Maiko

Recent Tasting Notes

92

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Flavors: Earth, Grass

Preparation
140 °F / 60 °C 2 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 3 OZ / 100 ML

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92

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88

A lovely tea, with bright flavours throughout all steepings, varying between amongst the sweet, vegetal, and astringent. Very good value, especially for a gyo.

First infusion – 5 g. per 8 oz water, 60 deg., 45 sec.

Second infusion – 5 g. per 8 oz. water, 60 deg., 2:00 min.

Third infusion – 5 g. per 5 oz. water, 60 deg., 10+ min.

Preparation
140 °F / 60 °C 0 min, 45 sec

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85
drank Sencha "Kyo no Tsuyu" by Maiko
66 tasting notes

This is an enjoyable asa sencha, sweet with a touch of astringency in the first infusion, and more astringent in the second. This would make an excellent daily sencha, especially considering the attractive price.

First infusion – 5 g. per 8 oz water, 65 deg., 1:00 min.

Second infusion – 5 g. per 8 oz. water, 65 deg., 2:30 min.

Third infusion – 5 g. per 5 oz. water, 65 deg., 10+ min.

Preparation
150 °F / 65 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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85

A lovely gyo karigane, with a generous mix of leaves to stems (2/3 to 1/3). Sweetly succulent in both infusions, with an endearingly-subtle tartness. The pitch for this is correct: it is an excellent value.

First infusion – 3 g. per 8 oz water, 60 deg., 3 min.

Second infusion – 53g. per 8 oz. water, 70 deg., 10+ min.

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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80
drank Shincha Sencha Kinari by Maiko
66 tasting notes

This shincha brews up a deliciously mild first infusion, with hints of stewed spinach, followed by a pleasant second infusion that is even lighter. Although the taste is quite enjoyable, the stunning green of the leaves (both dry and infused) steal the show.

First infusion – 3 g. per 8 oz. water, 65 deg., 1 min.

Second infusion – 3 g. per 8 oz. water, 70 deg., 10 min.

Preparation
150 °F / 65 °C 1 min, 0 sec
Shinobi_cha

I don’t know how you feel about higher sencha ratios (I usually do 1g to 1oz), but I found this one really good using an even higher ratio. I tried 6g leaf, 4oz water, at 160F for just a minute. (Maybe not the way to drink it every day, but definitely worth a try!)

I saw on your 2nd infusion you went for 10 minutes – if you used a higher ratio, you may not have to infuse for as long.

sherubtse

Thanks for your suggestions, Shinobi_cha.

The leaf-to-water ratio is one I have played with numerous times over the years. I am still experimenting with it. Currently, I am leaning towards small leaf amounts so as to maximise the no. of 1st infusions for a given quantity of leaf.

Best wishes,
sherubtse

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95

First shincha of 2012!

I’ve never had Maiko’s offering, and finally had to try it.
It has lived up to the hype, too. Long, nicely rolled, uniform leaves.

The cup is refreshingly bitter, sweet, and leaves a wonderful aroma in the mouth. I can hardly write more because this is my first cup… thankfully, I hope, of many more to come!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec
sherubtse

I have this one on order. It will be interesting to see if it lives up to the hype for me, as it did for you!

It is also my first order from Maiko. Not impressed so far, however: they have seemingly mangled my mailing address, and only shipped the tea 3 days after I placed my order.

Best wishes,
sherubtse

Shinobi_cha

I think you will like it…but, hopefully it makes up for the bad service.
Did you email them about the problem? Their sales agent Dr. Faerber seems to be quick at responding and nice the couple of times I emailed them in the past (I only ordered once before, about a year ago).

sherubtse

No, I haven’t sent an e-mail, as it was just shipped today. We’ll see how long it takes to get to me, assuming that the postal authorities can make sense of the address.

Best wishes,
sherubtse

sherubtse

Package came yesterday, exactly one week after it was posted. Seems Canada Post had no trouble with the topsy-turvey address. Ordered the Kinari & Shincha Sencha. Will open the former next week, when I have time to really enjoy it!

Best wishes,
sherubtse

Shinobi_cha

Cool; you know, I pre-ordered this one, and they still didn’t ship until a day or two after shincha was released. It took a week for me to receive it, too. But, I couldn’t complain, because shipping was only something like 350 JPY, and Kinari (so far) may be the best shincha I’ve had price-to-quality wise, or at least an excellent value. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on it.

sherubtse

Now that I have the bag open, and ready to go, I need some suggestions on how to brew this stuff. Any thoughts, Shinobi-cha?

