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Recent Tasting Notes
Woo, this is my last untried tea from Yunomi! This one was a free sample that they included with my recent order. I wasn’t expecting a sample and I was very pleasantly surprised to see the little kraft packet! I will say, I very much enjoy Yunomi’s new branding, it’s so clean and graphic! And their new sample packets are cute too, and they have steeping instructions on them (too bad I didn’t notice before steeping, ha ha). Anyway, on to the tea! The leaves are extremely thin, and some of them are slightly twisted. The color is a dark hunter green. Wow, this smells very different from the other sencha I’ve had lately – it’s drier in a way? Quite sweet with hay and grass elements.
The steeped liquor is a pale and clear yellow with a touch of green. I was afraid I understeeped this because the aroma is quite delicate – I can smell sweetness and some hay-like notes. However, after tasting it I’m confident that 45s was plenty of time. It does have a rather light and delicate flavor, but it has sufficient dimension to convince me that this is the way it’s supposed to taste. I will say, this absolutely makes me think of Spring, so the name is perfect! It has a nice sweetness as well as a touch of astringency that makes me want to drink more. There’s a strong and surprising hay-like flavor that reminds me of white tea a bit, along with a little bit of bitterness that balances the sweetness nicely. I can taste light vegetal and grass notes, but they’re much more subtle than most sencha. There’s a subtle fruity note here, something mild and sweet like apple. Overall, quite tasty!
Flavors: Apple, Astringent, Bitter, Grass, Hay, Sweet, Vegetal
You know what is just crazy awesome to me? The tea group that I created back in early 2013 on facebook is 12 members shy of 600. That is mind boggling! I started it at my friend’s insistence as a place for us to babble about our shared obsession and as a place for me to teach them about tea, or at the very least point them to the books and websites I used to learn stuff. It started out pretty slow, just some friends and friends of friends, and then it really took off. Before long I enlisted the help of my mom as an admin, and it was only a couple of weeks ago that I was telling the group how awesome it was that we hit 500 members. It is a labor of love, I get frustrated with it at times but my little tea group is awesome, I have met some amazing people because of it.
So, remember back in June when I reviewed Sencha of the Summer Sun? Well, I am drinking the same tea, except this time it has been roasted into Yunomi: Obubu Tea #14 Houjicha Amber Roast. This is really exciting to me, it is like visiting a new friend who got complete facial reconstruction and is still the same person but is also totally different. Ok, that analogy failed utterly, but I hope the gist of what I am saying comes through. Unlike my experience with Obubu’s Smoky Roast and Dark Roast I did not get to know the tea pre-roasting, so being able to taste and smell the pre-roasted Sencha is pretty amazing. Enough of my tea geeking out, on to the sensory analysis of the tea leaves. Ok, the aroma of this Houjicha is fun, it starts off as sweet roasted marshmallows and a touch of campfire, it then transitions to toasted sesame, burnt grass, and lastly a tiny wisp of distant sea air. I very much so had a vision pop into my mind of roasted marshmallows on a beach, the fire made from driftwood and sea grass. What is it with roasted teas and their ability to send my brain to such wonderful places?
I decided to brew the tea in my trusty basket inside a teacup, I know I am betraying my kyusu, but when I took the tasting notes for this tea it was really close to me leaving to come out to PA and my breakable teapots were packed away, must keep safe from the cats! The nicely steeped tea smells like a seaside campfire, complete with the slight aroma of toasted seaweed. It is not as sweet as the dry leaves, mostly savory and toasty with a distinct umami. The liquid is a blend of soothing toasted sesame, a touch of seaweed (kelp, specifically) and a bit of smoke. As smoky teas go this is pretty mild, none of those strong char and burning things notes, more like a fire in the distance.
