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Recent Tasting Notes
I had just enough for a 1.5 cups of this, and steeped it twice. Not much more to say here that I haven’t said before. This a really smooth, clean-tasting genmaicha. It’s very well-balanced, and a little bit astringent, but that’s ok. I will most definitely restock this at some point.
Today was a gorgeous summer day, and to cap it all off, I made some strawberry rhubarb crisp, then ate TWO helpings while watching the close of the Brazil/Colombia World Cup match.
This was right after I sipped the Granny’s Cake tea earlier today. By the end of the second helping of rhubarb, I had pretty much experienced Sugar Overload and didn’t think I’d be able to handle any more sweet foods for the rest of the day – which meant that this genmaicha was an excellent choice when I still wanted to drink some tea.
Based on LiberTea’s review, I was expecting little crunchy, salty rice balls in my tea, similar to those really nice Asian rice crackers you can buy at the bulk food store, but what I found instead were little white and matcha-green puffballs that didn’t retain their crunch after being steeped.
Luckily, though, the genmaicha here is pretty good! The taste is extremely smooth and not astringent, only slightly grassy, and overall very satisfying. It’s not quite brothy or soupy, but more just… straight and neutral. It’s hard to describe. But it’s definitely a good enough genmaicha that I am debating getting some more from Yunomi.us once my self-imposed hiatus ends in September.
Light aroma on the unsteeped tea. I’ve tried a few different variations on the steep time etc but it still needs playing around with. In anycase, this tea reminds me of toasty tuna oil, minus the viscosity of the oil. The toasted rice seems a bit heavy, perhaps less rice or a tad less toasted.
Flavors: Fishy, Toasted Rice
Cold brewed this one again! I realized that the reason I like this one so much as a cold brew is that it maintains the balance between that vegetal quality of a green tea but also the roasted flavor. I feel like with a lot of my roastier cold brews, the roasted taste kind of takes over, but in this tea the two flavors really complement one another. I’ll probably pop some more into the fridge after I wash out my water bottle. I have a feeling this sample will be sipped down very soon.
It’s suddenly become so humid at the same time that my allergies decided to flare up. All in all, not a great time to be drinking too much hot tea. So I threw a couple teaspoons of this tea into my water bottle and left it in the fridge for about 12 hours. It has a nice earthy taste like crispy fall leaves with a roasted flavor as well. I think the roasted seaweed flavor is still there, but a little less prominent. I knew it was a good idea to cold brew this one! This is one of those rare teas that I seem to like the hot and cold brewed versions pretty equally.
Every time I open my drawer of samples, I’m amazed at how fluffy this package is. Today, this tea is reminding me of roasted seaweed in a good way. It’s a very clean, smooth tea. It’s really nice on its own as I am having it now, and I can imagine that it would go well with food as well. Now that I think about it, it will probably make a nice roasty cold brew as well. I’m excited to keep experimenting with the rest of this tea!
I am so excited for tonight! Around 2AM (Central Time) a full Lunar Eclipse will be starting, an infamous Blood Moon. It is one of the many things on my ‘things I want to photograph’ list (it is a huge list), I have my camera and tripod all ready. I also have proper moon viewing tea selected, proper snacks, a large pile of blankets, and cushions ready as well. Sadly the beautiful warm weather decided to wander off and it is going to be practically winter outside tonight, I wonder if I will chicken out and photograph it through a window?
Today’s tea is a rather unique offering from Yunomi.us and Chakouan Yamaguchi Seichaen Co. #14 Ureshino Gyokucha-Ochatama, what on earth is this mysterious tea you are probably asking right now. Gyukucha, or round tea (or Japanese Gunpowder) is a byproduct of Sencha production, from Ureshino in the Saga Prefecture. This rare and unusual tea is not only a tea but a tasty snack, well, I certainly like snacks! The aroma of this emerald green tea is sweet fresh grass and seaweed with a sharp vaguely floral aroma. It smells warm and a tiny bit chestnut like, it reminds me of a blend between the aroma of Sencha and Gyouro, very tasty aroma.
Before I steeped the tea in my Kyusu, I wanted to test the snack aspect and popped a few of the tea balls into my mouth. First impression, yum! It tastes like seaweed and grassy green tea, it starts out umami and fades to sweetness with a nutty finish. I love these, I want to get a bunch and toss them in with my much loved rice cracker snacks (the kind that has seaweed and such, not the gluten free cracker substitutes). My only complaint is they are a little too crunchy and hard, a complaint I think most wouldn’t have, but I have sensitive chompers.
