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Recent Tasting Notes
This shincha surprised me because of how deep-steamed that it is. I would pretty much say ‘super’ deep steamed, because there are very, very, few whole needles. I was a bit surprised at that, because typically, if you have lower-quality leaf material to begin with, deep steaming helps to offset that fact and you end up with a pretty tasty tea in the end.
I assume that shincha is comprised of the youngest leaves and buds that have the most nutrients and flavor of all the harvests in the year (ie, pretty good leaf material to begin with), so that is why I was a little surprised at how deeply steamed it is. Is that really necessary?
It makes for a very yummy tea, but it’s hard for me to tell it is a shincha. The thick brothy consistency, the strong veggie and semi-toasted flavors overpower any of the fresh, young, bitterness I expected. Actually, it reminds me very much of two of Den’s Tea: Fukamushi Yame and Maromi.
While I personally don’t know what differentiates this tea from a regular first flush sencha, it is still good and a decent price. There is a little bit of sweetness mixed with a nice astringency in the aftertaste, and though it doesn’t laste long in the throat (like Shincha Houryoku by Den’s Tea), it is very pleasant and enjoyable.
I know I haven’t posted in a while. Shame on me! I haven’t stopped drinking tea, not by a long shot, but I’ve gotten very lazy with the writing. I do still read, though! Avidly.
Anyway, I wanted to make another note about this tea to add my experience with their Genmai Cha POWDER. Yes, folks, the same tea in powder form. Just as easily as with my matcha – I just pour some powder into my water bottle, shake it up, and voila! It’s the same taste, maybe a tad stronger on the toasted rice than I’ve gotten out of the loose leaf version. Delicious.
Cold, warm, hot, doesn’t really seem to matter in terms of taste. I’ve had it every which way, and it’s still the same amount of deliciousness. My only quid is that it’s kinda expensive. Or at least, there’s a fair amount of sticker shock. (The website claims you can get 600 cups out of a 300g bag, but I swear $40 still seems a bit…high.) After I’m done with this “powder sampler” (which includes sencha and hojicha – DELICIOUS) I’ll probably not be ordering it again. Or maybe not until my birthday. But still. SO GOOD.
I’ve been fairly ill lately, so I’ve cut down quite a bit on drinking caffeinated drinks like I was doing. Right now I’m limiting myself to two cups of tea per day, instead of the quart and a half or so I was drinking previously. Geez, a quart and a half per day! Crazy!
That said, this tea makes it fiendishly difficult to exercise any form of restraint. It’s amazing! It’s the only tea so far that has beat out Constant Comment and Lemon Zinger as top dog in the race for my tea affections. And those have nostalgia behind them!
My first experience with genmai cha was with Adagio’s blend, from their samurai sampler. I liked it quite a bit, but the bitter finish from over roasted rice was a touch off putting. This one doesn’t have any bitterness at all, even when I oversteeped it (2 minutes) experimentally to see what would happen.
At first glance, I’ll admit I was nervous. This blend has matcha, so everything inside the tin is green, green, green. You can sort of pick up the scent of roasted rice, but olfactorially it’s mostly all about the green tea.
Scooping it into the tea basket won’t do you much good unless you already have it inside the teapot – the matcha goes right through. I tend to let my water cool in the pot before I add the tea leaves, so I had the filter basket on top of my (closed) laptop. Green everywhere! I really should think things through a bit more. Anyway, my fix to this was that I measured out what I needed into the lid of the tin, then poured it into the filter once the water was at the right temperatur. Easy as pie.
It brews FAST. I mean, this much is obvious from the fact that the instructions say to step 30-60 seconds, but it’s even more fascinating to watch. The green pretty much starts swirling out from the word go. I’ll expect the matcha is why. It’s a nice light jade by the time it’s done – not quite matcha colour, though. It’s less opaque.
And the taste! This is what I like to find in a green tea – vegetal, but sweetly delicious! I’m not a fan of the “saltier” seaweedy greens. The rice, which was a bit hidden in the scent, comes out beautifully. It works well with the green tea. And now I know for certain that Adagio’s version is NOT what a genmai cha is all about. No hint of bitterness anywhere.
The tin says to pour to the last drop, and they’re right to say so. As you get to the bottom of the teapot, the tea becomes sweeter and more flavourful. I love it!
One thing I haven’t had the chance to try is whether this resteeps. I have a little collection of ziplocs with genmai cha that I’ve only brewed once, in the fridge. After my little debacle with resteeping Lemon Zinger, I’m shy with all of the teas.
This is an awesome houjicha! Complex, sweet, mellow, smooth, delicious. I’ve had it before, but that was just one tea bag and so there wasn’t enough leaf. It could have gone longer, but it lasted three, full-flavor infusions. As good as the best houjichas I’ve had to-date (with one exception, Tencha-kuki houjicha from Den’s Tea, but that’s almost in a category of it’s own). In summary: thumbs up! Glad I have 2 oz!
I was entering new territory trying a roasted green tea! So I carefully studied the website before brewing my first cup. I wanted to get it right. I followed the instructions, adjusting the water temperature a bit for my own taste. I’ve never had a tea I only steeped for 45 seconds!
