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Recent Tasting Notes
Marco Polo TTB
THIS BOX IS MASSIVE and there’s so many teas I’ve never had before! This is a definite first.
Nice, sweet, light aroma coming out of the package.
Definitely has that roasted genmaicha smell right when I poured the water in! Now with the matcha, what difference does the matcha make? I haven’t a clue, so that why I’m here to find out!
Hmm.. Tastes like a slightly buttery version of the generic genmaicha I’ve had. Nice, and I can definitely tell the difference between the two.
And back into the box this goes!
Flavors: Butter, Roasted, Toasted Rice
My free “press” samples from Yunomi.us came! I was very excited to see a black tea, as I’ve been curious about Japanese black teas but have never tried one. The leaves are small and very fragile-looking, and they’re curled up into little loops and ‘u’ shapes. The color is a rich dark reddish brown with some grey in it. Dry, it smells like musty hay with some malt and honey mixed in. I steeped about 1.5 teaspoons of leaf for 3 minutes at 200 degrees.
Once brewed, this tea smells quite malty with an interesting almost grassy note to it, accompanied by grain and honey. The flavor here is kind of hard to describe, especially since it seems to change a lot during the sip. But I’m going to try to describe it anyway! Initially, it tastes like musty hay and is quite brisk (I think I may have overleafed a tad as at one point it’s almost bitter). At the same time, there’s a bit of a grassy quality and some astringency. Toward the middle of the sip, the flavor transforms into this luscious and creamy bread amazingness! Lovely sweet, crusty bread with creamy honey over the top and a touch of mild fruity preserves. The aftertaste is all creamy bread and honey, and it lingers for some time. I am very curious to see how this tea turns out using an actual teaspoon of tea instead of my heaping variety. I might try a lower temperature too, as the packet recommends 195 degrees.
Flavors: Astringent, Baked Bread, Biting, Creamy, Dried Fruit, Grass, Hay, Honey, Honeysuckle, Jam, Malt, Musty, Sweet, Toast
From the Lewis and Clark TTB.
Brewed with shudei kyusu. Steeping times: 1 min, 30 sec, 1 min.
The wet leaf aroma is savory: buttery and sweet with pumpkin and squash. A pleasure to smell in the late afternoon. The first infusion is clear and light on the tongue, yet full-bodied and flavorful. Reminiscent of the sweet seaweed-like quality of kukicha. A graceful infusion.
The second is thicker, more like soup broth. It retains the sweetness form the first infusion, though it also has squash notes. I botched the third infusion: it’s much thicker, darker in color (too dark), and bitter (although I can still taste the tea’s essence). I should have let the leaf steep for a shorter a time.
This is a lovely Japanese green. Too bad there aren’t more in this box.
Lewis & Clarke TTB
This is the first of the five samples I took out before sending the box on its way. I’ve tried houjicha once in the past, and didn’t really like it, so I figured I’d give it another chance. The leaf is a mixture of leaf and stem pieces, are they’re a light to medium golden brown in color. Dry scent is roasty and autumn leafy with a surprising amount of sweetness. I let mine steep for 3 minutes at 200 degrees.
Once brewed, it’s very roasty-smelling and reminds me of autumn leaves and roasted oolong. There’s not as much sweetness here are there was in the dry. If I’m remembering correctly, this one tastes pretty similar to the other houjicha that I tried. It just tastes like roasted autumn leaves with straw and a little bit of a toasted nut flavor. It’s decent and I’ll finish it, but this isn’t something I would ever need to keep in my cupboard.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Roasted, Roasted nuts, Straw
Lewis & Clarke TTB
This isn’t going to be a very good note, as I drank this while playing Diablo III… Sorry! The leaves are thin and flat, and very dark green. Dry scent is fresh-cut grass. I did a 1 minute steep, as I generally do with sencha.
