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Recent Tasting Notes
This is a tasty, serviceable Japanese green tea with a lighter flavor than regular sencha. There’s less grassiness here and more of a smooth vegetal flavor. The color of the tea liquor is a pale yellowish green and the tea leaves are large and flat.
I like more greenness in my sencha so I steeped it a tad longer and at slightly higher temperatures. I usually steep sencha around 160 F but I got better results at 175 F with steep times of 1:10, 0:30, and 1:30. This produced a richer tea and boosted the umami and chlorophyll content in the taste.
Sadly, this tea didn’t survive fridge storage and developed an unpleasant vegetal bitterness forcing me to chuck my entire stash.
While good, this tea and most of what I’ve tried from Yunomi seems to lack the oomph of other Japanese greens. I suspect the lack of vacuum packaging causes some loss of freshness.
Flavors: Grass, Umami, Vegetable Broth
The description for this tea claims it is simple and mild in flavor due to the lack of fertilizer in the growing process. Regardless of why, I do concur that this tea is rather simple. That isn’t a knock against it in any way. It’s an easy one to drink. Crisp and tasty notes of grass and spinach. Also some astringency balancing out the sweeter flavors mentioned above. Even when I gave it a longer first steep, it didn’t get the depth that some other Japanese greens will have, but it also didn’t get unpleasantly astringent or bitter. A nice offering from Yunomi and Ogose…simple, to the point, easy to drink and understand. The tea I’m drinking along with the football game tonight (yaay football’s back!)
Flavors: Astringent, Grass, Spinach, Sweet
This was a great pleasure to receive from Yunomi as part of their samples for review program. I have not really developed my Japanese tea palate yet, so forgive me for not being as descriptive or accurate as I usually am with my Chinese tea reviews.
I steeped this tea western style with 5 grams of tea in about 8 ounces of water per the packet’s instructions. Upon initial infusion the aroma was sweet and fresh. The taste was very full and thick. It was like fresh cut grass and hay with possible notes of seaweed. There was a definite bite in the back of the mouth, but nothing too off-setting. It was enjoyable.
The second and third infusions were sweeter, less full-bodied, and more balanced. Notes of wheat grass and a hint of honey came out. Overall though, the flavor was still very savory.
Flavors: Astringent, Dry Grass, Hay, Honey, Seaweed
This tea’s description confuses the crap out of me. It says it’s Gyokuro, but in the description, it says it’s a “gyokuro-like fukamushicha.” So it’s shaded in some way I guess. This was good, but not as good as the other Gyokuro I have tried recently. Pretty simple with just some grassiness and a bit of spinach. Slightly creamy but not to an impressive degree.
Flavors: Creamy, Grass, Spinach, Sweet
So, yesterday my phone went missing, which was very unsettling. It was, as I suspected, with Ben, and will be for a few days now. His phone died a miserable death (it was a piece of garbage anyway) and he needs one for work, so I said he could borrow mine until his new one arrives. I am only regretting this decision a little, mostly because my day feels like it hasn’t started. When I develop a routine and it gets interrupted I tend to become very disoriented, so starting my day has been super hard.
Today I am looking at Yunomi’s Ogose #08: Naturally Grown Wakoucha, Shizuoka Black Tea, and let it be said, I have a serious fascination with Wakoucha. This is more than my usual obsession for the darker teas, I just love teas that are not necessarily ‘normal’ for the region it is produced by. When most people think of Japanese teas they picture the vibrant greens, they produce a ton of other teas but the greens are iconic, so you know I go all ‘gimme gimme’ at the black teas! The leaves are delicate and slightly curly, with aroma notes of malt, lychee, yuzu, distant flowers and a bit of a brisk woodiness. It is not a very aromatic tea, it is light and sweet with a very crisp quality.
Into my shibo the leaves went, at this point I had far too much fun watching the floating stems. The aroma of the wet leaves is malty and woody, with notes of peanuts, toasted soy beans, a bit of honey, and distant crisp citrus. The liquid is sweet and malty, with light notes of honey and mochi, giving it a starchy quality. At the very end is a distant citrus quality like a fresh peel of yuzu.
Ah, that is a mild tea! It is very smooth while also being crisp, not at all bitter or brisk, the crispness coming through like biting into a citrus of some sort, it is more texture than taste. The flavor starts with a sweet lychee and smooth malty start, it then moves into a roasted soybean and mochi (specifically the mochi not the filled sweet) for a sweet yet starchy middle. The real surprise was at the finish where the tea picks up a coconut and sage leaf quality giving it an almost savory tinge. Sadly this tea only really had a single steep in it, the second was very mild and almost ghostly, so I thought to myself, why not cold steep the rest of my sample?
