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Recent Tasting Notes
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.
Sipdown (108)! Alas, the oddly cool weather has passed and it has returned to sticky humidity again. Though that deters me from hot tea, I do love cold brewing, so I used up my final tablespoon of this one in a cold brew. The flavors did not change much from when I tried this one hot: mostly roasty/smoky flavors, very smooth, and no bitterness. While I am sad to see this one go, I take comfort in my large stock of the dark roast of this houjicha, which I prefer anyway. Plus, it’s one less tea I have to worry about when I inevitably move again in a couple months.
Another backlog from last night, and another sipdown!
I bought this as part of a sampler pack from Yunomi.us, and so far I’m undecided about whether I like houjichas or not. There’s something about the taste in the background – that sort of “curly” astringent taste I associate with some green oolongs – that I’m not too fond of.
However, I still have 2 more teas in the houjicha sampler pack to try. I really wonder if either the dark or smoky roasts will knock my socks off. One can hope…
I’m totally taking advantage of the cooler weather to drink up some of my favorite hot teas. Like I probably stated in previous tasting notes, this houjicha is on the heavier/smokier side compared to other houjichas that I’ve had. Now, I usually am not a huge fan of smoky teas, but in this case, it works really well with the roasted flavor that is present in all houjichas. Also, it’s really working today in particular because my new apartment has chlorine-y water, so the strong flavor of the houjicha helps drown that out.
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
Wow, first tasting note!
I ordered this from Yunomius about 3 months ago, and finally opened the package today. What greeted me was a fairly standard-looking mix of green tea leaves, roasted rice, and popped kernels.
Lately I’ve become a bit wary of genmaichas because I’ve experienced some that taste like burnt popcorn. Luckily, this one is not like that.
The flavour of the rice is there – roasty, a tad salty – but the green tea in this tastes quite fresh and grassy, and slightly astringent. I really liked how much the green tea popped in this one. I should definitely have enough in the sample left for another pot.
First-ever gyokuro! I got this as a free sample from YunomiUS as part of my Japanese green exploration fun time (totally made that up). I don’t know anything about gyokuro, so I kind of browsed around on Steepster to come up with some steeping parameters for western-style. The dry leaf is a beautiful jewel-tone green and shiny, but it is extremely broken up, which I did not expect. It smells similar to a sencha, mostly like alfalfa and a sweet grassiness.
The brewed tea smelled a lot like sencha to me, too. It’s quite spinachy and somewhat sweet with a buttery zucchini element to it that is new to me. But wow, the taste of it took me completely by surprise! I can see similarities to a more heavily steamed sencha, but the level of intensity is so enormous here. There’s a second when I first sip where I don’t taste a whole lot, but then I’m immediately hit by this immensely deep and powerful butternut squash taste. There might be some asparagus in there, too. I also taste a slight bitterness which seems intrinsic to the tea, but I could have also screwed up the steeping. :P This tea has an extremely thick and creamy texture and it coats the tongue heavily. The flavor lingers on and on.
Honestly, this tea is a bit much for me. I don’t find it very well-suited to western brewing because the flavor is so intense and it continues to build as you drink it. I think I would like it more if I did the traditional smaller brew.
This was a very interesting tea experience! I definitely can’t assign a rating to this, I would have no idea where to start. :P
Flavors: Asparagus, Butternut Squash, Creamy, Grass, Spinach
This isn’t a sipdown, but now that I’ve made a full pot, it will be soon.
This is a tad astringent, but still quite soothing. The flavour is light, yet still present.
Mainly, though, I figured this would be an easy one to finish off, since it’s already open.
Thank you KittyLovesTea for sending this a while ago! This is actually similar to the tea I just tried, even though the leaves seem very different even if they are both green. These leaves look like lawn mower clippings. :D There is also two different colors to them, a darker green and a lighter green. The flavor is very similar to the Dragonwell I had yesterday. It’s like creamed or breaded corn and the steep color is very light. The second cup was almost the same. I’m used to these types of greens being much different. Maybe I’m steeping them differently now. To be fair, the package says this expired at the end of February (way after KittyLovesTea sent it) and one sip did have a hint of that “old green tea leave” flavor, so I’m not trying this at its freshest. It’s still very good anyway. I’ll steep up the last teaspoon soon!
Steep #1 // 40 min after boiling // 2 min steep
Steep #2 // 42 min after boiling // 3 min
I bought the sampler set of this plus the Basic, Dark, and Smoky roasts from Yunomi.us. I tried the Basic roast a while back, and while I liked it, I had never had any houjicha before to compare it to.
This is the second one I’ve tried, and it’s really really mild. So mild that it’s hard to taste much of anything, but I don’t mind, as I’m just getting a nice cup of warmth rather than a lot of umami taste. I wonder how I’ll like the dark and smoky roasts, though.
This is super super green and I adore the leaves – they almost look like the greenest grass clippings. And this tastes super duper green. The second infusion was better than the first, which I accidently let steep longer than I wanted so it was really intense. The secondary steep had some citrussy taste to it as well. I enjoyed this very much.
I steeped it western-style tonight, and while it was much less astringent, I’m still not sure what to make of it.