Ah, this is a nicely savory Houjicha. There are, at least that I have experienced, two kinds of Houjicha, the ones that taste sweet like roasted marhsmallows, and the ones that are savory and rich. Obviously this greatly depends on the tea, and since Sencha of the Summer Sun was not a sweet Sencha, this totally makes sense. Yunomi uses the word robust to describe this tea, and I agree, it is a good description, the umami mixture of roasted kelp and campfire washes over your tongue, again it reminds me of a seaside bonfire. At the very finish transitioning into the aftertaste you get a touch of toasted marshmallow, this delicate sweetness with a bit of smoke lingers for quite a while. I can see this being the perfect end of summer beginning of autumn tea, it reminds me so much of that last visit to the ocean before summer is over, but you can start feeling the chill in the air at night.
Flavors: Campfire, Marshmallow, Ocean Air, Seaweed, Smoke, Toast
A nice everyday tea.
The dried leaves smelled grassy and were a mix of broken large tea leaves and stems.
I used 250ml of boiling water to 3g of tea for 30 sec for the first two infusions. 4 infusions were possible.
The liquor was a pale greenish yellow with a subtle flavor of hay-like sweetness.
It´s a mild tea with a short finish.
Flavors: Grass, Hay
I’m in the mood for some Sencha, and this one has a beautiful name. It says that it’s ‘Grown on northwest facing slopes near the Wazuka River’. That sounds magical!
The raw leaf has a gentle toasted grass scent with a dry finish.
They are dark green in colour with quite a few light green stem pieces. For the most part they are long and thin with reasonable shine.
Leaf – 4g
Water : Volume – 100ml
Temperature – 80 C
Steep time – 30 seconds
Flavour is sweet and grassy with light floral tones. Subtle strength overall with a minimal dry after taste. Slightly bitter and crisp.
Further steeps bring out a toasted grass quality which matches it’s raw scent. As the sweetness thickens with the astringency it becomes hay like.
I like this one though it doesn’t compare well against my favourite Sencha’s.
Still working my way throguh the Obubu sampler pack…
I don’t believe I’ve ever had a hojicha made from roasted sencha before. I saw that this should have been steeped for less time than a regular hoji after I started steeping it…. so I steeped mine for 3.5 minutes. I hope that wasn’t too long. :-/
This has a definite roasty smell and seems lighter in flavor than your normal hoji. I am getting notes of caramel, coffee and a bit floral. Unfortunately I think I might have overbrewed this because I also get a bitterness in the finish that I am not really enjoying. I wish I had more of this to play around with but won’t rate it for now. FAIL!
This houjicha has a really noticeable bitterness in the aftertaste, and seeing that it is made from Sencha of the Summer Sun, it’s understandable. That tea also has a bit of bite to it. It’s hard to describe what sets this houjicha apart from others. It has a bit of that bitter green tea taste that you get from more bitter/robust sencha.
To be honest, I don’t really prefer this to the simplicity of the regular houjicha made from bancha. I like my houjicha to be mild, or maybe just slightly robust, but this one is really robust and smokey/bitter in the finish. The scent has notes of cedar and mustard and the tea itself tastes roasty like a houjicha usually does, but maybe with a bit more of a coffee-like bitterness in the finish. The bitterness really lingers a bit, but it also has a cooling sensation and it is a clean kind of bitterness. It is similar to the subtle bitterness of walnuts.
Not bad stuff, but I think I like the simpler kind more.
Flavors: Cedar, Coffee, Roasted, Smoke, Walnut
Why do heavily roasted teas always register as having a dill note to me? Does anyone else get that? I’m not complaining, I love dill, but it’s just such an odd note amongst all the others.
So i was expecting something much more deep and coffee-like out of this Houjicha compared to the basic roast. In fact, it is sweeter and more mellow than the basic roast, which is a surprise to me. It is so incredibly mild it is a perfect bedtime tea. I am not really getting any smoky flavor though, despite Obubu’s description of the tea, but that is A-OK with me. I don’t think this sweet roasty cha would benefit from that.
