Kyoto Obubu Tea FarmsEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
#SVTTB Round Two – Tea 3/???
Gongfup Sipdown (2227)!
Pulled this interesting sounding tea from the travelling tea box for an afternoon session. After seeing this company heavily reviewed by Cameron B. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try some of their teas. This roasted kukicha is made by repurposing the discarded stems from matcha processing and has a wonderfully smooth, golden taste with warm notes of caramelized grains, nuts, a hint of cacao shell, a sort of brassy metallic note and a sweetness that makes me think of the yellow bush honeysuckles that used to grow around my grandmother’s house that I would pluck as a child. If you pinched them at the base, you could release a small drop or two of sweet floral nectar onto your tongue and it was delicious!! Though I’m always down for a session of grounding roasted tea, I wasn’t expected the full-on nostalgia that today’s session would bring me…
Tea Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CsepgLJOuPA/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaFnOnxPMBk
Drank this tea with an old friend in honor of Ashmanra’s April Sipdown prompt: A tea you serve to tea newbies! Took me a minute to think about this prompt, my answer just kept changing in my head. The imaginary newbie in my head would shift from someone who has only had fruity teabag tisanes but looking to jump into loose leaf, to someone who has some ancient gifted Teavana rotting next to a rusted tetsubin, to someone who is trying to kick a soda habit and is diving into tea. There are so many different paths to cha, and the tea that helps you jump off the deep end is so important, yet personal.
So i decided to ask myself, what was that tea for me? I’ve been a tea person for most of my life, and the pivotal moment for me was when my cousin moved back to the US from Japan and brought us these bagged teas, I couldn’t tell you if they were Yamamotoyama or some other brand. But the two flavors, genmaicha and hojicha – blew me away. I had no idea tea could taste like that!
This is the king’s version of those teabags I had as a child. The scent of the dry leaf is verdant and savory, the soba they use is teeny and chestnut brown – a perfect complement to the big beautiful bancha leaves. I appreciate the use of bancha here, it’s more mellow and a lot less funky than a sencha genmaicha for a newbie. The slightly nutty grassiness of the bancha compliments the popcorn toastiness of the soba cha so well. I had become bored of genmaicha as of late, but this blend combo reawaken my love for my first love tea.
Now if I was starting someone out with this tea, as a true newbie, I’d send them home with some taiwanese oolong. That’ll knock their teabag socks off XD
Flavors: Butter, Nori, Nutty, Popcorn, Seaweed, Toasted Rice
This was an unexpectedly delicious tea. I’m usually wary of dark roasted tea which often taste like ashtray to me so the idea of a roastier hojicha didn’t immediately grab me. However I’m glad I didn’t judge a book by its cover on this as it tasted nothing like what I imagined.
Dry leaves had an amazing aroma of mahogany, oak, and sweet tobacco. I steeped just 1g grandpa style in a teabag. Despite using such a small amount of leaf, the brewed tea was super delicious, very smooth and sweet. The taste is like the sweet scent of a cigar in liquid form but without any ashiness.
Thanks for the sample Cameron B!
Flavors: Dark Wood, Oak, Sweet, Tobacco
Sipdown! (7 | 7)
Obubu sent out a single 5g packet of this with the December subscription box, I assume as a way to enjoy a little bit of spring during the cold winter months. Well, here there is no “winter” really, but still a nice thought!
I followed the instructions I found on Yunomi, and did a rinse first to remove the salt, but kept the liquid. Then I added hot water to the rinsed blossoms and let it steep for a few minutes before tasting it, then adjusted the flavor by adding some of the stronger rinse until the saltiness was where I wanted it.
It’s delicious honestly. Being a lover of salty-sour umeboshi and sakura, this is right up my alley. With the amount of rinse I added, it reminds me more of a sipping broth or umecha than a tea. So cozy and comforting, with the savory-fruity-floral notes of the sakura taking center stage, and a viscosity that makes it taste even more brothy. I do taste a touch of the tart plum notes from the ume vinegar as well, but it’s quite subtle and doesn’t overpower the sakura. And of course, I used a small glass teapot to steep this, and the blossoms fully expand and float perfectly – they’re so beautiful.
