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Recent Tasting Notes
Backlog – Some of the gyokuro teas and good but just a bit too rich for everyday. I also find the brewing method a bit complex and easy to mess up. I don’t like brewing tea at such a low temperature (even for the first infusion) because I like my teas hot. So I decided I was going to use the sencha brewing guide to brew this gyokuro and see how I like it. I loved it!
It was sweet, grassy, vegetal,seaweed, good umami. I found seaweed was strong but not overly so like in some gyokuro’s . Definitely stronger than a sencha. It was a beautiful emerald green in the cup. I got 3 infusions from it and I think I could have got a bit more at the time but was too busy. I would consider ordering more of this.
Flavors: Cut grass, Seaweed, Umami, Vegetal
Today my mom and I visited an old favorite spot in the countryside, a small cave on the side of the road that holds an amazing treasure. We visited the Rossville Road Cut, a rock hunter’s dream, just pull over, grab your gear, and find some loot. This specific rock-hub is known for its ancient hydrothermal activity causing the native copper in the stones to turn to a glorious crust of Azurite and Malachite. The little cave is about five feet deep (at this point anyway) and I have always been leery about hammering in the cave (the fracture lines make the ceiling look fragile) so instead of bringing home huge showcase pieces I collect the bits left by other collectors. I also managed to get my hands on some Grossular Garnets and other pieces that need cleaning and proper IDing, perhaps my Saturday Musing will be about my finds.
I am going to be honest, reviewing this tea was a stupid idea! Yunomi was awesome and sent it as a sample with a requested pair of other samples, and I couldn’t not review it, that would also be dumb. The reason is was a bad idea to review Hida Mugicha Barley Tea is I have Gluten Intolerance, luckily it is not Celiac, but it acts like a food allergy (don’t worry I won’t give details about what happens) so never let it be said that I am not really dumb sometimes. So, the teabag with the Mugicha was huge, clearly made for a pitcher, so I snipped it open and took out enough for just a cup. The aroma is really kinda great, very grainy and toasty with a touch of earthiness and a hint of sweetness. It reminds me of a combination of cereal and multi-grain bread, the toasted notes bringing out the natural sweetness of the barley.
Giving this tea a steep is mouthwatering, inability to have gluten and occasionally craving it something fierce aside, this tea smells delicious. That is, it smells delicious if you are a huge fan of toast, grain, and a distinct earthiness that only barley can present. The liquid without the mugicha reminds me of early autumn, a blend of the grain, toast, and earthiness just reminds me of the harvest and the golden quality the sunlight takes on this time of year.
Tasting time! The taste reminds me of bread, specifically multigrain bread…or barley soup…or the taste the air gets when you are toasting your own grain. I have noticed that this tea is not about taste, but about the imagery that pops into my mind while experiencing it. It is subtly sweet and earthy, much like barley, what more can I say other than this is a tea that tastes like toasted barley. Chilled this tea is incredibly refreshing, I am so glad to have experienced it (check it off my ‘to try’ list) and I am sad that I won’t be having more of it. And don’t worry, I actually tasted this tea a bit ago, my trusty notebook kept the details safe for me, so you all can know that my body’s hatred of gluten did not do me in.
It’s Monday afternoon and I have not had a drop of tea, that must be amended. So to match the anime that I have on (which is called Another/アナザー/ Anazā – a horror anime) I chose this Kukicha sample.
The raw tea has a thick sweet grass scent with a dry, perfumed finish.
In appearance this is a mixture of dark green and yellow green long, thin stem pieces that have a high gloss shine.
Tea Leaves 3 grams
Water Amount 100 ml
Water Temperature 82˚C degrees
Steeping Time 45 seconds
Flavour starts off rather mild with buttery grass and spinach tones. It has some sweetness though is more mineral. The after taste becomes perfumed and dry with some umami and astringency that is rather crisp.
Further steeps increase in dryness though lower in all flavour aspects. For me it does not have much re-steep ability left past three. That makes this tea perfect for quick sessions or as an all day style tea.
Flavors: Butter, Drying, Spinach, Sweet, warm grass, Umami
Cheri was kind enough to send me this one, along with three other Sayama teas. The expiration date on the packages says September 30th (which she warned me of ahead of time) but the tea still smelled very fresh when I opened the (sealed) packet. Visually, it’s a mix of almost lemongrass-ish light green flat stems and darker, smaller pieces. It smells lovely and sweet, with light marine and spinach notes.
Steeped up, the liquid is a medium green with a brownish hue. It smells amazingly buttery and rich with a lot of sweetness. Woo, it’s a bit more potent than I expected! So much for expired. :P The flavor is very buttery and rich with a lot of butternut squash and spinach-like notes. There’s a slight savoriness about this that is reminiscent of seaweed combined with a sweetness that manifests especially in the aftertaste.
