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Recent Tasting Notes
A rather different seeming gyokuro. Leaf buds and tips are smaller than the leaf usually used for this kind of tea. Taking that in mind, I didn’t brew it as long as I normally do for gyokuro, and I’m glad I didn’t. First steep was 1 minute at 140F – this steep was thick, with umami and grassy flavors, along with a nutty or bready finish that I really wasn’t a huge fan of. Next, I did steeps of 15s, 30s, and 1m with 175F water. The umami was basically gone after the first steep, as was the nutty/bready business that was going on. The grassiness took a more prominent place for the rest of the session, and the tea developed a pretty nice asparagus vegetal note as well.
Flavors: Grass, Nutty, Thick, Umami
Best Gyokuro I’ve had yet. I did steeps of 2m at 140F, 10s, 20s at 175F, 25 at 185F, and 30s at 200F. The dry leaf is a beautiful dark green color, and once steeped, become a bright and vibrant green. Gorgeous to look at.
First steep was extremely sweet and umami (is umami an adjective – like should I say the tea was umami, like I would say it’s sweet? Or should I say it has umami?), with beany and grassy flavors and a buttery thickness. Soo good. Feels very deep.
Next steep was buttery, grassy and sweet. I would even describe it as milky in texture and flavor. There was a very slight astringency in the finish of this one now.
Third steep was slightly more astringent, and the grassy taste was a bit more prominent and nasal in quality. There is a bit less depth and thickness to this steep.
Steep number four was a little weaker, with astringency developing into a slight bitterness, complimenting a slight grassy sweet taste remaining as well.
The last steep was just a light grassy sweetness. I probably could have gotten one more alright steep, or this last one could have been better if I’d done it for a minute or so instead of 30s. The steeped out leaves also taste pretty good, with a bit of bitterness followed by grassy sweet-ish taste.
Flavors: Beany, Butter, Creamy, Grass, Milk, Sweet, Umami
I saw this in the puerh plus TTB and wasn’t interested. I’ve been drinking hojicha a long time and one of the first loose leaf teas I bought were packets of Yamamotoyama hojicha. I assumed toasting was a great equalizer of tea quality. The stems were such a gorgeous deep brown color that I eventually opened the packet for a sniff. It smelled like chocolate. I’m not sure how or why but exactly like chocolate. So I took the sample and waited all of a week before I had to have it.
I doubted my senses so I double checked with my favorite non-tea drinker by shoving the package in their facing and asking what it smelled like. “Chocolate” came out on its own from someone who couldn’t tell hojicha from a nice mulch so it wasn’t just my brain playing tricks on me. I brewed this in a steeper mug and got two cups of glorious toasty chocolate tasting late night tea. The toasty was was full without being acrid. I think I probably could have got another cup out of it, should I not turned into the night. I am ashamed about my past ambivalence to hojicha, and now feel the need to see if I can find a particularly fine example of roasted barley tea out there.
Since my favorite plane in MTG is Ravnica, and Ravnica is vaguely inspired by Russia, I decided to dabble in Russian cooking and made a soup. Granted I picked the wrong day since it is freaking hot, but I really wanted a hearty soup. I made Kapustnyak (I saw it listed both as Russian and Ukrainian technically) a soup made with porky goodness (I used kielbasa) and sauerkraut, and man is it good! Definitely keeping this recipe around for what passes for winter in these parts. Also I have a poll with regards to blog scheduling on twitter, answer it if you have the time!
Today I am taking an adventure into Japanese dark teas with Yunomi Furyu: Tosa Bancha! It is my goal to try all the dark teas offered by Yunomi, Japanese dark teas are so fascinating. This one is a blend of pan-fried autumn picked bancha and Chamaecrista nomame, a sweet herb which, if my bit of botanical research is correct, is a member of the pea family. The leaves are gorgeous, big glossy things interspersed with a few stems and herbal bits. The aroma is savory and herbaceous, notes of sage, miso, soy, toasted rice, and a bit of hay sweetness. It is light and fluffy, delicate but distinct.
