Ito En

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50
drank matcha LOVE™ Usucha by Ito En
294 tasting notes

I’m really surprised this has so few reviews, considering you can buy this at asian grocery stores and health food stores all across America.

Skip this section if you don’t like anecdotes in reviews!
I had the pleasure/honor/curse of reviewing about 70 different matchas in a blind taste test a couple years ago for a company that sells matcha. This was done to help the vendor evaluate their products and decide on new matchas to source. Among the blind samples were also samples from other companies and vendors. The idea was that rating and ranking these teas would help this vendor understand how their matcha compared in quality and value to those from other companies. The experience was really fun, and at the same time daunting, and the end result was I burned out on matcha so badly I didn’t drink it for a year!

Now the matcha spark has been relit in me because I saw a beautiful chawan in an Asian market that I just had to buy. I’ve been broke this past year due to a move to my first house and various other factors, so for me it’s been rare to order or review any new teas. I feel like a ghost here since I used to be so active. Anyway, this matcha love usucha cost me a whopping $6 because Sprouts Farmer’s Market had it on sale for $10 and was running a $4 coupon at the same time. What better opportunity to try it?

Actual review begins here!
This was actually one of the matchas included in a blind taste test I did a couple years ago, but it has been so long since I had matcha that when I bought a tin of this recently I decided to just try this one over again before reading my initial evaluation from that taste test, give it a fresh chance.

I do want to share my initial impression though here. My initial rating for this tea back then was only 40/100. My notes read “This tea doesn’t leave a very strong impression. The scent and color were inviting, but the flavor is lacking and finishes moderately bitter. I’m mostly getting a seaweed impression from the flavor, and it’s a bit creamy as well. The bitter finish is unfortunate and really subtracts from the subtle flavors, which in themselves aren’t that easy to discern.”

Now, trying this again a couple years later, are my impressions the same? Has the company changed their product in any way? Let’s give it a try. I’m preparing this the traditional (a.k.a. ceremonial) way with the matcha whisked in about 2.5 oz of water.

This time around, I’ll start by saying the color and aroma are nice. The powder is a nice jade green. It’s not a very vivid color, but it is at least green and not tending toward the dingy yellows and browns of terrible matchas. The scent is sweet, mild, and nutty. The taste is, let’s be honest, rather unremarkable and difficult to describe. In fact, I’m just going to stick with my original description because I think that was a pretty accurate one!

I will say, I have been using this matcha also in soy-milk iced matcha lattes as well as for matcha affogato, and I’ve found both applications to be pretty good. This is not a matcha I’d recommend for traditional use unless you are like me and are scraping the bottom of your savings, yet desperate for matcha. For the modern “froufrou” uses, this one is just fine. I have to say I recall this tasting better a few weeks ago when I opened the tin. I haven’t stored it in refrigeration so I think maybe the powder has just gone “off” a bit since then. I feel pretty neutral about this matcha, so I’ll up my initial review score to a nice even 50. I don’t really feel it is good or bad. It’s just (barely) matcha. Take it or leave it.

I think for the price of this matcha though, you can do better. The tin seems cheaper than others but I only recently realized that it’s also because it is smaller than most that are available Stateside. Most matcha tins I’ve seen hold an ounce, while this one holds just over 2/3 of an ounce. The catch reveals itself.

Flavors: Bitter, Nutty, Seaweed, Vegetal

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C

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100

Just trying this today after getting the sampler in the male. I drank a cup of the matcha that I order with this shipment, and now I’m drinking this. It was a lot easier to pack on the go. After expressing a bias toward Oi Ocha, I realized I had not tried enough of Teas’ Tea to assert such a preference. So I spent more money than I needed to for these samples and free shipping. xD My parents were not impressed. More teas? Yes. So, this is my second tea that I have opened. I couldn’t resist the enticement of the rose.

It is quite light, and the rose is fairly obvious. It’s nice that the tea is mild, because I really wanted the rose to be the focal point of the tea. It is very floral, and reminds me of perfume, but not in an overpowering way. It really is quite refreshing, but I do love rose. I feel that the lightness of the tea and the soft taste of the rose make for a balanced finish without any flavor competing with the other. Its not at all herbacious, at least to the extent that you’re reminded of grass. I could buy a case of this flavor.

Since I can’t find any faults in this, I’m giving it a very biased 100.