The flavors are the usual houjicha ones, a roasted, toasted, deep nutty taste with hints of grain. This one has a bit of sweet bread flavor as well. Really delicate for a houjicha. I’ve had some that taste like coffee or cigar smoke. This one is much more mild and sweet. Great!
Flavors: Baked Bread, Grain, Nutty, Roasted, Toasty
This tea is roasty and comforting. It isn’t as sweet as some houjicha I’ve had but it is really mellow. There’s a bit of sweetness in the aftertaste. The aroma gives hints of burnt cedar… and as usual with me and heavily roasted teas there is a note of dill. The flavor is of toast, a little bit nutty, mild and very relaxing. The wet leaves in the teapot smell like cigar tobacco. Now that I’ve noticed that and the tea has cooled some, I can definitely taste cigar smoke in the taste.
Not a lot to say. This is a really great houjicha.
Flavors: Cedar, Roast nuts, Roasted, Toasty, Tobacco
The dry leaves in the warm kyusu smelled faintly of fruit tree flowers. After the infusion the wet leaves smell sweet with a slight green bean or snap pea scent.
The flavor’s really milky and creamy to me. It’s light and delicate with a very full mouth feel that makes me salivate. Predominantly the flavor reminds me of sweet cream with a mild grassy backdrop.
The second infusion was mildly floral and sweet, and left a sweet sensation in my mouth for quite a while after.
This is perhaps the most delicate of the Obubu senchas, really lacking in astringency and not a really bold flavor either. It’s really smooth.
Flavors: Cream, Flowers, Sweet
I couldn’t tell you what went wrong the first time I brewed this. I am brewing it just the same way but with more leaf to water ratio than the last time. Last time I tasted some relatively strong bitterness in the finish but that is not evident at all this time, so I’m leaving a new review with a higher rating.
With the dry leaves in the warm kyusu, after a minute I uncovered them to smell them. They have a really sweet fragrance that is green and light, similar to Obubu’s “Sencha of Brightness”.
The wet leaves have an almost floral aroma, reminding me a bit of a Taiwanese high mountain oolong. The flavor is light with a good deal of sweetness and a slightly astringent finish. Strangely, the sweetness is so abundant up front that it’s difficult for me to describe the flavors, so I’ll say it’s kind of a sweet grass taste. There’s a definite umami richness with a vegetal taste and there’s a subtle honey-like smell in the cup after emptying it. There is no bitterness in the sip, but just a bit of a lasting bitterness after you swallow the tea.
Like some other sencha I’ve tried from Obubu, the second infusion has a bit of a minty hint in the finish. The tiny bitter hints are still there, so is the strong sweetness up front.
If you like a sencha that starts really sweet and finishes with a bit of bitterness, this is the one to go to. It’s the only one in the Obubu sampler that seems to have that kind of quality. It’s dynamic within the sip rather than dynamic from one infusion to the next.
Flavors: Sweet, Sweet, warm grass, Umami
This one’s off to a nice start, with the dry leaves in the warm kyusu having a scent of moss and crisp iceburg lettuce. The wet leaves smell like more moss and a sort of fruity smell that is like the inside of a melon or a pumpkin, also like the smell of fresh strawberries. I don’t mean the smell of cooked strawberries or strawberry ice cream or anything like that, but the smell of the berries fresh off the vine, tart and ripe.
WOW, that subtle berry-like flavor really comes through in the taste as well, reminding me a lot of strawberries, particularly the taste you get from biting into the seeds or the green part of the fruit. There are background notes with gentle nutty, creamy and woody qualities. A subtle grain-like taste may be a more accurate way to describe it, like rice or oatmeal.
I drank the first cup of this really fast. I could not stop. The flavor was just so good!
The second infusion is more light and sweet, definitely getting hints of pumpkin this time, and I promise you that’s not just because this is an Autumn themed tea. Haha. It’s in the last part of the sip, there’s a mellow pumpkin or gourd kind of taste.
This tea is unbelievably good for the price. I will be ordering some with my next order from Obubu.