Overall, tasty and more similar to sencha than I expected. Perhaps next time I will try a 45s steep!
Flavors: Butter, Butternut Squash, Seaweed, Smooth, Spinach, Sweet, Vegetal
I got this tea as a sample with my last order.
Well, I´m not very much into herbal teas and this one is blended with 8 herbal among other things with Japanese medlar. I was a bit skeptical
My parameters were:
10g, 450ml, pitcher, 95°C 100°C
30sec, 1 min, 2 min, 3 min
I got a very pleasant golden yellowish liquor of this tea with a mild body that had hints of spicy and a slightly sweet aftertaste. There were a multilayered taste, but I´m unable to name these flavor components. No bitterness at all.
And even cold was this tea very delicious.
Would I buy a full-size bag of this tea? Yes. I was positively convinced by this tea. Maybe I should give blended tea a chance :)
Flavors: Spicy, Sweet
The smell was sweet and roasty, very pleasant.
multiple infusions possible
The liquor is golden brown with toasty aromas underpinned with a light sweetness.
toasty, very slightly sweet (?), reminds me a little of diluted malt coffee, no bitterness at all.
Houjicha is also great for cold steeping overnight in the refrigerator.
Flavors: Malt, Toasty
So when I made this last night, I didn’t see that it was one bag for 1 liter (explains why the bag was so large though). So I made it according to the instructions, but in 8 oz of water, oops.
While the aroma of the Buckwheat was that of peanut butter, the aroma of this smelled like slightly burnt popcorn. While interesting, I was slightly afraid it would taste like burnt popcorn, which is unpleasant. Thankfully, it didn’t taste burnt, but it did taste a bit like unsalted air popped popcorn. I added a touch of sweetener and it became sort of like kettle corn. You know, sort of sweet popcorn? Yum.
Another interesting tisane that I’m so happy I got a chance to try because I probably would have never noticed this!
Alright, I’ve completed the full Yunomi/Kurihara Tea Farm gyokuro tour!
This time I used the brewing instructions on the packet. I had thought they were the same as the ones I had found online. I like to cross-reference things before I brew something new because I’ve had plenty of vendor suggestions that were flat out awful ways to brew their tea (I’m lookin at you Adagio).
Anyway, Yunomi sent me a printout on Gyokuro steeping method and it is identical to the one on a Japanese blog I found called Tales of Japanese Tea. I used this method for the first three samples and boy was it intense (too much for me)! It took me till the last sample to notice that the printed suggestions on the packets are just slightly lower leaf to water ratio and produce a bit less intense of a result, so I used the printed method from the packet this time. It still makes a very small amount of tea like the other “traditional” methods I found, very thick and syrupy, but not quite as potent and harsh on my poor umami-starved western palate.
The difference in the leaf to water ratio between the two steeping methods I have tried for gyokuro now is about a 40% difference in intensity, so it made quite a difference.
But anyway, with this slightly lighter preparation method, I could really taste and enjoy the umami flavor more without the bitterness overwhelming me. The overall scent of the tea was like sweet vegetation and seaweed, and the taste was like meat or a really rich broth made from boiled bones.
I’m still not going to rate this stuff because it is just so new to me and I haven’t had enough gyokuro to really know the good from the bad. I can say it was a really interesting experience and pretty fun to try. For the price of this stuff though, I highly doubt I’ll ever be buying a full order of it. I prefer more aromatic teas to these heavily umami intense Japanese ones. It’s not that I don’t like it. I do. I just have to really love it for the price these fetch, and I don’t think I really love it… yet.
Flavors: Broth, Meat, Umami, Vegetal
This review is mostly a clone of the last one, because the differences were minute in my experience.
Before you read my review, just know that I am brewing this the traditional Japanese way, which is very flavor-intense and different than the way most Westerners brew Gyokuro.
Here’s a very short article about what the difference is:
And the brewing method is here: http://everyonestea.blogspot.com/2010/10/how-to-brew-gyokuro.html
It is also the same leaf to water ratio that was recommended in the gyokuro tip sheet Yunomi sent me with the teas… so I guess this is at least a somewhat common method in Japan.
I mention this because my first gyokuro review had a lot of people wondering why my experience with the tea was so much different than theirs. This is primarily why.
Of the Kurihara Tea Farm gyokuro sampler, so far this one had the least bitterness and some lingering sweetness with the incredibly intense umami that accompanies it. The flavor is intense, fills your mouth very quickly, and it takes a long time just to sip a tiny 20-30ml cup of it. It’s a really interesting experience. It resteeps okay once, but after that you’re digging into the bitter flavors in the leaf quite a bit so I really only drank two infusions of it.
It made a delicious green tea salad afterward.
