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Recent Tasting Notes
I was running low on Den’s pineapple sencha, and checked the site. Saw it was Yuzu Kukicha season, so I got a pound of this instead. I had some last year, and regret not buying more. This is such a great everyday tea. Bright, charming, full of flavor, light sweetness, SO GREEN! The yuzu is very light in the background. I love drinking this iced to start the day, or have midday. I think I prefer the pineapple just a little bit more, BUT this is still up there. I do get a savory seaweedy element to it. I like it. I see this going well with seafood, sushi, or crab. Second brew isn’t as flavorful, or as green.
This was included as a sample in my order. I have had bancha in the past, and always hated it. It was bland and bitter. I just assumed this would follow suit. Not so! This tea was a huge surprise. It was greener than I was expecting a bancha to be. Really fresh smell.
I love this tea. It’s a shame it’s just a sample. Brewed up nicely as instructed with boiling water for 30 seconds. The second brew wasn’t as strong, prefer the first brew. This is for sure an everyday tea I could see myself drinking. So yummy, depth of flavor. Buttered spinach. Light astringency. Will buy more of this tea.
Now that I’m back to taking green tea to work with me every morning, I have a bunch of sample packets that are poised to be sipped down this next week. To ease my burden of recording sipdowns on days when I’m too rushed to do them, I opened a larger packet today. This.
The tea in the packet smells like kale chips! A salty/savory note on the one hand with a sweet green note on the other. Mixed together, I get kale chips! The dry leaves are long and spear-like, not dusty fine like a lot of sencha leaves.
Steeped, the aroma is savory and nutty. Strangely, the nut I get is closest to peanut, and there’s that hint of sweetness that makes it an almost peanut-brittle smell. It’s pale gold in color and clear.
The flavor has a hint of nuttiness, but mostly what I taste is a vegetal flavor with a slightly bitter finish. The closest I can come to naming the vegetable is spinach. I find this pretty un-grassy as Japanese green teas go. I have never been entirely sure I understood what was meant by the word umami, but I think it’s this.
I’m looking forward to drinking it again (next time not on the heels of eating orange flavored chewable vitamin C pills; who knows what that did to my taste buds).
Flavors: Kale, Peanut, Spinach, Umami
I don’t really drink much flavored tea anymore with the exception of naturally scented tea with flowers. Over the past year or so, Sakura has officially dethroned jasmine as my favorite floral flavor in tea. Den’s Sakura Sencha has been my cherry blossom tea of choice for a while now and I eagerly anticipate it’s release every spring. This year, they made the bold move of changing their winning blend and went all natural. The cherry flavoring was removed and matcha was added. While I applaud their effort, the new blend isn’t quite as satisfying as the previous one.
The matcha dusted green leaves are less visually appealing than the old blend with its long needle shaped leaves interspersed with elegant pink flower buds and sakura petals. The smell of the tea is also different. It reminded me of salt pickled cherry blossoms. The flavor is true to the aroma – a subtle taste of cherry blossom and umeboshi pickled plums. More savory than sweet and a bit drying in the mouth. The base of the old blend was a deep grassy green tea which I preferred. This one although good, seems to be more brothy.
Overall, while I enjoyed this tea I rate it lower than last year’s blend and Yunomi’s Sakura Sencha with Sugared Sakura Leaves. It’s briney, salty taste wasn’t my favorite and I missed the sweet sakura flavor of those other two. The matcha is an interesting idea but doesn’t add anything here. I hope Den’s tweaks this blend or goes back to the old formula.
Flavors: Plums, Sakura, Salty
This is from a teabox and now it is gone and I never wrote a tasting note. Here is one: the tea is ancient but the packaging is great, so the flavor shouldn’t be too bad. It still tastes fantastic to me — if anything, the green tea is so light. I used two teaspoons since there were so many popped rice pieces! And lots of matcha among the few leaves of green tea. The mug color is more yellow than green which is surprising with all the matcha. The flavor is all sweetness and toastiness and earthiness from the matcha. Sometimes this type of tea hits all the notes and this is an excellent one. I think my preferred genmaicha in stock would be one with matcha. (I also finished a couple other teas from teaboxes recently!)