I seriously left my room and came back minutes later to a room that smelled like strawberries…
Flavors: Grain, Moss, Pumpkin, Strawberry
Another Obubu tea is gracing my new kyusu. I have ordered Obubu’s Tea Sampler so you’ll be seeing me review all of these at some point or another.
After putting the leaves into the warm kyusu and letting them sit for a minute, the smell they emit is that of fish or lake (Hey, don’t knock it! Lake is one of the 8 fundamental elements in Taoist cosmology!) ;3
In goes the 158F water for 1 minute. The scent of the wet leaves is somewhat like green beans, with a hint of a meaty note like pate, there are also hints of seaweed, sesame and spinach. In contrast, the taste of the tea is really mellow and nutty with a hint of wood bark. There is a green grassy quality too the taste as well but it is on the more dark and soily side of that spectrum, not a bright, fresh dewy tasting grass. This tea is really umami and makes me salivate a lot. The mouthfeel is thick and while I may have used a bit too much water, there is really almost no bitterness present. Sencha of the Earth is a really perfect name for it (really, they’ve all had perfect names that I’ve tried so far) because it is a relaxing, stabilizing and grounding kind of energy this tea has. None of the fishy lake flavor came through in the flavor for me. I wouldn’t have minded a little of it, but for some of you reading this that might be a relief to hear. ;3
The second infusion is more rich and flavorful than what I got with the second infusion of other Obubu teas I’ve tried so far, and now there is a hint of cooling mint-like flavor at the end of a sip. The flavors have become just slightly more “peaked”, a little more tangy a little more astringent. It’s pointing up instead of down now. Interesting! Maybe a little tree has sprouted from the earth. ;3
Though the astringency is very mild, there’s a slight citrusy flavor that starts late int he sip and lingers in the mouth. Pretty awesome stuff. Some sencha are not very dynamic from one steep to the next, but that is definitely not the case with this tea.
The third infusion is really muted and mild, as is usual with sencha. Not a lot to note about that but it’s good enough to drink and come down from the experience with. :3
Flavors: Bark, Grass, Nutty, Umami
So, by mistake I overlooked a response to a tasting note I wrote about Steepster Select’s Obukucha from earlier this year. I was swooning about the briny seaweed notes in that tea, waxing poetic about how it is exactly the taste profile I want in a Japanese tea, etc.
The reply, written 8 months ago, would have saved me A LOT of searching for flavor profiles. Turns out that the salty mineral taste I seek is Uji region specific. D’OH. So I ordered some of that, but in the mean time I have like 5 other senchas to get through before they lose their freshness. This tea, which I got from the Obubu tea club earlier in the year, is one of them.
Brewed at the hot water steeping parameters ( 5g. tea for 6 oz. water @ 212F for 30 seconds), I opened this and the dry leaf smelled immediately of sweet buttered spinach. It looked like jade green grass clippings, so, quality sencha in other words.
Now that I know that sencha varies by region I’m that much more fascinated and interested in picking up the differences for myself. This is an earthy sencha – in that it gives me no marine/seaweed characteristics whatsoever. It is grassy, and again, that sweet, buttery spinach is what I taste. It doesn’t have what I necessarily consider to be umami, but it does have just a touch of astringence when it cools. Overall its a sweeter sencha, and a solid one if salty brothy senchas aren’t your thing.
Also, it pairs quite well with seaweed salad and udon noodles. I can speak from experience :).
Flavors: Butter, Grass, Spinach
This is my first time having bancha. The leaves are all wiry and long and unkempt, pretty fun to look at.
The flavor is subtle and sweet, with a mostly buttery, nutty taste and a grassy smell. The smell of the wet leaves reminds me of wild prairie grasses in the late spring or early summer when they’re still wet and green.
This tea is very mild. I think I could have brewed it a lot stronger than I usually brew sencha and it would have tasted just fine. I can see why this is considered an everday tea. Everything about the flavor is agreeable but not remarkable. It’s the kind of tea you can appreciate without having to give your full attention to, a casual tea-drinker’s tea. I could see myself loading up a tea thermos with this to drink at work, but at home my time is usually filled with higher grade teas that are more of a centerpiece and a dedicated moment of the day.