I must say, this tea is very tasty! I drank most of the cup stone cold, because I got distracted by the game (click click click!). The vegetal flavor is somewhat strong but not harsh or biting, and it’s quite sweet with a creamy texture. I actually found it interesting that I get a floral note from this tea, which is not something I have experienced with other sencha. Overall, quite good if you enjoy Japanese greens!
Flavors: Butternut Squash, Creamy, Floral, Spinach, Sweet, Vegetal
Lewis & Clarke TTB
Genmaicha is one of my favorites, so I had to try this one! My serving was the last one in the pouch, so the leaves were rather crushed and I got a lot of tea dust. Dry scent was toasty rice with some grassiness. I considered going for a 2-minute steep, but I was concerned because of the tea dust, so I did 1 minute and 30 seconds.
Once steeped, it smells very toasty with grassy undertones. I was surprised to find a rather strong seaweed taste in this tea, and not at all displeased! It’s also quite grassy. This tea tastes more like green tea than genmaicha to me, which is unfortunate. I can barely taste the toasted rice here, and that may have something to do with the tea dust. I can, however, taste the matcha with its concentrated creamy green tea flavor. A tasty tea, but I can hardly consider it genmaicha because of the lack of rice flavor. :(
A note concerning the rating: My rating for this tea is based upon overall taste, which was decent. However, I am not recommending it because I would not consider it to be good as a genmaicha, which is what it’s claiming.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Grass, Roasted, Seaweed, Vegetal
Lewis & Clarke TTB
I seem to be the only one interested in these odder teas so far. :P This one literally looks like I scooped up a handful of debris off the forest floor and put it into a cup – it’s large dried leaves, twigs, and these huge shiny seeds that resemble small acorns. It mostly smells like musty autumn leaves with a touch of herbal spicy note. I did a 10 minute steep in boiling water.
Brewed, it smells somewhat spicy, maybe similar to ginger? And that autumn leaf smell is also present. I can also taste that hint of spice, and it kind of reminds me of clove? Maybe with a little ginger too. This tea is quite mild and it has a bit of a roasted flavor, which is nice. It reminds me in some ways of Whispering Pines’s Elder Grove, but without the berry flavor. The aftertaste reminds me of roasted coffee beans. There’s also something here that’s similar to licorice root, because I’m getting a slight sweet aftertaste, but it’s very mild and doesn’t bother me here. Overall, I like this one a lot, which is rather unexpected considering how odd I thought it would be. :)
Flavors: Cinnamon, Clove, Coffee, Ginger, Licorice, Roasted
Lewis & Clarke TTB
Okay, this just sounded interesting. And no one has tried it yet, so I’m exploring uncharted territory! Lol. Visually, it definitely looks like chunks of dried root, similar to dried ginger root or something similar. Dry scent is quite earthy and musty with some similarities to hay or straw. Maybe a bit of bran? There were no instructions regarding steep time or water temperature, so I just went with boiling for 5 minutes, which is what I generally do for herbals.
Brewed, it smells pleasantly roasty and reminds me of sunflower seeds or peanuts in the shell, and maybe bran flakes?
AHHHH I HATE WAITING FOR TEA TO COOL!
Ahem. The taste reminds me of peanut or sunflower seed shells. Somewhat musty, somewhat roasty, a bit woody? Definitely dead-on for sunflower or peanut shells. There’s a bit of similarity to houjicha but with less roast and more wood. Interesting, and not at all unpleasant! And apparently rich in fatty acids! Lol. :)
Flavors: Hay, Musty, Roasted, Straw, Wood
I’ve almost finished 50g of this and forgot to write a review in the progress. I have one pots worth left after this one so it looks like I caught it just in time. For now I will do quick notes.
Leaves smell grassy and sweet with an orchid like floral affair.
Once steeped the tea is bright green in colour and matches it’s raw scent.
In flavour this is very grassy with a hint of flowers which seems perfumed and pronounced. Though albeit a medium strength Bancha so it’s not overly strong in any aspect. It’s also somewhat buttery and smooth, very easy to drink and enjoy.
