7 Tasting Notes


After drinking Lao Shu Cha, I needed something stronger, something that will really wake up my senses and delight my taste buds as much as possible. So I clutched another one of my long-time favorites – Honyama Kukicha from BJ.

This is definitely one of the best Karigane teas I’ve tried so far. Because it’s composed mainly of stems and just a small amount of leafs, it isn’t so profuse, so I had to use about two times bigger amount than with other Japanese teas – but it’s definitely worth it. The price is very delectable, when you deliberate the quality – this is also the cause of this tea being practically the waste material, made during the processing of high grades of Gyokuro and Kabusecha (sometimes also Sencha) – 6€ for 50 grams.

I let the water to cool down slightly longer than with most Japanese teas – similar to Gyokuro, good Karigane should be infused in water far below boiling point. Color of infusion is yellowish-green and generally very rich. The taste is very sweet, once again similar to Gyokuro (which is no wonder, as it’s probably its side product). However, there is something woody in the taste, caused by the amount of stems – but it isn’t so sharp like with most Karigane teas; in this one, it’s just something you feel on the back of your tongue – you know it’s there, but it isn’t disturbing nor anyhow outstanding. After all, it’s very similar to good Gyokuro in all ways, which is definitely a big plus. I made four pleasant infusions from it, starting with 60˚C water and 40 seconds, continuing with 63˚C water and 15 seconds, 68˚C and 30 seconds and finishing with the same temperature as in third infusion and one minute brewing.
Oh damn, I’m running out of this one! I will definitely buy more… sometimes. I already spent way too much money on tea-related things this week… Argh. Guess I’m obsessed. :D

140 °F / 60 °C 0 min, 45 sec

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Finally! I’m at home again. I was visiting my family in Czech republic and I came back just a few hours ago. Of course, I also visited local teahouse there, which is probably the most beautiful teahouse, that I’ve ever visited – pity I live so far away. Their teas are excellent, too, so I hadn’t missed the chance and bought some.
This time, I bought two teas – Lao Shu Cha and Bai Mu Tan Oolong, which is an oolong version of probably the best known white tea. It wasn’t expensive, so I decided to buy it and give it a try. I also bought two lovely pieces of tea ware from local ceramic master – one nice little tea cup and one Japanese-style Chawan (traditional bowl for Matcha). Both of them are really wonderful, so I used the first one for this tea, too.
So, to get to the point of this, I’m drinking Lao Shu Cha right now. It’s said to be a green tea made from old, wild tea trees. The price was 80 kč (around 3€) for 50 grams, which really isn’t much. There is something very fresh in the smell, although it isn’t 2010 tea yet. It’s really nice, not very strong, but mild and delightful. However, after being infused, it changes a bit – the fresh tone isn’t that strong and there are already some tones of astringency. The taste is… well, I would define it as “nice”. Nothing is obtruding – it’s just that nice, typical taste of middle-grade Chinese green teas. I have to say that I lack something more outstanding, something stronger in it’s taste – but that may be caused by me drinking way too much Japanese teas and sheng puerhs during last few months, which are both very aromatic and vivid.
It definitely isn’t a bad tea – but it isn’t the best one, either. After all, it fulfilled the main purpose on which I prepared it – to have something nice to warm me up after the journey.

By the way, if someone is interested – you can find photos of the infusion of this tea in the hand-made tea cup which I mentioned before here:

and from the other side:

180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 30 sec

Nice cup. Very manly.

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I’ve received a sample of this tea with my last order from BJ about a week ago. It interested me from the first moment, not only because it’s probably the most expensive puerh I’ve drank in a long time (40 € for 357g cake), but also because I’ve recently ran out of all sheng (raw) puerh I had at home, so I’m currently looking for something to fill in and it’s always nice to get something like this for free :D

Smell of the dry leafs is quite typical for fresh sheng teas, very fruity and still somewhat “new” – however, there are also some deep tones, typical for older, already ripened puerh teas.

I used about five grams (half of the sample) on my 135 ml yixing teapot, which is quite a classic dosage for me, as you can notice from my previous post. Leaves are still quite strongly compressed and adhered to each other, which is a good sign for me, because I don’t like it when leaves of compressed puerh are too loose, if you understand. Like this, it’s more interesting to watch the process of the unfolding leaves and get more tones in taste.
Infusion color is deep yellow, with very nice smell, lacking the smoky tones of some teas of this kind. The taste is very similar to the smell, soft, fruity and with a little bit of gentle bitterness. There is almost no sourness at all, which is a good sign, too. This tea can be drank for whole day, because it’s really capable of numerous infusions, all of them very interesting and different from each other. For me, the most interesting infusions were probably the third and the fourth one, but it’s hard to say, as all of them had something special to offer.
I would describe infused leaves almost the same way as the seller already did, so I will just copy what they said: “Leaves are subtle and young, but tough on touch and smooth on surface.“ They really are of very high quality, just as one would expect from this grade of tea.
It’s also very stimulant, but I guess it’s like this with most puerh teas, due to their high level of theine (caffeine, if you want).
It’s definitely a tea worth trying and I’m looking forward to the second half of this sample, which I still have, because I believe I will find something new and interesting in it with each try.
I also have two other sheng puerh samples at home right now, one from 2006 and the other from 2007, so I will hopefully write about them soon.