For an everyday tea though, this has a really nice taste and quality to it. It’s charming and relaxing. As it’s cooling, I’m catching a little bit of seaweed/fish kind of taste, but I’m also alternating this with eating some food now. Otherwise until this point it was mostly just sweet.
Flavors: Grass, Nutty, Seaweed, Sweet
This tea is chock full of umami flavor, very savory. There are hints of brussel sprout and grilled cheese sandwich (mostly the flavor of bread that’s been toasted in a pan with butter). It leaves a really savory flavor in the mouth. I wouldn’t say this one is sweet particularly, just really rich and mellow.
By the second infusion the tea tastes a bit metallic as it cools down. It seems to have expended most of the flavor on the first infusion (only 1 minute). There are fresh green bean and mild nutty flavors, overall it seems very subdued.
I’m a little new to sencha, so I’m not sure how much flavor should be present in the repeat infusions. It seems from my experience that it’s usually a lot more muted after the first, so most of my rating for the tea comes from there.
I actually really preferred Obubu’s Sencha of Brightness to this top-of-the-line sencha from Obubu that is double the price.
Flavors: Butter, Toast, Umami, Vegetables
This will be the first sencha tea to brew and review in my new tokonome kyusu, which is absolutely gorgeous (and my first kyusu). I bought an expensive one because I wanted to be set with one that was really my tastes and not be tempted to buy another down the road. If anyone is curious, it’s this one: http://www.amazon.com/Japanese-teapot-Tokoname-Umehara-7-78oz/dp/B00CD8NPTU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1413654555&sr=8-1&keywords=kyusu+shoji
Anyhow, on to the tea. The scent of Sencha of Brightness is intoxicating after letting the leaves sit in the warm kyusu for a minute. The smell is of sweet corn on the cob, peony flowers and toasted almonds. It’s smelling eerily similar to my all time favorite tea, Kenyan Silver Needle. Let’s see how it brews up.
The brew is a delicate spring green. The taste is sublime. It has an incredibly smooth mouthfeel… and this may sound weird but the texture reminds me of yogurt. It’s velvety and thick. The flavor has a mellow nutty start that changes to a slightly green and vegetal one with afternotes of cooling mint sensation. I can easily see why this Sencha of Brightness was named from the idea of sparkling light reflecting on cooling waters. The tea is very mellow with almost no astringency, only a slight bit in the finish.
On the second infusion the taste is much more mild. It’s still quite sweet and there are little notes of seaweed and grass like one might expect from sencha. The third infusion is also rather light in flavor and tastes similar to the second. I may have used a lower amount of leaf than I should have.
This tea was humbling. I really like it a lot.
Flavors: Corn Husk, Flowers, Nutty, Seaweed, Sweet
My husband chose this tea after our recent Japanese tea binge over the last few days.
This tea is rather finely chopped with some largish stem pieces present amongst the dark/medium green shiny leaves. It has a sweet grass scent with a dry, perfume finish.
Yellow tea liquid is produced with a toasted grass scent, mild but still with some sweetness.
Strength is mild with toasted rice and grass flavours. There is a slight bitterness but nothing major. Also a dominant grassy after taste which sweetens and becomes dry.
A further steep reveals more grass notes with bitterness though it remains mild. Still plenty of flavour for a second steep.
Overall it’s a nice Bancha, the sort that would suit every day drinking. Yes it’s considered low grade in terms of quality but it doesn’t taste nor feel that way at all.
Flavors: Sweet, warm grass, Toasted Rice
This tea tastes very green in the vegetal sense, and there are bean-like flavors present. If I didn’t know any better I might think this is a Chinese green tea. It has more of that flavor profile. There’s a nice sweetness to it and it is lacking the ocean and algae flavors I tend to encounter in a lot of Japanese green teas. There’s this subtle tang on the back of the tongue that is really interesting to me. It kind of reminds me of the tangy feeling of ginseng on the tongue. It’s only just slightly bitter in the finish.
