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Recent Tasting Notes
This year I’ve really expanded my tea horizons and dove head first into the world of oolongs and fine Chinese greens. It’s been an exciting journey but sadly in the process I’ve neglected my first tea love, Japanese green tea.
Seeking to rectify the situation, I recently ordered a few samples from Yunomi. The teas I got were decent but nothing to write home about. So I went back to Yuuki-cha, one of my favorite pre-Steepster tea companies. Unfortunately most of the teas I was interested in were sold out so I rolled the dice on this mid-range sencha.
I’m glad I took a chance on this one because this is one delicious tea. It brews up emerald green with a crisp and vibrant green flavor. The wet leaf aroma is reminiscent of fresh cut, damp grass. Unlike the Yunomi teas which tended towards a savory umami flavor, this one has a bright, grassy sweetness to it that coats the mouth a little.
Overall a quality tea experience that’s revived my interest in Japanese green teas!
Flavors: Freshly Cut Grass, Sweet
Rich, savory, sweet, and comforting. This tea has wonderful body and sweet aftertaste. I’ve put the cup down for 5 minutes yet I can still feel the complex flavors and velvety texture cover my tongue. I’m picking up notes of roasted brussel sprouts, sugar cane, nori, tannin, minerals, edamame, and a hint of menthol that creates a cooling effect.
The dried leaves have a rich sweet fragrance that is only amplified when wet. The leaves are nicely shaped (not overly processed) and have a deep green color. The tea soup is an opaque, vibrant light green. Its rich, velvety mouth-feel is almost luxurious. It’s also quite infuse-able, putting forth delicious flavors until the 5th steep, which is still tasty and refreshing.
Tip: Try Akira Hojo’s green tea brewing method: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adxPErjUHvA. I know it might seem somewhat cumbersome, but just try it as an experiment. You’ll get way more out of your green teas with this method. For this tea, however, since it’s organic, I’ve combined the initial rinse with my first steep and it was delicious.
Thank you Liquid Proust for this sample!
Absolutely delicious. I had just enough tea to cold brew this and I’m glad I did. Its smooth and has a light malt flavor. Refreshing on a hot day, but the aftertaste is very satisfying, reminiscent of drinking hot tea.
Flavors: Almond, Brown Sugar, Caramel, Malt, Rice, Sweet
Oolongs being my favorite tea, I was very curious when I found out there are a few Japanese oolong teas :)
I actually bought the last of Yuuki Cha’s supply of this tea for my group order and it was the only one they even had left.
This is a treat though. I can’t even compare it to other oolongs, it just is its own thing. The aroma was not that strong but the taste was pure. Nice difference in taste between different brews :)
Ahhh this was amazing. I grabbed this because it was closest, and I wanted to try Japanese oolong. I had the perfect amount for a gong fu session. The dry leaf consists of small black, green, and slightly yellow curls. This resembles a baozhong but slightly darker. I placed these twirls inside my new warmed kyusu and gave em a shake. I’m going to be honest, the aroma wasn’t the most appeasing. It smelled like roasted wet tobacco. I washed the leaves once hoping to get a better scent, and it moved into wet charcoal. This is a delicate roasted oolong. I brewed it hot first and the brew was rough and bitter. I cooled my water just a bit (200F), and the real flavor rose up. This was an amazing and complex brew. It carried the taste of roast and char, yet it also had sweet and creamy tones of jade rolled oolongs. It was incredibly interesting to be bombarded with dark mineral roasty tones and then softened with a silky vegetal mouthfeel. I was able to pull about seven steeping out my kyusu. The brew grew more and more sweeter after each brew. The final steeping was thin and soft with nectar tones. This gave a strange almost novocain tongue feeling during the first three steepings which was a fascinating experience. I really enjoyed this tea, and I am so grateful to be able to try it!
Flavors: Char, Creamy, Mineral, Roasted, Smoke, Smooth, Vegetal
Ah, well this was an excellent choice by KittyLovesTea – she sent me a generous little bag of this tea in our recent swap! Opening the bag, I was greeted with that wonderfully familiar floral, sweet scent of Jade Oolongs and knew I was gonna love this!
I brewed it up in the same way I always do for green oolongs – around 3-4 g in my 100 ml gaiwan.
