280 Tasting Notes
Maybe it’s been a while since I’ve had houjicha, but the aroma that came from the teacups was excellent, and mostly, a lot stronger than I expected. Usually I have to put my nose in the teapot to take in a nice aroma— here, it felt like the whole kitchen had been filled (at least momentarily) with a delicious roasted aroma.
And this houjicha is perhaps the best example I’ve had of a tea that has been successfully roasted to the point of caramelization. The first cup or two I drank hot, but used the majority of the kettle I brewed to make a big pitcher iced. It is delicious either way, but I almost think I prefer it hot, since the aroma is even better. Either way, this is definitely some of the best I’ve had.
As for Ippodo as a whole, this was my first order, and everything about them is really impressive. The way they wrap the teas, the info. packets they provide about brewing, about the company and products… they are all excellently and professionally made. You can tell they put a lot of care and thought to every detail.
I have been thinking about ordering some houjicha for the summer. It will be a nice change from all of the senchas I have been sucking back lately.
Glad to hear you were impressed with the co. I have thought about ordering sencha from them, but am not thrilled that they only allow EMS shipping and have no PayPal option at checkout.
But, who knows?
Yes, only EMS will certainly limit the number of times I would potentially order from them, but I totally understand why they would chose to do that as a business. It is strange that they don’t allow PayPal, since that does seem to be a fairly standard option.
I often like to have another kind of tea around (other than sencha) so I can change things up…. houjicha, gyokuro, or some kind of unrelated black tea. Though, that sometimes means I just drink sencha and the other …. :-)
Express Mail Service – the expensive option of shipping (I’ve only seen it from Japan but it may be used elsewhere); usually starting at 1200 JPY ($15). But it is fast and insured. Some Japanese companies offer only EMS as a shipping method because SAL (surfaced air mail) while cheap, can be unreliable.
Some companies (e.g., O-Cha) also offer 1st class airmail, which is my preferred shipping option. It is quick and (relatively) cheap.
Ah, I didn’t know there was another type. (Or, I assume 1st class airmail is the same as SAL). I have ordered from O-cha and used the cheaper option before, I but I don’t believe it was insured.
The cheaper option from O-Cha is not insured. But it is quick, taking just 2-3 days longer than EMS. And, it is faster than SAL (albeit more expensive as well).
Miss your musings, bud! Let me know if you ever decide to order from Ippodo again — there’s a laundry list of things I’d like to try but could never afford by my lonesome :)
Hey Cole! Mostly, I just use teachat now. I like steepster, but decided I didn’t enjoy it enough to keep writing. Wanted to just enjoy tea as it is without thinking about how I’d write about it. And on teachat, they have cool tea tasting initiatives where you get to try a bunch of teas for cheap. ‘OTTI’ it’s called – check it out!
If I could describe this tea in one word, it would be creamy. And not just for the first infusion, but at least the first three. It continues to have a thick mouthfeel in every infusion.
It is a very pleasing tea, that feels like a mix between a white, oolong, and even green. The taste is subtle, but combined with the creaminess, it is very enjoyable. The first infusion has the best/longest-lasting aftertaste, but with long enough steeps, the tea holds up very well. I think while I wouldn’t go back to buy 50g of this, I’m glad to have sampled. This was the last of the samples from RTR. I definitely have enjoyed their teas and when I’d like Darjeeling again, they’ll be at the top of my list.
So far, my experience with RTR’s teas has been great. They’ve almost all been delicious, above average (as far as I know, which isn’t a lot), and their descriptions are really accurate. They don’t go over the top in telling you the 50 different flavors you’ll find in a tea, and yet, none of their teas are one-dimensional, either.
I had to order a sample of the 2nd flush of the Temi, since I ordered the 1st flush, so that I could compare the two.
I’m not sure I can pull out the baked sweet-bread aroma, but as soon as I decanted, the teapot smelled richly of caramel, and even a bit of chocolate!
The taste of dried plum is also present (zwetschge schokolade gefaellt mir sehr), and ‘layered’ is a great way to explain it, as the notes of caramel and plum appear and disappear throughout the sip. I wouldn’t call it sweet, but somehow, it is clearly caramel.
The 2nd steeping seems to be bringing out the chocolate aroma, as well.
Between this tea, Thurbo 1st flush, and Tumsong 2nd flush, I have three great Darjeelings I’d enjoying having around. To my surprise, two of my favorites are from the ‘lowest’ quality harvests! It’s fun to discover something new.
This really is reminiscent of a Wuyi Rock Oolong.
It’s sweet, woodsy, and like dark fruit (think plum without being sour at all, or almost like peach). The texture was thick. Their description of it having a “mineral quality” is spot on… it is very enjoyable.
Personally, this isn’t the one I’d choose out of the lot from RTR to have around (since I don’t usually have but 1-2 loose black teas around at one time anyway), however, it is really good. Perhaps the most complex and longest lasting of all the ones I’ve tried (even the 3rd steeping was pretty flavorful).
First shincha of 2012!
I’ve never had Maiko’s offering, and finally had to try it.
It has lived up to the hype, too. Long, nicely rolled, uniform leaves.
The cup is refreshingly bitter, sweet, and leaves a wonderful aroma in the mouth. I can hardly write more because this is my first cup… thankfully, I hope, of many more to come!