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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As far as this tea is one of my long-time personal favorites (if it is even possible to say that some tea is my favorite – there are too many of them), I thought it would be convenient to write a review of it. I already have second packaging of it, because after I first bought it about a year ago, I hadn’t many expectations – it was actually really cheap (100 grams for 6 €), so I bought it just like “ok, maybe it will be a nice average tea for everyday drinking”. Hell, I was wrong.
When you open the package, amazingly fresh smell debouch into the whole room. The smell is really wonderful, resembling much higher grade of oolong teas from Taiwan. Leaves are pretty as well, curled into the little balls, once again similar to Taiwanese oolongs, but slightly bigger.
I used two small teaspoons on my 135 ml yixing teapot and the infusing time of about 30 seconds. This way, it gave me almost bottomless number of bright green infusions, all of them very delightful and almost with no tones of bitterness at all. The taste is sweet and fruity, very refreshing and similar to, for example Green Jade oolong from Taiwan, which is another one of my favorites – however, it costs much more.

Simply said, this tea is a big and grateful surprise. I generally like Vietnamese teas because they are mostly very cheap and “drinkable” – much better than any other teas for the same price, so I like to take them with me everywhere, because they are humble and good. Not surprising, but just a really good standard. But this one really has even much more – it’s cheap, but it’s unusually wonderful, with taste I would expect from much higher grade of tea.
My rating is, aside from other factors, based also on the price – I would give it high rating even if the price was for example 6 € for 50 grams (1,7637 oz), thus two times higher – but like this, the final number is even higher.
I’m going to buy more and more of this as soon as possible.

185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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This isn’t really the most typical Japanese green out there. I purchased this tea some time ago at local gastronomy festival, because I knew the seller and had just good experiences with their teas before. The packaging is very beautiful, but it seems like it always is with Japanese tea. Japanese simply know that great things should have great wrapping.
Color of the infusion is yellowish-green, actually much more yellow than in most Japanese teas. I owe this to be result of non-typical processing, which resembles Chinese green teas more than Japanese.
The taste and smell is very gentle and sort of sophisticated, with no disturbing tones. There is nothing extra special – meant both positively and negatively. It isn’t the best green tea ever – but it doesn’t even try to be.
Thanks to it’s sympathetic price (5,58 € for 50 grams, which is not much at all, at least for good Japanese tea), it’s quite affordable, thus making it a good everyday tea.

175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 45 sec

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I’ve received this tea yesterday, along with one Japanese green and three puerh samples. The dealer claims it to be from Ujeon (first flush in Korea), but I really doubt about that. Still, it’s worth reviewing.
Price: 12.69 euro for 50 grams
Dry leaves are curled into less or more measured spirals, resembling something between Mao Feng and Vietnamese green teas. Very interesting. However, the smell is more Japanese-like, sweet and with fruity tones.

First infusion: nutty, creamy with tones of milk and pleasantly sweet. Color of infusion is bright green, resembling Tamaryokucha both in taste, smell and look. Very refreshing. The aftertaste is very deep and creamy.
Second infusion: smell is very similar to the first infusion, the taste somewhat resembles sweet banana; first tones of bitterness are present.
Third infusion: smell of the leaves now resembles Chinese green teas more than Japanese; fruity tones are slowly fading, some new vegetal and woody tones are present. Bitterness is similar to the second infusion. Infusion color is more yellow.
Fourth infusion: no sweetness left, completely outbalanced by mild astringency and graininess. However, there are still the original milky tones in smell of the infusion, which I haven’t noticed in third infusion. Smell of leaves is somehow “wild”, resembling good Vietnamese green teas more than anything else.
I made a total amount of six satisfying infusions. In the end, it really is a very good tea, having all what I expect from middle-grade Korean green.
Definitely pleasing.

165 °F / 73 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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Maybe a little bit eccentric person who drinks way too much tea and is way too much obsessed with it and everything related to it.
A constant dreamer. Some of his dreams include traveling to Japan, Korea, Taiwan and China, founding his own tea estate, being a successful writer and attending a serious pottery course.
Also a person who enjoys both writing and reading poetry and has even some common hobbies like music, traveling and watching movies.


Bratislava, Slovakia

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