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Recent Tasting Notes
My daughter decided to wake up early, so i was in the mood for a strong black tea.
Also i tried out my new Kunzan tetsubin! :)
5g / 200ml glaspot. Really should get around to get myself a nice oxidation clay kyusu….
45s/1m/1:15m @ 100C
The tetsubin adds a whole lot of flavour to the tea. Must be loads of iron. I almost feel i should use less tea. The aroma is stronger aswell as the aftertaste. Compared to my old electric plastic kettle this is just awesome.
The usual flavours are the. Heavy on the cinnamon, a fair bit of astringency. But well balanced.
5g / 200ml glaspot.
45s/1m/2m @ 95C
5g was just about right. The bitterness evened out to a very pleasant astringancy. Rest of the flavours still there. Would be interesting to try this gong fu style. many short steepings should yield a good result since the leaves infuses very well.
5g / 90ml celeadon gaiwan.
Wow. The first two infusions of this was just about the best light oolongs iv´e ever tried. Smoth floral and buttery. Just perfect.
The longer infusions ruined the smothness. But when i lowered the infusiontimes again. it came back :)
I would recommend keeping stepings to 10-15s until flavour thins.
On a sidenote, the dry leaf is beutiful. not rolled into balls like the usual “green” oolongs. But rather twisted and crooked. infuses quickly.
Was in the mood for a japanese black this morning, so i opened a bag of this little gem :)
6.5g / 200ml glaspot.
three infusions: 45s/1m/2m
First to cups was very powerful with heavy astringency bordering on bitter. The usual JP black flavours was all there. Cinnamon, slight ripe fruit. But with the addition of a flowery flavour.
Next time i will try 5g and see what happens. perhaps even shorten the steepings.
This tea reminds me alot of the Fuji black tea, only its a bit stronger.
A disappointment to me! Before trying this tea, I had the Organic Miyazaki Oolong Tea Baisen from Yuuki-Cha, which I loved and might be the best tea I ever had. So I was very excited to open up my bag of Koubi Shiage. The leaves of this tea look pretty nice to me, however they are accompanied by a relatively large fraction of stalks.
This tea is somewhat cheaper than the Baisen (8$ vs. 10$ per 50g), but tastes not much like it at all. I tried different temperatures and leaf amounts, but the quality stayed similar. This tea has little or no real ‘oolong’ taste, and little else to make it interesting either, and on me leaves the impression of just any average black tea, however with some oolong smell.
After brewing, the oils visibly shift on the surface of the cuppa.
The aroma is exemplar of hojicha, sweet and floral, almost fruity. Very strong, so much that it wanders about the room.
It has an immediately sweet taste, much the same as the nose, followed by a delicious roasted flavor – not a trace of smoke. A delicate sencha seems to play briefly before collapsing. It’s as though the roasting process were occurring in your mouth.
This is a very good hojicha! The most flavorful I’ve had in a long while.
A second infusion is nearly as good as the first (second infusion brewed @ 200F)
(Prepared with 12g/16oz)
I hate reviewing teas I don’t like, especially when they’re so boring I can’t even detect anything noteworthy. After all, someone (or some people) worked hard to grow that tea and bring it the market. So I won’t say this is a boring tea but rather a supertaster’s tea. Yes, that’s it. Unfortunately, I am not a supertaster. I ended up turning this one into hojicha.
Initial water temperature: 160°F
Leaf-water ratio: 3g:5oz
Steep time: 1 min, 30 sec
Leaf appearance: Moss green with a splintered texture typical of deeper-steamed senchas.
Dry aroma: Sweet and salty roasted seaweed. Absolutely delicious. I should probably pull my nose out of the bag now.
Infusion: A little cloudy. Greenish-yellow reminiscent of lemongrass.
Mouthfeel: Thin with light astringency.
Aroma: Roasted seaweed and brussel sprouts. (This is a good thing.) Light grassiness.
Taste: A mild but very well balanced fusion of sweet and savory.
Notes: That last part says it all: mild but balanced. Sometimes that’s a nice place to be. This tea is a good reminder of that.
This is the first ‘good’ or ‘expensive’ oolong I had. I love this tea! At first I tried steeping it like a sencha (multiple short steeps for one cup, using 3-4 g), but didn’t get a balanced taste. I found out that for me this tea comes out best when steeped like a black, using around 3g for a pot of 2-3 average sized cups, however steeping at 80 C.
The leaves have a dry and soft, mildly earthy smell that reminds most of chocolate. After steeping, the tea tastes very nicely balanced and full. All kinds of taste elements are discernable (most of which I can’t name), drawing your attention to every sip, however coming together perfectly into one. It has that typical oolong malty-earthy sweetness, and every sip finishes with a very subtle and pleasant astringency and almost-bitterness. Even the color of this tea is interesting, which is a full brownish yellow with a very subtle green. A second steep of the same leaves was still enjoyable for me, but it did taste thinner and definitely not as good as the first one.
Initial water temperature: 200°F
Leaf-water ratio: 5g:8oz
Steep time: 3 min
Dry aroma: Dried apricots. Cocoa.
Infusion: Almost clear. Mahogany red.
Mouthfeel: Full with a very mild, pleasant astringency
Aroma: Faint hints of fruit compote, oranges, cinnamon, and allspice.
