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Recent Tasting Notes


Oh goody! One of those stupid headaches that won’t go away has decided to crop up, I hate them because they make it so hard to think straight and see straight, plus I tend to get so dizzy. I have had them my whole life, they just crop up and stay for anywhere from a week to a few months, pretty sure they are just part of having Fibromyalgia, plus they run in the family, probably because we are so smart! Blah, tea helps though, I am not a ‘tea for health’ reasons kinda person, but tea works on these headaches better than any pain killer, so it is not just the caffeine (I lived off Excedrin as a teenager, my stomach still thanks me for that one) but possibly the play of caffeine and theanine? Or maybe it is the soothing taste, hot liquid acting as a vasodilator in my head, and the ritual of tea as a whole bringing me peace. Regardless of the reason, I am glad it brings my head a bit of a rest so I can do things, like write this blog!

Recently I recieved a surprise package from Yunomi with Nakamura-En’s #01 Gyokuro Mecha, The Discovery inside. I do not remember requesting any samples to review lately, so maybe this came from their awesome Tea4Two program, whatever the reason for its arrival, it was very welcome because I had just run out of Gyokuro the other day. This particular Gyokuro is actually Mecha (no, not that kind of Mecha, sadly it is not a giant piloted robot, I am sad too) a tea that is basically the broken off tips and buds of the tea, this gives it a more robust taste and makes it cheaper than normal Gyokuro and high end Sencha. This also means that it is a bit cheaper, meaning if you are wanting to experiment with brewing Gyokuro the crazy leaf heavy traditional way or just try Gyokuro in general, it is a good introductory tea. I have to say, this might be the sweetest Gyokuro I have had the pleasure of sniffing (also such tiny leaves! must be careful to not inhale them) it is a blend if honey, freshly broken green grass and hay, and a chestnut and sweet pea finish. As I snuffled around in the tea leaves a bit longer, warming them up even more by breathing on them, delicate floral notes and a touch of kelp waft up from the emerald leaves.

Really, I should brew this in my Kyusu or pseudo-Houhin, but I always end up brewing Gyokuro in my glass steeping apparatus, because it is so pretty! The aroma of the now thoroughly soggy leaves is very green, like super green! Notes of grass and spinach, kelp and peas, and a tiny hint of chestnuts. It smells verdant, I see flashes of vibrant green in my mind as I sniff it. The liquid is light and sweet, and of course green, though it is no where as intense as the wet leaves. There are notes of honey and chestnut along with a strong grassy presence.

Holy soupy thickness! Oh man, that mouthfeel is something else, it does not coat the mouth, it paints it, it smothers it, it feels sensual like chocolate melting in the mouth, but less milky…and chocolaty, but a similar texture. The taste is super green, with a blend of spinach and grass at the first, then it goes on a mouth journey to asparagus and sweet peas, and at the finish we have chestnut and kelp. It blends savory and sweetness pretty perfectly. Speaking of chocolate, if you ever get the chance to mix really dark chocolate with Gyokuro, do it, it is an awesome pairing!

In the traditional style I went for a second steeping, jacking up the temperature and shortening the steeping time. It is safe to say that is luminous Hulk green tea is now a powerhouse of flavor, it is super savory with notes of kelp and cooked spinach, with a strong kale midtaste, this bitter green note pretty quickly fades to kelp and a touch of chestnut at the finish. It is pretty intense, in a good way, but be warned, do not go to the second steep lightly, be prepared with a spirit of steel!

For blog and photos:


I know you have probably tried everything, but my husband swears the essential oil blend called Migraine Relief from Native American Nutritionals helps him. Another friend who used to have frequent migraines swears by feverfew supplements, although it comes as a tea. She doesn’t have migraines anymore since finding feverfew. Her P.A. recommended it. This isn’t medical advice (disclaimer, disclaimer, etc) just sympathy from someone who used to suffer, too. Hope you find your solution!

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I’m okay with the flavor, but too much powder or too hot water will make this extremely bitter and taste like pith. My only negative here is that there is sugar already in this mix and I don’t know how much.. The site lists “granulated sugar” in the ingredient list before “matcha” – at least in the US, the ingredients that are listed first are more abundant in the product than those listed later. I don’t want to think this is all sugar.
Oh, and definitely don’t use the full recommended amount of matcha – that’s a recipe for bitter tea.