This was not a favourite of mine though it does give a very nice tea buzz. Also though I never found myself craving this tea I also never complained from having it. I may buy this tea again in the future for an every day Bancha but it’s not one I will keep stocked on my shelf.
Flavors: Grass, Orchid
First steeping: two heaping teaspoons of leaf in 6 oz of water, at 165 degrees for 90 seconds. VERY intense umami and brine flavors, almost like drinking ocean water. Slightly sweet with no bitterness. Second steeping: 175 degrees for 30 seconds. More vegetal and more balanced. I actually preferred the second steeping, which tasted much like the first steeping of the other gyokuros that I’ve tried. Third steeping: also 175 for 30 sec. Much milder but good, with more sweetness coming through and still no bitterness. It reminds me a little of a kukicha now.
Flavors: Broth, Butter, Salt, Salty, Seaweed, Sweet, Umami, Vegetables, Vegetal
I slightly overleafed this since I didn’t have enough to justify leaving any leftover leaf when I made my pot of tea this morning. To compensate, I took the steep time down to 2 minutes rather than the 3 minutes I tried previously.
The tea was still a tad bitter, but otherwise not bad. Slightly umami and astringent, but nothing too overpowering. I’ll see if I can get a resteep out of this.
This is a really delightful, soft, sweet tea. Very subtle and gentle – so subtle, in fact, that I ended up resteeping this for 3 minutes, since the first steep at 2 minutes didn’t really make an impact.
Beautiful bright green leaves, lovely sweet smell, absolutely no bitterness…this was quite enjoyable.
Finally prepared this correctly. Nicely sweet, robust, and vegetal.
Then I ate it… with teriyaki sauce…
I brewed some of this last night in the cute little Brown Betty teapot that my mother found at the back of a cabinet yesterday. I didn’t even know we had one! It’s the perfect size – 2 cups – and it pours like a dream.
Hell, it even made this taste better, and considering I haven’t been bowled over by the houjichas I’ve tried, that’s saying something!
Oh tiny Brown Betty teapot, now you are mine, and I will cherish you always. :)
Backlog from last night.
This actually wasn’t that smoky, like I was expecting it to be. It still had that roasty, umami flavour, but I didn’t taste much smoke, which was surprising. It was otherwise quite gentle. I tried to use about 2 tsp of leaf for a 16-oz mug, but the leaf is a bit fluffy, so I might have underleafed it.
I have to admit that based on the teas in this sampler, I don’t know if houjicha teas are really my bag. I’ll see what happens when I try the dark roast, though.
Damn it, the number keeps going up! :P I suppose that’s what I get for going on hiatus when I still have a couple of orders on the way. Thankfully, I only have one more incoming, but it’s going to be +8 to my cupboard. Waaaaah…
I have really grown rather attached to this tea. I find that a moment comes fairly often when, either because of an overfull tummy or too much indulging, I want a nice fresh green tea. And this one does the trick! It’s mild, it’s sweet, and it has that lovely classic spinachy vegetal flavor. I will definitely be considering this for purchase once I’ve whittled my cupboard down. :)
Need to get back into these Japanese green samples I haven’t tried! Feeling like a nice mellow green after having several cups of black this morning. This is my first kabusecha, which is a green tea that has been shaded for a short time before picking. This tea was shaded for two weeks according to the website. The leaves look and smell like sencha, though they are maybe a little bit of a richer green color.
This tea is actually surprisingly light, and I am enjoying it a lot. It has the same butternut squash, spinach, and grass notes as other senchas. There is a definite creamy buttery quality to this though, and it’s quite mellow and smooth. Quite tasty, thanks Yunomi! I would absolutely drink this as an everyday green tea, and this may have to be a reorder.
Flavors: Butter, Butternut Squash, Grass, Spinach
I had just enough for a 1.5 cups of this, and steeped it twice. Not much more to say here that I haven’t said before. This a really smooth, clean-tasting genmaicha. It’s very well-balanced, and a little bit astringent, but that’s ok. I will most definitely restock this at some point.