I took a sip, then another and another. I loved this tea!!!! It has a lovely nutty flavor – maybe a bit like chestnuts. When first brewed and still very hot, it still had a bit of the fragrance of tobacco and grass, but that quickly faded as the tea cooled. It also became sweeter and sweeter as it cooled! I have never tasted such a sweet tea that was not flavored to be sweet!
How appropriate that this would be my 100th tasting note.
I’ve been looking forward to trying this tea since I got it in May, but the right opportunity never presented itself.
I’ve giving this 100; but this really is higher than any other 100 I’ve given. The award-winning Gyokuro that I got came close, but this was even better. If I could give 110 to this, I would. It is worth every penny at $1.50/gram (though, I wouldn’t want to buy more than what I did, a packet of 10g).
Anyway, this had all the best flavors of Japanese green tea, and none of the things that people don’t like when they avoid it. No bitterness whatsoever, not even a hint. No astringency. No nuclear green-ness. No overpowering vegginess.
I like bitterness and astringency in the right proportions and in the right tea; and I like the fresh vegetable flavor that comes with Japanese greens. No other teas are like them.
But this was the kind of tea even a non-green-tea-drinking individual could love. Or at the very least, appreciate.
The dry leaf was long, full leaves, and smelled sweet and marine/seaweed like. It was rich and intense. Just like the picture above.
The brewed leaf opened up to reveal whole leaves with the a small amount of stem. The color of the liquor was a beautiful, almost bluish-clear-green.
The taste was similar to the award-winning gyokuro, but less intense and marine/seaweed-like, and a lot sweeter. It wasn’t sugary sweet, but sweet in that calming, refreshing, delicious way that Japanese greens are.
And it went for 7 steeps and still had lovely flavor through each. I probably could have kept going.
I heard about hand-rolled Japanese green tea, but it didn’t look like you could find it online here in the U.S. No one carried it – even specialists like Den’s, or Maeda-en, etc. It’s just their ‘Traditional Tea’ that they make and drink for the enjoyment.
I did find it on a Japanese site (Kaburagien) later, but …. I found it!
Sugimoto America offered it for a short time in late April/early May. You can read more about Temomi cha on their blog (Google Sugimoto blogspot). This is the way Japanese green tea used to be made, and this is the way it is supposed to taste!
For any green tea lover, especially Japanese greens, I definitely recommend watching for it next year. You will probably be able to pre-order in April again from Sugimoto. :-)
The best analogy for this tea that I can give is this:
There are fruits and vegetables that you buy at the grocery store; ok they’re good. Then there are the vegetables that you buy organic or high quality from some place like Whole Foods, pretty good, sometimes you can tell the difference.
Then there are those times when you’re at your grandparent’s house and they bring in from their garden fresh _____ (insert favorite fruit or vegetable here). Or maybe you have your own garden. The difference in the taste between food you eat from a garden, and that which you find mass-produced in the grocery store is really significant.
I remember tasting green beans from my grandfather’s garden and thinking, ‘Wow! So sweet, so delicious! I don’t believe I’ve ever REALLY had green beans before until now.’
That’s exactly what this tea is like. It’s like they brought it from their garden to you. The way all tea was meant to be made. Everything else you can get is the mass-produced stuff in the grocery store for everyday living. Or at best maybe a Farmer’s Market.
I imagine that one day, in Heaven, on the New Earth, I’m going to have the privilege of being able to work in a tea garden and learn from some expert how to roll my own temomi-cha and drink the tea I learned to make. Organic, pure, grown in conditions not possible here. I’m so looking forward to it!
THE BIG FUKAMUSHI TASTING CONTEST
So I recently tried 5 different fukamushis, took notes each day, and now I’m ready to post the results and rank them! I used as equal parameters as possible to eliminate factors that could have affected the flavor or results. I am no expert or scientist; plus the results pretty much lined up with the cost of each tea, so there’s no big suprises here either!
(I’m going to put only the tasting note for each tea involved under the steepster profile of that tea, but the results I’ll include on each one).
Sencha (Fukamushi) Sugimoto USA
4 oz + 2.5g leaf in teabag (1+ tsp)
1st – 160, 45scds: The color was a very pure, light green. It almost looked more like a gyokuro, (it still smelled/tasted like sencha though). The first thing I noticed about this tea was how sweet it was. It felt like very high quality leaves…it was a very sweet-tasting tea, and very delicious.
2nd – 180, 15scds: I could still feel the tea, it did not taste watery, but I didn’t taste much of anything either. That’s the trouble with this sample….the first cup of tea was excellent and a good fukamushi (at least, I only know it was that because they say so on their website).
3rd + 4th – 212, 15scds: The last 2 steeps were the same as the 2nd essentially. A deeper green color, I could feel the tea, and while it didn’t taste watery, I didn’t taste much of anything either. I would really like to sample some of Sugimoto’s loose leaf. I think they would be fairly high quality and decent value, but I can’t tell from the 3 sample teabags I’ve tried.
1. Shincha Houryoku (Den’s)
2. Fukamushi Sencha Yame (Den’s)
3. Sen Cha (Sugimoto USA)
4. Fukamushi Sencha Special (Den’s)
5. Ocha-Zanmai Fukamushi (Yamamotoyama)