1 tsp 3 OZ / 100 ML
Liquid Proust

I need to try this sometime… yuzu is quite popular in Japan and I’d like to see how it works with a tea.

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One of my press samples, since I wanted to try an oolong. There is a nice, kinda earthy scent. The flavour is a bit nutty, which comes out more in the second mug. I got a little bit of molasses in the first cup. It has a slight smokiness, which works for the tea.

Glad to try a roasted oolong again. Thanks to Yunimous for this sample.

Flavors: Molasses, Nutty, Roasted

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Another really lovely flavoured houjicha courtesy of Yunomi.

I had my first experience with noting the flavour of osmanthus just the other day, when sampling Tea Ave’s osmanthus oolong. It was really nice to have that experience to compare this to.

This has a lovely osmanthus flavour – that slightly floral, sweet, peachy flavour. It combines beautifully with the roasty notes of the houjicha. I didn’t notice much in the way of orange, but I also didn’t miss it either – this seemed just right, and well balanced just as is.

I’m really excited to try more flavoured houjicha in the future. They two I have from Yunomi are just delicious and a very unique tea experience.

Flavors: Nutty, Osmanthus, Peach, Roasted, Sweet

1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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I’m not much of a houjicha person – I’m just starting to appreciate roasted teas more – but when I saw these flavoured hoijicha on Yunomi and then reviews here, I was really intrigued.

This is really excellent. The dry leaf is rich and roasty smelling, with a note that keeps making me think really milky milk chocolate, but I don’t think it’s actually chocolate.

I’ve tried this twice, once steeped per the directions on the packet – 2tsp, 2min, 90C, and once as a latte, 2tsp, 94C, extended steep and then into the blender with sugar and warm milk. It is awesome both ways.

The flavour of it is just so soothing and relaxing. It’s sweet and delicately roasty, with that same note that I want to associate with chocolate, and then there’s a lovely flavour of roasted pumpkin seeds (shelled) and just a hint of zucchini.

I’m really into this as an evening drink. It feels like the perfect thing to sip while winding down.
Thank you to Yunomi for the sample!

Flavors: Chocolate, Nutty, Roasted, Sweet, Zucchini

195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Thank you Christina for sending some of this my way. :)
This is a pretty nice genmaicha. The green isn’t offensive – not too grassy, not astringent, but I thought there wasn’t enough roasty from the rice. This came across as more green tea than genmaicha. Maybe I’m being harsh, yes there is some toasted rice flavor, I just with there was a lot more.
Enjoying it, but not loving it. Thanks though for sharing – always happy to try new ones.

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One of my ‘press’ samples. It smells vegetal, with hints of baked bread, and grain. Perhaps even vegetable bread. The flavour is on the floral side, with more veggies. Good to try more Japanese black teas. Thanks to Yunomi for letting me try this.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Floral, Grain, Vegetal

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This is definitely one of the best Houjichas I have drank. It has a strong roasted flavor but it also has a nice sweet flavor behind the roast. I really don’t know exactly what the sweet flavor tastes like specifically, but it’s good.

I brewed this once in a 16oz Teavana Glass Perfect Tea Maker/Gravity Steeper with 3 tsp leaf and 175 degree water for 2 min.

Flavors: Roasted, Sweet

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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This was my sample given to me by Yunomi in my recent present.

I open the package to reveal small forest emerald shards. The dry leaves invoke my senses with spring time jungles. The sweet buttery smell of fresh flora waft in the air. I already know that this tea is going to be delicious. The scent was a beautiful arrangement of everything Gyokuro.

I brewed in my new Bizenware Kyusu (also courtesy of Yunomi) with the cups to match. When brewing shade grown green tea, I am always careful of steeping time and temperature. The water hit these gorgeous leaves and the aroma began. The jungle scent maximized into a fantastic aroma. I could smell a strong vegetal scent with undertones of nectar and kale. I wanted this to last, ahahah.

The first sip was heavenly. It had a strong Umami and increasingly flavorful. The initial taste was smooth and vegetal. It tasted as a buttery flower. The flavor was invigorating and oh so silky. I could taste the harvest and the fields of Fukuoka. The flavor continued consistent and bright. The liquor was a pale iridescent green. It looked as a polished tourmaline in the sunshine.

