311 Tasting Notes

91

I got a sample of this for a tasting through the egullet.org tea forum, along with a sample of the Sakimidori Kamairicha:

Both Kamairichas in small gaiwans with about 75mL water, 2 grams of tea.

The teas are curly, very different from the needle-like bits of senchas, but a nice deep green appropriate to sencha. The leaves smell sweet and rich.

First infusions about 30 seconds because I checked the water temp just after I poured it, and it was hotter than expected—150 degrees. They’re both warm, roasty, toasty, vegetal, peas and corn and asparagus, but also a little lightly floral. Delicate yellow-green liquors.

2nd infusions about 30 seconds, temp about 150 degrees. A little more astringency in the Sakimidori, a little smoother in the Okumidori.

3rd infusion, 45 seconds, 155 degrees: still seeing that same difference, more sharpness in the Sakimidori, more smoothness in the Okumidori. I wasn’t sure at the 2nd infusion if the infusion times were a little off, but the differences were consistent through the next infusion.

4th infusion, 1 minute, 160 degrees: these are really, really nice teas. They are not senchas, but feel closer to a sencha in flavor than to a pan-fired chinese green tea.

5th infusion, 160 degrees, 90 seconds: the differences are lessened again. Still both are sweet and vegetal.

6th infusion, still 160 degrees—forgot to up the temp; time about 2 minutes (more carelessness); still entirely delicious, and just the most subtle difference between them.

7th infusion: spilled the Sakimidori. Enjoying the 170 degree, 2 minute infusion of the Okumidori a lot. Would have liked to try for another infusion, but the spill got the teakettle base and I want to let it try before I use it again. Sigh.

The leaves remain bright grassy green at the end of the infusions, obviously broken pieces but a bit larger on average than leaves of typical senchas.

Preparation
150 °F / 65 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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84

I got a sample of this for a tasting through the egullet.org tea forum, along with a sample of the Okumidori Kamairicha:

Both Kamairichas in small gaiwans with about 75mL water, 2 grams of tea.

The teas are curly, very different from the needle-like bits of senchas, but a nice deep green appropriate to sencha. The leaves smell sweet and rich.

First infusions about 30 seconds because I checked the water temp just after I poured it, and it was hotter than expected—150 degrees. They’re both warm, roasty, toasty, vegetal, peas and corn and asparagus, but also a little lightly floral. Delicate yellow-green liquors.

2nd infusions about 30 seconds, temp about 150 degrees. A little more astringency in the Sakimidori, a little smoother in the Okumidori.

3rd infusion, 45 seconds, 155 degrees: still seeing that same difference, more sharpness in the Sakimidori, more smoothness in the Okumidori. I wasn’t sure at the 2nd infusion if the infusion times were a little off, but the differences were consistent through the next infusion.

4th infusion, 1 minute, 160 degrees: these are really, really nice teas. They are not senchas, but feel closer to a sencha in flavor than to a pan-fired chinese green tea.

5th infusion, 160 degrees, 90 seconds: the differences are lessened again. Still both are sweet and vegetal.

6th infusion, still 160 degrees—forgot to up the temp; time about 2 minutes (more carelessness); still entirely delicious, and just the most subtle difference between them.

7th infusion: spilled the Sakimidori. Enjoying the 170 degree, 2 minute infusion of the Okumidori a lot. Would have liked to try for another infusion, but the spill got the teakettle base and I want to let it try before I use it again. Sigh.

The leaves remain bright grassy green at the end of the infusions, obviously broken pieces but a bit larger on average than leaves of typical senchas.

Preparation
150 °F / 65 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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91

Opening the pouch, first notice a sweet rich scent, with hints of cherries & chocolate.

Preheated the kyusu (iron-rich clay, unglazed interior) for the 4 grams of leaf, typical sencha appearance of the dark thin pieces of leaf.

First infusion 160 degrees, about 30 seconds, pouring into my big chawan, lots of leaf bits come too—probably will strain the next infusion. Thick, silky, rich mouthfeel with sweet, delicate vegetal flavor, oh my. It is a little less leaf than I usually use in this 160mL kyusu, so the richness of the mouthfeel is surprising.

Really enjoying this one a LOT, now about the 5th infusion, and temp upped to 180 degrees for this infusion: it’s still sweet, light, rich. A bit of astringency has crept in, and I probably should have kept this one a bit shorter.

One more infusion, 180 degree water, and about 1 minute infusion, and we’re back to sweet, light, rich, with astringency retreating again into the background. I agree that this one is ‘Supremely’ good.

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

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78

Aged Fo Shou Oolong – 2001 Fujian Oolong Tea
3 grams of plummy, chocolate-scented dark twisted and compacted leaves in a small unglazed porcelain pot; flash rinse; about 120 mL water 205 degrees, first infusion 20 seconds
strongly earthy, but also fruity and tart—not in the sweet dark almost prune notes I usually think of as plummy, but more like a tart, barely ripe plum, yet very mellow—needed to steep longer, despite sitting a few minutes after the flash rinse—seems like it wasn’t yet releasing as much flavor as it was absorbing water for this infusion
(this tartness seems to distinguish it from an aged puerh)
But it might in part be extra bitterness from fresh roasting….so I’m putting it in one of the yixings to air out a bit.
[I suddenly have a reason to buy a couple of nice ceramic tea caddies, just for times like this, when I want the tea to air out just a bit.]