Flavors: Floral, Rose, Smooth

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80
drank Genmaicha by Ito En
8 tasting notes

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80

A delightful, comforting cup of matcha! It goes down smooth and has a savory taste to it that doesn’t overwhelm you. I like to drink it in the middle of the day to give me a gentle energy boost; it perks me up and doesn’t have the added caveat of a crash later that coffee might have. I usually don’t add anything in it or steep other herbs with it, but a little bit of vanilla creamer or milk is bound to be just as wonderful.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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drank Green Tea by Ito En
340 tasting notes

Pretty sure this is the tea I was served last night when we went out for Thai. Nothing special, but it was drinkable for keeping warm in a chilly restaurant. Beany vegetal, pretty diluted, so it probably could have used less water, plus, they poured the water in the mug and brought me the teabag to put in myself.

Flavors: Beany, Vegetal

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85
drank Oi Ocha Dark by Ito En
356 tasting notes

This is the last of the Ito En bottled teas I purchased last week. As I sit here drinking it iced, it is my favorite of the bunch. I tend to prefer robust and vegetal green teas and this one definitely is that kind of tea.

On the nose, the golden amber liquor produces a strong, grassy vegetal scent with an undertone of grain. In the mouth, I picked up on clear notes of grass, hay, straw, and grain accompanied by a hint of honey on the finish. The sensation in the mouth is heavy and drying. This is definitely a filling tea. Compared to some other bottled teas that I have tried, the ascorbic acid presence is not terribly distracting.

This is a nice bottled tea. It strikes me as being a step up from the regular Oi Ocha. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a good bottled tea with a bit of bite.

Flavors: Grain, Grass, Hay, Honey, Straw

Preparation
Iced

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80
drank Oi Ocha by Ito En
356 tasting notes

I’m kind of backlogging indirectly here. I am drinking a bottle of this tea as I type this review, but I have had this before. I used to drink this tea in college. I recall purchasing it when I wanted a green tea on the go. I think I always used to buy it at either CVS or Walgreen’s, but I could be wrong. I used to stock up on this and Arizona Blueberry White Tea so I could have some bottled teas to throw in the fridge and grab on the way to class.

Drinking this now, I can see why I used to buy it so frequently. It has a mildly vegetal nose. In the mouth, there is a nicely pronounced grassiness, as well as hints of hay, straw, and vegetables. The ascorbic acid presence is not particularly noticeable. I also get a slightly peachy, nectar-like sweetness on the back of the throat.

Overall, I think this is a nice bottled green tea. I am really enjoying it iced at the moment. I could see myself purchasing this one more often if it were more available in my immediate area.

Flavors: Grass, Hay, Nectar, Peach, Straw, Vegetal

Preparation
Iced

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19
drank Jasmine Green Tea by Ito En
356 tasting notes

I must be the outlier here. I’m still working my way through my recent Ito En acquisitions, but so far, this is the only one for which I really do not care. It’s a jasmine green tea that neither smells nor tastes like jasmine.

On the nose, I do not get much of an aroma. There is maybe a hint of floral character and a slight grassiness, but not much else. In the mouth, the taste up front is very grassy and vegetal. It kind of tastes like a combination of straw, hay, and grass. There is a slight fruitiness too that I can only describe as overripe cantaloupe. The floral character is faint, and to me, only barely identifiable as jasmine. Also, I must say that I find the ascorbic acid presence to be pretty noticeable. I have not gotten as much of it from the other Ito En teas I have tried to this point.

After being impressed with the golden oolong, I was more than willing to approach this bottled tea with an open mind. Unfortunately, it has really let me down hard. I have yet to find a bottled jasmine tea that I enjoy. I guess I’ll keep searching and pass on this one in the future.

Flavors: Cantaloupe, Floral, Fruity, Grass, Hay, Straw

Preparation
Iced

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72

Living in what sometimes seems like the middle of nowhere can be so frustrating. I couldn’t find anything to descale my electric tea kettle or coffee maker at my local grocery store and had to make the 30 minute drive to Pikeville, KY first thing this morning to find something. Well, I was able to find some descaler, but I also came home with new tea that I most certainly did not need. I knew there was a reason I avoided the large Food City there. I ended up coming home with 2 boxes of Wissotzky Tea (Imperial Earl Grey and English Breakfast), a box of PG Tips (I just couldn’t resist), and 4 bottles of various Ito En iced teas. This Golden Oolong was one of them.

