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Recent Tasting Notes
Shin-Ryoku is a Shincha or “new tea”/“first flush”, essentially the first harvest of sencha in Japan. If I remember correctly, its traditional to only consume Shincha within the first couple months of harvest, regardless of vacuum-sealed packaging and freezing. But, hey, it was a free sample, so I have no real grounds to complain.
Anyhow, this tea is VERY temperature sensitive.
Den is kind enough to personalize each tea’s brewing instructions, on his website. Which calls for 1.5 teaspoons 4oz of water at 160f/71c for 60 seconds.
My first attempt, ended up with 1.5 teaspoons around 170f/76c for 60 seconds, 5 oz of water. It was too bitter for me.
I tried again with 4oz of water at 160f, maybe even high 150f’s by the time I put the leafs in, for 60 seconds. It came out a watery-pale yellow, compared to the more common gold-yellow seen in sencha, that I was worried I under-steeped it, perhaps I did, but I found it to be a smooth with natural sweet notes.
The suggestions for re-steeping on Den’s is not personalized. The FAQ area has some generic suggestions, and not specific to this tea, which recommended 15 seconds for Sencha’s. However this may not apply to Shin-Cha, due to quantity of leaf (for such small quantities of water, its common for most sencha to be only 1 teaspoon, not 1.5 like shincha).
Second steep, I “tried” 170f for 25seconds, and it had the taste I’m more familiar with in sencha, but I found the bitterness to sneaking in. I think the bitterness never left me, following subsequent steep attempts, always sitting on my palate. Re-steep at 185f for 3rd time, 60 seconds, the bitterness started to come in much stronger. By the fourth, 5mins boiling, and fifth 10mins boiling, it was more akin water, despite a strong colour persisting.
From my experience, this tea walks a very thin line between sweetness and astringency, that is ultimately decided on by the water temperature, sure this is common with all japanese tea’s, but in this case, the temps were almost gyokuro levels for me. If I had more of it, I would like to experiment with it further. I’m ultimately curious what would happen if I had kept the water temp low for the second steep. Or just as high, as my “guess”, but with only 15 seconds. Freshly harvested Shincha/Shin-ryoku may also affect the taste, but we’re going to have to wait another 3 months for that.
First off, Den’s Tea is a wonderful company. If you’re considering ordering from them, I say “Do it!” Timely delivery and they included their catalog, a pamphlet about the health benefits of green tea, and a magazine about Japanese cuisine and culture. It’s the small things, yes?
Of course, all of this would be nothing if they didn’t sell high quality tea.
I’ve tried all four teas I bought from Den’s and they’re all absolutely delicious. (More reviews coming soon!) Today me and my housemates celebrated Christmas. It was wonderful. We all went to church, had breakfast together, opened presents, ate a fantastic homemade dinner (each person made one part of it), and, finally, played cards together. No homework, no stress. Just quality time. And I don’t have school tomorrow! (That’s the cherry on top, my friends.) In any case, my housemate Shane got me an awesome elephant teapot. The tea comes out of its trunk! Love it! In fact, I just finished an elephant of Fukamushi Sencha Special.
According to the Den’s Tea webpage fukamushi sencha is steamed at least two times longer than regular sencha. I believe this is the first deep steamed sencha I’ve had. The dry leaf smells full and fresh with light fruity notes. The flavor is deep and complex. Pleasantly grassy with hints of ripe fruits and brine rounded out by a wonderful taste of milk at the back. The aftertaste is milk then fruit.
I think I’m starting to get a hint of what good sencha can be.
This has grapes cranberry raspberry and sencha. This smells mostly like grape. In the leaves there are purple shreds and pink buds. I did not steep this very long and I added sugar. But I am only getting a medium grape taste with the green tea. I do think this is good. Does anyone have any advice on steep time?
The Final Sipdown: Day 16.1
Lots of phone calls happening today. Could be because my throat is dry from a nearly one and a half hour phone conversation, but I am gulping this down right now. Need to slow down to log it, but can’thelpitmustdrink.
Phew, okay. That was a close one. Still got some left.
There’s a lot of bitterness in this cup even though I only steeped it for 30 seconds [ish] but I put a lot of leaf in that little strainer and so that might be the culprit.
That bitter taste is met with a high, sugary, fruity sweetness. It tapers off at the finish and is completely overwhelmed by the sweeter part of this tea. The aftertaste is actually quite lovely.
As for the apple, it’s definitely present in the scent [at one point I got the smell of rubber cement in the scent of the liquid, though, and that wasn’t so nice]. Though it remains in the taste it isn’t nearly as obvious it is in the aroma. The apple comes through most clearly for me in the finish.
Here’s what I find interesting about this tea. The closest thing it’s tasting like in terms of liquid apple concoctions is sparkling apple cider. What it really tastes like, though, is apple. Like real apple juice. As in the juice that squirts out when you bite into an apple; not that sugary bottled stuff. I’m finding it light and refreshing. Springy, almost.