Thanks.

Best wishes,
sherubtse

Shinobi_cha

Heh, actually, you almost can’t go wrong. I do experiment, but usually I find myself falling into a similar habit, since it requires less thinking: 1g to 1oz ratio (sometimes a bit more leaf, but 1:1 is a good place to start), at 160F (70C) for 1 minute… up to 1.5 mins. Let me know how it goes for you.

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80

Wasn’t I surprised by this tea?

This was the last and final tea of the gyokuro sampler from Maiko tea, that I bought when it was on sale towards the beginning of the year… otherwise, I never would have tried this, as it is just too expensive. In the sampler though, it became much more reasonable. Anyway, I simply went through each tea, from the ‘lowest quality’ (though all 5 were, according to Maiko, of exceptional quality) to now this, the supposed ‘highest quality’.

In fact, this is not just supposed to be a extremely unique and well-made tea, but it’s also entirely made by hand (instead of a machine rolling the leaves, it’s all rolled by hand).

But, to my surprise, this wasn’t my favorite of the 5.
Now, the trouble with samplers, is that you only get one shot… so if you mess up the brewing, you’ll never know. I usually think I need at least 50g before I can get a decent idea about a tea, so, this review is hardly sufficient.
Nevertheless, while this was definitely delicious, and high quality (in terms of my own experience only, which is limited), it wasn’t nearly as good as the two others from the sampler that are supposedly not quite as decadent.

Once I opened the small bag, it had a very nice, pure sweetness to the smell. The sweetness actually masked the expected marine gyokuro aroma I’ve come to expect. This was very nice, and made me look forward what I hoped would be pure, sweet, and subtle.

The first steeping was good (around 120F for 2+ minutes, 8g sample to 2oz water); there was a soft sweetness present, and I felt like there was a lot going on – macademia nuts, a hint of cherry, and definitely a salty marine/seaweed— more like stir-fried bok choy. However, instead of the tea leaving a strong sweetness in my mouth after the first cup was over, it left a strong, somewhat nutty flavor. None of the pure sweetness that I detected in the aroma. I enjoyed it, but it was strange, not what I expected from gyokuro.

I enjoyed the color of the tea, which was a pale yellow. The 2nd and 3rd steepings, (I went up to 5, but the last two were unremarkable) were decent, the 2nd similar to the first just less intense, the third finally added some of that sweetness I detected in the aroma as well. But, nothing to knock one’s socks of or to pay as much as they’re asking.

One last thing that surprised me about this tea, is that, though it is supposedly hand-rolled, it was nothing like Sugimoto America’s Temomi Shincha (that I had last year). That tea was simply perfect, whole, rolled up leaves that were not broken at all. This tea had many long leaves, but also plenty of small bits and other broken leaves. It just didn’t look like temomicha… though again, my experience is limited.

To conclude this rather long note, I’d say if you’re really splurging, go for Yamshita’s Takumi, Nomigoro, Shuppin, or Jirushi (all of these I’ve posted notes of here on Steepster)… or just go for the sampler, as it is well worth the money. As for this offering though… the jury’s still out.

Preparation
140 °F / 60 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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91

This review is for the 2011. This tea was recommended to me by Iannon who also reviewed this tea. For me, the was the best Shincha of 2011, even beating my usual favorite from Ippodo. Most Uji shincha this season seemed to lack umami altogether and was week on sweetness, this one had both. Like all shincha, it was astringent and slightly bitter –in a the good way.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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91

This review is for the 2011. This tea was recommended to me by Iannon who also reviewed this tea. For me, the was the best Shincha of 2011, even beating my usual favorite from Ippodo. Most Uji shincha this season seemed to lack umami altogether and was week on sweetness, this one had both. Like all shincha, it was astringent and slightly bitter –in a the good way.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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100

I knew this would be good, but not this good.
After the first steep, I lifted the lid and the fragrant leaves make me take a step back. Had I a chair, I would have had to sit down.

From what I can remember, this is as good as the award winning gyokuro from Den’s Tea; actually it is probably a bit better. Not the best tea I’ve had, but pretty darn close.

Even though it isn’t a lot of water (2oz for 8g leaf), the tiniest sips explode with flavor. It’s intense.

100 – what more can be said?

Preparation
140 °F / 60 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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97

As Maiko’s description states, this has quite potent sweetness, yet it is very smooth. Other gyokuro I’ve had, the sweetness was good far too powerful. The sweetness of this tea is intense, but at the same time mellow; perhaps it’s more accurate to say the sweetness fills one’s mouth, but is simply delightful.

