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Recent Tasting Notes

85

I really enjoyed this sencha from NaturaliTea. It was well balanced and provided both notes of astringency and sweetness.

I began with 5g of tea steeped at 160 degrees for one minute. The initial infusion was quite sweet, while still not being overpowering. There were also flavors of green beans, veggies, and sweet wheat grass. It was both sweet, astringent, and balanced. Akin to a nice sweet and tart apple. Both flavor categories working well together.

The second infusion was steeped at the same temperature for about a minute again. It was slightly less sweet with an almost smokey astringency in the back of my throat. Overall, however, it maintained the flavor profile of the first infusion. Quite well balanced while tipping towards the sweet side.

Flavors: Green Beans, Sweet, Sweet, warm grass

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 1 min, 0 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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75

I’m glad I only had a sample size of this tea. It’s okay but not a favourite sencha. It’s a bit difficult to brew. First infusion was at 70C and it had a bit too much bitterness and astringency in it. It was very grassy but the slight bitterness and astringency took away from it. I was hoping for the 2nd infusion at 80C for 10 sec it would be sweeter and not bitter. It still had a slight bitterness & astrincency. Less grassy flavour and not very sweet.

Glad I only had a sample size of this tea. It’s gone now.

Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Cut grass

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First steep 5g at 130 degrees for 1 min. Very vegetal. Sweet. Strong umami. First steep is almost reminiscent of a gyokuro.

Second steep. 15 seconds at 175 degrees. Still quite vegetal. Green bean flavor. Slight bite but not too much. Very little if any astringency, however there is still a strong veggie taste.

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69

This sencha has a good grassy taste and just a bit astringent on the first brew at 65 – 1 min. . The second brew was 10 sec at 80C and it became a bit too astringent at that temperature. It was lacking sweetness which I enjoy in some of my senchas and the deep grassy flavour had faded away on the 2nd steep. Perhaps it’s a matter of just getting the right steeping parameters , but this was only a sample and the last of this tea. I wasn’t overly impressed with it, there being plenty of other senchas that will outshine this one.

Flavors: Astringent, Grass

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Went to bed waaaaay too late last night and I was drowsier driving this morning than I remember in a while. I don’t usually drink matcha two days in a row, but I knew it would be necessary this morning.

The more back in practice I get with preparing it, the more I am able to appreciate this matcha. I can get a pretty substantial layer of froth on top and the right amount of water cuts the intensity of any bitterness while maintaining a fresh, rich flavor. Definitely a good value!

Flavors: Creamy, Vegetal

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Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 g

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So I decided to make this again this morning, and used a bit more water than I believe I did yesterday. The first sip is mostly bitter, and a couple sips later the creamy texture manifests as a bit of a creamy aftertaste. I try to take several small sips I take in a row, which prevents the bitterness from standing out, in hopes of getting a better sense of the other flavors, but I don’t really succeed. I feel like there are some distinct vegetal notes hiding under the bitterness, something in addition to generic “matcha” taste, but I can’t really pull them out.

Flavors: Bitter, Creamy, Vegetal

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Made this today to give myself some energy, and made it properly this time, so I guess I just needed to warm back up to the process. Nice smooth taste with some bitterness, which may partially be because I also was eating a pretty sweet persimmon and neri youkan to make sure I didn’t get nauseous. I will try to make it with a cleaner palate soon so I can appreciate and evaluate the taste more, but I got the energy boost I needed, so I’m satisfied!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 g 2 OZ / 60 ML

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Had this for the first time this morning. It’s my first time having and making matcha since leaving Japan. I think having it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach without having had it in a while was not the best idea, as I am feeling a bit of the nausea one can experience. Going to eat a persimmon in hopes to calm that down.

Anyhow, to the tea. I bought this when Yunomi advertised it for 50% off on reddit. It mixes up to a nice green. I made it a bit thinner than what I would like, as I was using a new chawan and was out of practice, so I didn’t get the best sense of the taste right off the bat. I can tell it’s green and vegetal, though, and it doesn’t seem particularly bitter or astringent. I also got a hint of creaminess that I’m sure will come out more when I get it to the right thickness.

All-in-all, this was a good deal, perfect for getting back into practice, and I look forward to drinking it again. I will select flavors for it when I’ve prepared it better.

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 1 g

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20

Tasted like raw oyster juice with a finish of grass. I suppose if you were drinking this while eating oysters, it’d be alright but any other time, no thanks. second and third steepings were still quite fishy.

Flavors: Fishy, Grass

Preparation
145 °F / 62 °C 1 min, 0 sec 6 g 7 OZ / 200 ML

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100

I had admired this shiboridashi for awhile but it was pricey and I wondered if it would really work like I wanted it to? Then I read TeaNecromancer’s review and thought “I HAVE to buy this!” but it was still pricey so I thought I would wait for sale. The next day I got an email from Yunomi that they were having a 35% off sale when you purchased $50.00 and over. So I bought it right then.