Cold steeping was a good idea! This really brings out the lychee sweetness and crisp citrus notes for one of the most refreshing cups of a chilled black tea I have had in ages. I was amazed at how sweet it was, really it was like someone took black tea and squeezed a bunch of lychees into it. The tea is enjoyable hot but I definitely recommend trying it cold steeped as well.
This is from a sample I bought from Yunomi. I followed their brewing instructions on the package.
1st brew – 60C at 60 sec. This was so sweet and grassy. A good umami taste to it with no astringency.
2nd brew – 80C at 15 sec – I messed this tea up a little bit. The tea leaves had swelled up in the tea pot and I had trouble pouring it quickly so it went way past the 15 sec. It was still sweet and grassy but had a good astringent bite on the tip of the tongue. That probably would not have been there if I could have poured the tea quickly
3rd brew – I changed up the teapot for a quick pouring gaiwan. I steeping it about 20 or 30 sec. Can’t remember now. The umami flavour of it was fading a bit in this one but it didn’t have that astringent bite the 2nd infusion had. Was still sweet and grassy but a little less.
I found this sencha to be a pretty good quality and would buy more of this.
A high quality sencha. I enjoyed it brewed with the warm water method Yunomi has on their site. Long first steep at low temp led to very deep and strong tasting first cup with succulent, sweet grassy notes and good umami as well. Subsequent steeps were grassy, with echoes of that umami that faded as I got more steeps from this tea. I was able to pull five decent steeps out of it – good longevity for a sencha in my experience.
Flavors: Grass, Sweet, Thick, Umami
This tea was alright. It didn’t work with a long first steep, got way too bitter and died really fast. I really need to start trying the parameters on the bag before trying weird stuff. Brewed a little more gently, it had a very thick texture with grassy flavor. Not particularly interesting throughout – just grassy really. Not bad though!
Flavors: Grass, Thick
This one was pretty good, though it seemed a little finicky when it came to brewing. I got it pretty good the first time using the instructions on the bag, then changed them up a bit the second time and it wasn’t as good. I did steeps of 45s and 20s at 160F, followed by steeps of 30s and 1m at 175F. These are pretty low for what I normally do with sencha, but even with the 45s first steep, it was decently bitter.
The first steep was a pretty creamy grassy brew with, as I said, a healthy touch of astringency and a tad bit of fruitiness in the aftertaste, lasting about 15 seconds. The next steep had a crisp grassy taste with hints of the fruitiness mid-steep. After that, the last steeps were comparatively weaker, retaining a bit of a grassy taste, but without the good creamy texture I got earlier.
Starting with a longer first steep, even when I kept the temperature down at 160F for the duration of the session, led to an awkward dance with bitterness that kept creeping out of control.
Flavors: Astringent, Creamy, Fruity, Grass
Tried this with different, less drastic brewing parameters. 1st steep, 2m at 150F, then steeps of 20s, 40s, 75s at 175F. First steep was still quite tasty, and the subsequent steeps didn’t have that nearly overpowering astringency to them that made them a little tougher to drink. Made for a smoother overall session. Pretty good either way though.
I drank this one today using the recommended parameters on Yunomi – uncharacteristically specific ones. 2m steep at 140F, followed by steeps of 5s, 5s at 195F. They then said it might be wise to stop drinking, as this tea contains a lot of caffeine. I disregarded this, considering I had already had two other sencha sessions earlier…figured I’d be fine. So I did another couple steeps, still 195F at 20s then 45s I believe.
First steep was a tad bitter, just enough to provide good balance, with toasty cucumber or zucchini vegetal notes. The second steep was quite astringent – it made me shudder on the first sip. As it cooled, the astringency got a little less aggressive and I was able to make out some grassy and bright cucumber notes. The next steep had some lighter cucumber vegetal notes, and the next two steeps were wimpy, slightly bitter echoes of this tea’s previous self.
Another good one. I’ll give it a try with different parameters tomorrow. I’m finding that if I have 3+ Japanese green tea sessions in one day, there’s about a 50% chance I’ll start to feel ill lol. I ordered way too many 2016 samples, trying to drink them before they go bad. Gonna have to have my stomach pumped by the time I get through them all.
Fuckin worth it though.
