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Recent Tasting Notes
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.
I’m on my 4th restroom break because of this tea!
That’s tea talk for: I have drank over 50 ounces of this.
The balance of roast and green tea in this blend is absolutely amazing; so much so that I may not stock up on roasted oolongs this year if the other banchas I try are this good. Not only does it have the mild earth notes hidden in its roast quality, there is this woodsy after taste/feel that is welcoming.
Just… this is wonderful.
It is a bit brisk today! I learned this when I woke up this afternoon to both of the cats burrowed into me seeking warmth. Tao got very cross when I decided to leave the blanket pile, even going so far as to dig her claws into me (gently, well, gently for Tao, she is such a beast) when I moved. Espeon just made sad noises in her sleep, which was really quite pitiful. After extracting myself from the bed, tucking in the cats, I finally gave into the evils and opened the heater vent. Looks like autumn is well under way!
Since it is autumn, why not go for a thematically appropriate tea? From Yunomi and NaturaliTea, #11 Autumn Bancha Green Tea, this tea is grown in Shizouka and is harvested in early October, meaning that yes, this is 2014’s harvest since it is just now harvest time. The aroma of these MASSIVE leaves (seriously, the tea frog is very happy to sit on this pile of leaves) is quite sharp, like sniffing a pile of fresh oak leaves, cut grass, a touch of nuttiness, these leaves smell like nature, like being outside, enjoying all the various leaves and grass smells nature can offer. I know people say stop and smell the roses, but don’t forget the leaves, stems, pollen, and all the other parts of the plant, sniffing them is awesome too!
Into my green gaiwan that pretends to be a houhin the jumbo leaves go for a nice hot bath. Bancha does best steeping at hotter temperatures, the more delicate Sencha would burn…pretty sure Gyokuro would just explode. The aroma of the soggy leaves is grassy and leafy, yeah the leaves smell like leaves, specifically oak leaves and fresh tea leaves, freshly plucked right off the plant. There is also a bit of fresh spinach and just a touch of sesame seeds. The liquid is bright and green, I smell colors! Seriously though, the aroma is very fresh and green, like gently steamed spinach and grass, oak leaves, and crushed vegetation. It smells like nature, I keep saying that, but it is very much so a distinct smell of growing things.
Tasting this tea is like tasting a pile of leaves, and I am totally ok with that! It is not really vegetal (there is a tiny hint of spinach) it is straight up vegetation. Bright notes of cut grass and sweetgrass, sharp notes of oak leaves and tea leaves, the green notes of gently crushed vegetation similar to the smell of leaves as you walk through undergrowth. It is very green and very fresh tasting, for all that this is an autumn harvested tea, it tastes like the full growth of summer. I got a couple more steeps off of this tea (but totally derped and forgot to take pictures, sorry about that) and the taste stayed pretty much the same, with an increase in strength at the second steep and the third steep had a toasty note which added a fun bit of depth.
This sample came from Christina. Thanks Christina!
This tea is full of a nutty, grainy goodness. There’s a bit of roasty flavour to it too but it seems to me that this is a bit less roasted flavour than other buckwheat teas I’ve had. I’m really not sure about that and would have to try them side by side to determine.
Anyway, greatly enjoyed this cup. It comes at a great time when the weather is cooling down. I haven’t had any desire to have buckwheat tea during the hot summer days. Somehow it just loses it’s charm when I have it during a warm or hot day. Just like hot chocolate, this tea is best on cold days. The colder the better. It really warms you up inside and makes you feel cozy.
Flavors: Grain, Nutty, Roasted nuts
Blergh. I think I brewed it too long. Or something. It tastes like how acetone smells, very much on the after taste too. Kind of like when you’re trying to drink orange juice after brushing your teeth. I’ve steeped it twice though to drink during two different times of the day and it still tastes this way. I think this is from the Xmas cards swap last year, but it doesn’t have any markings other than the tea name so I don’t know.