The second steeping was less sweet, but again was extremely smooth and balanced, marine and umami and sweet, but none was too much.

Even though I did the first steeping with ice cold water, I think it would actually be better with warm (140F); , the icy water method is good, but doesn’t yield as intense a liquor, and I think warm and mellow just go better together (2nd steep and on I did do warm/hot but still).

This was very good! Hope to get to try some again some day.

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more
Shinobi_cha

If you’d like to try their 5 high quality gyokuro set, look here: http://www.maiko.ne.jp/english/shopping/yamashita-gyokuro.htm – Scroll to 5 High Quality Gyokuro set. It’s not as cheap as when I got it on sale (about $31 for 5 samples, 8g each), but it’s not terrible if you compare to the cost of buying them individually. It will probably go on sale again next spring.

Jesse Örö

Interesting this concept of kuradashi cha, I had never heard of it before.

Shinobi_cha

Yeah, my experience with kuradashi cha so far has been very good! (2 gyokuro and one sencha)

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77
drank Maruyama by Maiko
280 tasting notes

I had a lot of trouble getting a sense of this tea—specifically, deciding whether and how much I like it. But now that I’ve gone through all 100g, I think I can finally review. Part of my problem was that others who have reviewed this tea really seemed to enjoy it, so I had certain expectations.

It took quite a while to find the right brewing parameters (for my own liking at least). I tried first for a typical sencha – 160 for 1.5 minutes — it produced an extremely strong vegetal soup and aroma (what I imagined to be from nitrogen-blasted plants). While I like umami in tea, this was far too powerful to enjoy.

I actually I just realized the problem though—it was out of balance. Perhaps if there had been more sweetness, marine, pine, lemon, bitterness, or even a sense of astringency all working together, it would have balanced out the over-cooked veggie taste this seemed to have. But that just seemed to take over. Unlike other senchas that get more bitter with hotter temps, this tea seems to get more veggie.

However, I did finally try brewing this lower, at 150 for 1 minute. There still was a sense of drinking tea that came from a plant that was heavily fertilized (as I said before ‘nitrogen-blasted’), but there was more balance and subtle flavors that were enjoyable.

In the end, I would say I enjoyed this tea and didn’t have to force myself to drink it, but I won’t buy it again. I’m sure that’s just my own personal preference.

Preparation
150 °F / 65 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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98

The leaves of this tea are beautifully long, thin, and dark green.
After waiting 15 minutes for the water at nearly freezing to unfurl the leaves, the resulting ‘broth’ was very pleasingly sweet and extra smooth. Opening the lid of the kyusu, the wet leaves wafted strongly marine and even peppery aromas, but the tea only had some hints of that flavor; actually I found that quite nice, because the pure green smoothness and sweetness were quite nice enough.

Further steepings (#3 at this point) have all been full of flavor. Not quite as sweet or smooth, the marine or seaweed quality stronger, but still much more of a ‘broth’ still than simply leaf-infused water. There is a bit of returning sweetness in the throat too…

Hopefully I’ll get another 2-3 steeps out of it before it’s gone. What a nice sample!

(part of the Maiko Tea Yamashita Gyokuro sample set, which I found on sale earlier this spring)

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more

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83
drank Shiawase Cha by Maiko
252 tasting notes

Thank you Shinobicha for giving me a sample of this!

This is my first tea with actual seaweed slipped into it. The dry leaf smells so tasty. I decided to eat some of my favorite Japanese rice snacks with the tea. It was just a great clash of tastiness. This is the most mellow genmaicha I have had. I taste a little seaweed at the very end along with sweetness. I have had kukicha where it was more roasted, and I like this better. Overwell, everything is balanced well.

The second brew, I taste more seaweed! I need some white tuna roll or some seaweed salad STAT!

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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96

I recently bought a Gyokuro sampler from Maiko Tea (until the end of March, they have a pretty good sale going on) because it was $20 off! It includes 5 of their highest quality samples, a few of which (I think) are Temomi (hand-rolled).

This one is the lowest end of the spectrum, but is by no means cheap or boring! I tried half the sample with regular brewing parameters (warm tea, 140, 150, 160, etc), and the other half with ice brewing (34, 100, 140, 160, 180, etc.), to get as good of an idea as I could about the tea. The unfortunate thing about sample sizes, especially for green teas and certain black/oolong teas, is that you don’t get to really experiment and figure out your ideal way to prepare it. I find it takes at least an ounce to figure that out, if not more.