Flavors: Astringent, Cucumber, Grass, Vegetal, Zucchini
Another nice sencha from Yunomi. I’m starting to think I should try all of my sencha with a long first steep (2m), because I almost always prefer the results with that long first steep. This tea had the classic buttery, nutty, grassy sencha aroma. The first steep was thick with buttery grassy notes and a deep umami flavor. In the next steep, that umami tended more towards bitterness, and I also picked up a bit of a vegetal flavor along with the grassiness. A couple subsequent steeps gave me thinner liquid but still decent grassy flavor. I’m finding it quite fun to pound through these sencha :)
Also, I got an instagram now!
Flavors: Butter, Grass, Nutty, Spinach, Toasty, Umami
Another 2016 Yunomi sample! I think this is the first time I’ve disagreed with Yunomi’s recommended brewing parameters. They recommended doing a 30s steep with 160F, followed by steeps of 10s and 40s at 175F. Doing it this way, the first steep was a bit light, while the next two steeps were very bitter! I found it better keeping the water temp low, and doing steeps of 1m, 30s, 1m, 2m all with 160F water.
The first steep was sweet and grassy, a bit buttery, with a very slight underlying bitterness. The aftertaste was a juicy sweet grassiness to me.
The second steep was much the same, with a slightly increased bitterness. The liquid from this steep was an amazingly vibrant green color.
The bitterness did not increase in the third or fourth steeps. The nice grassy flavors did get a little lighter, and I think on the third steep I encountered a bit of a vegetal spinach flavor as well.
Good tea, but I didn’t like it the way Yunomi recommended I brew it this time!
Flavors: Bitter, Butter, Grass, Spinach, Sweet
Oh yay! According to the Accuweather the heat is supposed to be easing up, no more mid to high 90s, low 90s and high 80s with some storms starting tomorrow. Still hotter than I would like, but it is so much more tolerable! I just hope my peeps on the east coast get a break soon, my poor mom is melting. I hope it is cool enough to go back to the zoo soon, I have a $5 coupon for taking a survey and I want a new trinket for my tea desk, specifically a new tea pet.
Today I am looking at Yunomi’s Onocha: Yamaguchi Shincha Green Tea, a 2015 Shincha from the Yamaguchi Prefecture. I goofed a bit, when I was ordering some samples of Shincha I accidentally got some of last years, so I was expecting it to be faded…but a good way to break in my new glorious Shiboridashi. Well, the aroma surprised me, the leaves smelled immensely fresh and crisp! Notes of edamame, fresh cut hat, sesame seeds, and fresh sea air. It balances sweetness from the nutty notes and savory really quite deliciously, I spent the entire time my kettle was heating up with my nose in the leaves.
Into my new shibo the leaves go, and yes that beauty will get its own blog post soon, The aroma of the steeped leaves green! Very green, strong notes of kelp, edamame, spinach, and freshly cut grass waft up with a crisp hay and a light broccoli note as well. If this tea smells so intense being a year old, I can only imagine the intensity of it fresh. The liquid is subtle, gentle notes of hay and cut grass blend with equally delicate notes of edamame and sea air. It smells crisp and refreshing, like a breeze off the coast on a hot day.
The first steep is wonderfully light while being full of flavor. It starts with a note of sweet snap peas and edamame, then moves to freshly cut grass and sweetgrass, with a touch of hay. The finish brings the umami with gentle kelp and sea air, with a subtle starchy rice aftertaste. This tea hit the spot on a hot day, it was so refreshing.
Ah, the second steep is a beautiful shade of rich green, with a sharp grassy, savory spinach, and subtly sweet snap pea note. It starts brisk and grassy, with an accompanying note of hay and spinach. It then gets a slight astringent quality in the middle reminiscent of Brussels sprouts and alfalfa sprouts, this fades pretty quickly to edamame and sesame seed with a kelp finish. It has the right amount of bite and the right amount of sweet making for a very balanced cup.
Got this in a trade with JK7Ray a little way’s back. Pretty good stuff – had a flavor unlike most other sencha I’ve tried. I thought it was best with the method espoused on Yunomi’s site. The warm leaves had the classic sencha aroma with some green, grassy nuttiness. The flavor was grassy with an odd sweet note that I had trouble placing. It was an unusual earthy flavor. At first I thought it might be fruit, buuut decided it wasn’t. It was not sugar, honey, caramel, or anything like that. It was also slightly reminiscent of petrichor. Hard to place. When I did a longer first steep, it was almost too sweet – that weird flavor was kind of overpowering. A pretty decent sencha.