Definitely need to add some of this, and maybe the sweet version too, to my next Obubu subscription package. It’s delicious as an infusion, but I could also see adding it to rice and enjoying it in a bento. :)
Flavors: Broth, Cherry, Floral, Fruity, Herbaceous, Plum, Sakura, Salty, Savory, Smooth, Sweet, Tart, Viscous
Sipdown! (43 | 390)
I’ve been slacking on my Obubu teas lately, too many things to sipdown at once! Plus, you know, it would certainly help if I’d stop buying tea… ^^’
Anyway, this is a scrumptious hojicha! It’s apparently made from a spring sencha instead of the traditional bancha. I’m not sure I would know that necessarily, it doesn’t taste more vegetal than usual. But it does strike a nice balance of roasty, nutty, buttery, a touch woody, with plenty of nice autumnal dry leaf notes.
I always have a difficult time finding the subtleties of hojicha and roasted teas in general, but it’s tasty! Not sure I would necessarily order it over their other hojicha varieties. But that’s a non-issue since I still have plenty more hojicha backlog to sip through! :P
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Butter, Grain, Nuts, Roasted, Roasted Nuts, Smooth, Wood
Sipdown! (25 | 372)
Mastress Alita’s Sipdown Challenge (November) – “A weird tea”
Okay, so this doesn’t sound weird from the name. When it showed up on Obubu’s website last year, it sounded like something I would love, so I ordered two bags of it. It’s a combination of sakura blossoms, sakura leaves, and mint.
However… What I didn’t realize or expect is that the sakura blossoms in this blend are actually roasted. I don’t know if this is a thing in Japan and I’ve just never heard of it, or if Obubu just decided to try something different.
In any case, I wasn’t sure what I thought about this tisane. It almost tasted a bit… plasticky? chemical? at first. Or at least the combination of flavors came off that way to me for some reason. But I found as I kept trying it, it grew on me. It’s an interesting mix of gentle roastiness with that savory-fruity-floral sakura note and a little bit of mint. Surprisingly the mint isn’t very strong, the roasted sakura definitely takes center stage.
Anyway, I enjoyed this by the end, which is good because I have another bag to sip through eventually. :)
Flavors: Cherry, Cherry Blossom, Dried Fruit, Fruity, Mint, Roasted, Sakura, Savory, Sweet
Sipdown! (65 | 339)
So I had a batch of Oolong Needles from Obubu previously, but I remember that one mostly just looking and tasting like a sencha, and this one definitely does not! It steeps up a dark reddish gold color.
It definitely tastes like an oxidized oolong. It reminds me of a dancong because of its very prominent and aromatic floral notes (I could be crazy, but when I think of a floral oxidized oolong, dancong comes to mind). There’s a lovely toastiness to it as well, although it doesn’t claim to be roasted at all. On some sips I get sweet honeyed fruit notes that remind me of bai hao as well? Along with brown sugar or caramel and bits of hay and grains. At the end of the sip, I taste a bit of that Japanese sencha umami character hiding in the background, which is such an interesting combination with the other (mostly sweet) flavors.
An interesting tea for sure. It would never be my favorite because those floral notes are just a bit too strong for me, but I enjoyed trying it!
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Brown Sugar, Burnt Sugar, Caramel, Caramelized Sugar, Dried Fruit, Dry Leaves, Floral, Grain, Hay, Honey, Perfume, Raisins, Roasted, Stonefruit, Sweet, Toasty, Umami, Vegetal
Sipdown! (28 | 302)
Mastress Alita’s Sipdown Challenge (October) – “A nutty tea”
Can’t get any nuttier than a hojicha with genmai added!
Although, honestly, I don’t taste much of the rice here? The hojicha is lovely, smooth and toasty with notes of dry autumn leaves, roasted nuts, and dark caramelized sugar. Maybe the stronger roasty flavor is just overpowering the subtler genmai? I do get a hint of it at the end of the sip.
It’s good, and very cozy for fall, but I don’t personally see any reason to choose this tea over one of Obubu’s several hojicha options.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Burnt Sugar, Char, Charcoal, Dry Leaves, Nori, Roasted, Roasted Barley, Toasted, Wood
Another matcha sample courtesy of Cameron B.
Out of the bag, it had a sharp but sweet vegetal aroma. Despite its age, the color was still vibrant. It took a little effort but was able to achieve a nice froth from it. Rich, strong vegetal flavor reminiscent of steamed broccoli without any bitterness. Ended up having it as a latte but actually preferred it straight.