I have this one on order. It will be interesting to see if it lives up to the hype for me, as it did for you!
It is also my first order from Maiko. Not impressed so far, however: they have seemingly mangled my mailing address, and only shipped the tea 3 days after I placed my order.
I think you will like it…but, hopefully it makes up for the bad service.
Did you email them about the problem? Their sales agent Dr. Faerber seems to be quick at responding and nice the couple of times I emailed them in the past (I only ordered once before, about a year ago).
No, I haven’t sent an e-mail, as it was just shipped today. We’ll see how long it takes to get to me, assuming that the postal authorities can make sense of the address.
Package came yesterday, exactly one week after it was posted. Seems Canada Post had no trouble with the topsy-turvey address. Ordered the Kinari & Shincha Sencha. Will open the former next week, when I have time to really enjoy it!
Cool; you know, I pre-ordered this one, and they still didn’t ship until a day or two after shincha was released. It took a week for me to receive it, too. But, I couldn’t complain, because shipping was only something like 350 JPY, and Kinari (so far) may be the best shincha I’ve had price-to-quality wise, or at least an excellent value. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on it.
Now that I have the bag open, and ready to go, I need some suggestions on how to brew this stuff. Any thoughts, Shinobi-cha?
Heh, actually, you almost can’t go wrong. I do experiment, but usually I find myself falling into a similar habit, since it requires less thinking: 1g to 1oz ratio (sometimes a bit more leaf, but 1:1 is a good place to start), at 160F (70C) for 1 minute… up to 1.5 mins. Let me know how it goes for you.
If I were to judge this tea by the look of the leaves alone, I would put it toward the top.
The leaves are not as beautiful as Verdant Teas’ Laoshan Black, but that is what they are probably aspiring to. I’d almost say that this tea aspires to be Laoshan Black (though, I can’t say for sure, since I’ve only had the latter in a blend, but still got a good idea about it).
Nonetheless, I find it to be a solid, enjoyable black tea. It is slightly earthly, perhaps a bit floral, and only a hint of astringency that is of course enjoyable in a black tea. It seems to be one that would be a good base for blends, etc.
Today, I went ahead and made a full pitcher of it iced, plucked 6 lemons from our tree in the backyard and squeezed them in, added some brown sugar, and voila, fresh ‘Arnold Palmer’. It was a perfect balance of earthy, sour, refreshing, and slightly sweet.
Of all the teas I recently got from RTR, this is the one I chose to actually get 50g of, rather than just a sample. People here seemed to really like it, and I wanted to have at least one Darjeeling around for a bit, rather than only samples.
After several cups, I found this works best with a 1g/1oz ratio….at least, today I went with that and it definitely yielded the best cup thus far.
I bet it would be hard to get this tea to be overly astringent, or even bitter at all.
It has a very refreshing astringency, a flash of juicy-sweetness, and definitely a hint of pineapple (I was paying attention for these things, since it was mentioned several times). It has a nice aroma and is really a great black tea.
I’m probably rating this the highest of the teas I’ve had from RTR so far, but, I’m not sure if it is my favorite. That would probably go to Thurbo 1st flush (or to their Tumsong 2nd flush, surprisingly). However… I still have two more to try, so we’ll see!
I have very little experience with white teas (not none, but almost)… however, here goes…
The tea buds themselves look amazing. They are large, covered in fur, and a pretty silvery color. They don’t give off a lot of aroma, but you can detect something sweet.
I dumped about 3 tsp worth (probably 3g, which looked like a ton) of leaves into the warmed teapot and set the lid on it for a moment to deal with something else. When I was ready to pour the water over them, I opened the lid again to smell, and it was amazing – just like grilled asparagus or another grilled veggie! It wasn’t smokey, but somehow it had a grilled-like-veggie aroma. That was probably the highlight of this tea for me, actually.
Later, once I had poured the tea into a cup, I could definitely also detect dried apricot (as they describe) as well. None of the grilled-veggie flavor or aroma made it into the cup. The flavor of the tea itself was very mild. It was indeed smooth, but even after drinking through the 6g sample, I’m not sure I could describe the flavor very well, because it was extremely light.
Overall, while it is subtle, I enjoyed it enough simply because of the aroma that came from the warmed needles and the liquor. This may be a really enjoyable white tea for someone… but it wasn’t an experience that made me wonder how I missed white teas all this time.
This was a delicious black tea (from Nepal), very similar to the other Darjeelings from Rare Tea Republic.
I think I noticed, as they described, rosewood, and a definite sweet-fruity taste as well.
However, what surprised me is that it really does taste a little like butter! I wasn’t really sure how that exactly would come through in a tea, but it did. Between the smooth, fruity-sweet, and butter quality, this was among my favorites from RTR. I wished I had more like 1oz (at least) instead of just this tiny 6g sample!
Definitely noticed the flavor and heady aroma of rose in this tea. It was pretty intense in this floral quality, kind of like an IPA, without the bitterness.
It left a very nice, semi-sweet rose and almost vegetal aroma as an aftertaste as well. I use the word vegetal here for lack of a better term – not like sencha – but it’s probably what they call ‘evergreen’ in their description. To me, it was related to green vegetables, but not like pine.
It was also a bold Darjeeling, so that’s probably from the fact that it is autumnal. It would definitely make a good breakfast tea, too. Not my favorite of the samples from RTR, but I liked it.