This was a super generous sample from Stacy (I only see now it says it’s not eligible as a sample but she sent me one anyway because I mentioned it, eeek and whoops). Big ups!
I’ve been curious about this one for a while, because I had no idea such a thing was being made at all in Japan. It’s not like other pu erhs I’ve tried (granted, I’m still a newb). It has a rather strong brown rice element, kind of nutty and grainy, with a mildly sour-sweet finish. I can see what they’re getting at when they mention chestnut—there’s a mouthfeel at the end of the sip that has that sort of creamy-grainy texture which, combined with the nutty brown rice flavor, evokes chestnuts, particularly that…I don’t have a good word for it, not quite plasticky but you know…that element chestnuts have other nuts don’t (some people dislike that part, but I love it!). (ETA: I think this is perhaps the same thing Sil is ingeniously describing as “tasting like the texture of a prune”, yes.) Never had a tea quite like this one, where it has a sweetness and cleanness, yes, but it almost feels savory somehow. And the copy’s right; this also mysteriously manages to feel like something to get your motor going like old fashioned gas station coffee, but I can’t quite describe why or how because it doesn’t resemble a brisk black tea at all (something about it reminds me a teensy bit of either the Khongea Assam or the Four Season Oolong though, which both have that deep but specific, “narrow” “blackness” too).
It might just be fanciful notions racing in the head thanks to knowing it’s from Japan (you know how that can be!), but something about this also makes me think of big spreads of Korean or Japanese dishes, pickled and fermented vegetables and a big basket full of steaming rice…salty fish broth…seaweed wrappers and buckwheat noodles. Like I’m in the back room of the Korean restaurant my college TA worked at, smelling steam that smells like all those ingredients that go in those dishes—rice, sesame, fresh clean smelling fish. It’s not that it actually smells or tastes like these things. But somehow it makes me think of those meals and those kitchens. I’m guessing it’s that powerful roasted rice element.
I also think Terri is on the money when she mentions hojicha (and someone else mentioned genmaicha, yes) and sourdough. (I love when other Steepsters are better at IDing things I can taste and smell but can’t shuffle through my mental archives precisely enough to name myself!)
Pouring it from my gongfu glass teapot, I notice the color through the spout is marvelously reddish-pink-tinged, almost like rose wine. Collected in the cup, it’s a bright burnt sienna, reddish-brown umbery tones.
I’m really glad I got to try it. It grows on me the more I sit here. I think it’d be delicious with or after a big Korean or Japanese meal.