Finally decided to brew this matcha sample after sitting on it forever.
Appearance wise, it was pale green in color and clumpy, likely due to its age. Steeped the entire 2g sample using 175 F water. Took a little while to whisk up due to the lumpiness. Fairly thin and didn’t produce much froth. Bitterness hits the tongue first followed by a vegetal note of cooked spinach. However, it was delicious as a matcha latte with lychee boba. That’s what really counts for me anyway as I seldom go for straight matcha.
Thanks for the sample Cameron B!
Yesterday’s sipdown, sample courtesy of Cameron B. I made this according to brewing guidelines (205f, 6oz, 2 min), but somehow both steeps had an unpleasant bitterness to them. I don’t think it’s supposed to be bitter so I assume that I screwed this up somehow. Alas.
tbh I don’t have much in the way of a substantive review of this sipdown of a sample that came my way courtesy of Cameron B.. I had enough for two cups. I remember enjoying the first and thinking that the roastiness of the hojicha combined well with the nuttiness of the rice. But then we spent the night in the hospital because it turns out my SO has a kidney stone and everything is kind of a blur. I made the second cup when we got home so I could finish it off but I wasn’t really in any kind of shape to be thoughtful about it – I just wanted the sipdown, something that wouldn’t keep me awake, and something that I knew I would enjoy.
Sipdown! (14 | 169)
Also my random tea of the day. I only had one single-serving packet left, so also a sipdown yay!
This is a lovely one – it’s like a mellower version of their Kabuse Sencha. Makes sense given it’s the stems of shaded leaves used to make matcha. Has a nice vegetal intensity to it still, heavy on the spinach and kabocha, but it’s a bit softer and smoother than the Kabuse, and it also has some nice nutty notes to it. The description mentions tomato, which I’m not sure about, but I don’t think that’s really a note I think about in tea, so maybe I just don’t have the association.
Anyway, a very nice and flavorful Japanese green with a bit of a unique character of its own. Happily, I have an unopened bag of this somewhere, according to my spreadsheet. :)
Also, Obubu’s kukicha are all named after birds, and Mejiro (めじろ) is apparently the Japanese word for the warbling white-eye, which looks to be an adorable little green chonk of a bird with white around its eye. :3
Flavors: Cashew, Chestnut, Freshly Cut Grass, Grass, Hay, Kabocha, Nuts, Nutty, Smooth, Spinach, Squash, Sweet, Vegetal
Sipdown! (29 | 126)
I haven’t been doing as well with having an Obubu tea every day lately, so I need to get back into that! I think I just have too many sipdown categories to keep up with at the moment, so something gets left out.
Anyway! This is a spring harvest kukicha, and a byproduct of matcha production. And you can definitely tell the stems came from a shaded tea, there’s a bit of that dense vegetal character. It is overall quite savory, with darker and more cruciferous flavors like kale and Brussels sprouts, with an undercurrent of umami toasted nori and squash notes. I don’t really pick up on any sweetness whatsoever, which is interesting. There is definitely nuttiness though, and it’s a rich sort of nut, maybe even very slightly roasted. I see LuckyMe mentioned chestnut and that seems about right to me.
I haven’t had kukicha in a little while and was expecting this to be a lighter and sweeter tea, and was definitely surprised ha ha! But I suppose it makes sense, given this tea was shaded almost as long as a gyokuro. I do have more of this in stash, along with a couple of Obubu’s other kukicha.
Flavors: Broth, Brussels Sprouts, Chestnut, Grain, Grass, Kabocha, Kale, Nori, Nuts, Roasted Nuts, Savory, Seaweed, Spinach, Squash, Toasted, Umami, Vegetable Broth, Vegetables, Vegetal
Sipdown! (20 | 65)
Sipping down the 2021 version, but I still have this year’s harvest somewhere. This is essentially just the shincha version of Sencha of the Spring Sun. Hachijūhachi (八十八) means 88, because this was harvested on the 88th day of spring, which is supposedly the best day to begin the harvest. Anyway, it’s shincha. Or at least it was about 14 months ago… XD (my cupboard is where tea goes to die)
Steeped via the lazy method, which is doing 3 steeps (60s, 15s, 45s) in a gravity steeper and combining them into one teapot. Someday soon I should really break out the kyusu though…
Very smooth and refreshing, with a lighter grassy flavor (since it’s not a shaded tea). A nice balance of gentle vegetal sweetness, bright and fresh grassiness, and soft umami notes reminiscent of lightly toasted nori. Quite sweet up front, some vegetal umami lingers around the sides of my mouth and tongue at the end of the sip, and there’s a gently astringent grassy finish. Perhaps a touch of light nuttiness as well.