I’ve decided not to rate Gyokuro teas unless I find myself really loving one. I believe in trying to appreciate them with the traditional method of brewing instead of diluting it to suit my tastes because I’d like to learn how and why this tea is usually appreciated in Japan, and so far the traditional method is just so new and abstract to me that it is very difficult for me to tell if I enjoy it or not. I think the quality of these teas is good, but I cannot particularly evaluate them because the flavor and feeling of this tea is just so unlike anything else I’ve ever had. It can be a little overwhelming, but it is also very savory and enjoyable in some aspects.
If you’ve never used the traditional method to prepare gyokuro, I recommend doing it at least once. It’s a trip. It produces a very thick and syrupy broth that you can sip on very slowly and the flavor will remain in your mouth for literally hours after drinking it.
Flavors: Grass, Umami, Vegetal
The dry tea leaves are rich dark green, needle shaped and have a heavy grassy smell with a pleasant sweetness for me.
The Liquor varies depending the infusion between dark golden toned and greeny yellow and is a little cloudy.
This Kabusecha has a balanced flavor of vegetal and grassy flavors, which is accompanied all the while by a sweetness.
4-5 Infusions were possible
Steeping time between 30 sec and 2 min
The second the boiling water hit this, intense aromas of peanut butter wafted through the air. I literally exclaimed “oh yum!” out loud. I love peanut butter, but try to resist it because I could probably eat a whole jar, and that’s not good, haha. The aroma of the tisane once its been strained is less peanut butter-y but still roasty, toasty, nutty mouthwatering goodness. I tried it first unsweetened, and it tasted like delicious roasted peanuts. Then I thought that maybe sweetening it will make it more peanut butter like. Once I added some stevia and took a sip. Wow, there’s the peanut butter! I would believe you if you said that this was a peanut butter flavored genmaicha or something. This is so good. I can’t get over it. And surely drinking this is better than eating a jar (or two) of peanut butter right?
Oh, and it resteeps well! I’m on my 3rd steep with no loss of flavor. I’m so glad Yunomius sent this in my press samples, it something I never would have thought about trying myself, and yet now its something I can see myself drinking regularly.
Flavors: Peanut, Roasted nuts
I might have botched the brewing on the infusions a few times but this tea is still very good.
The first infusion, I followed their directions but think I cooled the water just a tad too much and had a bit too much water. It was still very grassy and sweet. Nice and rich and perfectly balanced for a deeply flavoured sencha.
2nd infusion was supposed to be 10-20 sec but I botched and it went a minute. I was glad because it was still a flavourful cup.
3rd infusion. Used their instruction and did 30 sec but this brew was way too weak.
4th – Went back to longer infusion of 1 min but it was already becoming a weaker version of the tea.
Backlog from a few days ago.
I could have sworn that I wrote a note about this tea before, but I guess not. In any event, this is a sipdown!
I used more western steeping measurements and even slightly underleafed and oversteeped the brew. Despite this, the cup was surprisingly pleasant! I generally steel myself for the bitterness of gyokuros, but this was gentle and nutty. Not sure if I’ll get more, but this was a nice sendoff.
Having this one this morning. Brewed accorking to Yunomi. First brewing : 1 tsp, , 1/3 cup water at 110F, 2 minutes. It was rich and sweet like heavy seaweed. No astringency at all. Second brewing: 1/3 cup , 185F, 20sec. This one had a stronger astringency due to the higher temperature but the sweetness was still coming through. Good but very different than the first brewing. My little teapot was not filtering out all the tiny leaves so with both the first and second brewing, I was getting those tiny leaves at the bottom of my cup. That’s what was giving it a strong strong seaweed taste at the bottom of the cup. So far, very delicious and very different. Will update further with more steepings! I would classify this tea as a very special occasion tea or special treat. The special steepings are a little tricky to follow and the tea is amazing. Definitely worth keeping in small quantities for that special treat.
Flavors: Seaweed, Sweet
From Cameron B in a swap!
Brewed with a shudei kyusu. 1st infusion: 160 degrees, 45 seconds. 2nd and 3rd: 170, 30 seconds.
I love the color of the wet leaf – such a deep yet vibrant green! This gyokuro has a citrusy dry aroma. The wet aroma smells of the spinach, almost sugary. The liquor is bright green, full-bodied, thick-textured, and very sweet. The first and third infusions are buttery with a spinach note, and the second tastes more like squash with the slightest hint of bitterness (the good kind).
A good quality gyokuro, but it’s too sweet for me. Thanks for giving me a chance to try it, Cameron B!
I’m still not completely sold on houjichas, but I was surprised by how dark the brew was when I finished steeping. It was a deep, dark umber. A cool brown, not a warm welcoming one.
The taste was fairly similar to the other Obubu houjichas I sampled, but that’s ok. Woody, roasty, smoky, somewhat “curly”. Just need to make a few more pots of this to finish it off.