According to the back of the bottle, this tea is a blend of Huang Jin Gui and Tieguanyin. I’m a huge fan of the latter, but don’t care so much for the former. On the nose, I got a mild blend of banana, cinnamon, osmanthus, honey, and peach. In the mouth, I detected notes of butter, banana, osmanthus, apricot, nectarine, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, and peach. There were also subtle undercurrents of wood and grain.

Truthfully, this tea was kind of surprising. I have avoided bottled pre-brewed oolongs for years because the few that I have had have been uniformly horrible. I am not even really a fan of making iced oolong. Saying that I approached this tea with low expectations would be a huge understatement. This wasn’t bad though. It was very smooth and nothing about it seemed artificial. It would not be something I would choose to reach for with regularity, but for a cheap, quick oolong on the go, it is quite nice. I’m impressed.

Flavors: Apricot, banana, Butter, Cinnamon, Fruity, Grain, Honey, Nutmeg, Osmanthus, Peach, Wood

Preparation
Iced

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99

271 – golden oolong by Ito en. Review.

Ru Yao dragon teapot, gongfucha.

Dry leaf: fruity, floral.
https://www.instagram.com/p/BL3to3Pg-YC/

Wet leaf: fruity, floral, peachy, green grapes.
https://www.instagram.com/p/BL3v07NgL7T/

1x short rinse

Light steep: I taste/smell; light
—→ cream, peaches, apricots, floral, smoke, green grapes.
https://www.instagram.com/p/BL3urhJgV2S/

Medium steep: I taste/smell; the same as light steep. (Weird)

Heavy steep: I taste/smell; strong smoke.
strong to almost overpowering —→ bitterness, green grapes, peaches, apricots, floral, cream. Very strong mouth drying effect.

All in all, a wonderful tea! Nice aroma, tastes, and cha qi. However the dry mouth effect is creepy. I rate a 99.

http://www.itoen.com/loose-leaf/oolong/golden-oolong#.WAu2t_krKM8

Flavors: Apricot, Bitter, Cream, Floral, Grapes, Peach, Smoke

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 15 g 165 OZ / 4879 ML

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100
drank Megami Sencha by Ito En
1 tasting notes

Insanely delicious and totally unique tea. Dark green, vegetal flavor with super high theanine content (I suspect). I’ve never found anything that matches Megami, or even comes close. At $79/lb at Wegman’s, it’s been a challenge to afford my daily habit – but I do – year after year.

Flavors: Grass, Vegetal

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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82
drank Koto No Tsuki by Ito En
109 tasting notes

Sipdown!

Enjoyed this to the very end. Excellent for price and quality.

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82
drank Koto No Tsuki by Ito En
109 tasting notes

Like many of my teas… this one is also past its best before date.. by like, more than an entire year.

This is what happens when you buy at a much faster rate than you can drink, and you live in Australia where there aren’t enough people to gift or swap tea with.

Anyway, this was a Japan souvenir from my boyfriend. First time I made it, I followed a website’s directions to use water ‘just below boiling.’ I assumed this to mean 90-95C and it turned out very bitter with no froth.

Gave this another shot at 80C recommended elsewhere, and it was perfect! Beautiful foam, no bitterness at all. Light and smooth, with vegetal and herbaceous flavours. Slight umami quality, most likely more intense if this wasn’t past its best before date by a year.

Reminds me of my own time in Japan, attending a tea ceremony tutorial in Kyoto. The quality of this matcha is not too far off from the ceremonial grade quality used by my hostess and teacher. Not quite, but not too far off.

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1

Bitter, tasteless dishwater, total RIPOFFSAVE YOUR $$$$$

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This matcha is a bit lighter and sweeter with a more grassy fresh taste to it compared to the other Ito En grocery store matcha.

Preparation
150 °F / 65 °C

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drank Teas' Tea Matcha by Ito En
266 tasting notes

This is the first matcha that I have had so I do not have any basis to compare it with other matchas. The matcha comes off to me as a strong green tea that is surprisingly smooth. I am only able to whip up much of a froth in the bowl but I am not sure if it has to do with the quality or my lack of experience in making matcha.

Preparation
150 °F / 65 °C

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68
drank Sencha Shot by Ito En
334 tasting notes

Picked this up at a local grocery recently. I wasn’t expecting too much of a canned tea, though it did turn out better than expected. It’s a decently smooth and energizing sencha with an umami undertone, and no excessive grassiness or off-ness that comes with overbrewing. There is, however, a noticeable bitterness. It’s convenient as a cold and unadulterated drink of tea when you’re not able to brew your own, but doesn’t otherwise stand out.