Now I’ve bought a Japanese teapot in the past and it didn’t meet all my requirements for what is a perfect vessel to brew my Japanese tea in.

1) It needs lots of room to allow the leaves to expand so an infusier that pulls out is not a good option.
2) It needs to have a capacity for one person only. I rarely have Japanese teas with someone else.
3) It has to pour quickly and allow the water through easily when the leaves expand. Every second it pours slowly bitterness creeps in.
4) It must be easy to clean.
5) When the tea pours, it must pour out clean without any leaf. Most of the others I used, I had to pour with an extra filter.
6) It must be pleasing to eye.

Well this shiboridashi meets all those requirements and more. Especially in the last one (6). It is cute, easy to handle when pouring. Love the little red knob . Love the crackels. And here’s an extra bonus: When I poured the water in to do the first infusion, I noticed part of it turned a blush pink inside. I also noticed a bit pink on the lid when I was brewing the tea. I wonder if that is only the ones with a red knob on them?

I never had any problems cleaning this up like TeaNecromancer but I was brewing a sencha which has bigger leaves. I haven’t tried this yet with some of the finer leaf teas but it performed beautifully with my sencha. I can see this will easily become my favourite teapot for brewing Japanese greens.

Rasseru

aww shes a cutie

Sil

beautiful!

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80

I started this one out with 5g at 160 degrees for about 45 seconds with a small mugs worth of water (perhaps not the most exact form of measurement). The initial cup was very strong. Full of astringency and bitter grass. The color of the steeped tea was a magnificent green.

As I continued to steep the tea the flavor mellowed while still being very grassy. The astringency was simply more balanced. I upped the temperature to 175 which brought out a bit more bitterness at the end.

Flavors: Astringent, Grass

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 0 min, 45 sec 5 g

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82

This was another sample sent from Yunomi. This is definitely one I will be purchasing again. A very sweet gyokuro with a blast of umami to start you off.

I steeped this with 5g of tea and started off at 140 degrees for about 60 seconds. The first cup was a blast of umami with a wonderful sweetness. The cup had a very full flavor and had deep grass undertones overshadowed only by the immense savoriness.

The second and additional cups were steeped at 160 degrees for 10, 30, and 60 seconds respectively. The next cups were sweet, light, with a slight taste of honey. There was also a hint of flavor that reminded me of a Chinese green tea for some reason. There was also a very enjoyable sweet finish at the end of each cup.

Flavors: Sweet, Umami

Preparation
140 °F / 60 °C 1 min, 0 sec 5 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

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I am currently embroiled in a very heated competition, a cheesecake bake off! Granted I am really the only one counting it as a competition, my judges and competitor are all like ‘we all win’ and that is fair, but not as fun. Granted the reason I am so competitive with this particular culinary competition is the recipe is both very expensive and a real pain to make without a mixer. Spoon Fork Bacon’s Goat Cheese and Greek Yogurt Cheesecake is one of my favorite recipes ever and I seriously suggest giving it a try, just know that if you make without any form of electric mixer you are in for an arm workout!

It is a Wednesday, meaning Instagram is all a buzz with the #teawarewednesday hashtag, and for all my massive hoard of teaware I have not played along in a while, so today is celebrating the beauty of teaware! Specifically Yunomi’s Sawa Houzan: Shigaraki-yaki Shiboridashi, one of my greatest treasures. For Tanabata Yunomi had a mini contest, you wrote a wish on their website and a randomly picked winner would get a gift certificate, reminiscent of the tradition of writing wishes on strips of paper. I wished for a real Japanese Shiboridashi, made for the enjoyment of green tea, to heighten my enjoyment, and when my wish was randomly picked I immediately picked the shiboridashi that has been on my wishlist for literal years.

I love my other two shiboridashi, but they were not quite perfect for the finer grade of Japanese green tea, letting the tiny leaves slip through the grooves which were just a bit too big, causing me a bit of frustration and often a mouthful of leaves. I had debated getting a clamshell style clay one at one point, but really kept coming back to this specific shiboridashi, its coloring and graceful lines called to me. The cream and subtle salmon pinks remind me of snow reflecting the colors of sunset, and the shape reminded me of a calla lily. One of the more intriguing things about the design I gleamed from the photos was the crackling, I so love teaware that tells the store of use through the deepening dark crackles achieved over time.

It was in for a massive surprise though! This shibo crackled after its first use! A fine spiderweb of dark lines started to appear after my first session with a green tea, each session since adding deeper lines and at this point it is almost entirely covered in a webwork. This patterning matches the cracked glass decoration on the knob perfectly. Really everything about the aesthetics of this piece is perfection.

