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Recent Tasting Notes
This is the first time I’ve consciously had Gyokuro Konacha. From some casual reading, I understand that it is sometimes served at sushi restaurants.
So far I’ve tried it two ways–first, an eyeball amount of Konacha (probably a tablespoon), and about 16oz of hot water (probably around 170(f)). This proved to be overwhelmingly strong, and unfortunately reminded me of a typical grocery store bagged green tea (the saw dust stuff) that might make you queasy from tannic bitterness and seemingly oxidized from a complete surface area air exposure (because the tea granularity is so small).
Having feared I bungled it, I followed Hibiki-an’s directions precisely. I added 7g of Konacha to 200mL of 149 degree(f) water. Then steeped for precisely 45 seconds. The result was thick and strong. I suppose I had no idea how little 200mL was. It’s less than 8oz(1 cup). I am not used to drinking tea this way.
After two methods that did not work out well, I may try a more diluted solution in cooler water. I tasted the leaves, and they are actually quite fresh and delicious, kind of a smooth, woody and chlorophyllic (the way good standard gyokuru often tastes).
I recommend this tea because it is educationally interesting how a “fine dust” version of gyokuro can be so temperamental and, if harshly prepared, can be so unforgiving. Also, I’ve tried two other Hibiki-an teas, and they are absolutely without a doubt some of the best quality and value teas that I have ever had. If you haven’t tried their Karigane, it is amazing and honestly a super great value.
Flavors: Grass, Iodine, Pine, Plant Stems, Tannin, Wood
I saved the best for last. :) I have had my eye on this tea for a while, like around 6 months I think. Houjicha is one of my favorite teas, so I’m really looking forward to trying this one from a new-to-me tea company. This is grown right in Japan! It doesn’t get any better than that. Thank you to Sil for sharing this sample!
Ohhhh, yes! The brewed tea aroma is intoxicating and instantly made my mouth water. The taste is a perfect roasted green tea flavor. It’s roasty toasty and delicious! I’ve had several different types of houjicha, and this one is particularly buttery. I don’t think I’ve encountered a buttery houjicha before. It’s really interesting and complements the roasted notes nicer than I would have thought.
I love the description of this tea: “Houjicha is a source of health for farmers, and Japanese farmers are well-known for their good health.” LOL! I didn’t know that! :P If you’ve never tried houjicha before, this is an excellent one to try. Its buttery notes are unique, but it still maintains the prefect roasted flavor that I would expect.
Houjicha is nothing like unroasted green tea (sencha, matcha, gunpowder, dragonwell, etc). It’s not grassy at all and instead can be quite nutty. I think this particular tea is less nutty because of the added buttery notes. Nevertheless, it’s a great representation of what roasted green tea has to offer: a tasty warming cuppa!
This is truly a delicious and special tea. I’m savoring every sip. Mmmm, yum! And now I know that Hibiki-an offers excellent quality teas. I’ll have to check them out further, and I’ll probably pick up more of this while I’m at it. ;) Thanks again, Sil!!!
I am pretty new to genmaicha. Have only had one other one, which was tasty but not organic. I’m very interested in the organic teas now, after learning about so many pesticides on conventional grown ones. Anyway, I just opened my packet of tea, that I received a week after ordering (pretty good from Japan!), brewed it up according to Hibikis directions. It is a beautiful green with a lovely fragrance. I can smell the tea and the rice. The flavor is outstanding, I am drinking it as I write this. I am becoming quite addicted to gemaicha and love being able to order it direct from the farm.
this was sent to me by Halieod a long while ago and it appears as though i haven’t had a chance to log it until now. I’ve had a number of cups of this, though its not always the first thing i reach for. What i like about this is that it’s a roasty taste, without being an oolong ;) I’m glad that i’ve had this one to try! Thanks Halieod!
This is a seasonal offering, so I assume it varies somewhat from year to year, and from what I gather, it’s best to grab it as soon as it comes available in the fall. So this review will only be truly accurate for the 2013 batch.
