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Recent Tasting Notes
When I was going to grad school, I picked up a job working at a beer store the size of a supermarket. I was a craft beer jerk, a snob, one of those guys who sniffs their beer at a bar and writes little notes to themselves and then secretly judges the person next to them based on what they are drinking (or the six-pack they are carrying out of the store). That was my life and my hobby and the only thing I talked about. I thought that working in the “industry” would help me appreciate it more, give me more of an understanding of it and provide me with a feeling that I was somehow contributing to the thing I was so involved and passionate about.
Did I extract information that helped me with beer; the making of it, the tasting of it, the culture of it? No. I stocked shelves. I hated it.
Why am I telling you this? Because apparently, I haven’t learned any lesson from that experience. I recently took a job working in tea. I thought if I immerse myself in tea by talking about it, educating people about it, answering questions about it for people who want to “get into tea” (like I once did), then I would feel like I am contributing to the culture that has given me so much.
It’s not as bad as stocking shelves but its not what I thought it would be. What is, really?
I give people misinformation when they ask me questions, even though I know the real answer. I have to try to get them to buy stuff when they don’t really need it. I tell them its some of the best out there when, really, its some of the same everywhere.
But I appreciate that I get to say I work in the thing I love. I get to try different tea everyday, get to talk to people about tea, and sometimes try to correct (however subtly) misinformation people are provided with (even from the place that pays me to say what they want me to say).
So. Long story short: sorry I’ve been away. Let’s steep.
I am constantly surprised with the selection at Wegmans Tea Bar (or tea areas). Yes, it might all be Ito-En but at least they have lose leaf tea. The Pittsford location has something like thirty teas(!) to choose from, they’re refrigerated, and they look and smell fresh. I got this bad boy from said Tea Bar.
The color is a beautiful lime-ish green, bright but soft. Not neon or highlighter green but close. It also doesn’t look watery. You ever have a green tea like that? One that looks almost creamy when you look at the liquid, not thin or light? Even after the particles drop and collect in a simple sludge at the bottom, the green hue has a slight thickness. Sign of quality or crap, I don’t know.
This is just my opinion but ff someone wonders what you mean by a balanced “vegetal” aroma or taste, I would recommend this type of tea. If you give someone a gyokuro, it might be too much in the vegetal department from 20ish days of letting it sit in the shade. I think this sencha is nice because it not only has that planty, grassy, lightness that a good green has but it also has just a hint of a matching bitterness that is almost imperceptible (probably from the temp. of my water, 170). The mouthfeel matches the vegetal notes and has a hint of weight to it, rather than just a watery thinness. Second steeping was at 140ish and was smoother and had a more mellow mouthfeel.
This is a great green for multiple reasons. It can be a into/intermediate tea to do research on (ex: what is sencha? what is umami? what is the difference between sencha and gyokuro?) when traversing the tea world. I think this is a great sipping tea for morning or afternoon and one that could go well with a meal or alone. I don’t drink a lot of sencha (I stick to Dragonwell as my fallback), but I want to start exploring more of this style of tea because I like the clean, vegetal, lightness of it. It seems very basic but I know there’s a lot going on to make it so simple. All good teas do.
Lastly, if you’ve made it this far (thank you for that…): anytime I drink a pretty high quality green (especially any oolong), my stomach makes CRAZY noises. Not hunger pangs but there’s definitely something going on inside. Does anyone else get reactions from their stomach after drinking tea? It doesn’t hurt or anything.
Yes! There is one bottled tea that I stand by. Oi Ocha has been my favorite for many many moons, and as far as I get into the tea drinking culture, as far as I advance in the tea industry, as dedicated as I am to the fine nuances of a freshly brewed cup— I LOVE my Oi Ocha. Call it a dirty-pleasure. Call it what you will. Just don’t try and pry it away from me.
Definitely shocking to try a costco re-branded tea that I really enjoyed. I don’t drink Japanese greens very often, and almost never drink bagged teas, but this is always available at work and occasionally finds its way into my cup.
It’s a nice full bodied green with that tinge of strong vegetal fragrance that you find in Japanese greens. For a bagged tea it definitely exceeds expectations and I’m shocked to say that I’ve really enjoyed it the few times it’s found its way into my mug.
Was introduced to soba cha at a soba restaurant called Cocoron and it was a great tea to have with food. I picked this up when I saw it on sale but when I brewed this up it had a different flavor than I remembered.
This tea is much more fragrant and has a stronger flavor as well. It has an extremely nutty scent and taste almost like sesame and peanut. This was also sweeter than what I get in the restaurant so I will end up treating this more like a dessert tea.
