484 Tasting Notes

88

Backlog.

The second shincha of 2020. Working out the brewing times and temperature for this tea was a rollercoaster of sorts. I don’t know if it’s just me or whether Japanese greens are really that finicky but I went through 50g – half the pouch – before I finally got it dialed in.

This tea shows different faces depending on how its brewed. At low temperatures, it’s umami rich and earthy, reminiscent of shaded greens. Japanese green tea connoisseurs tend to favor fairly high leaf-to-water ratios (0.8-0.9g per 1oz) but this can taste swampy and brings out a lot of bitterness. I got the best results by underleafing and brewing western style, just a teaspoon and a half of leaves in a 185ml teapot. The brewed tea is smooth, grassy, and almost fruity with a bit of sweetness and a robust mouthfeel. I can taste a bit of those citrus peel and grapefruit notes too. Good for 3 steeps.

A solid sencha and between this and my other shincha, Kirishima Asatsuyu Sencha, this was the better of the two.

Flavors: Citrus Zest, Earth, Grapefruit, Grass, Spinach, Umami

Preparation
165 °F / 73 °C 0 min, 45 sec 1 tsp 4 OZ / 123 ML

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92

Spring 2020 harvest. Grandpa steeped 1.4g in my 10oz tea thermos @ ~180 F.

Yum, this was a really good dragonwell. A lot better than the first flush version of the same tea.

I knew it was going to be good as soon as I opened the pouch and took a whiff: rich, creamy aromas of sweet pea and matcha that linger in the nose. The flavor was buttery smooth, crisp, and refreshing. Spinach and radicchio on the first sip with a touch of pine-like minerality in the finish.

This tea has held up remarkably well given how late I received it. I can only imagine how incredible it must have been when it was fresh.

Flavors: Asparagus, Lettuce, Mineral, Peas, Pine, Smooth, Spinach

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 10 OZ / 295 ML

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88

Backlog.

This is one of the teas from the great Steepster freeze of 2020 that I’m getting around to logging now. My memory is a little hazy because I only had a couple of sessions with it, but I remember it being a solid SLX with the usual alpine florals and tropical notes. A little lighter and lacking the full mouthfeel of previous harvests. Good for 6-7 steeps.

Flavors: Coconut, Flowers, Tropical, Vanilla

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 45 sec 7 g 5 OZ / 160 ML

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75

Mediocre Ali Shan. This one is big on aroma but flavor just isn’t there. Intensely fragrant with notes of honey, orange blossom, and vanilla cream in the wet leaf. However none of it comes through in the steeped tea which is fairly bland and has a sort of mild/generic floral flavor. Once again, cold brewing came to the rescue and helped salvage an otherwise boring tea.

I’ve tried a number of TTC Ali Shans now and they all seem lacking. I’ll continue to buy my other high mountain oolongs from there but skip this one next time.

Flavors: Floral, Honey, Orange Blossom, Vanilla

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 45 sec 7 g 5 OZ / 160 ML

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88

Spring 2020 harvest.

Another past its prime green tea that like the Long Jing I ordered, suffered from Covid induced shipping delays. Nevertheless, there were unmistakeable echos of what made this such an outstanding tea in the past. Warm, toasted notes of fennel seed and soybean with a faint sweetness in the finish. Hints of toasted grain and nori. Lacks of the zest and richness this tea usually has but still a good cup.

Flavors: Anise, Fennel Seed, Grain, Seaweed, Soybean

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 8 OZ / 240 ML

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82

Spring 2020 harvest.

Finally got my Verdant spring greens order last week. It’s crazy how badly Covid has disrupted everything. Spring green tea is arriving when the autumn harvest is normally expected.

As one might expect, a 5 month delay affects a tea that’s best enjoyed at peak freshness. This tea isn’t stale by any means, but it’s not as good as the same tea I had last year. It’s sharply vegetal, bordering on bitter. First sip is sweet but it quickly turns savory and has an almost bitter finish. Doesn’t have the subtleties of early picked tea.

Flavors: Bitter, Vegetal

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 1 g 10 OZ / 295 ML
Leafhopper

Yikes! That’s a long delay. Too bad it affected your tea.

tea-sipper

WHAT, that is a ridiculous delay.

LuckyMe

I know, right? Usually Verdant starts rolling out spring tea in March/April..this year it was delayed until the end of August. Thankfully I had Yunnan Sourcing and Japanese greens to hold me over during this time.