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98
drank Oi Ocha Dark by Ito En
19 tasting notes

This is my favorite bottled tea. Hands down!

Robust, full flavor. Dark, rich green tea, zero bitterness, it is smooth and incredibly delicious! I would buy this by the case.

My only wish is if Ito-En sold the loose leaf for this brew… I can’t figure it out, it is a mystery to me! A delicious, delicious mystery!

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42
drank Golden Oolong by Ito En
97 tasting notes

Has the slight roasty bitterness of black tea or of smoky Tieguanyins, without the fragrance / fruitiness / floral notes / butteriness that I like in an Oolong. Nice that they stock it in my office fridge, but I would not drink this again.

Flavors: Roasted, Smoke

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90
drank Teas' Tea Matcha by Ito En
193 tasting notes

I really love his matcha. While I am by no means a matcha connoisseur I have tried my fair share and this one rates pretty highly amongst them all. It is definitely one of the sweetest matchas I have had. Just opening a fresh tin you are greeted with a beautiful, lasting sweet scent which directly translates to the liquor once mixed. The color is an entirely gorgeous vibrant green. Seriously, this stuff is almost electric.

My only complaint is that it does clump a bit more than other matcha I have. Perhaps due to the fact that it takes quite some time to get it through a strainer. I’m not sure why this is, but it’s nothing a good shake after blending can’t help.

My matcha drinking suffered during winter, but now that we are back to having bearable days (temperature wise) I am again drinking my daily matcha latte. Currently I’m near obsessed mixing this one with ~3/4 of a pump of Monin’s cantaloupe syrup. Gorgeous! Pure decadent refreshing summer in a cup. Today I had some with their cucumber syrup and I can see this becoming my new favorite. If you haven’t tried any of Monin’s syrups I can’t recommend them enough. Especially along with this tea :)

Flavors: Sweet

Preparation
Iced

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64
drank Green Tea by Ito En
31 tasting notes

Normal and uninspiring, this green tea is the perfect thing as I sit in the airport near a Japanese restaurant waiting for a flight. It doesn’t have any aftertaste, and it tastes like green-tea-flavored-hot-water. It probably wasn’t steeped hot enough, but who cares? I’m just happy to have it. Would I drink it again? Absolutely. Would I buy it? Sure, if I’m traveling. Would I seek it out? Probably not, because I have loose leaf teas that I really like.

Flavors: Grass, Green

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 8 min or more 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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drank Ureshino Tama Ryokucha by Ito En
67 tasting notes

A nice, mellow tea, good for a night cap. It has a vegetal/seaweed scent and mouth feel, but not too roasty. It has a light citrus aftertaste, too. Very subtle and sweet finish. I find myself making this tea when I’m all “tea’ed” out.

Flavors: Citrus, Grass, Seaweed

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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74
drank Genmaicha by Ito En
221 tasting notes

I’m sure this is a lower quality Genmaicha but I have to say I really enjoyed the distinct popcorn/toasted rice goodness of this tonight. Nothing too special but a good every day tea.

Flavors: Popcorn, Toasted Rice

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 45 sec 4 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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drank matcha LOVE Sweetened by Ito En
682 tasting notes

Okay so I totally went to the LA International Tea Festival today and IT WAS FANTASTIC OH MY GOSH.
I went with a couple friends who enjoyed tea, and they knew I liked tea, but I think today was the day they realized that I freakin loved tea.

Anyway, I had a TON of tea today and I want to write about all the teas that I had, but I forgot to write down the names/tasting notes for all of them D: The only one that I remember was this one.

Just a super simple sweetened canned matcha drink. Like an energy drink for matcha lovers :) It definitely can’t replace real matcha, but this is just a super easy way to drink it AND it was only a dollar each so I was okay with that (I bought 5 hehe)

I had tons of fun at the festival and my friends and I even saw a Japanese Tea Ceremony (and I saw my manager at the theater it was held in as well???).
We walked around places, I was talking to a bunch of the vendors about tea and it was so nice talking to their travels. I ALSO MET //THE// ROSA LI FROM ROSALI TEA. And freakin Alex Harney was there and I talked to him as well. SO MANY PEOPLE I NEARLY DIED.

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