The first infusion was wonderful – so fragrant and perfumed! Lovely floral, fruity, sweet flavours, mingling with a gently vegetal background flavour! Successive infusions saw the floral notes become more dominant, alongside an increasing smoothness and butteriness! It lasted really well through 7 or 8 steepings – not the most I’ve ever gotten out of an oolong, but definitely nothing to turn your nose up at – this really was excellent tea! :D
This is a fabulous green oolong, easily on a par with most of the Chinese ones I’ve tried. I’ve got enough to do another session with it, which I’m eagerly looking forward to! :D
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Honey
NOM! I left to be my last tea I would drink in my package YuukiCha. This is a perfect Asatsuyu Sencha. It’s thick bodied, savory, buttery, lush. Not much astringency. I’ve only drank it hot, but would excellent iced. I’ll probably cold brew my 3rd infusion to get every bit from this tea.
Another tea from Dag Wedin
5G + 4oz (more or less) X 45/60
A small leaf black, somewhat broken. the warmed aroma was sweet, with shades of roasted barley & sorghum. The 1st steep was kind of minty, in the way that some taiwanese hong yun are. Flavorwise, it was not as sweet as I expected it to be, more of a black strap molasses & rye kind of taste, with noticeable acidity.
The 2nd steep was basically bitter, & for me, undrinkable.
Still worth sampling though! Thanks Dag!
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Flavors: Butter, Sweet, Vegetal
When I opened the bag, the tea didn’t appear as green as I thought it should of been. This is my first type of kamairicha, so I didn’t know what to expect. The look of it reminded me of some Chinese greens I’ve had. I read on the description it’s higher flamed, which was to produce more juicy flavor, I am interested.
I followed the instructions given by Yuuki-cha on how to brew. This tea is freaking amazing! So much depth, unami, savory like quality. The dry leaf smell is soooo yummy, reminds me of a bowl of buttered greens or potato chips.
I can’t really compare it to anything else I’ve tasted. Reviewers on the Yuuki-cha says their taste of coconut, too. I agree.
From the queue
I’m declaring Green Week. Or rather, Things That Aren’t Black Week. I’ve got a fair few of those sorts of blends, but I’m not very good at remembering to make them once in a while. So I’m going to try, for the next week, to have a cup of something non-black at least once a day for seven days. A fair few of them I’ve already posted about, so don’t expect seven posts on the topic, but I’ll try and remember the box of untried things as well.
This is a green tea that Auggy shared with me last summer. Back then she said it was getting a tad aged, but to use heavier leaf to compensate. The age thing definitely hasn’t improved since I’ve had it and not got around to it, but we’ll see how bad it’s got. Auggy is very fond of shincha and we tend, in general, to have a very similar taste in tea. We prefer the same sort of flavour profiles and the same sort of characteristics, so although I’m not a very big green tea drinker at all, I trust her judgment on this implicitly.
It still has a lot of aroma. It’s got that smell that makes me think ‘cat breath’. I don’t know why cat breath especially, because the cats don’t actually smell like that, but that’s just the thought I invariably get. It’s a viscous, sort of salty smell with a bit of sweetness to it as well. Quite freshly cut grass-y as well.
There’s a great deal of flavour in it too. It’s quite mineral-y and underneath that there is a lot of something. I’m sure you all know how it is. You know it tastes like something you know, but you just can’t identify it. I’m thinking something along the lines of spinach and asparagus after they’ve been briefly blanched.
It’s quite pleasant, and it definitely puts the myth that ‘green teas are all very delicate and subtle tasting’ to the grave. This is fairly strong stuff. It’s as strongly flavoured as a black tea. It’s just a different flavour. I can totally see why Auggy is fond of this, and my trust was once again well placed.
I know some people will shake their heads in wonder at why I would rate something that I know is no longer at it’s best. To those, let me remind you all of this. My score is based on my experience with it, not an attempt at judging quality. If a high quality tea doesn’t make me happy, it gets a low score. If a low quality tea makes me happy, it gets a high score. It’s as simple as that. Therefore I am scoring, becuase this made me quite happy.
This tea smells very wooden and sweet with a hint of chestnut.
First Steep – 45 seconds
A mild yet very sweet steep with a dry, nutty after taste. No astringency. Also reminds me of lightly toasted wood.
Second Steep – 1 min 25 secs
Still light and sweet but with some spice towards the after taste. Also subtly sour and astringent.
Third Steep – 2 mins
Very sweet and still reminding me of chestnut. Very light and wooden but not much flavour left overall.
So far it’s too early to judge this tea, I think I may have not used enough leaf so I will have another try another day and see how it comes out. It is also possible that it’s just a very light black tea.