Taste: Mildly sweet. A very tiny bit of savoriness.
Notes: Not a bad tea by any stretch, but not very exciting either. Tastes remarkably similar to this year’s (2012) Charleston, South Carolina First Flush (which isn’t exactly a compliment, this year’s FF was pretty unbalanced) but with a little more complexity and sweetness. If you’re an insatiably curious black tea fanatic, it’s worth a try.
About a month ago I purchased Yuuki-Cha’s Organic Kumamoto Jo Sencha for the second time. As was the case last year I was not disappointed with my purchase.
The leaves have a very grassy aroma (as is expected with a good sencha) and were mostly whole (unlike Yuuki-Cha’s Yame sencha that was mostly dust). An ordinary Kyusu should be able to filter our virtual all of the leaves (my Tokoname Kyusu worked liked a charm).
I steeped this Sencha three times. At first I steeped the tea for a little over a minute. The tea tasted wonderful and had a vivid green color. It seems that this particular sencha can withstand a longer than average steep better than most Japanese greens.
This Kumamaoto Jo has a very subtle and pleasant taste. The grassy flavor was sweet and not overpowering. The second and third cups were still very flavorful but less pronounced than the first steep.
Overall the Kumamoto Jo is a great deal for a premium sencha that does not disappoint.
Tonight is special for two reasons: I’m using the last of this tea, and I’m drinking it in my brand new hand-made ceramic tumbler! It’s one of two, and they just came in the mail yesterday, but I was busing and couldn’t try them out yesterday. Big shout-out to Mamif!
Back to the tea, I prepared the first infusion with barely steaming water, and steeped for 75 seconds. the taste is just as exquisite as usual, like some sort of sweet vegetables. The aroma might be grass, but I just mowed the lawn earlier, and I might still be smelling that. I’m really going to miss this tea after tonight…
Second infusion same temperature, 15 second infusion. It even sweeter, and had gotten a bit more grassy instead of vegetative. this is pretty much the peak for this tea: The second infusion is the prefect balance of flavors, and it just gets weaker from this point.
Third infusion, same temperature, 45 seconds. This time it tastes more grassy than sweet, but it’s not in any way astringent. Unfortunately, I ran out of time, and I’m going to need to stop drinking tea if I want to fall asleep at a decent hour. Sad, since I could probably get another cup of tea or two out of these leaves, but sleep is more important.
P. S. – Pics of the tumblers: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mamif/7382224810/in/photostream/
I am, unfortunately, not enjoying shincha #2 as much as I enjoyed shincha #1 (which was the Minekaori). However, I had a bad splurge impulse last week and ordered up some more shinchas (as well as cute this houhin: http://www.yuuki-cha.com/images/large/BZhouhin5943_LRG.jpg) so I have more to try. By the by, ordering from Yuuki-Cha is such a pleasure.
I’m finding that this one features a very fine line between not flavourful enough and too bitter. When I manage to brew it in that sweet spot, it’s very sweet but quite mild. It has a similar buttery hay flavour as the Minekaori, but milder. If I go a bit too long, it’s quire bitter. Still an excellent tea that I’m not sorry to have to finish up, but not a contender for favourite.
It’s been way too long since I last had this tea, and I honestly really need to use it as soon as possible…
Anyway, Steeped for one minute is water that was just starting to give off steam. I find that this tea is extremely unforgiving when it comes to water temperature, so I play it pretty safe. The aroma is pleasantly grassy, but is smells “sweeter” than actual grass. The taste is predictably grassy, with just the right amount of sweetness. Honestly, why haven’t I been drinking this more often?
Second infusion, toughly the same temperature, but I only steeped the leaves for 15 seconds. The result is a very sweet tea. It’s still grassy, but the sweetness overpowers it. If it was a bit flowery, I would probably mistake it for the Orchid Oolong I rediscovered a few weeks ago.
third infusion, same temperature, 45 seconds. The grassiness has reasserted itself, but it’s not in any way stringent. This is actually turning out better than usual, and is a rather pleasant surprise. Again, I don’t know why I don’t drink this more often. It would be a great way to unwind after a long day in the office.
Music for today – St. James Infirmary performed by Hugh Laurie
This is one of two shinchas I ordered from Yuuki-cha, and it’s made up the bulk of my at-home tea drinking over the past few weeks. It’s delightful, and I am quite taken by the novelty of drinking tea harvested only a couple weeks before I receive it! Over the past several months I’ve been drinking mostly Chinese teas, so this is a nice return to Japanese greens.
The leaves, post-infusion, are the most vibrant green ever. They don’t look spent the way less fresh tea does after steeping. The liquor is also an amazingly vibrant yellow-green.
While it’s steeping, it smells like delicious freshly-cut hay. It might be odd to term any type of hay “delicious”, but I grew up spending most of my time in stables and often helping bale hay, so I have good associations with the scent and have always found it really nice, simultaneously refreshing and comforting. The liquor after the leaves are strained smells a little more earthy, and more buttery.
The butter really carries over in the flavour. It tastes like snow peas swimming in butter. It has a nice, full mouthfeel to match and a savoury-sweetness. It’s moderately astringent, but not bitter at all. So lovely! I get three really solid steeps out of this.