Snack time concluded and into the Kyusu the Gyokucha goes! The wet leaves are even grassier and seaweed heavier than the dry leaves, a really great blend of umami and springtime. There is still a very tiny hint of chestnut at the finish. The liquid is umami kelp to the max! After the initial aroma of seaweed fades there is a faint sweetness like grass and flowers, very field like.
The taste is hard to accurately put into words, it is a taste that evokes imagery. When I first sipped this tea I was immediately struck by how clean and fresh it tasted, it was like drinking raindrops off a blade of grass. It brings the cleanliness of rain and the sweet grass taste. The mouthfeel is creamy and full, nothing short of exquisite. The taste fades to seaweed and sea air giving it an umami finish.
You all know I had to have another dance with this tea, the aroma of the liquid is much the same with the second steep with a touch more of the chestnut quality. This steep is very sweet with a creamy full mouthfeel,, it does not have any of the umami quality, instead it just retains the freshness from the previous steep.There is also a surprise hint of fruit at the very end, leaving a sweet aftertaste. I really enjoyed this tea, not only was the taste amazing, it had the double feature of being a snack and it was unusual.
Flavors: Grass, Seaweed
The first thing I noticed was that this sample packet was a lot fluffier than the others. When I opened it up, the dry leaves are just as shown in the picture: big, flat, whole tea leaves! That was pretty exciting. It also smelled kind of like someone took a bunch of crunchy autumn leaves and roasted them. Actually, that’s kind of how I would describe the tea flavor as well. The roasted flavor is a bit light compared to some other teas that I have, but it is nice and pleasant. Overall, this tea has a clean taste, which makes me think that it will do well as a cold brew. I guess that will be my next adventure!
Sipdown (126)! I took the rest of this sample (a heaping tablespoon) and cold brewed in one of my water bottles. It’s probably more leaf than I would’ve used and I left it in there for quite a while on accident (maybe 12 hours or so?), so it had a pretty strong roasty taste by the time I tried it out. I did enjoy it, though, and I think it was the right idea to try a less roasty houjicha for cold brewing. I will miss this one, but not too much because I still have tons of it’s sister (dark roast) lying around waiting to be sipped on.
This is one of the teas I ordered from Yunomi that showed up on Friday. I’m just now getting a chance to try it. I woke up with a sinus headache after having one most of the day yesterday (not fun at a high school robotics competition, let me tell you.) So I figured a nice mug of tea would be nice.
I picked this one and started reading the steeping instructions. They’re for 2g of tea in a 1/3 of a cup. I probably could have broken out my gaiwan and used that, but I really wanted a nice mug. So I used about 5g and put it in the basket of my ForLife mug. There aren’t a lot of flowers in the 10g size, either, maybe about 8 or 9, so I put 4 of them in this portion and left the rest in the other half. 190° was the recommendation, which seemed a little hot for me, but it seems to have worked out well. I might try the other half at about 180° just to see if it makes a difference. There was also a lot of dust in the pouch, but probably because it is such a small amount and traveled half way around the world.
It’s a nice, green, grassy sencha, quite clear once I let the dust settle. It’s maybe a touch floral, but not much. When I ordered it, I wanted more floral, but now that I’m tasting it and that’s not what it is, I’m actually quite okay with that. It’s got a really nice flavor.
I don’t think it’s helping my head any. I’ve got way too much to do today. After robots taking most of my time since Wednesday night, and new furniture coming tomorrow, we’re so behind. I have to go buy a sheet set because the company I ordered custom sheets from screwed up and the fixed sheet hasn’t gotten through customs yet. ( I should have opened that sooner, but I didn’t want the cats getting into it.) I have a lot of vacuuming to do, as well as moving the old furniture into the guest bedroom. We were supposed to have my BIL here to help, but his flight tonight was cancelled and the only one he could get on today is taking off soon. (Husband took him to the airport and should be back any minute now.)
My head still hurts, but this tea is good. I’m looking forward to seeing how the leaves resteep.
This tea arrived with my last Yunomi order which was only a couple of days ago. This tea intrigued me for two particular reasons:
1 – It’s rolled up into balls and resembles Gunpowder Green
2 – It says you can also eat this tea as a snack.