Anyway, enough already. A very tasty well-rounded sencha, and it has held up well despite being 14 months old. I never can keep up with my Obubu subscription. :P
Flavors: Asparagus, Astringent, Cut Grass, Grass, Nuts, Seaweed, Smooth, Spinach, Squash, Sweet, Umami, Vegetal
Gyokuro intimidates me.
Like anything higher-end and expensive, I worry about doing it wrong and wasting something lovely. I’ve brewed a gyokuro only once before, and I was too stressed out to even really enjoy it.
But… I’m too tired to fuss over the details. This is the second to last tea in this sampler and I have more tea coming Friday from Den’s (sigh, I wanted so badly to reorder of my favorites from this sampler but I just can’t swallow $30 in international shipping costs right now), and it’s been such a week, I need to stop putting off the nice things.
This is definitely different from the other sencha. The dry leaves smell….deeper, certainly a darker green, and …..something else. Something I haven’t sensed before. I really can’t believe how deeply emerald these leaves are.
135F for two minutes and… the cup is …. strangely both very pale and very cloudy.
It’s certainly quite unlike any of the sencha. Astringency— is it really astringency? There a lot of it, but it’s also very mild, somehow, It make my mouth water but it doesn’t dry me out nearly as much. It’s full and rich and brothy, savory, something in the aftertaste is almost meaty. Not grassy at all. Fascinating.
The second steeping is brighter, a little thinner, a little grassier, but every bit as savory. The damp leaves smell like dried dates and maybe nuts?
There’s a nuttiness to the third steeping too, I feel like, the richness is starting to fade, but that alkaline-noodle-soup flavor lingers on and on.
The leaves are just so pretty, floating there under the water, almost blue-green, watching them is so relaxing, like an underground jungle. It makes me sort of miss when I kept heavily planted aquariums.
I don’t think I quite love gyokuro enough to justify the price, but it is always a unique and wonderful thing to try every now and then when I get samples.
It’s been a stressful week, and I am trying really hard to slow down. I tried the Spring Sun sencha earlier and was too rushed to enjoy it, there was just too much going on. So I am making a specific effort to pay attention, this time.
The wet leaf smells like… well, sencha. I am having a hard time focusing on anything deeper than that, but there is something different in there, the first word that came to mind was ‘butterscotch,’ though I’m really don’t think that’s right.
Oh, wow. Okay. This first steeping is cloudy and physically thick. I’m not sure what I expected, but that thickness, it’s so heavy on the tongue like… not quite like cream, I don’t get a creamy flavor, but in texture… it’s certainly something. It’s got a mild brothy flavor, a little savory
The second steeping is similar, with some higher notes this time, but that heavy texture is still there. I usually enjoy these textures, but right now it feels like it is commanding such full attention of my tongue that I can’t seem to taste it.
Further steepings seem to be more or less the same. I am inclined to blame my scattered brain rather than the tea. Or maybe I am just coming down with something. It wouldn’t surprise me.
Yet, the wet leaf still smells so full of potential, there’s an almost fruity sweetness there, the aroma of new buds.
When I take a tiny, tiny drop of the tea and roll it out as thinly as possible over my tongue, I can kind of taste past the texture and find flavors similar to the ones I am smelling. Or maybe I am just smelling them this way, hah.
I guess regardless of the outcome, at least the process of focusing on the tea and paying attention in general is still deeply relaxing.
I need to order more tea soon. Specifically, I need to find an everyday sencha so that I can maintain the habit on days when I just don’t have the mental capacity to fully engage with new teas. Or… maybe what I actually need to do is maintain the habit of fully engaging with any tea, on a regular basis, regardless of whether or not I feel like I am up to it.
I haven’t felt up to it in a while, but it forces me to relax, and I know I need that.