The aroma of the steeped leaves, which look uncannily like mulch, is a blend of autumn leaves, toasted rice, and toasted sage. It is very autumnal and savory, no real sweetness to be found. The aroma is lightly toasted and very gentle, notes of autumn leaves, barley, rice, and a subtle herbaceous sweetness.
The taste of this tea has a lot in common with a lightly roasted hojicha, gentle notes of autumn leaves and roasted rice. Alongside these notes is a gentle lemony salivary sweetness, then it develops a gentle fresh hay. The finish is a delicate lemon blossom and cocoa sweetness, which is peculiar but tasty. Sadly I only found this tea lasted for a single steep, luckily the first steep, for all its delicate quality was super tasty and very relaxing, it has a wonderfully mellow before sleep tea.
Really enjoyed this sencha. Equally good with both a long first steep and shorter first steep. With that longer first steep, it was decently bitter with heavy umami and a full-feeling thickness. Shorter steep gave it a lighter grassy/toasty flavor. Subsequent steeps either way were grassy with a smooth and drinkable character. Toward the end, the grassy flavor got more vegetal, as in less vibrantly green tasting.
My favorite aspect of this tea was the delayed aftertaste I got on the first 2-3 steeps with either method. It wasn’t an immediate aftertaste, but about 2 minutes after finishing a cup, my mouth started to fill up with a pretty distinct peachy/nectarine flavor. It was so good. Made my sessions take longer, as I didn’t want to start the next cup and wash that aftertaste out. Succulent and delicious. Not something I’ve gotten from a sencha before. I’m glad I got the Morita Tea Garden Sampler.
Flavors: Grass, Peach, Toasty, Umami, Vegetal
I got this as part of the Morita Tea sampler. This was a pretty good one. The aroma wasn’t quite as nutty/buttery as it would be for a sencha. I used 160F water and got steeps of 1m, 30s, 1m before upping temp to 180F and pulling one more 1m steep from the leaves.
The first steep had a robust grassy sweetness with some astringency underneath. Halfway through the first steep I started tasting some kind of pine-y flavors, along with some sweetness that kind of reminded me of honey, but I’m calling it more pine sap.
Next steep was creamy grassiness without the astringency. I didn’t get any of the pine or pine-sap flavors this time.
The last couple were just smooth grassy sweetness, with the final steep being pretty weak.
Flavors: Astringent, Grass, Pine, Smooth, Sweet
I’m glad Yunomi recommended trying this tea with “warm” (140F) and hotter water. I tried it first with 160F water and steep times of 1m, 30s, 1m. It was grassy, with pretty decent astringency in the finish. There was a honey sweetness in there somewhere as well. Next steep was a little less astringent in flavor, but more drying in the mouth, and it sort of just fell flat on the final steep.
The tea really shone when I started with cooler water. For this second session, I used 140F water for steeps of 1m, then 30s. After that, I did 1m steeps of 160F, 180F, and 200F. The first two steeps were noticeably more balanced in astringency vs. sweetness. It certainly still had an astringent note to it, but was much more mellow with a stronger grassy sweetness. I think I also detected a bit of fruit on the aftertaste, maybe melon. The next three steeps, using progressively hotter water each time, were nice and smoothly sweet with grassy and vegetal spinach flavors. The last steep acquired a noticeable bitterness, but still wasn’t overpowering. The body was strong in all but the final steep using this method, as opposed to the other method, when the main thing I got was that astringency, without a very good body to the liquid.
Flavors: Astringent, Grass, Smooth, Spinach, Sweet
Interesting, a tea made from stems! I bought the four tea sample pack from Morita Tea on Yunomi. Reading up on it before drinking, I realized that their farm was affected by the Nuclear meltdown or whatever in Japan a few years ago. Would be worrisome, except that the tea tested fully safe. Sadly, it seems most vendors have been avoiding tea from this region, so I’m glad that I could support them!