Well there is also a hidden number 3 – it’s a beautiful shade of shiny green
The first thing I did when I opened this tea is go ahead and eat a piece, diving into the deep end so to speak. It’s actually quite nice but also rather astringent and much stronger than I expected. It tastes like seaweed and cabbage but very raw. Like I said not disgusting but just an acquired taste.
If I forget about eating it for now I can note the tea itself. The balls vary in size but they average an estimate of 4-5mm and are flat rather than round (mostly anyway). They are dark green and very shiny but also have a rough look, like the surface of a stone. Though it’s mostly ball shaped leaves there are also some thin, small curls of leaves and stems present too. They have a sweet yet perfumed scent that is rather strong, also very mineral. Particularly savoy cabbage (or similar) and sweet grass.
Steeping instructions were followed and taken from the Yunomi website.
First steep – 30 seconds
The pale yellow tea has a subtle yet sweet smell which is more floral or mineral now than grassy. Oh yum! It tastes as it smells, very fresh and light but sweet and mineral. I’m imagining a light spring rain dancing upon the leaves of this beautiful plant and the fallen dancers are the result of the dew in my cup.
Second steep – 45 seconds
Thicker but still sweet and mineral with no astringency. The increased strength is still very mild but the flavour it has is beautiful. It has a green Oolong feel about it with notes of honey.
Third steep – 1min 10secs
Another slight strength increase but still no astringency though this one is a little perfumed and dry. Also more mineral and grassy than before.
This is a light and sweet green tea that tastes pure and very refreshing. There was no astringency at all though-out three steeps and the flavours carried on well. This is one of my new favourite Japanese greens.
Sipdown (126)! I’m sad to see this one go, but at the same time, I don’t think I will miss it too much because I have so many other Japanese greens. I overleafed a bit (last of the sample) and steeped for under one minute in order to avoid bitterness with success! I’m not sure if it’s because I overleafed a bit, but it also has a very thick feel this morning. There is a hint of astringency, but it’s barely there. I’m actually more excited that I’m having a sipdown on Saturday Sample Sipdown! Maybe I’ll finally really participate and find some other teas that I can sip down… Time to go through my (physical) cupboard!
I only have a couple servings left of this, and the rest of the leaves are started to resemble coffee grounds a bit. I think the sample packet just got a bit crushed, oops! That in combination with accidentally letting it steep for quite a few minutes made the tea pretty strong today. It actually didn’t get bitter, but it was more roasted tasting than usual. Anyway, was loving this as usual, but I have a bunch of the dark roast houjicha, so I won’t be reordering any houjichas for a while.
Sipdown (128). So I’m finishing off the other half of this sample today. I thought I tasted perhaps a bit of floral flavor, but I think that’s just my mind trying to connect the tea to the name. Like I said in my previous tasting note, it’s basically just another sencha to me. I steeped very briefly (~20-30 sec?), which helped reduce the bitterness, but it was still there. Disappointingly not what I was expecting from this tea. Will not repurchase :(
Backlog. Yesterday was inadvertently a very Japanese day- all Japanese green teas and Japanese food for dinner. Not that I’m complaining! Anyway, I had this after classes to relax before I headed back out into the cold for dinner. I have to say, I was really excited to try this one but was disappointed. It tasted just like a regular sencha (grassy, a bit murky) to me with nothing really coming from the “flower” part of the blend. And I did make sure that I had flower buds in the tea. I also tried resteeping a few times to see if the floral flavor would show up, but it never did. As a sencha, it was also very finicky. It turned from very mildly flavorful to bitter much too quickly for my lazy self to babysit. Sadly, I’m not going to be reordering this one. I do have one teaspoon left, so perhaps it will miraculously taste better or I will be more patient, but I don’t really see that happening.
After tasting a bunch of new teas from the TTB, I wanted to wander back into familiar territory for a bit. I tend to love Japanese greens, so I came back to my sample of this tea. It was nicely savory and grassy at the same time, and I think I’m gonna bump up my rating of this a bit. I will say, though, to be careful because it can get very bitter quickly. I think I steeped for one or two minutes and it was fine, but I left the leaves in my teapot, and the rest of it got bitter. I added some more hot water to try to rectify the situation, but ended up making it too diluted. Anyway, keeping an eye on steeping the first time around seems to be the key here. Looks like I only have enough for one more go, so I’ll be sad to see it go.