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78

Got this as a sample with my Yunnan Sourcing order. It’s not the type of green tea I would have picked out for myself. Normally, I avoid Yunnan green tea because the assamica cultivar grown there, intended for puerh, is different from the more delicate sinensis cultivar used in normal Chinese green tea. As a result, Yunnan greens tend to be more savory and pungent than their counterparts grown in other parts of China.

This one reminded me more of heicha and sheng than green tea. It starts off like a white tea, with corn silk and hay aromas. The flavor is something like freshly washed linens and has the texture of soft cotton. Sweeter with more hay and white tea florals on resteep. Tastes like sheng but without the bitterness. A little smoke as it settles.

Mind you, this was a year old when I received it so it’s obviously aged and the flavor has changed in the past year. Good for what it is and I prefer to think of it as a white tea instead of green as that’s what it tastes like to me.

Flavors: Corn Husk, Floral, Hay, Smoke

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 0 min, 45 sec 1 g 4 OZ / 110 ML

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86

Not usually a big fan of bug bitten teas but this one is really nice. I’m struck by how much it resembles Darjeeling. Notes of rose, wood, and muscatel. Light malt and a hint of Dian Hong sweet potato in he finish.

Flavors: Honey, Malt, Muscatel, Rose, Sweet Potatoes, Wood

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 1 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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80

This is an okay genmaicha. There’s more toasted rice in here than tea. Just a basic genmaicha taste, quite drinkable but not particularly memorable. Tastes good by itself, as a cold brew, and makes a good base for blending with other teas.

Flavors: Rice, Toasty

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 1 min, 0 sec 4 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
Ubacat

I bought this last year and enjoyed it. It lasted awhile and just finished it up this summer. I enjoy it with meals (which is unusual for me as I usually drink all my teas on their own) but this one makes me hungry. What teas did you blend it with?

LuckyMe

I felt like this one doesn’t taste very fresh and mostly consists of toasted rice. So I remedy that by mixing in some regular sencha or sometimes sakura sencha to give it a nice floral kick.

Tarui Tea Farm Organic Genmaicha from Yunomi, with those popcorn looking pieces in it, is the best genmaicha I’ve tried.

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99

Nice to see Steepster working again. Time to start posting some of my backlogged tasting notes.

I was glad to finally get my hands on this tea again. I first tried it a few years ago and have not found a better yancha since. What’s even better is this is the 2019 version so its had time to age and the roast has mellowed out.

Upon opening the pouch, a powerful aroma of flowers, cinnamon, and peaches greets the nose. This turns into browned butter and chocolate chip cookies when the leaves are dropped into a heated vessel. I brewed this grandpa style steeping 1g in 8z of water just under boiling. The taste of the tea is outstanding – familiar wet rocks and clean mineral wuyi notes, along with rich cocoa and pecan. Some spice and wood as it settles. A very satisfying cup.

My recent sessions with this tea haven’t been quite as good but I blame that on me being rushed and unfocused, not the tea.

Flavors: Cocoa, Mineral, Pecan, Spices, Wet Rocks, Wood

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 1 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Bio

My Rating Criteria:

95 to 100: Top shelf stuff. Loved this tea and highly recommend it

90 to 94: Excellent. Enjoyed this tea and would likely repurchase

80 to 89: Good but not great. I liked it though it may be lacking in some aspects. I’ll finish it but probably won’t buy again

70 to 79: Average at best. Not terrible but wouldn’t willingly drink again

60 to 69: Sub-par. Low quality tea, barely palatable

59 and below: Bleh

Fell into tea years ago, and for a long time my experience was limited to Japanese greens and a few flavored teas. My tea epiphany came a few years ago when I discovered jade oolongs. That was the gateway drug to the world of fine tea and teaware.

With the exception of a handful of lightly scented teas, I drink mostly straight tea. I love fresh green and floral flavors and as such, green tea and Taiwanese oolongs will always have a place in my cupboard. After avoiding black tea forever, Chinese blacks are beginning to grow on me. I’ve dipped my toe into a few puerhs now but it’s still relatively new territory for me. I also enjoy white tea and tisanes but reach for them less frequently.

Other non-tea interests include: cooking, reading, nature, MMA, traveling when I can, and of course putzing around on the interwebs.

IG: https://www.instagram.com/melucky

Location

Chicago

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