This still tasted green, if that makes sense, but didn’t have quite the grassiness of a sencha. Instead I found it more like young green woodiness. My favorite part was the aftertaste though. It left a prominent fruity flavor in my mouth, which I struggled to place for a minute before it hit me – Honeydew melon! One of my favorite fruits! Found it best with 175F and steep times of 1m, 30s, 1m…then increased to 190F and did another 1m. Pretty consistent, got a little weaker as I went.
Flavors: Green Wood, Honeydew, Sweet
Shamefully, I am just now getting around to this tea from last year’s Japanese tea box organized and shipped by Liquid Proust. I know senchas are best enjoyed fresh but this is quite tasty even a year later. I will say that there’s no notable cherry/cherry blossom flavor at this point. Sencha’s trademark grassiness is definitely here though. I got four solid steeps out of this leaf. I saved the used leaves to mix with some soy sauce and eat over rice later. I have only tried that before with gyokuru but I have high hopes for it with this sencha.
I wanted to fancy up the experience so I made myself a little snack tray to go with the tea: https:[email protected]/27303333216/ Clockwise from top left: seedless green grapes, rose-flavored Turkish delight from Turkey, strawberries drizzled with vanilla agave, Japanese mini Milanos, Rainier cherries, and Frango dark chocolates. To avoid messing up my palate for tasting-note purposes, I drank one cup of each steep, followed by a snack, followed by the second cup of that steep, and ended with a few sips of water to clear my palate. I found that the fresh fruit complemented the springiness of the tea better than the cookies and candy did.
First steep: 160f for 2 minutes. The brew is thick and grassy with a hint of sweetness. I regret not using a kyusu because small bits of leaf did make it into the cup. Thankfully, the impact was mostly visual – the leaf settled at the bottom of the cup and did not impact the taste or texture of the brew.
Second steep: 175f for 20 seconds. I was surprised that the first flavor to hit me was a slight bitterness. The grassy flavor didn’t really come in until the aftertaste. It’s not quite fresh-cut grass; more like grass in springtime the day after it has been cut. There’s a nice thick mouthfeel to this steep.
Third steep: 175f for 45 seconds. This might be my favorite steep. Thick mouthfeel, smooth flavor throughout, mellow grassy flavor, and no astringency or bitterness whatsoever.
Fourth steep: 180f for 60 seconds. This steep is about the same as the third, which is to say quite lovely. The brew is slightly thinner but the flavor is the same.
Thanks Liquid Proust!
Ah, playing on single player with cheat mode on is awesome, I am like unto an Ark god! Rebuilding my swamp base will only take a few hours instead of a few weeks, and now I have a level 120 Mosasaurus, because I can. I am very against using cheat codes in multiplayer, you will see me go into a serious rage if I find out I am playing with a cheat, but in single player where it is just little ol’ me I have no problem. I do have a rule for myself though, no cheat mode until I have thoroughly experienced the game on ‘normal’ mode, that way I get a good understanding of the game and I am not cheating myself out of what could be an awesome experience. This became very important with Minecraft, I only play on creative because I don’t find survival fun anymore, certain grindy aspects of Ark affect me the same way, it was fun the first time! On a fun note, if you don’t know what a Mosasaurus is go look it up, they are maybe my favorite prehistoric sea creature.
Today I am looking at a fun, rare tea from Japan! Yunomi’s Mimasaka Bancha by Furyu Bancha Specialty Shop. Japan has some epic dark tea, it is somewhat hard to get my hands on, but when I do I am happy! This particular tea was said to be the favorite of Miyamoto Musashi, legendary swordsman of classic Japanese literature. This tea looks a lot like a favorite of mine, Kyobancha, the leaves are shinier, the aroma is similar to but with a twist. Notes of soy sauce, sour ponzu sauce, pine resins, roast, pine needles, and underlying autumn leaf pile and dry wood. It is pleasant, the savory food like notes are light and the more woody notes prominent.