This is an astonishing Gyokuro, and I am very greatly to be able to sample it.

P.S. I ate the leaves afterwards, very nice tea salad ;)

Flavors: Nectar, Smooth, Sweet, warm grass, Umami, Vegetal

165 °F / 73 °C 1 min, 0 sec 5 g 8 OZ / 250 ML

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Just came back from a visit to the ER for my asthma where they had to put me on a nebulizer. I have to ask my doctor for a prescription for one, my insurance would have to pay for it even if it may take a call from my Lawyer first. I needed a tea tonight and I wanted something low caffeine so this hojicha fits the bill. There are two main flavors I get, roasted and apple. The roasted is a little more potent than the apple. I would have liked it the other way around, but it is still quite good.

I brewed this one time in a Teavana Glass Perfect Tea Maker/Gravity Steeper with 3 tsp leaf and 175 degree water for 4 min.

Flavors: Apple, Roasted

175 °F / 79 °C 4 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

Note:as this cools the apple flavor gets stronger.


Not a fun evening. Feel better.


Nebulizers are a drag. I used them a lot as a child. Good luck Allan!


The problem with Asthma is not that you don’t start feeling better but that it inevitably comes back.


So sorry Allan. Feel better


Oh that’s awful. I hope your insurance comes through for you. Breathing is important.


Feel better soon so you can keep up the reviews. Thanks for the introduction to Yunomoius.


Thanks for all the words of support. I just hope my asthma doesn’t worsen before I can get my own nebulizer. Now that the insurance company has lost their appeal they will have to pay for one.

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I definitely get notes of dried fruit, baked bread and malt with this tea. However, they are all subdued, fairly well balanced. I am not liking it quite as much as the Japanese black I reviewed yesterday from a different brand. I think Yunomi says this tea is meant to be drank without sugar. It tasted good without sugar but I added it anyway. This is, like the other Japanese black from yesterday, a bit like a mild Sri Lankan breakfast tea.

I brewed this once in an 16oz Teavana Perfect Tea Maker/Gravity Steeper with 3 tsp leaf and 200 degree water for 3 min.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Dried Fruit, Malt

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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This tea is quite tasty. I bought this with my Yunomi order received today. It’s too bad they only sell this in a 30g quantity. I would have like to have the option to pick up a larger size in the future. I would definitely buy this again. This tea blends the chocolate and the mint with the roasty flavor of the hojicha. No one flavor dominates and the chocolate flavor is not in your face powerful. The chocolate flavor nicely balances the roasted flavor so the roasted flavor is not too powerful as it is with some hojichas.

I brewed this one time in a Teavana Glass Perfect Tea Maker/Gravity Steeper with 3 tsp leaf and 175 degree water for 2 min. It came out quite well at two minutes. I normally give black teas three minutes but I find greens are better at 2 minutes.

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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I love Japanese green teas but they are brewed at such low temperatures! I like my tea to be hot. When it’s brewed at 140F or 160F and goes from a teapot to a cup (which have been warmed)it still cools down somewhat so that I am drinking lukewarm tea. Well, that’s my only beef about this tea. Otherwise it’s good.

I botched the first brewing. Didn’t read the instructions and just brewed at my regular green tea temperature (185F) for 1 min. It came out bitter. So I threw that out and started again. This time it’s sweet and grassy. Not as much umami as sencha or gyokuro. It is lighter and with less caffeine. I am now on the 2nd infusion. It seems to have lost some of the punch (sencha & gyokuro usually get stronger in the 2nd infusion). and there’s a bit of bitterness creeping back into it. This one gets bitter really easy!

Flavors: Grass

155 °F / 68 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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After infusing, the tea smells very nutty and vegetal, like green beans

The brewed tea is a sort of yellow-green color, kind of sickly looking if I’m being honest. The scent is quite umami and reminds me of gyokuru. The flavor is unique. It has a flash of bitterness, but an agreeable kind and underneath that is a rich bed of umami with very green and vegetal tones, and some hints of herb and mushroom.

On the second infusion, the flavor is dramatically different, much more mellow and subdued, more sweet and nutty. I imagine this is because most of the matcha was poured and drank in the first infusion. There’s a bit of a sour tang in the finish.

