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Recent Tasting Notes
Though Yamamotoyama’s mid-level senchas are very good for their price, this “value” sencha isn’t actually much of a value. Even when purchased directly from Yamamotoyama, so that it doesn’t have time to sit on store shelves and get stale, I found it weak and unusually bitter. Doubling the quantity of leaves from one teaspoon to two doesn’t help. Not recommended.
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Green
Though this was a good-quality fukamushi sencha, comparable to the more-expensive Den’s Tea fukamushi and the varieties I would drink while I lived in Japan, it’s now been discontinued, and I advise against purchasing it.
As its packaging is transparent – a very bad choice for green tea – it goes stale very quickly while sitting on store shelves. This was often a problem even before it was discontinued, but now that old stock can’t be replaced with new, and it can no longer be ordered direct from Yamamotoyama, you’re unlikely to find many packages worth drinking.
Yamamotoyama appear to have replaced both the “Ocha-Zanmai” and “Tokusen” mid-level lines with their new “Premium” line; I’d recommend looking for that instead.
Words to describe this wonderful tea: smooth, buttery, light, subtle, defined, very very delicious and addictive. This tea is light without being weak, even on the second steep. I did do the second steep for 3 and a half minutes though, rather than the original 2 or 2 and a half. This tea tastes so amazing without a hint of bitterness or “off” flavors. I really can’t complain about a thing but the price, which for me was around $9.00 for a box of 20 tea bags.
I picked up one of the ‘big’ 200g packs of this tea from a Japanese restaurant-cum-gorcery-store in Manchester, as it was very cheap and looked like it would make a good ‘everyday tea’ – the leaves looked nice and green, if a little broken, through the packet so I thought I may as well give it a try!
The dried leaves had a surprisingly clean, almost fruity aroma – for me, this was a little nice than the smell some highly prized green teas. In my initial brew, I used 1.5 tsp in ~250 ml, with a steep of ~2’. In all honesty, I was quite disappointed with the resulting brew – the liquor looked super-cloudy and it was VERY bitter (for my tastes, anyway). One positive, though, was that even these initial, very astringent sips, left me with lovely fruity after-tastes, convincing me not to give up just yet…
So I through it out, feeling a little embarrassed (particularly after seeing some of the other reviews on here, and seeing the advice given), and rebrewed used the same leaves, this time for 1’30". This second steep was much better – the tea was a lovely golden colour, nice and clean, with a fresh, slightly marine aroma. The tea tasted wonderful too – those classic apricot notes were present, along with a little seaweed like after-taste. As it cooled, the tea became a little sweeter and the mild astringency fell away.
As the leaves were still lovely and aromatic, I thought I’d give them a third steep for 2’ – a good idea! The resultant liquor was a charming yellow-green and had a lovely, marine aroma. The tea still had the fruity, apricot notes that earlier brews had, but it was a milder cup (which suited me fine, now that I’d finished my breakfast!). It still had some seaweed notes, and that gentle astringency.
I would certainly recommend this Sencha as a budget, everyday tea – don’t be expecting the world’s finest, hand-picked, lovingly crafted green tea – this is not that. But for a fresh, flavoursome drink in the morning, I can think of far worse!
(I’ll probably try brewing this again tomorrow, or maybe even later today. I imagine I’ll try giving it a quick rinse first, to reduce some of the initial cloudiness, and I’ll definitely use less tea or a much shorter initial steep – maybe only 60" or so.)
Flavors: Apricot, Dried Fruit, Seaweed
Although it doesn’t say on the package, I can tell by looking at it that it is bancha. Sure, it may be the lowest grade of Japanese green, but I think it is ideal for Hojicha. You wouldn’t want to waste a good sencha or, heaven forbid, a gyokuro, on this type of process. Because of it’s low-caffeine content, I drink it in the late evening without any side effects. Today, I steeped the tea three times in my gaiwan before calling it quits.
Flavors: Brown Toast, Cedar, Dry Grass, Roasted Barley
Jasmine Tea is my favorite tea of all because it was the first of all tea I had ever had with my grandmother when I was 5 years old. She had given me the love of tea.
I first purchased Yamamotoyama Jasmine tea at Koreana Plaza now known as KP Asian Market in Oakland, CA (they have a variety of affordable teas $1.79 and up). First of all, I really like the box and packaging (starting to like the color pink too). Each tea pouch is individually sealed in an aluminum/paper pack (the first I have seen and pretty innovative, maybe just to me). It gives that sort of easy feeling when you want to carry on the go and I usually do. Of course, you can recycle the box but I’d like to keep it.
Usually, how strong you want your tea to taste weighs heavy on this brand. It can turn out pretty strong for just a single tea bag. I am the kind of person who likes strong fragrant smell and taste so I usually steep it for maybe 4 to 5 minutes but according to the package, 1 to 3 minutes is about right or as they say, “to desired taste”.
