311 Tasting Notes

96

I love this one: smoky, sweet, earthy, and if I keep my infusions short enough, not bitter.

1 gram of leaf per ounce water just off the boil, in gaiwan or small yixing, flash rinse, then short steeps, 10", 10", 15", 15", 20", 20", and so forth. I have continued to enjoy 20+ infusions from this tea. It also does nicely bulk brewed: a good wedge of tea, toss it into the kamjove, flash rinse, then steep a minute or so, pour several more volumes of water through it quickly, and add all to the thermos for a long afternoon’s work or meeting or drive.

Another one I love so much that I have one beeng at work, one at the new satellite office, and gave one to a good tea buddy who also loves it, and now I need to bring another chunk home because I have run out here, and that is not a good thing!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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92

This is fairly pricey like most Korean teas, apparently due to rarity with most being consumed inside Korea.

The leaves are dark, small, twisted, with toasty and fruity odors. When added to the prewarmed gaiwan, 2.5 g per 75mL/2.5 oz water, the odor is stronger, mostly fruity and tart.

The first 30 second infusion with water several minutes off the boil (probably about 180 degrees) yields an amber infusion, tasted like dilute black tea—touch of fruit, bit of toasty, but very little of the floral and earthy notes I expect from my chinese oolongs.

2nd infusion at 170 degrees (thought it was a bit warmer, surprised when it was so cool in the cup), also abotu 30 seconds, again tastes strongly of….well…black tea. A little fruity, very tea-like, a little hint of caramel.

For the 4th infusion, I put water just off the boil for 20 seconds, and a little more sweetness comes out. It reminds me a bit of the Yunnan Oriental Beauty I got from Yunnan Sourcing: tastes strongly oxidized, like a black tea, but without any of the bitterness that makes most of them intolerable to me.

The leaves are broken, curled, dark after infusion, and again, has a strong tea scent. (‘Tea scent’ here is code for smells like lipton, but that seems like a bad word to use describing a pleasant mild tea.)

It is easy and pleasant, but not that special for the price.

Same review on my web site, with photos (no ads):

http://www.well.com/user/debunix/recipes/2009HankookOolong.html

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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75
drank Sencha Zuiko by Den's Tea
311 tasting notes

This is a sweet, vegetal sencha I’m drinking to start the day. Alternating it with the Sencha Shin-ryoku, it might have a bit more umami, but really hard to be sure. They’re very similar, and I prefer both to the Fukamushi sencha maki I bought previously from Den’s.

I’m still pretty new to the Japanese greens, first tried them just six months ago, so have only had half a dozen different senchas, mostly small samples, to compare this to.

Shinobi_cha

Now you’ve had a ‘lot’ more experience with Japanese greens, have you tried it again to see what you think?

Interestingly, the first time I had this, I enjoyed it enough to buy more, but it wasn’t until I had been drinking it for a while, and then tried a few other senchas, that I really appreciated it.

Any senchas (other than from Den’s Tea) that you recommend?

(I’m new to Japanese greens as of just one year ago now, all because of Den’s Tea $3 sampler!)

teaddict

Haven’t tried it again yet. I have tried enough other senchas to be clear that I have a strong preference for teas with less umami, so the sweetness shines through more, but this year I ordered some teas straight from a couple of different suppliers, and haven’t drunk through them yet. I probably will be ordering from Dens again within a few months, but not sure what I’ll order.

So many lovely teas to explore, and so little time! For sencha particularly, I really love it as my morning tea, but I rarely have the time to give it the proper attention later in the day—and sencha is touchy enough that I definitely have to give it time. So I go through my senchas slowly.

From last year’s harvests, I particularly enjoyed Sayamakaori and Honyama senchas from Yuuki Cha, and another Honyama from Norbu (the ‘Zairai’ varietal).

….just checked Den’s pages again, and guess what? The Shin-ryoku is from Honyama. I think there is a pattern developing here!

Shinobi_cha

That makes sense about the sweetness; I’m pretty sure the Zuiko is more umami than sweet. This last fall, Den’s came out with a ‘Kuradashi’ (aged) sencha; it was the same tea as the Shin-ryoku or Zuiko, but aged 6 months. That was somewhat sweeter and very citrusy, compared to the regular Zuiko — my favorite sencha this year so far.

Yes, I think the Zuiko and Shin-ryoku are from the same exact tea garden. I don’t know what the processing difference is to make the former more expensive than the latter though.
Interesting; I’ve noticed a few from Yuuki Cha and I may check them out someday. Once I’ve drunk through what I have in my cupboard (which is full right now), I want to try Hojo Tea and O-cha. Hojo has a Zairai sencha also from Honyama I believe. I read (I think on Hojo’s website) that Honyama is one of the oldest high-quality tea growing regions.

teaddict

When I next order from Den’s, I’ll probably stick to the Shin-ryoku, because the Zuiko was more strongly vegetal, with higher umami, which is not what I prefer. The only clear productions differences in the listings is a note that the Zuiko comes from a single garden, and is ‘scissor picked’ rather than machine harvested or hand picked.

Shinobi_cha

I’ve sampled the Shin-ryoku before, but I need to get try it again; the fact that you say it is sweeter or whatever makes me think I would like it. Perhaps the Kuradashi is actually their Shin-ryoku, and that explains why I liked it more than the Zuiko. I email and ask them what the difference is between the two, since I know it is the same family that produces both.

teaddict

How do you know it is the same family that produces both?

