I really liked the two Kukichas I tried recently from Yunomi, so I’m excited for this one. Inside the pouch are flat green stems along with teeny pieces of citrus peel, all coated in fine green powder. Dry scent is fairly strong on the citrus (I’ve never had a yuzu before, but I would describe the scent as somewhere between tangerine and lemon).
There’s actually not a lot of yuzu flavor in the taste, but it’s very delicious overall. The kukicha is mildly grassy/vegetal with a ton of sweetness (probably from the matcha as well). The yuzu flavor is more of an accent than the star. There’s just a bit of citrusy freshness that pops out at some moments, and especially in the aftertaste. Overall, it’s sweet, creamy, and delicious!
Flavors: Citrus, Creamy, Grass, Lemon, Peas, Sweet, Vegetal
I found this to be a really bitter tea. Not fun to drink at all. I followed the instructions when making it and I wonder if messing around with the amount and volume might have helped. But I only had a sample. Still, I didn’t find anything in the flavor to really love.
The tea smells like a particularly sweet (but not cloying) apple cider. The taste is also more apple cider than apple. I actually find the taste to be very cloying (unlike the smell).
When preparing the tea I found it very easy to make it over-steeped. It got bitter very fast. So I use a much shorter steep time. This creates a blander tea but that’s better than an over-steeped tea.
Over all I can’t say I can recommend this tea. Neither the smell nor taste were terribly compelling.
Flavors: Apple, Sugar
This tea is from cookies. I find that I prefer this style of tea to regular houjicha, which tastes rougher and more “leafy” to me. Visually, this tea looks quite similar to the Kaga Bocha I tried from Lupicia, but a touch darker in color. It’s made up of very fragile and brittle roasted stems, and the color is a medium tan. Dry scent is sweet and roasty, and I can smell something that reminds me of apricots.
The steeped tea has a strong roasted aroma, but it also smells like toasted nuts with a touch of sweetness. The taste is quite mellow. It has a nice, comforting roasted flavor that’s not overpowering. I can also taste heavily toasted nuts such as pecans and walnuts, as well as dry autumn leaves. Overall it’s yummy, but I tend to prefer genmaicha or oolongs when I wanted a roasted tea. :)
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Roasted, Roasted nuts
This is a very mellow yet well defined green tea. Mellow in that it isn’t very acidic. Well defined in that it has a definite green tea smell and taste. It is just so well mannered and refined I felt like I should sip it out of a porcelain cup at afternoon tea.
Thanks to The Cookie Lady for this sample tea. I liked the pineapple sencha from Den’s Tea and figured this might be good also.
I followed the instructions on the packet: 30 seconds of steeping, 1 tsp. of tea in 4 oz. of water, luckily I do have a little Japanese teapot that is around 4 oz.
I found that this yielded a very light cup of tea, vegetal and creamy with just a bit of green apple flavor. I was hoping for more apple flavor in this one. My second steep was around 30 seconds and now I am getting lots more green tea flavor but almost no apple flavor. I think this is a fairly subtle brew but I think it would be amazing as a cold brew in the summer time! I’d like to try brewing the remainder of my sample at some slightly different parameters before giving this a number rating.
… thanks again, Cookie Lady!
First sip of this was a bit bleh! Reading other’s reviews, I may have over steeped this with a 2m time. Adding a little more water helps! This has a really nice aftertaste with what I associate as cherry blossoms or leaves. I get a little bit of the fruit at the beginning of the sip. There is a grassiness to it. I’m not super impressed with this tea (not really a sencha kind of gal), but I’d guess that in the right setting I might be. Like if I was sitting down for a meal of really nice sushi, this would be a pleasant surprise in my cup.