575 Tasting Notes
Looking at this I’m reminded of how my husband’s father was in Japan a few years ago (he goes every couple years on business—so lucky!!) and came back with gifts from the president of his company of green tea in tins only labeled in Japanese. Not knowing what it was he gave it to us after having it around a while (so, you know, stale). Only now do I realize it was probably gyokuro (looked and smelled like it), a whole huge tin of it! Ah.
Truth is I wasn’t expecting to like this even though it is highly prized—unlike with Chinese green tea I’m pretty hit or miss with Japanese greens, and usually when I like one it’s because it’s flavored (cue gasps of horror from tea snobs here, hee) or otherwise not very archetypally green tea-y (think genmaicha and hojicha). On the other hand, I really loved Harney’s tencha when I tried it so I figured I’d give this a whirl not expecting much. But I rather like it! It still leaves that gradual build up of film on the teeth typical of Japanese greens, think the one you get after eating lots of raw spinach or oxalic acid-rich foods (chard, beets), but it’s much much lighter, so light it’s not unappealing. And there’s none of the scrubby lemoniness sencha tends to have that I don’t really like in more than rare small doses. The colors of the leaves and finished cup are beautiful and distinct, so bright plant-y green! And I love the smell, which isn’t grassy or harsh at all but like mouthwateringly fresh sweet vegetables. The taste is quite spinachy but in a good way, not a mouth-scrubbing raw greenness so much as lightly cooked spinach, with a feeling it’s been amped up richness-wise with butter or something savory and heavy-enticing and possibly lightly salted like that. Yum! I’m not used to Japanese greens being so filling and satisfying, almost like that Autumn Laoshan Green I just swooned over for the umpteenth time but with more fresh veggie smell. There is a juiciness too I’m enjoying.
I like this a lot and can see why it’s so beloved, fetching high prices. I can also see how, oddly enough, it would be ideal as a first-thing morning tea because of the caffeine (is it just me or do pure greens jolt other people way more obviously with energy than brisk black teas? If I resteep a couple greens midday I end up jittery as all get out, have to be careful in a way I don’t with even the strongest blacks), the bright greenness of the flavor perking up the senses, and the way it feels like a big bowl of freshly cooked sweet veggies, a very warm welcome back to life, a true “break fast”. It leaves one with the impression of color and life. Delicious.
Had with afternoon tea with the husband. This was one I knew I couldn’t resist trying because my husband and I are both fans of out-there ambitious, seemingly hard to pull off flavors in things (bonus, he’s a lifelong cola fiend), even though I also knew the chance of failure and chemical weirdness was high given that ambition/novel weirdness and mixed reviews here. But this was better than I was expecting given the reviews. It’s not fantastic, but neither of us found it gross either—there’s a medicinal vaguely metallic note to evoke the cola that I can definitely see many Steepsters disliking but I don’t mind at all. Not something I need to restock—and after a cup the flavors build such that you don’t want any more—but I don’t regret trying it either.
A super generous free sample from Mandala with my last order! Woot!
What an unexpected tea this is. First cup of the day for me, vaguely remembered it’s unusual because it’s very, well, golden (the dry leaves are gorgeous, big long light golden branches), so I figured it’d be lighter and sweeter than black tea generally is but was still knocked for a loop—the brewed color is very unusual, not super light like white tea, not dark with warm brown tones like black tea, not bright golden green like green…just kind of its own thing. Hard to describe. And then the taste!—it’s so light-bright and sweet in this way that builds so that by the end of the cup your mouth sort of buzzes with an almost numbing (kind of like mint) quality mixed with a very clean sweetness. I’ve never tasted tea like this before. So glad I got to sample it—I think once Black Friday madness stockpiled orders settle down I will order some of this. Really unusual and great. It wakes up your palate in a different way than strong black tea, almost the opposite approach where the flavor is zingy (but not in a fruit-tart way thankfully) and so sparkling clean it refreshes you awake. And that sweetness is a beautiful accompaniment; delicious without being rich, it manages to fit right in in contributing to that feeling of bright refreshment.
Used quite a bit of leaf, probably nearly 2 teaspoons, because it’s one of those teas that’s hard to measure as it’s so fluffy-long and unbroken. (And because free Mandala samples are awesomely generous—I reckon I can make 2 more cups!)
God I love this tea. Had a wonderful weekend in North Carolina seeing Goblin and Zombi play and eating late night organic roasted veggie burritos in the college neighborhood (and making a quick stop into Trader Joe’s for crunchy cookie butter, marshmallows, pistachio brittle, and other assorted goodies! Also Bruegger’s, because my craving for the bagels I grew up with and are nowhere to be found in the South catches up with me this time of year), but I must admit the number one thing I missed aside from our cats was good daily tea. Steepster has ruined me for that stuff! If I’m not careful I’m going to wind up a fanatic who packs an electric kettle, eesh.
Anyway, this is my remedy now late at night as the bags are unpacked, the dishes are done, the cats fed and cuddled, and I’ve taken a much needed hot shower. It is every bit as drinks-like-a-meal satisfying, complex, sweet and astonishly rich as I remember. Yum! Just what I needed.
ETA that that Serious Eats pull quote is quite right; this is so unbelievably creamy-sweet it really does feel like there’s already milk in the cup.
What a ridiculously delicious tea this is. I think it might be my very favorite CTC now. Dry and steeping it has a chocolate-y aroma, and while strong it isn’t bitter or astringent at all to me. I liked my first cup so much I gave in against better judgment and made a 3 cup pot to go with lunch (so glad Harney samples are large enough you can do that! I still have about a cup’s worth left too). Great way to use up the last of the milk before we go out of town. Definitely want to restock this, though my stable of Harney breakfast blends is getting unruly…
Broke down, currently on the Steepster favored “Queen Catherine and a toasted bagel” (with lox and cream cheese) diet, ha. All of this Queen Catherine love got to me. And I’m glad, because this is exactly what I needed. Was in a foul mood this afternoon, sick of everything, hungry, cold, wondering where my husband was, stressed about our plans to be on the road for 11 hours tomorrow in icy rain…this made things better. So much better. Thank you keychange for your wonderful contagious enthusiasm.
I think I’m gonna hang in the towel after this one and just drink favorites for the rest of the night. Nothing new is tasting great to me, and I think it might be me today, not the tea.
This is tangy-orange more than sweet-orange, though it does have a creamy softness to it (not over-the-top, lightly so). It’s ok but I need to find my “screaming straight-up creamy sweet kiddie creamsicle” tea at some point. They’re all either too bright/zesty or too refined/soft to sate that particular craving. Hm.
The bergamot is STRONG dry, and still pretty assertive in the taste but less over-the-top. I’m seeing now lots of other Steepsters recommend a lower temp (I already cut the time from my normal 3 or 4 minutes to 2 based on the smell of the dry leaf). I will try that next time and see if it softens it. As it stands it’s not bad, but also not a favorite.
I had a headache and stomach ache last night and my throat’s a tad sore today so this seemed like a good choice to try. I love Steepster ‘cause there’s no way I’d have ever known about it otherwise. It’s nice—it seems navajo tea has a slightly sweet, earthy, grassy character, light and not one-note, that builds as you drink. The mint’s soothing, medicinal tasting. I’m curious how this would play with other teas, if it’d get swallowed up or serve as a nice complement.
CTC with the vaguely Grape Nuts-y smell of Grandpa’s Anytime Tea. Less complex (to be expected), not as much fruit but still full of flavor. With milk this is lovely. Someone else here said it’s like PG Tips that grew up at a better boarding school, which made me chuckle and is a great way of putting it.