Flavors: Grass, Green, Nutty, petrichor, Sweet
Curse my phone to the bowels of the abyss! I want to join the party and play Pokemon Go! but the blasted phone won’t let me, I am so sad. Granted I don’t leave my house much, but it would have been nice if I could have had fun with it when I did go out and about. I am, of course, being entertained by the internet explosion that it has unleashed, so at least I get the vicarious joy.
Today’s tea is a fun one! Recently a bunch of samples arrived from Japan via my pretty much one stop shop for all things Japanese, Yunomi! Many samples of Shincha, but also some of the more unusual stuff like dark tea and some black teas, like Chakouan: Ureshino Black Tea Leaf Stems. From the Chakouan Tea Shop in Ureshino, this is similar to the green tea Kukicha (as in it being a pile of stems) but is processed as a black tea (or Wakoucha) making for a uniquely pretty tea. What can I say, I am a sucker for teas that use the stems, it seems very efficient. The aroma is light and brisk with a surprising crispness, notes of sandalwood, malt, gentle raw peanuts, and a touch of tomato leaf. It is not a very potent aroma, but what is there is distinct and a little odd, but pleasant.
Into my shiboridashi the stems went, ah I do love this shibo, but I have a new one on the way that is more perfectly suited for Japanese teas and I am so excited. The stems float on top of the water, which looked really quite pretty. The aroma is malty and a bit tomato, usually I find a black tea with tomato notes smells like sun dried or leaf, but this is fresh tomato note. Alongside these notes are sandalwood and a bit of potato starch. The liquid smells very light, crisp and refreshing (not something I associate with black teas usually) with gentle notes of malt and sandalwood with a touch of starch.
The first steep is immensely light, it has the crisp refreshing quality of a green but with none of the green notes. It starts with a gentle woody notes, sandalwood and tea wood, with a touch of fruit wood. There are notes of black pepper and malt with a slightly savory finish. This might be the most refreshing black tea I have ever tasted. I went for another steep, because how could I not? This one was still light but had a bit more complexity of flavor, taking the previous notes and and adding a starchy rice milk note along with a subtle sweetness in the middle. This tea is in a whole different ballpark than the usual hong cha or western style black teas I have had, it is wonderfully light and refreshing, I find myself wondering what it would be like iced.
Naturally, I don’t really know what to expect from this new kind of tea. It might probably taste like mix of green and black or something completely different.
The aroma of tea is completely unique, I haven’t met another tea like this. Malt with cacao, wood and fruits. The aroma is not strong, it’s fairly mellow and soft and reminds me from Assam teas from India. I was waiting for something closer to Darjeeling or Chinese black teas, but this is far from those.
Small 10g package has crushed some leaves for good. Luckily, most of them are fine. Leaves are dark brown with reddish brown stems.
Yunomi suggest to steep 5g in 200-300ml of water, but I don’t own a pot that size. Closest one is my new 145ml Ruyao-teapot, that will have to do. I compensated the size by putting only 3g of tea.
Steeped leaves have extraordinary aroma. I think I can smell some carrot and broccoli. Generally the fragrance is vegetal and sweet. The color of the brew is dark amber.
Yup, the flavour is as weird as the aroma. I haven’t tasted anything like this before. It has some kicking tannins with floral aftertaste. Spicy start with tannins, red berries and vegetal carrots and broccoli. It has also some funky orange zest note.
Really, really weird tea. Not in a negative way though. It is really entertaining tea. It could be compared to a roller coaster, the flavour has a lot of unexpected turns, ups and downs. That is how quickly the flavour chances.
I tried Haruo Ogoses wakoucha as a milder version and to be honest, it was better for my tastes. Taste is the same, but not as crazy and strong. I can suggest trying this tea if you want to try something completely different.
Full review with photos:
Flavors: Berries, Broccoli, Carrot, Floral, Orange Zest, Pepper, Sweet, Tannin, Vegetables, Vegetal
The first time I had this tea was on Liquid Proust’s trunk in the parking lot of a strip mall, because tea time can truly be any time. I think the water was much hotter than today’s brewing. The flavors I got were in the range of bitter, grassy, seaweedy, and cucumber. There was also a bit of buttery flavor. These would appear and disappear based on LP’s steeping times.
I’m kind of amazed at how different this tea tastes today.
I took the kettle to 165 (a little higher than recommended) and had several sessions as it cooled. First couple of steeps were flashed, and then I increased the time up to a minute as the leaf wore out.