My husband always enjoys drinking tea with me though he doesn’t share my special fondness of it. When I first gave him Matcha and mentioned it’s amazing health properties he waned in disbelief and left it at that. Months down the line he read an article about Matcha tea in a Men’s Health magazine and how it is beneficial to have before and after a work out. My husband being a gym type (well, he likes to think so anyway) asked me to get some Matcha to blend into his protein shake. Well after a week or so of searching I settled on this brand and purchased three packets, it was amazing value of only around $18 for 100g and on top of that I had a coupon.
That was a good five or so months ago, now this is my go to every day Matcha. Yes it’s kitchen grade but it’s an amazing kitchen grade. It’s not bitter, nor fishy, nor chemical like or anything else which is unlike some of the others I have tried in the past. This is a lovely medium greenish colour that steeps dark with water and tastes light, grassy and sweet. It may have a slight touch of bitterness but I find Matcha does in general anyway, including ceremonial.
So for an everyday Matcha I highly recommend this, it’s the best I have found in terms of flavour, quality and price. My husband is also smitten with it, and while he may not go to the gym often he still drinks his Matcha.
Having a Kindle Fire is probably the most awesome thing I have experienced in a while, combine that with a free trial to Kindle Unlimited, and I am pretty sure my ‘books read’ count this year is going to sky-rocket past 100, easily. If I am lucky I can afford to keep the Kindle Unlimited thing after my free trial, because $10 for a mountain of books is just awesome. I love being able to carry all those books around with me without being crushed under their weight, a common problem when I travel around, I need my books! Having a book has always been a security blanket for me, I never leave the house without one.
Today’s tea comes from Yunomi, they recently gave their website a re-do, it caught me off guard, but it looks quite snazzy. From Kurihara Tea #12 Shira-Ore Stem Tea with Matcha will be the tea that gets to take a soak in my Kyusu today. Usually called Kukicha, stem tea in the Yame Region of Southern Japan is called Shira-Ore. It takes the stems separated out during the production of Sencha and mixes them with a bit of leaves to balance out the flavor and some Matcha to add in some richness. The aroma of the dry leaves is so green! There are notes of cut grass, fresh spinach, and an underlying sweet nuttiness, the aroma reminds me of the smell of summer when everything is in full growth.
Ah, the aroma of sweet, fresh, vegetation is a beautiful thing, especially to sniff when once is not in the best mood, it is like taking a walk through a lush field on a summer day, but without the worry of annoying bitey bugs. There are notes of fresh hay, cut grass, spinach, nuttiness, and a tiny hint of a green algae note. The liquid is sweet and green, there is a bit of grass and spinach with a sweet nutty quality and a tiny hint of umami filled kelp.
The first steep is delightfully mellow, not to be boring but the tea tastes pretty much exactly as it smells, no mysterious hidden notes that appear in the taste. Fresh green growth, cut grass, sweet fresh hay, and a nice nutty sweet finish. Very refreshing, especially if you, like me, are a lover of all things green. I should say that the Matcha taste is very mild, a lot of teas with added Matcha usually have a very distinct kick of of the stuff, this one is very light, so if you are one who is afraid of Matcha, this could be a good introduction to its taste.
I decided to go for a second steep (while I vigorously browse for new books for my kindle, that thing is going to be loaded with books for my train trip) the aroma is a warm grass green and sweet, mellow, Matcha. It reminds me of sun warmed green growth, where earlier it was a field in morning, this time it is late and lazy afternoon. The taste this time around has a more umami sea air and kelp tinge to it, with less sweetness and more green, there is a touch of cooked kale and fresh vegetation, with a finish of hay. An excellent example of stems being awesome.
This is my second free “press” sample from Yunomi.us last month (I just got an email telling me that my free samples for this month shipped, yay). I’m just going to say it, I don’t have much experience with gyokuro and the last one I tried was a bit too much for me. But onward we go, for science! The leaves of this tea are quite thin and lightweight, and almost needle-like in shape. Their color is a rich jewel-tone evergreen. Dry scent is strongly sweet and vegetal, and almost fruity (pineapple?). I steeped a level teaspoon at 160 degrees for 2 minutes.
Once steeped, the tea has a strong and intense vegetal aroma, with a lovely mixture of sweet and savory tones and a touch of seaweed. Oh wow, I was blown away at first sip! This tea is so amazingly sweet and smooth, and super creamy in texture. Drinking this reminds me of eating a nice hearty, thick soup. The vegetal flavor is deep and luscious, and a mixture of mild steamed greens and silky butternut squash or sweet potato puree. There’s also a lovely rich nutty flavor here, definitely with a touch of roast. It’s a decadent nut, like macadamia or cashew. So delicious and satisfying!
Flavors: Butternut Squash, Creamy, Nuts, Roasted nuts, Smooth, Spinach, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes, Thick