What else can I say about it? It’s super fragrant in taste and smell so it’s best to follow the box and steep 1 to 3 minutes if it’s your first jasmine green tea (I had some in the past that are way weaker in taste and smell). You can order from the website: http://www.yamamotoyama.com
Flavors: Flowers, Jasmine
One of my favorite frugal morning cups – a regular purchase for me at Mitsuwa (though I’m really there for the ramen at Santouka of course).
Brewed in an Indian made Korean style infuser cup.
Dry, I find Yamamotoyama to produce one of the more aromatic Genmaichas I’ve had – though by no means complex, the toasted rice and grassy tea (Bancha?) synergize with all the sweet potency you could desire.
Spring Bud-green liquor holds a few dozen microscopic leaves that dance along the eddies of heat before descending to rest uneasily on the bottom of the cup.
Dusty, grainy, and faintly grassy in the nose. Simple, earthy, easy-drinking, lightly toasted, with no real vegetal notes or bitterness as long as you don’t stew it. Hints of peanut husks. Delicate yet faintly creamy mouth-feel.
Second and third steep with boiling water for 30 seconds and 1 minute respectively.
Satisfying and sufficiently energizing to be a “daily drinker” if you were so inclined.
This is a very strong-tasting genmaicha, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. Very umami, somewhat astringent, really brothy.
I may have oversteeped this, though – the directions I was given said 1 tbsp for 30 seconds to 1 minute at 176-194F. I did it for 1 minute at 177F. I’m really having trouble finding a genmaicha I like, it seems.
Like bancha, hoji-cha has a completely different personality and taste from sencha. At one point I was somewhat addicted to this tea, but I have not consumed any in a long time. Happily, in my recently discovered cache, I found a full, hermetically sealed bag of this tea, in addition to the remains of another bag. This tea is roasted (and looks like little pieces of dried wood!), so I decided to brew up the remains since roasted tea generally holds up better over time than unroasted.
The result was good. The liquor is a dark apricot color and the flavor is exactly as I recall hoji-cha having been. I’ll report back once I’ve opened the other bag, which should produce an even better pot.
This tea is very inexpensive (hoji—cha in general, but also this brand in particular), yet the flavor is unique and appealing to me. It’s not that I like everything, mind you. I dislike the taste of barley tea, for example. People who are expecting something along the lines of sencha or another green green tea may be disappointed with this beverage, as it bears little resemblance to anything but itself!
This “everyday” sencha from Yamamotoyama is an excellent example of why I love Japanese products. Supposedly this is the analogue to Lipton in Japan, where people drink sencha many times each day—and tea is much more frequently imbibed than coffee. So one might surmise that the flavor would be mediocre. Not so! It’s a very decent quality sencha, and the price is ridiculously low. I have consumed my share of these bags over the years, but when the Japanese grocery close to my former place of residence closed down, I pretty much moved on.
While moving, I discovered a secret cache of a Japanese tea, including this one, and though it is old (albeit unopened and stored in a tin box far from heat and light), it still tastes very good and brews up a delightful greenish gold. I’ll be plowing through this bag in no time, and now that a huge megaplex Asian market has opened up within walking distance of my new place, I’m sure that I’ll be exploring the higher grades from this brand as well—in addition to some more obscure offerings in the tea aisle—which is vast!
I suspect that the naysayers are not following the prescribed instructions (which I added to the profile). Note that Yamamotoyama indicates that a tablespoon (not a teaspoon) should be used for 200ml of water. Also: a very short steep is key to success with this tea. Finally, there are some small particles amongst the leaves, so you need to use a very fine-gauged sieve or filter to remove them in order to avoid bitterness.
second infusion: very good!
third infusion: still good! now bright yellow.
I purchased this at the PAT Asian market yesterday while at the vet (they are right near each other). I wanted to try a different Genmai cha . I looked for a package that didn’t have clear cellophane to let the light in thinking that if the company did that, it’s going to be better quality. This one was about $5 for 200g. When I checked out the brew times I could see there were decent brew temperatures too.
I checked the reviews first before having it and was disappointed it had some bad reviews. That was because there are two Genmai cha’s on Steepster. One with a hyphen and then this one. This is the one I’ve got. Matches the package.
Opened up I could see it was a nice sencha not a green tea. Some of the rice was popped too. I haven’t had a lot of genmaicha so far but I think that’s a good sign it’s a decent quality.
Brewed at 190F for 30 sec. This one has a deep grassy vegetal taste from the sencha along with the toasty rice. A nice balance. Some genmaicha’s are more toasty rice but I didn’t get that from this one. There seems to be a lot less caffeine than the other genmaicha I have too.