The third infusion is even more subtle and tastes something like green beans and nuts. There’s a little saltiness as well. I got this sample from an acquaintance, so I can’t say how old it is, and it certainly hasn’t been properly stored for a Japanese green tea since I got it. I have had it in a little plastic bag just sitting in a box of other samples for months, so I imagine I am not experiencing this tea in its ideal state of freshness. I’ll lean a little higher on my rating to account for that.

I don’t know if matcha-laced teas are really my thing. I’ve only had a couple now. I enjoy sencha because most I have had are very calming and don’t have an intense feeling from caffeine. Adding matcha to the tea makes it seem more invigorating and gives me more of the sensation of caffeine rush, so I don’t particularly enjoy that. This wasn’t a bad tea. The flavor was nice, but it’s not really something I prefer… a little too “edgy” for me, I think.

Flavors: Bitter, Green Beans, Nuts, Umami

160 °F / 71 °C 1 min, 0 sec 3 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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One of my press samples. Decided to try this because I’ve been mostly drinking black teas lately. Since it’s Sunday, I’m also having my own Masterpiece Theater with the adaptation of my favourite Dickens novel (starting a young Harry Potter.) This tea smells so nice, it has that good toasty scent, along with some hints of grain and roast nuts. The roasted, nutty flavour is nice as well. Just what I needed for the cold, windy day.

Flavors: Grain, Roast nuts

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Watching Toradora! (とらドラ!?) Anime got me in the mood for some Japanese tea.

I open the little sample and am met with a bright green tea with a fair amount of toasted rice, it is a Genmaicha after all! What is more interesting is that the Matcha lightly coats it all which brings out the green colour more than usual. The Sencha is rather fine which also blends well. It has a sweet, creamy and grassy tone. Rather delicious!

Once steeped it’s bright green and smells creamy and toasted with some sweetness. Softer than the raw scent though still as delicious!

Flavour is slightly astringent with some umami and grass tones, followed with a creamy and light toasted after taste. It’s thick but at a nice balance of flavours. It doesn’t taste at all like a Genmaicha other than the gentle toasted element, otherwise the Matcha is dominant and takes centre stage of this blend. Either way it works very well together.

As it cools the sweet and creamy tones come through stronger and the umami softens.

2nd Steep
This tastes a lot more like Genmaicha. The toasted rice and cream are equal but the astringency and umami have toned down considerably, also the grass tones come through more with added floral, bread and biscuit notes. Much softer and a more pleasant steep than the first, though saying that I did enjoy the first steep too.

This was an interesting blend, the Matcha was dominant in the first steep but the Genmaicha dominated thereafter, it was like getting the best of both worlds in one yunomi cup. Interesting enough for me to add it to my wishlist for more. Plus the power of both has given me a wonderful green tea head rush!

Kon’nichiwa watashinonamaeha Kayleigh to watashi wa onaji kurai watashi wa ocha o aisuru yō ni anime ga daisukidesu.

Flavors: Grass, Sweet, Toasty, Umami

175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 45 sec 5 g 7 OZ / 200 ML

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Since I needed to get up early for an outing, I decided to have this tea to start the day. It has a nice scent, sweet potatoes and molasses. The flavour is mildly sweet, and reminds me of dried fruit. Now I’m having my fourth cup while watching Star Trek.

Flavors: Dried Fruit, Molasses, Sweet, Yams

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My latest sample. It smells nicely malty, and somewhat like dried fruit. The flavour is more baked bread, and honey. Goes nicely with my anime.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Dried Fruit, Honey, Malt

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I recently did a swap with KittyLovesTea, who sent me a very generous package of teas, most of which were Japanese (at my request). She very kindly included a pretty sizeable quantity of this tea – it smelled lovely, so I thought I’d give it a try last night!

As with all of the Japanese greens I’ve tried so far, I was really surprised by how small the dried leaves were! Some of them were almost needle like :O It had a lovely, fresh, grassy smell and the leaves were all a really deep, vibrant green.

I brewed up in my small glass pot, using pretty cool water (I followed the seemingly ubiquitous “warm water” steeping method – poured boiling water into my pot, left it for a short while, poured out into my two tasting cups, discarded the rest, poured the water back into the pot and then added the dried leaves).