Steep #1 // 2 teaspoons for a full mug// 30 minutes after boiling // 2 1/2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 25 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Thanks to Stephanie for this sample! I brewed it up in my Den’s Tea kyusu. The instructions are for two steeps but I got a third steep out of the leaf by brewing at 180f for about 3 minutes. It’s a basic, grassy sencha. I may have let the leaf get too old. It’s tasty but doesn’t have a lot of the nuance that I’ve come to expect from Den’s Tea. Still, it’s got a decently thick mouthfeel and clean flavor.
This was the free sample of the month when I made my recent order. I love kukicha but never had a roasted kukicha before. Adventure time! I prepared this in a shudei kyusu. Steeping times: 30 seconds, 15, 30, 45, 120.
The dry leaf smells like roasted grains (barley came into mind fast), and the dark leafy veggies char and kale. The wet leaf smells sour and bitter, very much like kale fried with apple cider vinegar.
The liquor is golden brown and full-bodied. The first cup, at first, is broth-like, tasting of grains and nuts (nuts in generally – perhaps cashews?). Very smooth texture. After I become used to this new tea, I begin to discern that it’s actually somewhat sweet. The aftertaste is even sweeter. The second cup and beyond are similar to the first in taste, but they taste even sweeter and feel silky.
I sampled this tea the day before Halloween. I wish didn’t put off writing the review since I like to sample and review on the same day – having the feeling of the tea in mind. I do recall that it tasted and felt like an early autumn tea, when the air is crisply cool, when the leaves are beginning to turn and rot on the ground after they have fallen. This was a good first experience with roasted kukicha. I don’t prefer it to green kukicha, but to houjicha? Perhaps if I didn’t want something so intensely roasted. I liked this one!
Received this as a free sample with my Den’s order a while back. Given that it’s a culinary grade matcha, I wasn’t expecting too much but it makes fantastic matcha lattes and is even pleasant to drink straight.
The matcha powder smells fresh and grassy like a good matcha should. The tea has a sweet vegetative taste with some minty tones and a hint of astringency in the finish. The body is robust enough to hold up to milk and sweeter with great flavor.
This is far above the low grade stuff that passes as culinary matcha. Recommend checking it out if you prefer matcha that’s naturally sweet and less bitter.
Flavors: Grass, Mint, Sweet, Vegetal
Very nice tea I got a sample of as part of Den’s starter kit or whatever. I used the brewing instructions that came with this sample and they worked quite well. The leaf smelled grassy and nutty, like many sencha. The first steep was grassy with a bit of a fruity undertone and slight bitterness. The second and third steeps were a bit more vegetal with a spinach note, little to no bitterness, and a more rounded flavor. The last steep was slightly more watery, but still had some sweet, green flavor going on with it.
Flavors: Fruity, Grass, Nutty, Spinach
I hadn’t had mugicha for almost six years until this summer. When I studied abroad in Kyoto, my host mother brewed a large pot every evening (large tea bags from the grocery store) and then let it refrigerate over night in recycled bottles. My host siblings and I each took a bottle to school each day. Sometimes, instead of ryokucha, my host mother would brew a hot cup of mugicha after dinner. I only remember that it tasted like…barley – simply barley.
In comparison, Den’s mugicha is more roasted and even tastes coffee-like. At first these qualities deterred me from liking it, so I diluted the infusion by more than 50%. The roast used to be a tad heavy and bitter for me. Slowly, I started using the directions more strictly. The cool roasted grain taste was very refreshing during the hotter days and evenings. I just finished the last bag (now being late September). Heating up it up after cold-brewing produces a comforting cup akin to houjicha.
Glad I decided to buy this even though I didn’t have a sample beforehand. Another plus is that it’s affordable.
I’m not a fan of mango tea in general, but this was a free sample in an order. I found it pretty good considering what it was and that it’s not a personal preference. A tiny touch of waxy flavor that’s always present, but it’s overall pleasing and uplifting. The tea bag delivered a strong taste.
Flavors: Fruity, Mango
Sipdown no. 65 of 2016 (no. 276 total).
It really seems like I’ve had more sipdowns than I’ve recorded this year, but I’ve been pretty religious about it so it must just be one of those things that seems different than it is.
I enjoyed this one quite a bit. Not as juicy as the Maeda-en, but still, in the words of George Harrison, sweet and lovely.