In the wake of the fact that I came home to the lid of my kyusu being BWOH-KEN [mistakes happen, but that sucker was over fifty dollars], I am going to take what enjoyment I can get. While I don’t like the fact that I really can’t taste the green tea in this tea, it’s lightening my mood. Well, that and this episode of Sarah’s House that I’m watching. And the Christmas tree.
I’m just going to sit here, finish this cup, and woo-sah. And bump the rating on this a bit.
Teas Downed: 29
Lena sent me a bit of this tea, and I was in the mood for something fruity tonight so…ta da! Now give me a cookie. [Just kidding. Maybe. Do you have cookies?]
She had written down a 30 second steep time, was counting it in my head and I got a little distracted [not surprising] so it was probably closer to 45. Not that I’m sure that would have made a huge difference. It didn’t come out bitter or anything, thankfully.
The liquid smells distinctly of apple. To me it’s clearly apple of more of the granny-smith, green variety, but also…baked. Something about it makes me think of apple baked into a pie without the additional seasoning.
At first, the taste was very much like every green apple candy I’ve had without about 95% of the sweetness. As it cooled down, however, it began to fill out. I can’t place exactly what it was that happened, but I think that I got a little bit more of that sour taste [in a good way] and the sweetness balanced out really nicely with it. By the time I reached the bottom of my cup I was pretty satisfied.
I hardly got any sencha taste, though it could very well be that it just mingled very well with the apple taste. In looking at the leaves, I hadn’t been expecting a really bold, robust sencha taste [they’re a bit dark and a little twiggy] so I think that this is a case of the quality matching up pretty well with the flavor profile.
I didn’t give this another steep because it was pretty light to begin with, though in the future when I have a little more time I might give it a go just to play around. I definitely enjoyed this, but as we almost always have apples around here I usually just eat one when I’m craving one. So, I don’t think that this is going to be something I’ll order.
This is the third of the three teas that I recently purchased from Den’s tea and this is by far my favorite of the three. Of course that is a slightly unfair comparison because the other two were senchas, and I am a much bigger fan of gyokuro, but I felt that the two senchas really did not have that much flavor.
Regardless, this gyokuro has the sweet/bitter combination that you expect out of a gyokuro, but it also has an interesting note of pine tree after the initial burst of flavor.
Here’s the second of three teas that I recently purchased when Den had a sale of a few of his teas. I brewed this in a 4 oz Kyusu that I purchased from Yuuki-Cha, and I followed Den’s instructions for the first steeping (160 degrees, 30 seconds, 1 teaspoon or 3 grams for me).
As with the sencha that I had yesterday, I really don’t feel like I’m getting the full array of vegetal and seaweed tones that I typically get from my other senchas. This certainly isn’t a bad tea per se, but there is nothing special about it. I did enjoy this one a little bit more than the sencha-ryoku I had yesterday, and this tea also had a beautiful emerald green brew.
Next time I think I am going to try steeping perhaps with 4 g of tea for the 4 oz of water. Den recommends a teaspoon (I’m guessing 2-3 g here), but perhaps i need to try a little more and see if that gives me the taste I’m looking for.
There is just the slightest tinge of bitterness to this tea. I suspect that I over-steeped it by a few seconds. Nonetheless it is still quite nice. It smells buttery and vegetal with just the slightest hint of flowers. My beloved says that it smells like a meadow and I can sense that as well. The taste is warm and calming with the same buttered vegetal promised by the fragrance.
I had to go off on a variety of errands, which seemed like a good excuse to try out my marvelous new JoeMo tea travel mug that I got through one of the Steepster Select offers (via TeaFrog) and this cold-brewed iced tea from Den’s Tea. I’m so glad I did! All I had to do was place the little pyramid silk tea bag in the tea holder of the mug (which works for loose tea as well), pour in cold water and wait. Den’s Tea suggests an hour, but I was impatient and was sipping wonderful mango flavored iced tea in 45 minutes. The mug is a revelation. It is sturdy, cleverly designed, has a lift out tea strainer, and a mechanism that makes drinking out of the mug a great deal more pleasurable than most travel mugs. I highly recommend it. Here is the link: http://teafrog.com/teas/joemo-xl-tea-travel-mug.html
On to the tea! I was surprised. It was tasty, well-flavored, non-bitter and basically delicious. I didn’t think that cold-brewing would work that well, but it did. The tea has a creamy mango sencha flavor that went well with my errands. Also highly recommended.
This was my first real sencha, so I can’t compare it to others but I can say it was quite good. I got four good infusions out of it (60s, 20s, 30s, 60s). All were pretty consistent, although 2 and 3 had a stronger flavor than 1 and 4. This was also my first order with Den’s, and they sent me all kinds of tea catalogs and brochures and information. Very nice.
Made a quick cup as I’m getting ready to leave the office. Apple-licious…and tastes even better considering I’m about to be off work for 4 days in a row. Sweet!
Merry Christmas and happy holidays everyone!
I’ll be back after the break to post and read about all of the teas we will be getting for Christmas. crosses fingers