I love this like I love any houjicha. It does taste a little ‘cleaner’ compared to most houjicha, like, I dunno, less on the earthy side, more on the peanut-butter-toast side. I don’t know that I’d necessarily prefer it over the basic houjicha, but I wouldn’t mind having it in my houjicha rotation for some variety.
I am trying too hard to do too much at once. This tea makes me slow down.
It does have a beautiful deep sweetness. It doesn’t kick in fully until later steepings but when it does, it really blooms.
Or… maybe it was there all along, but I only paid attention enough to catch it in later steepings.
It has a crisp, fresh vegetal flavor, like snap peas and summer squash, maybe young asparagus. Not terribly grassy or chlorophyllic. This might make an exceptionally refreshing cold brew, actually.
There’s a… floralness to this one, a rich nuttiness and a sweet honey aftertaste. I really, really like it. Like. wow. What even is this? The most glorious thing in a cup. What makes it so different…? I have had so many… still good, perfectly satisfactory roasted teas, but this?? What other level of ambrosia is this?? I feel like this is the roasted-tea ideal I have in my memory and have been searching for, and until now have been settling for less. And less is still… really good, but this is a perfection I have only ever dreamed of.
I absolutely love how huge these leaves are. It’s just a lot of fun to watch brew. A very smooth and comforting flavor. I may actually pick up a bunch of this; it’s very budget friendly and might be the perfect after-dinner tea.
Smelling both the dry and wet leaves really made me want to sneeze, so I didn’t inhale too much.
The first steeping immediately coats the tongue. It’s thick and sour. Kind of a toasty aftertaste. which is weird. Maybe I should have washed my pot more thoroughly after drinking all those roasted teas. Interestingly it’s very mild overall, except when you’re hit with that… sour-astrigency? Maybe lot more sour than astringent, but it hits the back and sides of the tongue in such a thick and juicy way.
It’s…. extremely intense, though, I think a bit too much for me. Drinking it also gives me a weird…. headache/sinusy feeling, and a tickle in my nose, like I am going to sneeze. Is it possible to have respiratory allergies to tea? Did a bunch of pollen end up in this somehow?
I gave my housemate some of it and they also got the nose-tickly feeling from it, so at least it’s not just me.
I think this is the first tea in the sampler I just can’t drink past the first steeping. The flavor is complex and interesting, and I’d really like to explore it more, but it’s probably not a good idea to keep drinking a tea that is giving me such weirdly strong allergy symptoms. I don’t see any of the other notes mentioning this though, so maybe it really is just us for some reason. How odd.
I believe the Brightness tea I tried the other day was also a summer-harvest tea, so it’ll be interesting to see how this differs.
Dry leaves smell plenty grassy and dark green, sweeter, I think, than the last tea, and maybe there’s some milkiness in there. Wet leaves are foresty, mossy and…. why do I keep getting chocolate vibes in these teas?
For once, I don’t think I understeeped the first cup. It’s certainly…. interesting, starting out kind of sweet and brothy and turning astringent and … sour, like a hot and sour soup, maybe. It feels heavy and substantial in the mouth. The second steeping is a bit more immediate on the astringency but also… richer, more savory, less sweet. The sour notes are nearly gone, but seem to return in the third steeping, a umami-adjacent juiciness. It’s got some background grassiness, but that’s far from the focus. I’m not sure I can really define the focus, but it’s… it’s really good and just so interesting, competes with the Autumn Moon for my favorite tea in this sampler. I’d like to get more of each and try them side by side.
Looking at the website, it appears the only difference between this tea and Brightness is that Brightness is shaded for two weeks before harvest, while this tea is not. And I think I prefer this tea to Brightness, so maybe I just prefer unshaded teas? Brightness was still very interesting its own way, and might be excellent in certain applications, but this tea is more to my personal tastes, I feel. I love how so many of the teas in this sampler vary just slightly enough that I can start drawing conclusions like this.
I should start thinking ahead though, as I realize I’m about halfway through this sampler. While I still have enough houjicha to last me ~2 weeks, I should probably start shopping around for new sencha to try, given shipping can take a while. I’ll need to finish this sampler before I make any reordering decisions, so in the meantime I’m open to vendor or specific sencha recommendations, if anyone has any suggestions!