No matter how beautiful a piece of teaware is, it still needs to function or it is pointless, and no one wants that. Luckily this piece was crafted by a master potter so of course it functions beautifully! The pour is fast and even, no weird drips or messes when I am pouring. The grooves keep the majority of the leaves inside the shibo, a tiny crumb might escape but really it is immensely effective. It keeps the temperature of the leaves and water steeping even but does not hold heat too terribly well, this is great when I am drinking those delicate Japanese greens but on the few occasions I have used the shibo for other teas the tea was a little bit watery from heat loss. Honestly though complaining about that is like complaining when the screwdriver is really bad at hammering in nails, wrong tool for the job.

Since it wouldn’t be a teaware review by me if I didn’t find one thing to nitpick, this beautiful perfect treasure is a pain to clean. Specifically those grooves are a pain to clean, I feel like I need to get a specific scrub brush just to get the bits of leaves out from between them. And yes, it is somewhat hard to photograph, the bright color and crackles cause some havoc for my camera, but that is more a failing as a photographer than a failure in the teaware, it makes me sad though since it is so pretty and I want to show off how pretty it is!!

for blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/10/yunomi-sawa-houzan-shigaraki-yaki.html

Ubacat

I’ve been admiring that one for awhile and nice to hear it’s so functional.

Ubacat

They are having a sale right now – 35% off so I bought one after all!

TeaNecromancer

Oh awesome! What color knob glass did you get?

Ubacat

I went with the red.

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80

Bought this from Yunomi a few months ago, was basically buying a bunch of Gyokuro samples. This one is a little different – it’s a Kukicha (Stem tea). I don’t know if it’s all stems, or if there’s some stems with leaves mixed in, or what. This one was certainly good, but didn’t have quite the same depth as some of the finer gyokuro I’ve tasted recently. The dry leaf had an earthy, petrichor aroma with green and umami tendencies.

I started with a 2 minute steep at 140F, followed by steeps of 20s, 30s, and 1m at 175F. The first steep was just slightly bitter, very deep and thick with nice umami. The next steep was more noticeably a sweet vegetal taste, without as much of that depth/umami. The third steep was still vegetal, but I described it in my notes as being more “fibrous,” so like the stalk of a vegetable maybe. The final steep was pretty weak, with just some lingering green sweetness and not a particularly notable body. This was a pretty good tea, and an affordable price as far as gyokuro is concerned.

Flavors: Earth, Green, Stems, Thick, Umami, Vegetal

Preparation
140 °F / 60 °C 2 min, 0 sec 5 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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I used my points in my Yunomi account to purchase 200g of this tea. It’s simple, nutrient-dense, consistent, and has a long aftertaste. In some ways, this tea reminds me of a kabuse-cha more than a sencha. The dry leaves include long dark leaves with stems that are less chopped and have a scent of roasted seaweed and faint sweet seagrass.

I brewed this in a unglazed kyusu but using Chinese gongfu-style with 2 – 5 sec steeps, hotter water (85 to 90 C), and 6 – 7 grams of leaves.

It yields more steeps (about 6 or so depending on how much leaf used), as the leaves release their flavors more gradually since they’re not chopped, than regular sencha. The result is less up front astringency and leaves that yield more gentle and savory notes of baked grains and a faint nuttiness in the first steep. Later steeps gave roasted zucchini and asparagus along with some of that savory roasted nori in the aftertaste. Wonderful morning pick-me-up!

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87

Konnichi wa ocha no yūjin!

Or if that made no sense:

Hello tea friends!

Japan is a country that inspires me to the point of being in awe. The culture, the technology, the religions, their traditions, and especially their tea. I thought I had experienced everything a few years ago that had to do with tea, until I went into the world of Japanese tea. There is nothing like it! If you have never tried Japanese tea for yourself then I highly recommend trying it. Part of this reason is because Japanese tea contains umami which is the fifth taste which translates to ‘pleasant savoury taste’. It may sound strange for a tea to taste savoury but I tend to liken it to a soup broth, completely unique and bursting with flavours. This is why I am so taken with Japanese tea in general.

I am happy and excited to be drinking some First Flush Midori Shincha by NaturaliTea as sold by Yunomi. No idea what Midori or Shincha is? Let me break it down: Midori means green and Shincha translates to ‘new tea’ which refers to when it was picked. Basically a Shincha is the first harvest of Sencha leaves which is also known as Ichibancha ‘ the first picked tea’. Besides the fresh aroma of the young leaves, Shincha is characterised by its relatively low content of bitter catechin and caffeine, and relatively high content of amino acid. This makes the Shincha harvested limited in size of the batch and also the time it is picked. And to finish off for Japanese tea newbies Sencha is a ryokucha or green tea cultivar that is indigenous to Japan, so much so that Sencha is Japans most commonly consumed tea with Sencha production being 80% of all tea produced in Japan.