This particular tea is brewed with more leaves, and at a much lower temperature than most other teas. For a truly mellow cup, you can go as low as 130F. The suggested serving size is 1.5 TABLESPOONS (not teaspoons) for 200ml (about 6.5 oz) of water. Even though you can get three to four good steeps, that still makes for a very pricey cup. According to the tea’s producer, this tea will never get bitter no matter how long it is steeped, although the recommended time is 1.5-2 minutes at higher temperatures, and 2-2.5 minutes at lower temperatures.
For my cups, I chose a moderate 140F, for two minutes. As I have to pour the water from the kettle into a measuring container first, the actual steep temperature is probably closer to 135F. The first cup was strong enough to have a yellow, milky appearance. Despite that, it was not very fragrant. But what an umami punch! As promised, all that goodness dissipated with no bitter finish, only a silky smooth aftertaste.
The second cup was no longer translucent, but yellow and clear. Still only a mild aroma. The taste was definitely fuller, but less umami and more like a regular sencha. There was a slight hint of bitterness but it didn’t stay in the aftertaste. It was not unpleasant as it actually lent some body to the tea. The flavor lingered much longer from the second cup.
Third cup clear and just slightly paler, I noticed that it’s almost a yellow-green. There’s hardly any aroma. The flavor has definitely diminished from the first to the last, which is probably for the best, considering I’m practically having heart palpitations at this stage. I feel like I’ve been drinking matcha. Three steeps is all that is recommended unless you are brewing with the optional extra tea leaves, and I can see why. If I had brewed it at this strength initially, I could probably enjoy the subtle flavor, but after two mind-blowing cups, it tastes weak by comparison. There is still a mellow bite at the end which is rather nice. I feel like I’m cleansing my palate and easing my way slowly out of a tea frenzy.
That wasn’t a cuppa, that was a whole adventure.
Sipdown, 142. Another Sil sample! I don’t know if I’ve ever had a houjicha, so I am interested to try this one. I ended up looking up some steeping parameters from Den’s and roughly following them: 1st steep, boiling for 30 seconds, second, boiling for 15 seconds, third, boiling for 30 seconds.
I was first hit by a roasty scent and a bit of spinachy aroma. This is an interesting tea… It’s roasty, but it’s vegetal. It’s not really like a roasty green oolong, which usually have a hint of floral notes. This isn’t totally my thing, for sure; I’m generally not much on roasty teas, and the intense bean/greens notes in this underneath the roast are also not hitting me right. I think if I wanted that combo of flavors I’d go with a traditional tieguanyin. But I’m glad I got to try this one out.
I love Genmaicha, though I’ve no idea where I first came across it. I’ve never had it dusted with the Matcha before, and am not entirely sure I recognise the difference between this and a straight Genmaicha. Possibly it helps to diminish the slightly bitter Sencha taste. But whatever it is, it makes a delicious cup of green tea! Toasty rice is just the best smell/taste, and it goes so well with the tea base. I think it would be very nice cold in hot weather too – should we ever get such a thing here.
Nope, I won’t be able to make myself like this tea, so I’m offering it up to anyone who wants it. I’m fairly certain this is a “good” houjicha, though I have little enough experience with it. Smelling this and my Lapsang explained it all – that’s smoky, woodfire-ish, even peaty. This is acrid. Doesn’t taste as bad as it smells, but not my cuppa.
If a few people would like to try, I’ll split it up, otherwise I’m happy to send it off around the world again. Please, someone(s), take me up on this offer! I got free shipping as it was part of a 3 packets of 100 g each deal, and the other two I love, so it’s all good.
One thing I’ve learned is that gyokuro is very sensitive to brewing temperature. If water is too hot, the flavour is very pungeant and over-powering. If done right, you will have a very smooth flavour.
