drank Top Leaf by Mellow Monk
39 tasting notes

Drinking the last of my Top Leaf sample presently. It’s quite good. I enjoy this more than most of the sencha teas I’ve tried. It’s characteristic smoothness is very appealing. The deep grassy flavor is maximized with with almost zero astringency (at least the way I brew it: < 1 minute). It’s a very refreshing and invigorating tea for early morning drinking. First time I tried this was actually at a tea gathering with friends in the evening, and having been away from Japanese green teas for a while, I found myself at a low tolerance to their higher caffeine levels (relative to whole leaf Chinese teas) and could not get to sleep that night.

Anyway, I find this kind of tea very well suited for the morning, especially when it’s still dark out. Drinking before and during dawn is one of my favorite times for tea. It’s a liminal and contemplative time, when I feel completely free of distractions. And I’m finding the Mellow Monk teas I’ve tried to be apropos in that space. Not just anything will do here. A more astringent sencha would be like the shock of a bad alarm clock, starting your day with a nervous jolt. I can’t have that.

Honestly, I’m generally much more fond of the shaded Japanese greens, as I had indicated in my tasting note of Mellow Monk’s kabusecha (Shaded Leaf). I enjoyed the kabusecha quite thoroughly, and this tea doesn’t fall that far beneath it. I would take this over a standard sencha any morning. Though if I had my way, and money was no concern, I’d be going for the finest gyokuro all the time (which is really my favorite of the Japanese greens, far and away).

For the price, which is less than half of Mellow Monk’s kabusecha, Top Leaf is much more reasonable for the possibility of drinking a good Japanese green tea daily. And it’s certainly a tempting prospect…

170 °F / 76 °C 0 min, 45 sec

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Tea drinking, tango dancing, rock climbing, and reading are my main activities of interest.

Currently obsessed with Fenghuang Dancong Oolongs and Wuyi Yan Cha. My fascination with Pu’er is steadily growing, and I imagine it will take over one of these days.

I typically don’t feel ready to say anything conclusive about a tea (and thus, say nothing) until I’ve tried it three or four times, which helps prevent both false positives and false negatives, and offers a more comprehensive sense of a tea’s dimension and character.

As of 01/12/2012, I’ve accepted full-time employment as the Business Development Manager at Verdant Tea. From that date forward I’ve decided to stop rating teas on Steepster due to my professional stake in the tea business. I have no interest in manipulating the rating system in our favor or against other tea businesses. All my ratings on Steepster were made before my employment with Verdant Tea, and reflect nothing more than my personal opinions as a tea drinker.

I want to continue writing tasting notes without ratings from time to time, for both our teas and teas that I enjoy from other businesses; but as my life has now become much more busy, my activity on Steepster will be lessened. And in any case, my future contributions here will have to be made on my personal time.


Minneapolis, MN, USA



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