17 Tasting Notes
Now that I’ve spent some time with my O-Cha order and got the brewing parameters for this one down, I thought it was worth a review. I bought this as shincha, so it might be a little different from later experiences, but I have been drinking it for a while. The parameters I settled on were: 82C, 45s/30s/1m30s steeps (it only lasts three, really), 7g leaf:112g water, brewed in the 140ml tokoname kyusu I bought from Zenhodo. As noted in the product description, the umami in this tea is wonderfully intense on the first steeping. When I increased the temperature from the recommended 79C, it was accompanied by a bright, almost citrus-like sweetness. Later infusions have a more vegetal, marine flavor, but are still very pleasant. Highly recommended.
Flavors: Citrus, Marine, Umami
Didn’t seem to exist on the site. I guess Steepster is not very JP green focused. As a disclaimer, I have never had gyokuro before (or any Japanese green for that matter). I wanted a small kyusu, and Zenhodo had one that caught my eye, so I figured I might as well tack some tea onto the the order.
It took me a try or two to get this brewing correctly — some other gyokuro apparently need more leaf, and the first time I tried 10g/80ml. This made a bitter and overpowering tea. When I dropped the dosing to 7g, the tea was much mellower and more pleasant, and my description of the flavor will be under these conditions.
The tea liquor is the thickest I’ve ever seen in a green tea, almost like a good shu puerh.
The flavor is very strong, but brewed properly there is very little bitterness. The main flavors I were able to discern were umami, some leafy vegetables, some grass, and a wonderful, thick, deep sweetness. This was a very, very pleasant tea to drink and I can find very little to complain about in it.
As far as physiological effects go, green tea is pretty predictable, though this is no bad thing. I find this tea, as most other greens, has a cooling, calming effect on me — gentler than puerh, but without the flush or dizziness that accompanies the latter. The post-brew leaves are pretty edible too, though very high in caffeine as far as I can tell. I ate a good few of them with soy sauce.
I have 3 shincha coming that I’ll probably review as well, and I’m sure more puerh will happen after that. Summer is just particularly suited to greens, I guess.
Flavors: Cut Grass, Spinach, Sweet, Sweet, Warm Grass, Vegetal
Second session tonight. Good, strong, downer Naka cha qi as expected. It only takes a few gulps to put me in a pretty deep hole. I taste a pleasant mixture of leather, sweet tobacco and apricot, with a little smoke in the background. There’s a gentle bitterness and quite a deal of cooling. This tea yields a bronze-ish liquor with very little body, and the endurance sadly seems to be around 8 or 9 steeps. That said, I feel no compulsion to drink this quickly, as I do with many other teas. The compression is incredibly tight, and the leaves are small and a bit fragmented. Consult last couple reviews for brewing parameters. Were the price still less than $100, I would have gotten a bing without much hesitation.I don’t think I’ll be giving numerical ratings from here on out, since they probably aren’t very helpful. Taking a bit of a detour into Japanese greens next, since I ordered a kyusu and a few teas to go with it.
Flavors: Apricot, Leather, Smoke, Tobacco
First real aged sample, so take this with a grain of salt or two. Liquor was quite dark, slightly clearer and lighter than a typical shu. Deep, earthy, mineral flavors with a wonderful spiciness and a slight coating effect on the mouth. Another reviewer mentioned beetroot, which was definitely present too. A few pleasant little pinpricks on the tongue, probably from the slight bitterness this is still holding onto. Qi was less intense than from some younger teas I’ve had, but very deep and warm-feeling and not debilitating in the slightest. I was a little disappointed with the endurance — only got around 2 mugs out of it. Usual parameters, though I found myself extending steep times in the second mug. While it could be more complex and dynamic and lacks some endurance, I am very happy with this tea. One more sample from my order left to try, but I think I’ll put it off until the weekend (it’s the yexiangwang naka).
There’s very little worth saying about this tea — I found it even flatter than the YS Impression. I think yiwu may not be my preferred region, though I have a tiny sample of yiwu gushu I’m saving for a special occasion that may change my mind. I found this tea far, far too sweet and polite, with little to no bitterness, cooling, huigan, or any of the other things I liked from the other young shengs I’ve tried recently. You get what you pay for, I guess?
Thought I’d throw this one in tonight as well. This tea is very, very sweet and smooth without a hint of wodui. The “chocolate” and “milk” descriptors are right on. Qi is right in line with what shu usually does to me — sleepy/dizzy. I started out steeping this normally and then switched to ~1m, with much better results. I’ve noticed with what I’ve drunk so far that in general, that good shu benefits from being brewed very thick and strong. While it’s not the most complex or exciting thing in the world, I quite liked this tea. Boiling water/100ml gaiwan/5g leaf.
Flavors: Chocolate, Cream
Another one from the backlogs. The main reason I delayed writing about it so long is that I found it rather confusing… In the first session it was sweet and slightly citric, with good kuwei, overwhelming huigan, and a wonderfully calm and relaxing qi. Second session I could barely detect any flavor and the qi was very light as well. By the time I got to the last session, I had 7g leaf left and decided to use it all at once. The citric notes and bitterness came back, but with an almost metallic tinge to them this time. Happily, the qi was back to its original calming, sedating self. I’d like to try this tea again, but especially with the way the price has risen I don’t particularly want to gamble on a full cake. It was very interesting, but the middle brews of the sample were underwhelming and the metallic taste was a little difficult to appreciate. I honestly have no clue if I’d recommend it to anyone.
5g leaf, boiling water, 100ml white2tea ruyao gaiwan. Last steeping used 7g.
Flavors: Citrus, Honey, Metallic