Just curious, because I don’t see that level of detail in the descriptions.

BTW, what I am referring to as ‘sweeter’ here should be translated to, more apparent sweetness due to lighter flavor with less umami to obscure the honey-sweet flavors.

Shinobi_cha

Den wrote this article on the 2009 shincha harvest, long before I had ever heard of their company. However, they re-printed it last April or May again, because a lot of the information was still relevant. I found it to be fascinating! And it explains a lot about their farm where Zuiko and Shin-ryoku come from: http://www.denstea.com/index.php?main_page=shincha_report

Thanks for clarifying about sweeter; that makes sense!

Shinobi_cha

With regards to the link, the article is long, so scroll down to ‘Nakamura Tea Farm’ for the relevant info.

teaddict

Thanks for the excellent link. Now more eager for their kunpu shincha…

Shinobi_cha

No problem! Yeah, I want to try it as well as the “108th night shincha”

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57

I spent a couple of months alternating this and the Sencha Select from the Cultured cup as my daily first of the morning brew. It was very nice, but I prefer the brighter taste of the less-steamed tea to the stronger umami of this one. So with my next order, I went back to Dens regular senchas, and have been happier with them.

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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80
drank Sencha Shin-ryoku by Den's Tea
311 tasting notes

I was finishing off some Den’s Fukamushi-Sencha Maki at the time that I opened a sample of this one, and I was so impressed by the bright sweetness in contrast to the more umami taste of the fukamushi that I ordered more, along with the Sencha Zuiko. So far, I can’t tell much difference between the two, except perhaps a little more umami in the Zuiko. When I do think I can tell a difference, I actually prefer the Shin-ryoku. It’s a nice morning cup of tea.

And yes, it is temperature sensitive. I do my first infusions at 160 F 30" and may let a 2nd or 3rd get as hot as 170 for a shorter time, but no hotter. I’m a bitter-wimp.

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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34

I am writing a note based on the assumption per other’s description that this is the Silver Needle Yellow Tea from Hunan, which I bought from Wing Hop Fung recently. I had bought something labelled ‘yellow tea’ a year or more before, loved it, but wasn’t sure where I’d bought it or which tea it was when I ran out and wanted to replace it. This tea appeared dark olive, not as downy as the silver needle I get from Chado.

But the Hunan Silver Needle Yellow Tea was not what I was looking for: not as sweet, more astringent, and even bitter. i have been unable to find a sweet spot to brew this tea, and I have gone all the way down to 160 degrees like for a very delicate white tea without a satisfying result. So….am I describing the same tea as the others here, or a different one?

I ended up giving the tea away to someone else who will hopefully find a sweet spot for brewing it better than I did!

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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76

Their web site describes it as a ‘semi-oxidized, earthy brew’. I found the dry tea leaves to be fairly dark, and very tightly rolled. I took just a small amount—enough to cover the bottom of the small 2.5oz/75mL gaiwan—for my first brewing, and after a couple of infusions the leaves nearly fill the gaiwan.

The first impression was rich, thick liquor, sweet and floral and rich, but when several combined infusions sat for a while in my 10 oz cup, the sweetness was much less pronounced, and a deeper, earthier flavor appeared.

I am used to some flavor changes as teas sit: I typically brew up a quart of my teas at a time, and drink that from a thermos over several hours during my workday. But I’ve not noticed such a rapid and profound change in any of my lightly oxidized Ali Shan and Tie Guan Yin Oolongs before.

I guess that’s why its described as “earthy” rather than predominantly sweet. Very interesting tea.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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91

This is a mellow, sweet, gentle young puerh. It is perfect for introducing new tea drinkers to puerh, because it is not only mellow and a little earthy, but the sweetness draws them in. I keep a pouch of this one at home, at work, and at the satellite office.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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100

An amazing, rich, sweet, floral oolong tea. I have steeped this one about 12 times, when using a small amount of the tightly rolled leaves to cover the bottom of a yixing pot or gaiwan, which unfurl gradually to nearly fill the pot by the end of the session.

Infusions from 30 seconds to 3 minutes by that 10th or 12th.

Probably my favorite tea since I first tried it. It stays sweet and rich longer than the lovely AliShan oolongs also carried by norbu. After trying both of these teas, I immediately bought many more little pouches of it, and squirreled them away for holiday gifts. Now that I’m running out of what I reserved for me, I’m hoarding it a bit. It’s that good.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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80

Finally opened this tea up, which I ordered as part of my first order from Den’s Tea. I was shy of bitterness in green teas, hadn’t yet figured out how to steep them, so ordered a little of this, a little of a gyokuro, and a green tea sampler. I figured out how to enjoy the senchas and the gyokuro, and now am drinking one of them nearly every morning, and then this tea got left in the back of the cupboard. But tonight I opened it up, am enjoying the toastiness, and am going to send a thank you to the tea-friend who suggested it as an entry to Japanese tea. It is a little more one-note than my favorite darker oolongs, with the toasted note over a mild herbaceousness, but still entirely pleasant, easy, mellow. I will doubtless pick up a little of this from time to time.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 1 min, 15 sec

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Bio

I’ve been drinking tea for 30 years, but only bought 2 brands of 2 different teas for most of that time. It took me almost 30 years to discover sencha, puerh, and green oolongs. Now I am making up for lost time.

I try to log most of my teas at least once, but then get lazy and stop recording, so # times logged should not be considered as a marker of how much a particular tea is drunk or enjoyed.

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Los Angeles

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