This might not be for everyone but if you enjoy nutty/grain based teas then give it a try.
I always keep this handy in between drinking hot tea. I enjoy the robust flavor. It tastes of fresh teas and doesn’t have that flavor some other RTD teas have. Highly recommended for those who like a stronger RTD.
Wow! what a difference the chasen makes to matcha! def. worth every yen i spent on it!!!!!! <3
I tried brewing 1/2 tsp in 4oz 140 degree water. Whisked with milk frother. first sip was a huge hit of astringency. I must has miss-measured the temp of the water or something. HAD to add milk today. whew! I was prepared to drink it straight to day but alas it was not to be.
maybe next time. when I have a chasen.
I have to cans from PRD 03/02/2012.
My first experience with real matcha. I love it. I have been whisking it in 4oz hot water and then adding 8oz warmed milk and whisking with a stick milk foamer. I found it is better without sugar. I have been trying a sip or two of the tea just after is is whisked to get more used to the flavor. At first it tasted too bitter/grass/sour. At first i thought i needed to get used to it, but it turns out that if i add the right temp of water i love it. I like it whisked in water that is a bit cooler 120-145. 145 is the highest that i can go before i can’t stand it.
If you try this matcha and don’t like it, please try it again with a different water temp. break out the thermometer and take notes to see what temp you like.
Picked this up at Wegmans in Penfield, NY. Stored properly in a large, airtight metal bin. Labeled as a Wegmans brand yet Ito En’s products match word-for-word every tea on the shelf in the store. Strange.
Listening to Bon Iver, thinking about a girl who probably isn’t thinking about me. It’s ok. It happens. Tea to the rescue.
Mildly grassy but not “liquified grass clippings”. Minimal vegetal tone at first but it disappears. The mouthfeel is light and the lingering but subtle creaminess that rests on the pallet is quiet and calming. It’s like the volume for the taste is set at 4 and the aftertaste slowly turns the dial back down to 1. A relaxed, midday tea, possibly a good choice for those trying green tea for the first time who want a little smoother endnote. Me? I’m just happy to sit here and let this nice and subdued tea do it’s quiet little thing that it does so well.
I just recently tried this tea for my daily work tea. It’s really good and as I usually steep the tea bag twice the taste lasts even for the second time. If you know Japanese the Haiku added on the back are a nice addition as well :)
I would recommend this tea to anyone that loves green tea.
I think this stuff is great. I bought two bottles but was pretty convinced I was going to be disappointed/weirded out by them. Not so. They went fast. It’s actually very clean-tasting and refreshing: straight-up strong-brewed oolong flavour. It’s also one of the only not-water bottled beverages I feel comfortable drinking. I wish I could find more places that stock this!
Sigh… Another sleepless night, this is the second time this week. I suppose it has something to do with my habit of drinking tea late at night, it’s just a hard thing for me to give up because I really enjoy doing that. Night time is my time of peace when I can truly be alone and savor my tea. Soo, I’m now on the hunt for some kind of decaf or herbal alternative. I’m just a little weary of decaf teas and I’ve never been all that fond of herbals for the most part. So hit me guys, what are some of your favorite decafs or herbals?
Anyways, the review. Hehe. Not much to say about this one, it’s alright I guess. Not great, ever so slightly above teabags in flavor. Easy to overbrew and it seems to have some acidity to it which I’ve never really experienced in tea before. But this is the first tea I’ve had from Ito En that let me down, I would still recommend their teas overall, especially their higher quality Japanese greens.
And now I wait for the rest of the Steepster world to get up because I have nothing better to do… :)
A review of Golden Oolong (unsweetened) Tea by Ito En
After another long walk, I am very thirsty and decided to have some Oolong iced tea. I took a tall glass and fill it with ice and after shaking the tea from the bottle slightly I pour it into my cup with ice. I notice that the tea’s color is a golden glow; similarly to the packaging.
As I taste this tea, it makes me think of cantaloupe and I am not sure why. I continue to sip this tea and read the bottles’ label: The tea leaves used for this Golden Oolong are flowery, fragrant Huan Jin guei “Golden Cinnamon”, and hearty and ripe Tie guan yin “Iron Goddess”. Oolong tea is semi oxidized, making it unique from green and black teas. Enjoy its robust and clean taste.
I am happy that I purchased this tea at the Japonaise Café when I last visited them. I am sorry that I did not purchase the Jasmine Tea that they had as well. Anyhow, I have sampled two teas by Ito En and they have both been very good teas.
Man, I sure do love me some Japanese green tea.