In my experience, no higher than 50 degrees Celsius is the perfect temperature for this tea. One minute for the 1st infusion, and 40 seconds for the 2nd. For the last infusion, I use 60 degree Celsius and 1 min, 20 seconds. I find that a small, fast pouring vessel is best, such as a gaiwan or a houhin (I prefer the gaiwan due to the control I have over the amount of sediment/leaves in my cup). When I use a slow pouring vessel like a small traditional-shaped teapot, I find the flavour is off and not nearly as enjoyable.
The dry leaves are dark green and almost needle-shaped. The colour is reminiscent of seaweed and so is the scent. There is a buttery note, along with an aroma akin to the ocean. When the leaves are wet, they remind me of chopped cilantro and parsley and smell like yummy buttered greens.
The liquid is the most beautiful part of this tea. It is a very bright yellow-green that reminds me of one of those fancy drinks you see on television (or in person if you actually go out, I suppose).
When brewed properly, the flavour is vegetal and smooth, like dark greens with a hint of butter. There is a subtle astringency that disappears into an almost sweet flavour that lingers afterwards. It seems to have a refreshing effect on the palette and awakens the taste buds. It would go good with a light meal since it would bring out the subtle flavours.
This tea has a bit of an acquired taste, particularly if you’ve never tried Japanese tea before. There is an ocean flavour hidden somewhere within. I’m not sure if it’s because there is a high salt content in their soil, or if it has something to do with the salt-water breeze, since they’re on an island. Either way, I enjoy the unique flavour and recommend that any adventurous tea drinker should try it at least once in their lifetime. Just make sure that you brew it properly
I did my best to brew this one as described: 7g in 200ml for 1 min, 45 sec, then longer steeps with higher temps.
my friend quickly exclaimed that it tastes, oddly enough, like chicken soup.
It does indeed have a deep mineral salty aspect, and creaminess that suggest chicken soup – with wheatgrass.
smells like fresh grass- very vegetal as expected for a sencha.
after drinking several cups I fely very refreshed, cleansed, surprisingly keen and alert – as if my vision has become sharper and more focused.
very excellent re-set effect – like being reborn into the present moment. an excellent tea to restore yourself around 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. on a workday.
no negative ‘cold stomach’ low oxidized tea effects detected.
The distinguishing characteristics of this tea in comparison with other greens is the salty richness of it. gives the tea a deep, nourishing quality.
I am getting more and more fond of gyokuro lately. It might be because I now have become used to the taste, but also because I now have more experience brewing it.
I have really noticed that to fully enjoy a gyokuro, one should make a decent amount time off to enjoy it. The brewing takes a bit more time and due to the small amount of tea from each serving, it should also be enjoyed slowly, making sure to appreciate each little sip. Perfect on a Sunday afternoon!
The taste is wonderful and produces a mellow and slightly sweet taste with a strong and lasting umami. Unfortunately, the second steep is not as delightful as the first one, but personally I feel that this creates a nice opportunity to make a cold brew or more concentrated iced gyokuro, something I did a lot during the summer.
Certainly, a tea for those special tea moments.
It has been a long time since I have written anything here. A certain earthquake in 2011 kept me busy for a while, and afterwards I guess I did not find the motivation to continue logging as much. That is, however, all in the past, and I hope to keep blogging here more often from now.
During the summer holiday, some of my friends and I got the opportunity to visit Hibiki-an in Uji. I had already tasted some of their teas and was very happy to visit them. It was also my first time visiting a tea farm, and the experience was a delightful one!
As they did not charge anything for the trip(!), we were more than happy to buy several of their different teas. I have already finished a few, which I will write about later, but now I will use the opportunity to review one I am currently enjoying: Their houjicha bancha.
As most of you probably already know, the bancha part of this houjicha indicates the quality of the leaves. This is very much an everyday-tea and does not contain as high grade leaves as other houjichas I have reviewed earlier. The score will therefore be lower this time, but that does not mean that it does not fulfill its role as an everyday-tea, because that it does. It has a pale roasty flavour that has a very thirst quenching feel to it. It works well both as a hot and a cold brew. Though I think I will be sticking to the hot version for now, as the autumn cold is slowly closing in.
Good to be back!