Now it’s time for the tea itself. Opening the sample pack reveals bright, glossy green leaf shards that are loosely broken. They bare a gorgeous sweet grass and mineral scent.

Steeping a Japanese tea is rather different than steeping a general green tea, the water temperature and steeping length can either enhance the umami or bypass it. A lot of it comes down to experimentation and preference; I like a nice umami which often comes through in low temperature water and short steeps. So I will be trying to find the umami goodness. Another thing you often find is the change of temperature, an example being the first steep at 80C, the second at 40 C and third at 70C. Again that would be because it enhances the umami quality.

My Steeping Parameters: 200ml Yunomi (Japanese cup), 360ml Futanashi Tokoname (lidless teapot used to enhance freshness and scent), 10g loose leaf.

I want another note: my teapot is larger than my yunomi but I will only be using my teapot to 200ml. Also this is a sizeable yunomi that needed to be adjusted for. Otherwise I would recommend 3g of leaf to 60ml water.

Also, Yunomi bared this note: Our recommend steeping method is to use water cooled to about 40˚C/105˚F steeped for 2-3 minutes for the best balance between sweetness and umami (savory) flavors.

For that reason my first steep will be 2 minutes at 40C. (Room temperature is usually around 20C).

Once steeped the resulting tea liquid is cloudy, golden yellow colour that bares a vegetable (broccoli) and sweet grass scent. Not dissimilar to it’s raw state.

The first sips reveals a strong, broth like flavour packed with sweet grass, spinach, kale and mixed flowers with a pleasant, bitter aftertaste that lightens and becomes sweeter. That was the first sip, as you can see it packs a lot of different flavours and information in it. The after taste is lingering for very long in my mouth. I say broth because it reminds me of a strong, hearty, soup broth full of green vegetables.

The umami is very strong, so much so that I feel like I’ve jumped into an ice cold bath with every punching sip I take. But I can’t stop myself from sipping. The umami washes over me with warmth and wide eyed energy. A few sips more lighten the tea while my tongue adjusts to this unique flavour. It detects sweet honey and salty seaweed notes among the ever growing broth blend.

Second Steep – 80C for 45 seconds (see the jump in temperature?)

So the shorter steep at hotter temperature is mostly because I want to test the body of the green tea. Umami comes out in the first steep but it gets weaker over time, that is why I Umami the first steep and green tea the rest of it.

Yes, the umami is less than half of what it was. The punch that it packed is now a shadow of it’s former self; that being said it’s still a strong steep. It still has strong sweet grass and vegetal tones, and it’s also a little bitter; but it is lacking as much depth and oomph as the first steep. This is a good example of how much water temperature and steeping time can change a Japanese tea.

The sweetness is less so it’s not honeyed in this steep but it is hay like and grassy. In terms of broth this is mid level, like the vegetables are in a pan with water and steeping for a while, enough to have flavoured the water, but there is still more flavour left to go.

Third Steep – 60C for 30 seconds (another temperature change)

Why the change? I want a lower temperature to increase any remaining umami that is left, whilst lessening the steeping time a little to try and reduce the bitterness. This is another example of why I said it’s best to experiment with Japanese teas, it’s all down to personal preference. Some people will read this and think I had it too strong or perhaps don’t agree with my parameters at all. I didn’t plan on the times for my second or third steep but I read what I wanted from the tea and it’s potential.

Was it a good decision to change? Yes. This steep is very light in taste but some umami can be found admidst the sweet, bitterness. This cup is more raw cabbage like than broccoli. It bares the same mineral, green sort of taste. While it’s immensely weaker in strength I feel if it was warmer it would have been too bitter to appreciate the remaining umami. As such just before the bitterness kicks in and the powerful sweetness I can taste the broth.

Final Thoughts

This was a nice Shincha that packed an incredible umami punch. Sweet yet savoury, vegetal yet bitter, it was a delicious combination in one tea. I would recommend it to umami lovers or those looking to experience it for the first time. If you are then stick with short steeps and 70-80C temp until you find it at your desired level. Don’t be put off if you dislike it the first time around, it may take time to get it to your personal taste. And once you do it will grow on you! Plus not forgetting that this is Organic I can tell the clarity of the flavours once prepared. There is nothing in this tea that tastes chemical or unnatural.

If you haven’t experienced many Japanese teas before then I hope I have given you insight.

Until next time, Happy Steeping!

http://www.yunomi.life/products/naturalitea-01-handpicked-midori-first-flush?variant=18231417861

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84

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

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 5 OZ / 147 ML

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72

My second tea tasting from Yunomi. I really enjoyed this tea, although not as much as the one I tasted yesterday. This sencha was very mellow, yet full at the same time. There was a grassy sweetness with a slight seaweed aftertaste. Overall a very good well-rounded sencha.

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83

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

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 2 min, 0 sec 5 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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