There’s this sort of “curly” taste to it that I’ve associated mostly with green oolongs and some green teas. The way it hits my tongue – I’m not a fan of it.
However, this is much more palatable than I was expecting. The smoky, roasty flavour is nice. Perhaps I’ll like the other roasts of this tea (light, dark, and smoky) more?
Not sure what angle to come at this tea as I’ve never tried anything like it before. Seaweed (or Kombu/Konbucha/Kombucha – not to be mistaken for the mushroom) is a new type of tea completely for me. In powdered form you add 2g of powder (which they kindly provide you a spoon to measure with) and mix it with boiling water for roughly 100ml volume. Very simple and quick.
Reading about Kombu on Wikipedia it claims to be high source of B Vitamins, K Vitamin, Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium, Potassium and moderate-low levels of Vitamin C and E. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kombu
Flavour wise this is very salty, I’m talking one of the saltiest things I’ve ever tasted. Not as bad as my experiment with pickled Sakura Blossoms (which I found to be inedible) but for someone who rarely uses salt this is very strong for me. Adding to the salt it’s also thick which makes it very broth like, so rather than salt water it’s a salty broth/soup which in a strange way is sort of nice. It tastes exactly as you would except seaweed to taste like. Sure I’ve tried seaweed from my local Chinese takeaway but it’s fried and mild…this tastes more raw.
No rating as I am still thinking ‘wtf is this’and ‘damn this is salty’. Will take some time for me to get used to this…if I ever do. But at least I can keep this down ie looking good so far.
Thank you Yunomi.us for this free sample that added as a nice surprise as I opened my order today.
Nice large leaves and lots of sticks in my 5g sample. Beautiful sweet and toasted scent that I liken to a honey cake I used to make in my automatic bread cooker machine. The more I sniff the more grassy and mineral it becomes but it is a very nice scent.
Since there were no instructions on the website for steeping this or any other bancha (that I can find) I will use Yunomi.us standard steeping method.
Tea – 5g
Water – 80C
Volume – 180ml
Vessel – Kyusu
First Steep – 30 seconds
Yellow green in colour with virtually no scent despite it’s very apparent colour. Flavour is mild with roasted grass tones and sweet honeysuckle that dissipates quickly and you are left with a touch of smoke in the after taste.
Second Steep – 10 seconds
More roasted and less grassy. Honeysuckle and sweetpea tones with a slight smoky after taste. Also a little sour. For the most part it’s sweet and a perfect strength for me personally.
Third Steep – 30 seconds
More toasted than sweet but it does lighten a lot in the after taste. Tastes like raw pea. No smoke this time, instead the after taste is grassy and mineral.
I enjoyed this Bancha much more than I thought I would, though the first steep was nice it was far from ‘special’ compared to others I have tried. It kicked up a gear after that and steep two and three were delicious, so very natural and sweet with light smoke. Plus now my mouth is coated in a delicious roasted sweet pea flavour that reminds me a little of light pea soup. I may get more of this in the future.
Flavors: Grass, Honey, Peas
I botched this tea and underleafed it – I used the entire sample and it came out to just under 2.5 tsp, although I used three cups of water.
This was kind of weak, but I could still taste the umami sort of grassiness that happens in a lot of gyokuros. However, as I’m not a fan of resteeping and I have so many other teas, this will stay as a sipdown.
And here goes my second attempt at steeping a tea from Yunomi.us western-style.
This time it was a gyokuro: approx 1 tsp per 8 oz (didn’t measure the volume poured into the teapot), ~75C, for 2 minutes.
Not bad, but a bit weak. I think I could have gone for 3 minutes without much fuss.
And oh yeah, this is a sipdown. But I have other gyokuros still in my cupboard.
Sipdown (120)! I used up the last of this leaf in a cold brew since I don’t really drink too much hot tea these days. I left it in the fridge for about 9-10 hours, which in hindsight was probably too long because there was a bit of bitterness to it that I feel could have been avoided. The tea was grassy and savory, much like the hot version of the tea. I think I actually prefer it hot, but it was nice to try out as a cold brew.
Thank you to Yunomi.us for this sample which was included with an order a few months ago.
Crisp dark green needle leaves mixed with a few light yellow green stems. They have a very sweet honeydew scent that is very pure and beautiful.
The steeping instructions are a little different for this tea, it recommends doing one long steep rather than several short ones. So this will be steeped in my Kyusu for 2 minutes. 80ml for 2 minutes seems a little strong but that is what the instructions say on the website.
The resulting tea liquid is medium to dark green and has a sweet yet savoury broth scent. Flavour is strong though not overly so, the umami is rich and lingers into the after taste. Savoury and sweet at the same time with some astringency and rich mineral tones. Like thick cabbage water.
A further steep with the same 2 minute rule reveals more savoury umami but less sweet than previously. It’s still thickly mineral with cabbage and broccoli notes yet it seems toned down as a whole compared to the first steep. Still slightly astringent.
Another 2 minute steep – Severely toned down from what it was but it still has a lot of flavour, only now this is more standard Sencha like. Medium strength, minimum umami and astringency but remains mineral with added grass tones. Has some sweetness once again.