Taken from the first round of the EU TTB and was added by Dag Wedin. A Japanese black would go well for me this morning, I recently joined crunchyroll which is like Netflix but it has lots of Anime/Manga available to stream. I’m currently watching ‘Toaru Hikūshi e no Koiuta’ / ‘The Pilot’s Love Song’ and am enjoying it, only a few episodes in but I think it’s going to be one of those well written emotional anime short series. That was my new year resolution by the way, to watch more Anime.
The website has no steeping instructions for this tea (though they did have a lot of pictures of it being grown and picked) so I’m going to use the same parameters as Dag Wedin.
The leaves are very dark brown and finely chopped though there are a few golden leaves chopped up and mixed in also. It smells sweet yet smoky and slightly floral and wooden.
First Steep – 45 seconds
Now steeped it smells very thick and malty with wood and flowers. Flavour wise it’s thick and with only a little astringency, it has elements of: wood, smoke, clay, malt and rose petals. Also has a spicy undertone.
Second Steep – 1 minute
Less thick but still full of flavour. The malt and wood elements are still dominant but the smoke has subsided somewhat as has the clay. Still getting the rose petals though, particularly in the after taste, they cling to my tongue like velvet and it’s beautiful.
It had elements of Keemun and Assam which made a wonderful surprise. Very full of flavour and competed with some of my current favourite black teas. I am definitely going to be buying more of this one. I can see how it won great taste awards throughout 2009 – 2012 consecutively.
Oh and here is the link for the listing of this tea which have the wonderful pictures:
My first order from Yuuki-Cha arrived today :) Plus it’s my Cassie cats 8th birthday today, she is not officially a cat elder (bless her).
This Tencha is mild with elements of butter, flowers and grass. I used roughly 3g or 4g of leaf in my new Futanashi Tokoname teapot (which arrived today also from Yuuki-Cha). It’s so mild yet it has a lovely soothing element, and the after taste is wonderfully green and grassy. Also a little broth like and savoury. A little dry in the after taste but something I can get past.
Very nice so far, will have to keep experimenting in terms of strength. Loving it so far.
The raw leaves are curly and green in appearance. There are also some lighter coloured stems present amongst the leaves too. Some of the leaves are not quite curled and are perfectly preserved, I can see the tips and shape along with the markings, a beautiful rarity amongst most teas.
They have beautiful sweet scent that is very floral, the name and description state gardenia which it very much does but also elements of lily of the valley and a soft fruity yet mature apricot.
I’m not sure how to steep this ‘correctly’ as there are no steeping instructions but I can have a good guess. I will treat it similar to other low oxidised Oolongs and hopefully it will be fine.
So I will be using 5g of this tea in my 200ml Gongfu teapot (not authentic Japanese but works very well). Water temperature will be 90 °C and shall be infused over three steeps. I will also do a 5 second rinse.
First Steep – 30 seconds
Light yellow colour tea with an elegant and sweet gardenia scent. The gardenia is pure and very much present, I used to work with perfumes and pure aroma oils and this smells exactly like pure gardenia oil but on a softer level.
Flavour is soft yet sweet with delicate hints of gardenia, flowers and grass/hay. Lovely for a first steep.
Second Steep – 1 minute
Thicker in strength and resembling gardenia oil even more now. The sweetness has also increased and is somewhat perfumed overall, that is to say it has a little dryness in the after taste. It is also fruity in the after taste, like apricot, it has that sweet yet sour delicate crispness.
Third Steep – 2 minutes
A little dryer this time and with a touch of astringency but still very sweet and floral. The astringency is rather mineral like which resembles more of a green tea rather than an Oolong.
Overall – This tea gave what was promised in the description, that being gardenia. It was present in the smell of the raw leaves, the smell of the steeped leaves and the flavour. Not only was it floral and perfumed throughout but it was also very sweet.
For more information and pictures of this tea please view my blog.
Flavors: Apricot, Flowers, Gardenias, Grass
First review in quite a while. Been drinking to much coffee while working a whole lot to much.
Second tea of the day, heaped the rest of the tin into a small kobiwakopot.
three steeps @ 100C 30s/60s/120s.
Still a wonderfull tea. Like most japanese blacks there is an undertone of mint with a heavy accent of apricot. Sweet with little astringancy.
Last steep has a bit of a bite thou.
Flavors: Apricot, Mint