And a week or so later, I’m drinking it again, and less of the bitterness is there—it DID need to air out a bit, and Greg had told me the sample he sent had been just re-roasted the day before. It is still fruity and tart and dark but the bitter is muted, and I’m enjoying it more. This is not a mellow, sip-while-working-on-something-else tea: a little slip with the infusion time and I’m back to bitter char.
It’s very interesting stuff, and I’ll enjoy working with the rest of this sample, but it’s not going to make it into my regular rotation, because there are too many teas I like better, that are not so demanding. But given how dilute I’m preparing it, I anticipate many, many more infusions before I’m done.

Editing to add: still getting interesting liquid from this packed gaiwan after at least two dozen steeps. Impressive stamina, but I did overstuff it.

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

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91

First time with this tea in a while, so smooth and delicious, sweet and toasty, rich and mellow. Mmmmm. Bulk brewed up a bunch of it for my thermos to enjoy over the next few hours.

Shocked to realize I didn’t post a review of this one before. I liked the sample enough to buy several packages, and I’m well on my way through the lot of it. It’s a toasty oolong without any deep roasted bitterness, a little spicy, a little fruity, and a lot delicious: thick mouthfeel, and wonderful quality holding well in the thermos, or for quick infusion after infusion gongfu cha. I can pack the leaves in pretty aggressively and it all stays lovely.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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Still trying to decide how I feel about this one. The leaves are small pieces, like a chinese keemun, and I think that contributes to astringency verging on bitterness. But there is also a fruitiness that is pleasant, and a toasty warm depth that is very nice. I’m not going to rate this one yet because I just don’t know where it is going to go, after 2 or 3 sessions.

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91

This is a delicious, rich, sweet sencha, with a depth of flavor that makes me think of deep evergreen forest, still retaining a lightness that I associate with light-steamed asamushi sencha (vs the deep-steamed, more umami-heavy fukamushi). Surprised to see I don’t have a tasting note for it yet—must have put one in a long time ago under another listing name—perhaps the shincha version last year?—and forgot to put one in for this version.

I routinely do this one 5 grams of tea in a 5 oz kyusu, preheat kyusu, start with water between 150 and 160 (depends on my mood), first infusion 30", then 20", and gradually increase time/temp until I get to 2-3 minutes at 180 degrees, and usually that’s at 6 or 7 steeps. Makes a nice sweet morning tea, grassy and ‘evergreen-y’ and delicious.

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

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87

I ordered a sample of this with my most recent order from Norbu. I’ve been really enjoying the other green teas I’ve tried from Greg this year.

Sweet vegetal scent of flat light green leaves, peas and grass. These are long thin young leaves, one or two leaves with a bud, but rather flat like a Long Jing before steeping. The leaves swell up to light asparagus green.

Flash rinse with 185 degree water—drank rinse, sweet and tasty and light.

1st infusión, 160 degrees, about 20 seconds—delicious honeydew melon, cucumber, hints of peas, but more sweet floral notes. Very nice.

2nd infusion, 160 degrees, 30 seconds, but realized afterwards I used more water, more dilute, oops—sweet, peas coming up stronger now, touch of floral, but a little light on the flavor, should have lengthened the infusion.

3rd infusion, 160 degrees, 1 minute, sweet, light, flowers/grass/cucumber/melon. Mmm.

4th infusion, another 160 degrees, 1 minute, delicious sweet, light, floral, melon, wonderful.

5th infusion, another 160 degrees, forgot it for almost 10 minutes (oops), still sweet, floral, delicious, but quite mild despite the overly long infusion—really this should count as about 3!

6th infusion, 180 degrees, 5 minutes, and delicately sweet and floral, but really done now.

I prepared a second series of infusions, and again it is delicious, sweet, vegetal, grassy, a little floral, and highly tasty. I started again with a hotter rinse to ‘wake’ the leaves, then moved up in temps from 150s to 190s, probably 9 or 10 infusions, and the infusions have been good all the way through. Wonderful stuff.

This is another lovely green tea from Norbu. I am getting more of the qualities that I enjoy in a green tea from these than from most of the others I’ve had from other sources, and don’t yet know how much is simply better tea, and how much is better brewing. Right now it seems like better tea is the more important thing, and this one makes me very happy.

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 0 min, 45 sec

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79

Another day, another fine brewing. This is a mellow, forgiving, earthy tea, hints of chocolate and plum, but the heart of it is sweet rich freshly turned damp earth. This really does taste like dirt but in the best way. Mmmm. A small dense chunk of tea (and with this mellow super compressed stuff, I don’t worry too much about breaking leaves as I remove a chunk from the brick) has yielded a liter or tea, and I’m sure I could easily get another half liter if I wanted to, but I think my fickle taste buds are going to be checking out something else before these leaves are really done—and in this location, I don’t have the ability to save leaves and keep infusing again later. Sigh.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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87

I’m now several sessions in with this tea, and still don’t have a good formal tasting session where I’ve kept track of grams of tea and infusion times. I can say for sure that I can detect the resemblance to osmanthus, that it is floral, sweet, fruity, and tart; that it is possible to get a bitter infusion out of it, but I have to push it very hard, because it is a very forgiving tea; that it can yield many infusions, because I’m sure this batch is probably at least at 15 if not 20 infusions—I’ve refilled the kettle twice to at least the one liter mark, there is still half a liter in it, and it wasn’t entirely empty when I started this one; and that it is delicious brewed in a thin porcelain gaiwan as well as in a Chao Zhou pot from Tea Habitat. Good stuff. I will put the leaves to bed now but if I weren’t going home for the evening I’d try for another handful of long infusions.

Good stuff.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 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.

Location

Los Angeles

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