Another 2 minute steep making this number 4 – Extremely mild, all that remains is sweet grass.
This was a pleasant tea that offered lots of umami for the first two steeps which work well as a boost throughout the day. Sent me a little tea drunk.
Another Yunomi.us club sample for me to try. The website description of this Sencha likens it’s flavour to that of coconut milk. I do like the sound of that on this beautiful sunshiny day.
The leaf is dark green with a few hints of light green mixed in, also some stems are present. They are a crisp, long needle like shape and have a sweet yet creamy and floral scent. Very similar to a milk Oolong, not sure about coconut yet but milk is very apparent.
First Steep – 30 seconds
Light green liquid with a sweet milk scent that is light yet pure. Flavour has gentle grassy notes with some sweetness and a hint of milk/cream in the after taste. Also has floral tones that remind me of sweet pea mixed with buttercup.
Second Steep – 10 seconds
Despite the short steep it has tripled in strength and has some astringency. Not as sweet as before or creamy though some is still present. More mineral also like sweet grass or fresh spinach.
Third Steep – 30 seconds
More astringency and again less cream and sweetness. Tastes more like a standard Sencha at this point. Highly sweet grass and sweet pea like, thick flavour but with minimum astringency really overall which makes it a pleasant steep. Offers minimum dryness upon after taste.
Overall – This tea started off with high cream notes but ended up being mineral and more standard Sencha like, almost like it transforms from one tea into another. Quality was good and this would be a splendid every day tea.
Backlog from this afternoon:
Man, I’m having a really hard time with steeping these teas from Yunomi.us. The recommended steep parameters on their site are so different from anything else I have in my cupboard that I really don’t know how to brew them properly.
Take this tea. The site says to use 2 tsp of leaf, which they say is 8 grams. But I used 3 tsp of leaf, and it was still only about half of the 10-gram sample package I was given (so 5 grams). Do I follow the weight or the volume?
In this case, I stuck with the volume, because otherwise there would have been absolutely no room left for water in my gaiwan. I don’t have a kyusu, so I figured that gaiwan steeping would be the closest thing.
On top of that, they said that for the first steep, I needed to use 3 oz of water and steep for 2 minutes. My eyes are wide with surprise – so much tea, so much time, and so little water? Wouldn’t the tea be irredeemably bitter?
I used my gaiwan anyway. Yup, this is quite grassy and bitter and umami. Which was surprising, because the dry leaf smelled so sweet and hay-like. The leaf it self was a deep emerald green, and short and small like grass clippings. Now that I’ve had this tea, I realize that one of my favourite greens, Shincha Kuro by Capital Tea Ltd, is also a gyokuro. (I should have guessed, but that was one of the first really good teas that got me started on this journey, but I digress.)
I steeped this 4 times: 2 minutes, 30s/30s/30s. The first steep was using 55C water, the later steeps using approx 80C water. By the 4th steep, the tea was still quite grassy and astringent. I really wonder if I’m doing this right.
The next time I try this, I think I’m going to follow the steeping parameters outlined for my Shincha Kuro and see if that changes anything. Withholding a rating for now.
I was sat here falling asleep and trying to wake myself up with the promise of Matcha when I remembered I had this sample with me. It’s not Matcha but it is powdered and my intrigue has built up over the months, it’s produced with the same method as Matcha but the leaf itself is different. Matcha = Gyokuro where as this is Tsuyuhikari which is a type of Sencha and is a new cultivar for me.
‘A cross of Shizu7132, known for its Japanese cherry tree fragrance, and Asatsuyu, known for its beautiful green colour and characteristic bean flavour, Tsuyu-hikari, when grown properly, combines the best of its two illustrious parents’. Thanks to Thes Du Japon website.
I am lead to believe that this tea comes in full leaf as standard, yet what I have is powdered and differs from everything else I have seen.
Yunomi.us whom I received the tea from has this on their website.
‘Royal Emerald Tea® is powdered sencha green tea developed by the Fukushima family. High quality green tea leaves are ground into a fine powder using a stone mill like matcha tea powder. The tea is a vivid emerald green in color and has a sweet taste with less astringency than ordinary sencha tea.’.
Royal Emerald Tea must be it’s frequented English name. Well I have two little sachets of powder and two steeping instructions, one for hot and one for cold. I’m sticking with the hot as I wanted traditional Matcha originally.
1 stick = 1g
Water Temp = 80C
Volume = 180ml
Steeping instructions are virtually the same as Matcha.
Runs off to make this interesting tea
Yes bright green is spot on, very beautiful and bright colour with a strong sweet Sencha scent.
Flavour reveals a sweet and floral Sencha with thick grassy tones and a slight astringency. The mixture has separated at the bottom of my cup but it’s nothing that a quick cup swirl can’t fix. It’s a nice strength, I was worried it might be too strong but it’s scent is more than it’s bite. Very creamy too in the after taste after a few sips. No dryness either which can be expected of a powder.
Unusual yet interesting, and strong enough to make me go light headed and on the verge of being tea drunk. Japanese greens, particularly strong greens, tend to go straight to my head. This was no exception. I will be ordering more of this in the future.