95 Tasting Notes
Back in June, I ordered an Ito En Matcha Gift set from Amazon.com for about $30, that included a chawan (tea bowl), chashaku (bamboo scoop/spoon), chasen (tea whisk) and some matcha tea. I had no idea that the Tea’s Tea ceremonial grade matcha would be so good, and has quickly become my matcha of choice for usucha — or “thin/light tea.” I just checked out Ito En’s website (https://www.itoen.com/matcha-teas-tea-7-oz-can.html) and now they even have it on sale for less than $10 for a tin. A great deal, and now I see they even won an award for this Tea — I am not surprised!
Another very nice tea from Obubu Tea Plantations in Kyoto. I have been drinking this today using the parameters specified by Obubu, and it makes for a very pleasant set of infusions of a very bright and lightly buttery character. Nice vegetal taste with only a slight touch of bitterness in the first steep. It doesn’t take much imagination to taste the “early summer sun shining brightly.”
A really nice healthy green taste; It goes well with food, but I am enjoying it all on it’s own!
This morning I finished up the last of my sample of Mt. Yiwu Sheng Pu’er, and I am truly sorry to see it go. It is one of the top three Sheng Pu’er teas that I have ever tasted, and shares this honor with the two other Sheng Pu’er teas I received in my Verdant Tea sampler. So nice that a company uses it’s sampler to put their best foot forward and tries to gain you as a customer.
Through multiple infusions, this tea takes you on a journey that is both quiet and adventurous. It is a walk through a rain filled forest, with stops along the way for a taste of spicyness, a later nibble at pear or apple, and a sniff of moss, mushrooms and distant campfire. Sorry if my description is a bit too imaginative, and should perhaps be more prosaic, but this Pu’er (along with the Verdant Teas ‘06 Artisan Revival and ’03 Mt Banxhang) gets me excited about Chinese Pu’er like no others.
The aroma of the dry leaves and stems is very pleasant, with a grassy vegetal quality that is reminiscent of fresh cut hay and autumn breezes. The stems in my sample were quite prominent, and sturdier than those in the Yanagi Bancha sample I had tried previously, but the leaves were very fine, and a beautiful dark green.
Using my kyusu I did three extractions of this sample, all using approximately 3.5 ounces of water:
1st steep: 45 seconds at 180 F
2nd steep: a quick steep of only about 10 seconds at 180 F
3rd steep: 30 seconds at 180 F
The wet leaves have an amazing aroma, unlike any sencha I have tried before. An almost peppery quality like mustard greens, but this does not come through in the tea. All three infusions were of similar quality in being a bright yellow green, clear, refreshing and well balanced. There are some nice grassy undertones and a softness that is similar to many spring time pickings.
This would make a nice accompaniment to almost any meal, but is very pleasant to drink all alone. Another very nice tea from Obubu. :)
I received my sampler from Obubu Tea and what a beautiful sampler it is. The packaging is artistically done, and all text is in Japanese, so if you may have to do a bit of detective work matching the inscriptions to translations provided on the guide provided. It is filled with different versions of Sencha, Genmaicha, and several different roasts of Houjicha. All great temptations, but I chose to start by brewing up this Bancha and am very happy I did!
Time to load up the sample into my kyusu, and take a few deep breaths of the lovely aroma of the dry leaves and stems. A bit like alfalfa hay, and a real sweetness that is hard to explain, but nice to experience.
1st steep: 30 seconds at about 190 degrees F
2nd steep: 15 seconds at about 190 degrees F
3rd steep: 30 seconds at about 190 degrees F
Now this is real aracha (http://www.obubutea.com/tea-info/aracha/), in the best way possible. It is nicely refreshing in being both mildly sweet and mildly savory. I found myself chewing on a couple of the twigs/stems just to verify this is where that fascinating sweet flavor is coming from. This may not have the refined complexities of the higher grade teas, but for me it is a really pleasant connection to the tea plantation, and I look forward to the other samples to follow!
Interesting combination of herbs in this infusion. I shared it with my mother who is a big fan of Celestial Seasonings Blueberry Tea, and enjoyed it as a nice afternoon break. We both felt a slight tingling on the tongue, which seems to be a property of the sage in the mix. It has a beautiful aroma and color, and a sweet herbaceous flavor. I was surprised at the beauty the dry cornflowers brings to the dry product, and we both agreed it would go great with some real shortbread cookies… Thanks Tea Forte for this nice sample, and I definitely give this one a thumbs up.
I had a tough week, so last night I opened up my pouch of Den’s Gyokuro Kin, placed a good rounded teaspoon of leaves into my Sincha Kyusu and started to relax just smelling the aroma of this beautiful tea.
When Den’s says that “Gyokuro Kin is a cup of affordable luxury,” they are being modest as this is one really fantastic Gyokuro. There truly is a great harmony of natural sweetness and slight bitterness, supplemented by a mellow umami flavor and very light astringency.
1st cup: Water @ 160F; Steep 90 sec
2nd cup: Water @ 180F; Steep 30 sec
I couldn’t resist a 3rd steep, which was nice but gets a bit too astringent for me, and looses the mellowness. Truly a wonderful way to end the week!
What a beautiful Spring Oolong! I loaded up my gaiwan and brewed just as David suggested, yielding a nice succession of cups almost exactly as described. Wonderful aromas, wonderful flavor and a really pleasant morning sipping on this tea.
Since I grow orchids, I didn’t get this as the most prominent scent. Instead I get the sweet honeysuckle, with a background of orange blossom and jasmine. The first two steeps give a slightly green flavor followed by buttery creaminess in the later brews and some even have a faint aroma of pine or fir trees behind the floral bouquet.
An outstanding tea, plain and simple. ;)