Into my kyusu the leaves go for a very long steeping, Yunomi recommends 8 minutes which works for me. The aroma of the soggy leaves (which look like mulch and this amuses me) is wet autumn leaves, a bit of sour fermented soy (kinda like tempeh but a bit more sour) meaty winter stew, roasty toasty, pine wood, and a finish of oak barrel. This is an evocative pile of leaves. The aroma of the liquid is nice and mild and seriously comfy, it doesn’t smell like a warm robe on a cold day but it certainly evokes that. Notes of wood, soggy leaves, soy beans, and a sweet caramelized sugar and rice undertone.
The first time I tried this tea I found it a but underwhelming, turns out I just underleafed it, this is a tea that tastes best when you are very heavy handed with the leaf amount. Do not be afraid to just load up on the fluffy leaves. The taste is smooth, similar to a mildly roasted Hojicha or Kyobancha with notes of autumn leaf pile, gentle roast, and sweet caramelized sugar. Towards the end the roast becomes stronger, bringing in notes of rice and toasted soy beans with a hint of meaty soy sauce. Like other Japanese dark teas I have tried this tea is pretty good chilled, bringing out just a hint of sourness like a very distant lemon. I was able to get a second steep out of this tea, but it was like the first only diminished, so I stuck it in my fridge and had the rest for breakfast, which I found immensely refreshing and hydrating. If you are a fan of either Hojicha or Kyobancha I say give this one a try, it is more of an entry level to the uniqueness of Japanese Dark Teas.
I know I said that I thought this would be best served hot, but something about the hot mug I made last night didn’t sit well with me. I think it was the apple? It was just sort of tart which was a little funky next to the roasty profile of the houjicha and the warming ginger flavour. If I ever cross pathes with this again I think I need to go back to drinking it cold…
Flavors: Apple, Ginger, Nutty, Roasted, Tart
So I am finally getting around to getting the mouthpiece and valve oil for my thrift store French Horn, took me long enough, and I find myself in a bit of a pickle. A lot has changed in the world since I played my little heart out 15 years ago, mainly I have no idea where to find sheet music…or really how to read music (I gotta start over from scratch, I hope the knowledge comes back quickly) so that is going to be a fun search. I definitely think one of the things I will look for is the Jurassic Park theme, that piece is wonderful for the horn and was a favorite of mine years ago…well that and Bolero!
Today is a lazy day, meaning I lack the brain power to write about a tea with many many steeps, instead I want something relaxing…so I turn to an old classic relaxation tea, a Hojicha! Looking at Yunomi’s Ocharaka’s Hojicha Mint Chocolate Flavored Roasted Green Tea, a blend of Hojicha , black tea, peppermint, cornflowers, flavoring, and my favorite part…silver sparkles! Edible ones of course. The aroma of this tea is like a piece of toast with chocolate sauce and a very distant mint. Like chocolate mints for someone who wants more chocolate than mint and I am totally ok with that!
I was gifted this tea from a tea friend and thought it was just chocolate hojicha, so it was quite the surprise when it had mint and the silver sparkles, it was kinda epic steeping it and seeing the sparkle. The aroma of toasty chocolate (reminds me of the smell of the edge of a pan of brownies, actually) with gentle cooling mint notes as an afterthought. The liquid is pretty balanced with chocolate and mint with a finish of roasty toasty notes that are quite pleasant, like blending autumn warmth and the crispness of winter.
I found myself really torn, was this a winter tea or an autumn tea? On the one hand the gentle sweet mint and chocolate remind me of winter, with cooling mint notes and my favorite holiday indulgence (so many chocolate mints get devoured that time of year.) On the other hand the notes of pine sap, burning autumn leaves, and woody leaf notes remind me of autumn. This tea is a perfect relaxing cup of sweetness that feels like a warm blanket and afternoon naps, which is something I was much in need of.
I have put off having this tea only because of the unusual brewing instructions. So I put 2.5 g in boiling water and boiled for 10 min.
First impression: It tasted like dirty dishwater. Not that I drink a lot of dirty dishwater. Then I realized that was a bit harsh. This tea started to grow on me a bit the more I had.