The leaves of this sencha are very long and unbroken. There seems to be a lot of care in their production and handling. Often I encounter senchas with very small and broken up pieces. It makes for a cloudier brew and can be a bit of a mess, but this sencha brews up crystal clear with a ghostly pale green tinge. There are many factors in brewing this tea that make it clear to me these are very high quality leaves, and as this is a sample from a friend I have no idea about the source, company or price at this point.
A second infusion yields a heartier brew with a nice sweetness to it and some interesting notes of cinnamon, camphor, or clove… something on that spiced spectrum. The flavor is just wonderful. I find nothing lacking or “missing”. There’s nothing I can imagine that would improve this tea for me. It’s not the kind of flavor that knocks my socks off, but it is pristine, and that is saying a lot considering I’ve had this tea in a tiny ziplock bag for at least a couple months, so it has not been stored the way sencha aficionados would suggest you need to store it. It has maintained great qualities despite not being kept airtight.
I brewed this tea in a gaiwan. The first infusion was at 158F and I increased it to 167F on the second infusion and 176 on the third. This gentle way of brewing Japanese green teas has never done me wrong. As for infusion times it was 1 min, then 20 seconds, then 30 seconds.
The third and final infusion I drank was even more mellow, with similar flavors to the second infusion but a sort of “bready” taste in the background. This tea is very comforting. I had meant to drink it on a wonderfully warm and sunny day in the summertime to do justice to its name, but I kept forgetting about it and finally just got to it here in the crisp, cool beginnings of Autumn.
I can feel the sunlight and warm breeze and smell the green leaves, regardless.
EDIT: I am revisiting this tea after eating some Barbeque (a suggestion they made on the website, hehe). I brewed it a little stronger than the last time. It’s got a very zesty flavor with hints of pleasant bitterness. There is an almost orange-like flavor that lasts in your mouth. It’s great stuff!
Flavors: Beany, Camphor, Clove, Sweet, Vegetal
Mmm. This sample is my after lunch tea (giant arugula salad).
I like genmaicha but I can’t say it’s one of those things I really adore. This blend could change my mind about that! It’s mixed with one of Obubu’s sweet, light senchas. The combination of that and the nutty, somewhat salty toasted brown rice is really delightful. It leaves a wonderful aftertaste in your mouth that seems to linger. This is one of the nicest genmais I’ve ever had… if I order more teas from Obubu someday I will definitely need to add this, or maybe I will need to become a customer of Yunomi.us ;)
Now it’s back to finishing off my paper before tomorrow’s class (fingers crossed!)
Good (late) morning Steepster!
Ugh, I am tired today, didn’t sleep too well last night and then got up at 5 am with my Sweetie who had to catch a flight. I did manage to nap for a few hours when I got home but don’t feel so energetic yet.
This is one of the samples I got from Obubu tea. So far, this may be one of my favorites. The tea liquor is light and definitely on the sweeter side, with notes of spinach and peas. There is only a very slight palate cleansing finish in the astringency. There’s something about the flavor in this that’s really nice and delicate, but not too light on impact. Recommended :)
Now off I go to apply for some more jobs… zzzz… boring!
Tea #2 of the day…
Wow I was so looking forward to trying the senchas from Obubu, but sadly none of them have really blown me away so far and they all seem sort of similar. I made the sample in my Lupicia handy cooler and was just so eager to scarf down some green tea I am now drinking it by the glassful. Maybe I should have made this is a smaller teapot?
Anyway my tea liquor is very light, compared to other kabuse senchas I’ve had this isn’t nearly as bright green. It has a nice sweet vegetal flavor — reminds me of peas — but with a bit of palette cleansing astringency in the finish. Definitely not a bad tea, jut not super thrilling.
It does seem to be waking me up, however!