I am currently drowning my sorrows in terribly Hip-hop and Rap, it seems growing up in Atlanta means I never really lost my taste for Krunk, though in my defense I love good Rap, the bad stuff is just a guilty pleasure. Why am I drowning my sorrows you ask? My variable kettle went on to a glorious afterlife, I am sure it is heating water in Valhalla now with all the Warboys, all shiny and chrome.
Today’s tea is a fun blend of tea techniques and cultures, Yunomi’s Chakouan’s Ureshino Kamairicha, a Japanese Green Tea where the familiar steaming step is skipped and the tea is pan fired instead, similar to the way green teas in China are made. This technique was brought from China in the 15th-16th century and is a specialty in a couple southern regions, Ureshino in Saga Prefecture being one of those regions. The aroma of the curly leaves is quite nutty and sweet, it has a distinct note of sesame seeds which give the leaves their gentle sweetness. Underneath those notes of sesame seeds is a sharp leafy note of raw spinach and a bit of fresh kelp, adding an umami tone.
Into my pseudo-houhin the leaves go, luckily the leaves are fairly large so they don’t all go out the somewhat large holes, always glad when that happens. The aroma of the soggy leaves is a blend of cooked spinach and kelp, reminds me a bit of seaweed salad, but with a whole lot of extra sesame seeds. Just the right amount of green and seaweed to make me salivate. The liquid is nutty and sweet, like toasted sesame seeds and not much else, seems like all the aroma is in the leaves.
Tasting time! The texture is very smooth, and just a little bit on the thick side. It is surprisingly sweet and nutty, ok, not really surprisingly nutty, but the honey sweetness was a pleasant surprise. This initial burst of sweetness moves to a combination of sesame seeds and chestnuts, after that we have a nice burst of steamed spinach and a great finish of fresh kelp. The aftertaste surprisingly is a gentle fruity nuttiness that lingers for a while.
Second steeping time! The aroma is not changed much from the first steep, notes of toasted sesame, but there is a gentle undertone of fresh grass to go along with it, still pretty faint. This time the taste starts out green and crisp, no sweetness or nuttiness, crisp bell peppers and spinach with a finish of kelp. This tea is a fascinating thing, you have the familiar notes of a Japanese green mixed with the nutty toastiness of a Chinese green, I really appreciate the blending of techniques.
I’m pretty sure this is the tea I have… mine says Furyu imasaka bancha from yunomi which is like 3 letters off what it says here so I have to assume, yeah?
I got this one because Yunomi had a whole section called “dark teas” and they were all rather expensive and so I got curious what this even was. Once I opened the sample I figured it was just some fancy shade-grown bancha since thats pretty well how the leaves look/smell. I got notes of hay and wood mostly, slightly minty and its somehow earthy but light, I guess kind of more similar to a hojicha than a bancha.
Anyhow, the package wanted me to steep…10g of leaves (my sample had 5g) for 10 mins in .. 1L-1.5L which were definitely the strangest steeping instructions I’ve ever seen. nonetheless, I did the 10 minutes, with maybe 2.5g in 16oz of water. the leaves came out pitch black and kind of reflect the light into the same sort of rainbow as gas which is striking, and the tea is a dark crimson, not unlike a black tea.
Heres where everything got strange. I smelled the tea itself and its almost indescribable, it sort of reminds me of a campfire.. I think.. like camping in general, a tad fishy even.
On the first sip, I want to say that it’s smoky but.. not in the conventional way of smoky teas I’ve had in the past.. like i’m thinking actual smoke. It’s retained that fishiness, but in a mild and pleasant way, and its thick and almost meat-like, with no astringency as far as I can tell.
As it’s cooling I’m starting to taste rice, and the vaguest hints of grass and vegetation, i’m getting a bit of astringency now, since presumably it’s stronger at the bottom.
What an interesting tea, I think it’s really helped me remember why I got so excited by tea in the beginning, my excitement’s been waning recently and it’s nice to have this bit of reminder :)
Flavors: Campfire, Earth, Fishy, Grass, Hay, Meat, Mint, Rice, Smoke, Vegetal, Wood