A review of Oi Ocha Japan’s #1 Green Tea by Ito En
I am having a cup of this tea after having taken a long walk. I was very thirsty and instead of fixing a hot cup of tea, I opted for a nice cup of this iced tea by Ito En.
Tea’s color is a golden yellow, like a medium light beer color. And upon first sip of this tea I am met with a roasted flavoring, like that of twig tea. So making for a smoky aroma if there were to be any if cooked.
I like the taste of this tea chilled, it is a lively and refreshing taste with mild drying effect. In all, it was a very good cup of chilled/iced tea.
This one is growing on me quite a bit. I need to learn a little more patience in deciding whether or not I “like” a tea, because they almost always end up growing on me once I familiarize myself with the flavors. Smooth green tea flavor with the comforting scent of rice. This tea also has a very pleasant and unexplainable bittersweet nature to it, it starts out with a bitter and slightly astringent bite that turns into a sweet and tangy sensation. With further contemplation I’m realizing that this tea is more complex than I realized.
On another note, I’ve just made my first Mandala tea order and I’m very excited. I got a ripe pu-erh mini-tuocha variety pack, 125 gram Xiaguan FT Flame 2007 raw pu-erh and an ounce of their 2008 silver needle cake. :)
This is my very first Darjeeling, hooray! It’s good to know that it’s organic, fair trade AND produced on a biodynamic estate as well. The dry leaf smells like autumn leaves with a little bit of a fruity scent, overall the smell is reminiscent of a darker oolong. As for the flavor, there’s definitely a little bit of a roasty flavor but the flavor is predominantly fruity, specifically grape. On top of this, there is a little bit of a pleasant astringency. This is a second flush tea, so I’m sure there are better Darjeelings out there but my first impression of Darjeelings is a positive one, because this stuff is GOOOD. This would without a doubt make a fantastic cold-brewed iced tea.
I was about to eat dinner, when my family gave this tea to me. I’ve never heard of the brand before, and have only had Oolong teas served hot. At first, I was unsure, but showed my gratitude. And that gratitude was well merited!
The color of this Oolong reminded me of the Assam Golden Tips from Harney & Sons. I expected to taste something a bit strong. In stead, I got a very nice, honey note, along with a good floral flavor.
To think that I would actually be this appreciative of an iced Oolong is quite strange to me. In stead of taking on fringe qualities, as do green teas when iced, this tea tasted quite well this way. I’ll have to look for this tea when I go shopping, to quench my thirst during the hot summer days.
I was over all pleased with this tea, although I was not sure what the quality of the leaves looked like, which slightly bothered me. However, this was a nice surprise gift.
I went on a bit of an Ito En shopping spree at Wegman’s today and got quite a few of their more spendy teas (this one, Uji Kabuse, Silver Needle, and a Darjeeling). This one sounded interesting to me because it’s pan-fired which is unusual for a Japanese green.
The dry leaf is slightly curled as opposed to the flat needle shape of most Japanese greens, but the deep green color is as one would expect from a Japanese green. The scent of the dry leaf is intense BUTTER (oh yeah!). As for the flavor, it’s very good. Silky and a bit brothy as I expected it would be, with a pleasant bittersweet nature and a definite hint of citrus like the description says. Great stuff.
I’m liking this one a little better tonight, I guess I just wasn’t in the mood for it last night. Smooth Chinese green tea flavor with that sweet rice flavor accompanying it, not bad. I’ll bump the rating up a little bit.
I’m in need of some new teas, is anybody feeling generous and willing to send me some samples? ;)
Drinking this as a bit of a celebration cup, I just got my scores back for the SAT’s and I scored in the 86th percentile. I’m so happy and relieved and the deep and refreshing vegetal flavor and caffeine kick of this tea are making for a very happy me.
I was surprised to see that Ito En also carries some Chinese, Indian and other teas besides just Japanese green tea. I thought this sounded interesting so I took the plunge and bought some. Smelling the dry tuocha, it reminded me of the smell of Verdant’s Cornfields Shu Tuocha which I absolutely LOVE. So I brewed up the tea, let it cool a little bit and started sipping. I’ve gotta say that I was a bit bored by this tea. I’m sure there are other people who would enjoy it because it did seem to be good quality, I’m just not sure I’m a big fan of sheng pu-erh. It tasted like a typical mellow Chinese green tea with a little bit of a salty taste to it along with the flavor of rice cakes and a little sweetness. Now that may sound good on paper, but to me it was just “meh”. Like I said, this is a quality tea and I’m sure that other people would enjoy it, it just seems a little boring to me. It’s the oatmeal of the tea world.