It’s supposed to be something like a puerh. It does have similarities but is quite different as well. I don’t know of any puerh you can boil for 10 minutes and have it turn out fine.
There’s no bitterness in this tea. Even after boiling for 10 minutes! There’s a slight sweetness but it tastes like woody twigs boiled in water a bit of earth. Doesn’t sound very appealing but it’s not bad. I’ve heard worse things used to describe tea (tobacco, leather). Overall, enjoyed trying out this tea but it’s not something I would buy.
Flavors: Earth, Sweet, Wood
Well I did it, I finally saw The Force Awakens, took me long enough. I might lose all of my nerd cred, but I am not much of a Star Wars fan, it has always been a franchise I enjoyed but could not really get into, so that is why it took me so long. That and I hate theaters, crowds, going out in public, and of course being in a car for very long…so other factors. I did enjoy it though, it was predictable and nostalgia laden, but these things made it enjoyable, plus laughing at Kylo Ren’s emo self was immensely entertaining. Reminded me of my goth phase in high school, when I wore a mask and had a lightsaber.
Today’s tea is from Yunomi, a company who I have not visited on this blog in a while, so I thought it was time to change that. Looking at their Ocharaka: Hojicha Baked Apple Flavored Roasted Green Tea, a different take on one of my favorite teas, Houjicha! I am not a big fan of flavored teas anymore, I still drink them on occasion but usually I got for pure leaf or a blend, but once in a while I am craving a taste and don’t have access to it, usually that craving is food related and imitated in tea, so I reach for it to satisfy a craving. This time I was craving apple pie, so it seemed a perfect time to try this tea I had in my stash. Blending Houjicha, Ginger, Apple and Flavorings, this tea smells like tart apples and ginger with a strong caramel undertone. It kinda reminds me of the apple pie caramel lollipops they gave with the apple pie blizzards at Dairy Queen where I worked, hated the blizzards but man did I love those lollipops! There is also a toasted note that vaguely reminds me of crust, but mostly this tea’s aroma is all ginger and apple.
Into my little kyusu the leaves go for steeping, this pot is the perfect sized for a single me sized cup, I like small cups and I cannot lie! The aroma is a lot less tart and more baked sweet apples, toasted crust, and ginger. It does not exactly remind me of pie, but does remind me of cobbler which works for me! The liquid is very sweet with just a hint of tart apples and pie crust. Ok this tea officially smells like pie now.
Mmmm pie, in fact it tastes like slightly burnt pie, where the crust is burnt and the sugar has caramelized a bit. It is quite sweet and smooth with strong toast and ginger notes with light apples, luckily the apple tastes like apple and not apple candy, which I was a bit worried about from the aroma of the dried leaves. I found the apple notes to be strongest in the aftertaste or when the tea had cooled a bit. It is not an exact pie match, but it was close enough to ease my craving!
Thanks to Liquid Proust for the sample
The dry tea is interesting: perfect leaves with a bit of stem attached. They appear to have no processing other than being dried. Tastes like a green tea crossed with a white: Smells more floral than vegetal, with a predominantly grassy flavor. My favorite style of green. For whatever reason, this tea made me want to meditate. Very relaxing. I’m not a big fan of green teas, but this could make me a convert. 2nd steep was less interesting
This is a strange and interesting green tea. I’m not at all sure I brewed it right. The directions call for 15g for 2 liters, strange way to write the directions. So I halved the amount and put it in my teapot. Only then did I realize the teapot I had put it in was more of a half liter. So I removed the leaves and put them in a bigger glass teapot. I brewed approximately 7g of leaf for 3 min in approx 1 liter of water. What I got was a light colored fairly vegetal, grassy tasting tea. It’s not bad but I think it would have been better if the directions had called for a reasonable sized pot.