I wanted to have something a little less caffeinated for the afternoon since I’ve been having some sleeping issues lately. This nice, roasty houjicha fit the bill! It has a slightly fishy taste like dried anchovies or dried seaweed, but I like that. I prefer the dark roast (which I recently ordered a ton of) because this one does not have as strong of a roasted taste, but I’m enjoying what I have left of this!
I have a sample size of this from my last order from Yunomi that I’m finally getting around to. The dry leaf is very clumpy, which I didn’t realize was supposed to be the case until I read the description again about the tea leaves being “rolled”. It smelled grassy and a bit like hay. After steeping to a vibrant yellow-green, it tastes grassy and savory at the same time, if that makes any sense. It’s a nice cuppa, but not my favorite type of Japanese green.
This was my favorite part of September’s Yunomi Mystery Tea Tasting Club’s package – we got a package of Toasted Rice so that we could make our very own genmaicha using whatever teas we wanted to use. Awesome right?
I first tried brewing it without any tea addition and it was yummy … reminded me a bit of a thin horchata without the spices and creamy consistency.
Then I tried it with the Bancha and the Houjicha that were included in September’s Yunomi package, and YUM! Then I tried making a black tea genmaicha using a Hawaiian grown black tea … and it too was yum.
Here’s my full-length review so you can check out all the details of each tasting: http://sororiteasisters.com/2013/10/01/yunomi-monthly-mystery-tea-samplers-club-genmai-toasted-rice-kyoto-obubu-tea-plantation/
PS: I’m not going to rate this one, since it’s not really a tea but a tea component. But I highly recommend this to all genmaicha lovers.
This is another tea that I received from my Monthly Mystery Tea Sampler’s Club from Yunomi. (I highly recommend this club. If you’re in to Japanese green teas … this is a great club to be a part of.)
This is my first experience with Gyokucha. It looks like a Chinese Gunpowder (although the color is brighter with the Gyokucha) and it tastes more like a Gyokuro, but it’s a bit crisper than a typical Gyokuro.
Nutty, sweet, and ends on a savory tone. A really interesting and delightful tea experience. Here’s my full-length review: http://sororiteasisters.com/2013/08/25/yunomi-monthly-mystery-tea-samplers-club-ureshino-gyokucha-ochatama/
I owe all of you an apology, as you noticed I did not blog yesterday, I completely forgot! The whole day I had this nagging ‘I know I am forgetting to do something’ and it wasn’t until I woke up this morning that I realized what it was. Feel free to blame the excessive amounts of Minecraft I have been playing this week. While out walking to the store today I thought to myself, I need to blog about a tea that captures the idea of Winter because it is really cold today.
Kyobancha by Yunomi.us and Obubu Tea Farm captures the idea of Winter in a different way than most teas. From Kyoto (that is where the Kyo part of the name comes from) this Bancha is plucked in March, having spent the entire Winter curing on the bush and then roasted. A rare tea, even hard to find in Japan, I knew I had to try it because the idea of this tea’s Winter journey makes me think that a little bit of the season is captured in the leaf. I am nothing if not whimsical in my way of looking at nature. The aroma is that of old leaves, like it is late Autumn and you are walking through a forest where all the leaves have fallen and there is that distinct aroma of old leaves and crispness. There is a roasted aroma but it is faint compared to other roasted teas and there is also a mild loamy aroma that ties it in with the forest imagery. I really enjoy where the aroma of this tea transports my mind.
Once the leaves are steeped the aroma of loam becomes stronger, as does the roasted aroma. I can also pick up notes of umami as I move the leaves away from my nose. It is savory and rich with also an earthy note and a very delicate hint of smoke. The liquid has a strong roasted aroma, but also notes of buttery sweetness.
Time for tasting! The first thing I notice is the buttery and very smooth mouthfeel, it just slides down my throat and I have be careful to not chug it! The flavor is sweet and rich with notes of earthiness and loam with a hint of wood. It reminds me a bit of brandy but without the alcohol, hard to imagine alcohol without the alcohol, I know. There is of course a roasted taste as well, it is mild, I could see someone who is not a huge fan of roasted teas enjoying this one. The flavors in this tea, while being distinct are also very subtle, it is a soothing tea for when you don’t want to be overwhelmed by flavor and just want to enjoy the delicate. As the tea cools it becomes sweeter and smoother. This tea is wonderful for cold days or right before bed (especially since it has almost no caffeine) and is very soothing to the stomach after a rich meal.