The first couple of brews were an almost overwhelming mushroom flavor that lingered on the palate for a while. The buttery taste and creamy mouthfeel came in and blended well with the mellowed mushroom flavor as the kettle cooled and the leaf settled. There was also a “green” sort of taste that I don’t really have the vocabulary to describe, but it was a dark green (yeah, the synesthesia is kicking in).
Every once in a while, there was a slight hint of bitterness or a little drying on the back of the palate, but this would disappear and reappear between steeps.
My thanks to LP for giving me a bit to sample again!
Flavors: Butter, Creamy, Cucumber, Freshly Cut Grass, Green, Mushrooms, Seaweed
This tea, despite being the cheapest tea in my Yunomi order (I think anyways) was quite tasty. The main area where I noticed a difference was longevity. With all the other teas in this box so far, I’ve been able to get at least three really tasty steeps, whereas this one was basically just the first steep. Yes, I drank the next couple after it, but they paled in comparison.
So, that representative first steep: I used 5g with 175F water for 1m as recommended on the package. The brewed leaves smelled grassy and sweet with a touch of astringency. Basically like a sencha but not quite as nutty I think. The flavor was good, but unexpected. I got grassy sweetness with the unmistakable aftertaste of caraway seeds (the little seeds in rye bread). It was weird. I don’t know if it was a trick of the mind and flavor association, but the tea started tasting a little bready about halfway through the cup. This first steep had not detectable astringency. In my second session, I did a longer first steep at 90s. I felt this ruined the tea lol. Failed experiment. With that longer first steep I got a decent bit of astringency and didn’t get the cool caraway flavor.
In both sessions, my subsequent steeps were much flatter in flavor with a pretty prominent bitterness. The second steep did still boast a slightly sweet grassy aftertaste, but it was unremarkable.
I almost wrote that this was a lower tier of tea than the rest of what I’ve been drinking, but corrected myself, remembering that this is a “raw” tea. Having looked that up, it seems to mean unsorted, so there’s still all kinds of stuff like stems and parts of the leaf not usually used in sencha still in there. It’s interesting to be able to drink something at this stage of production. And while it was good, I think that a direct comparison with a finished and/or blended sencha makes it obvious why production usually goes further than the aracha stage.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Grass
This is my first time trying a Houjicha – I enjoyed it :) I used the temperature recommended on the bag – 195F, with steeps of 60s, 30s, then 2m. The aroma of the leaves after the first steep was a bit overwhelming, at first I thought it just smelled like charcoal, then I gave it a second whiff and smelled what seems to me like roasted pumpkin seeds – come to think of it, I had a different roasted Japanese green (wasn’t Houjicha I don’t think), that had a similar aroma. This one smelled better though. The liquor was a beautiful amber color, true to the tea’s name. The first steep was the best in my opinion, that nice and sweet roastiness reminding me of coffee (not in flavor really…just the roastiness).
The roast flavor wasn’t as strong in subsequent steeps, which to some people seems to be nicer, but I really enjoyed the roast in this one, so I found the subsequent steeps to be a bit lacking. Still had a nice burnt sweetness to it – caramel or brown sugar, but not overwhelmingly sweet. Certainly a robust and enjoyable tea to drink. The pumpkin seed flavor was also kind of there throughout – it was the underlying flavor that was sweetened by the roast I suppose.
Flavors: Roasted, Sweet
My first Gyokuro! I tried to do it at least kind of like the “traditional Gyokuro” way I’ve seen in a few places online. First steep used really cool water, probably around 130F for 2 minutes. On this steep, I also used a good deal less water than I normally do (I have an 8 oz kyusu, which I normally fill around halfway to use my 4oz teacup when drinking Japanese greens – I just filled it a bit under halfway on this one). This first steep was kind of outta this world. Super thick, umami vegetal flavors. First time I’ve felt any qi from a non-puerh tea. It was crazy good. After that, I did a steep at 195F for about 12s, as suggested on the bag. That steep was also good – lots of umami and that strong vegetal grassy taste as well, though nowhere near as powerful as the first. After that, I kept the water at 195 and did a few more steeps – I think 20s, 30s, 45s maybe. They all still had some umami which may have started to trend more towards bitterness while still keeping a decently thick texture with a nice and sweet grassy aftertaste. I definitely need to put more Gyokuro on my next Yunomi order – which I’m already working on, having been inspired by this one :)
Flavors: Grass, Umami, Vegetal