The first infusion was sweet and mild, with a definite grassy, kinda floral flavour! It did have some of that savouriness, but it was mild and not too dominant! Later infusions were a little more balanced between sweet and savoury – still delicious and refreshing after our hearty dinner, though! :D

In all, this was certainly a lovely introduced to fine Japanese teas! I have enough left for another session, so I may try a similar set-up again, but using a Gaiwan. I don’t really have a small pot that’s suitable for sencha and other Japanese teas – maybe I’ll add a small kyusu and a gyokuro pot/set to my wishlist…! :D

Flavors: Cut grass, Floral

140 °F / 60 °C 2 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 5 OZ / 150 ML

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Oh, this is yummy. I’m not as good at describing green tea as I am black, but this is super delightful. It’s quite savory. Not as grassy or seaweed-y as I find most other Japanese greens. But not floral like Chinese greens either. It tastes most similar to a Sencha but with heavy creamy spinach notes. It has a nice silky mouthfeel with no bitterness.
The leaves are gorgeous as well. I was assuming that it would be completely stems, but there is a pretty decent amount of leaves in there as well. Probably 50/50. It’s just as lovely to look at as it is to drink.

Flavors: Creamy, Spinach

165 °F / 73 °C 1 min, 0 sec 5 g 7 OZ / 207 ML

mmmm stems

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Thanks to Yunomi for this sample.

The dry leaf smells roasted and nutty, very much like a potent houjicha. The pieces are irregular – some are small, twisty and black, like many black tea leaves. Others are flat, brown flakes of leaf.

1tsp, 90C, 5min.

This smells rich, creamy, nutty and roasted as it steeps. I’m reminded a lot of a houjicha I sampled recently. The flavour is distinct, however. Somewhat less sweet and having a bit more of a bite than I associate with houjicha. This has characteristics in common with some Chinese roasted oolongs. Fairly heavy body and very smooth.

All in all a very nice offering. I’m pleased to be able to try different types of Japanese teas.

Flavors: Char, Creamy, Nutty, Roasted, Smooth

195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Oca Ocani

Sounds interesting. I really like Houjicha, but the Oolong teas I’ve tried so far from Yunomius were very close to black tea.
Maybe I should give this tea a try.

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I bought a sample of this tea and therefore provide only a first impression.
I decided against the recommended steeping method from Yunomius.
I gave gongfu cha a try with this tea and it turned out to be a good idea.
My parameters: 2g/80ml/95°C/10-20se, up to 10 infusions
The smell of the dried leaves was a little bit difficult to describe: for me it was a slight scent of lactic acid which even the steeped leaves had.
The color of the liquor was a clear honey-yellow with the same smell. The smell did not appear stronger or weaker.
The flavor was characterized by a mild sweetness with a slight acid base note. The sweetness was more or less neutral, maybe a touch of honey? but I´m not really sure.
The acid notes were wonderfully refreshing and discreetly lemony.

Flavors: Honey, Lemon

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 2 g 3 OZ / 80 ML

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Saturday Sipdown
(Quick note – I’m Western brewing this for a change as I like my Kukicha strong)

In appearance the stems are a blend of green and yellow with a high gloss/shiny reflection.
In scent I can detect sweet grass, honeysuckle, perfume and fresh hay.

Once steeped the tea is cloudy yellow in colour with a sweet yet savoury grass and sweetpea scent. Somewhat similar to it’s raw scent.

Flavour is medium in strength with buttery grass and hay tones. Soft umami that lingers in the after taste, reminds me of asparagus and broccoli. Also some dryness.

As it cools the grass tones become stronger and the umami adds some astringency.

Overall: It’s a nice Kukicha that offers a lot of crisp flavours and nice balanced umami. A little soft for my liking and not as strong as I usually prefer, though very nice all the same.

Plus reminder of coupon: Free Standard Airmail shipping with a purchase of $50 or more, Free Express Airmail with a purchase of $100 or more. Use coupon code: { shipjan }. Offer ends Jan 31, Japan time.

Flavors: Asparagus, Broccoli, Hay, Honeysuckle, Perfume, Sweet, warm grass

180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 30 sec 10 g 34 OZ / 1000 ML

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