I am so far behind in my sample tasting. This tea was with the Yunomi group buy and just getting around to trying it now. I brewed it gong fu with the first infusion pretty short (15sec) but am really enjoying it. It doesn’t have that heavy bold taste that some black teas do (that could be in part because of how I brewed it). It’s a bit sweet with a nice malty flavour and a fruity note. It’s weird, but I had a feeling this tea was going to be fruity before I brewed it up or even smelled it. This was my first black Japanese tea too.
Flavors: Fruity, Malt, Sweet
Picked up a 10g sample of this with my order that arrived today. As it is caffeine free I am trying it tonight. The main note is one of grass. However this does not come with the bitterness of green tea. It is kind of neutral tasting, not really sweet and not really bitter. It is quite interesting. I am actually going to see if it will resteep. I only brewed about 8oz with 5g of leaf using 175 degree water for 3 min. In the end this is a hard to to recommend or not recommend. For someone who wants to try different herbals it is interesting.
From the Here’s Hoping TTB, R5
Kind of bland and sad. It tasted kind of more like a chinese black and green tea blend than a roasted green tea. My first Houjicha was also from Yunomi and it got me throughly hooked, so this was a disappointment.Recommended steeping is 1 min @194F, but it didn’t give off much flavor even at 3+ min. To be fair the ‘best by’ on the package is APR 2015 (It’s now NOV 2015, for future reference). I wouldn’t have expected it to be so bland regardless. Oh well, it was a really small sample. Sipdown?
p.s. – this listing was really confusing to find. There’s a vendor name (Yunomi), a ‘by: NaturaliTea’, and ‘sold by: Matcha Latte Media’. =/
I love that this comes in a can rather than a pouch. Plus it’s got a ring pull to open it for a real sense of freshness. Not to mention the plastic re-sealable lid for ease of use.
As I open the ring pull the Matcha is revealed, it’s a glorious shade of grass green and bares an amazing, sweet aroma of lightly toasted grass. Delicate but beautiful!
A quick inspection of the packaging reveals that this comes from Sakae-cho, Odawara, Kanagawa in Japan.
I will be preparing this Matcha Uji Style with water temp 75C.
he resulting Matcha is silky and bright green in colour with a wonderful, thick froth. Scent matches it’s raw state to that of toasted sweetgrass.
Flavour is sweet but with some astringency. Grassy notes mixed with cream and seaweed. Very pleasing and thicker than I thought it would be from the scent. A touch of dryness in the after taste but with a lingering grass tone.
This was extremely pleasant and a joy to drink. It also has to be said this got bonus points for being organic. I’m generally a fan of NaturaliTea and this holds to their quality and style. In terms of it being a ceremonial Matcha I would say this was a very nice example and it compares very well to some top names/brands.
For these reasons I will be rating this an 8.5/10. Almost a 9 but for me there was perhaps too much sweetness.
For pics please view my blog: http://www.kittylovestea.co.uk/2015/11/03/organic-matcha-memories-with-naturalitea/
Flavors: Cream, Grass, Sweet
This is a very umami-rich gyokuro with deep seaweed and vegetal notes. I first brewed it according to package directions, 5 grams per 6 oz, at 122 F for 5 minutes and then 155 F for 15 seconds. That produced a rich broth with an intense savory flavor. A little too rich for me though.
So I dialed down the leaf quantity and brewed it like sencha: 1 tsp per 4 oz steeped in 160 F for 45 seconds. The resultant cup had the same savory flavor as before, but less intense and balanced with a smooth buttery flavor and a hint of sweetness. No astringency whatsoever. Subsequent infusions for 25 and 60 seconds respectively were good but didn’t have the same fullness of flavor as the first.
Flavors: Butter, Grass, Seaweed, Umami
After drinking through the Tosa Bancha (which I have to buy more of) I decided to try this one out to see if it’d be something I want more of.
This bancha is stronger, but it comes at the cost of a dry afternote that is a bit heavier than I want. The green tea taste is a little subdued as well with the wood/roast in this one so it may be suited for others but it is not that awesome balance that the Tosa had. This is the kind of tea that will easily warm someone up on a chilly day though with a good punch of flavor and warmth.