Anyway, on to this tea.

The loose leaf smelled like what I’ve come to expect from gyokuro, but less strongly marine. The ice brewed wet leaf brought out more of a marine aroma, but that was covered up by a strong peppery-sweet smell that was unique and grabbed my attention.

What really impressed me about this gyokuro though, was the lack of strong marine/umami flavor AND the kind of sweetness it had. It was a soft, rounded sweetness that didn’t overpower you, but was fun to taste and also delicious! Don’t get me wrong, I very much enjoy the marine-like qualities of a typical gyokuro, but it is fun to find a tea that stands out from the crowd.

If I were to make a sweetness spectrum, I might write it like this:
honey / sugar / caramelized sugar / syrup / high fructose syrup / fake sweeteners

Now, I’ve had gyokuros that were so sweet, they were close to the fake sweeteners end of things. There was a quality about the sweetness that was extremely intense and took some getting used to. This tea, on the other hand, was much more like honey end of the spectrum. It had a smooth sweetness and really, it even tasted like honey. In one of those cups, I definitely detected some kind of oolong-like fruity flavor as well.

I really enjoyed this one, and since it is pretty affordable (I think about $11 for 50g), it would be one I would get again. If you like a stronger emphasis on sweet (rather than vegetal or umami) in Japanese greens, I would definitely go with this one.

Preparation
140 °F / 60 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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74
drank Shiawase Cha by Maiko
280 tasting notes

This is a fun tea. I had somewhat high expectations for it, hoping it would be like a ‘high-end’ genmaicha or equivalent.

It is quite sweet from the kukicha (karigane), and the matcha gives it a strong flavor. However, it lacks the long-tasting sweet aftertaste I’ve found a number of good genmaichas have. The kelp isn’t a strongly present flavor (to me at least), but it certainly adds something unique. The main issue besides the lack of the strong aftertaste is that the texture seems a bit thin, especially steeps 2 and on.

That being said, I like this tea, and it might be one I would get from time-to-time (as an alternative to regular genmaicha).

This is my first tea from Maiko, and I have to say, their packaging is awesome!

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 45 sec

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94
drank Maruyama by Maiko
64 tasting notes

Sweet, smooth, vegetal, incredible. This rocks my world.

Would happily lay down the coin for this.

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80
drank Sencha Hachiju-hachiya by Maiko
26 tasting notes

Neutral profile. Decent balance but not exciting at all.

Price: $13.50 for 100g.
Buy Again: No

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93
drank Maruyama by Maiko
26 tasting notes

Sweet nutty aromas. A delicate sweetness and a touch of spice on the palate – lovely depth, balance and carry.

One of my favourite green teas this year – top shelf Asamushi.

Price: $20.25 for 100g.
Buy Again: Yes

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 1 min, 15 sec

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91

This tea probably deserves more than my lazy Steepster tasting notes. And yet…

It’s good. Among the best shincha I’ve had, though not my absolute favourite. It’s also not my favourite Maiko tea, but it’s quality, and I would not be disappointed if I bought it.

Shinobi_cha

What is your favorite?

Katie Cooper

I don’t tend to have a single favourite of any tea; there are always several in any given day. However, the one that comes to mind right now is Den’s 2010 Houryoku. It really meshed with my tastes.

Shinobi_cha

I really liked that one, too.

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92
drank 2010 Shincha Sencha Kinari by Maiko
26 tasting notes

I thought it displayed excellent flavour purity, lifted fresh aromas and great balance on the palate. Really refreshing as well. One of my favourite Shinchas in 2010, just behind the O-Cha Sae Midori.

Price: $18 USD for 100g
Buy Again: Yes

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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79
drank Shiawase Cha by Maiko
207 tasting notes

What a soft, sweet and pleasing cup of tea. I was honestly quite surprised. I had assumed that it may just have too much going on for it, but really it melds together with nice softness and sweetness. The rice is not overbearing, but well-balanced in the profile, adding a delightful toasty note to the green sweetness from the matcha and the extra kick of kombu, which acts to deepen the kelpier flavors of the green tea beneath, which alone, I think might come across as quite and understated in this example.

Satisfying, hearty and fun and seemingly versatile. I think this would pair very well with a lot of umami-forward foods and fish fat. Thanks Chip for throwing this in!

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88

Very Nice Asamushi. Good balance of taste between mellow and astringency. Use low water temps and medium steep times

Preparation
145 °F / 62 °C 1 min, 0 sec
iannon

2nd steep: 30 sec, 3rd + steep: 1.5-2 min

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