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Recent Tasting Notes
Hubby loves a good gen… or pretty much any gen as far as I can tell. We had been out of it for a while so I picked up a bag of this at the Korean market yesterday. This has such a nice umami undertone to it! It’s like miso without the saltiness. There is the tasty roastiness of the rice and an almost sweet sensation. It’s really nice and at $5 for 5oz it’s a pretty good deal too!
Hard to describe my thoughts on this because the flavour is so peculiar and specific. I think I liked it, but in that sort of “it’s so weird it’s good” kind of strange relationship type of way. I mean, it’s very citrusy but that kind of pine-y citrus with an almost peppery quality that I associate heavily with yuzu flavoured things. I had it iced though and the flavour was so refreshing as an iced tea – especially versus a more conventional and simple sweet or tart lemon matcha. I also appreciate that it’s sweet (because it is a sweetened matcha) but not sugary.
I bought this package of Gyokuro in mesh tea bags about 3 years ago at my local Mitsuwa (Mitsuwa is a Japanese/Asian grocery store outside of Chicago, and my local one is about a 2 1/2 hour drive away!). I had it at work for a year, didn’t drink it much, then brought it home when I left my job and still didn’t drink it much. Luckily, the individual tea bags are packaged in plastic/mylar sealed envelopes and this tea doesn’t seem to have changed since I bought it and tried it at work. Oh, except that the water at work tasted GROSS and I didn’t have a temperature-controlled kettle there so I was guessing on the temperature. I can only hope that any job I might get in the future has decent-tasting water if I am ever going to have tea at work again. For right now: I drink unemployed. At home. Where I have lovely water—and access to nice packaged spring water if that’s what I feel like using.
In the leaf, this is not really in the leaf: it’s in tiny pieces. Maybe this is the broken pieces left over from processing gyokuro in larger leaf form, that then gets sold at a more expensive price? I don’t know if they do that, but it would explain why this is relatively cheap (currently retails on the Walmart.com website at $7.20, which I guess is not grocery-store priced, but then bulk gyokuro is normally very expensive; Harney & Sons’ 4 oz. loose tin is currently $65). There isn’t much in each tea bag either; it looks like a scant teaspoon. It has the dark green look that gyokuro leaves should have, and smells grassy and rich like other gyokuro I’ve had.
Unfortunately in the brew, while it has that typical light green almost fluorescent look, it’s not as flavorful as other gyokuros I’ve had. I know from experience that the package directions of steeping for 30-60 sec. are meant to be followed (I tried it once for 3 minutes, and it was undrinkably bitter), yet everything about the taste and scent at a little more than a minute is muted: grassiness, but only a bit; butteriness, but only a bit; spinach-y, but only a bit.
What I get in terms of taste is primarily mineral-ish/bitter, and this gets stronger over the course of drinking the cup, because there is tea powder in the bottom of the cup, which keeps brewing during drinking. Hoping not to have this happen, I normally brew anything powdery or tiny (like rooibos) in a paper filter so this does NOT happen. If I wanted to drink tea powder I’d drink matcha! And I usually don’t. It adds to the caffeine content and overbrews naturally delicate tea, and in this case it’s giving me a tummy ache. If I’m going to consume tea leaf, I want to KNOW I’m consuming tea leaf. And in this case I didn’t notice it until halfway through the cup, though I should have known since the liquor itself is not transparent.
In total: if you like gyokuro, want to pay less for it and have the convenience of tea bags, and don’t mind extra tea powder that affects the flavor/consistency/caffeine content, this is your tea. If you merely like gyokuro, meh, don’t bother.
Flavors: Butter, Cut Grass, Mineral, Spinach, Thick, Vegetal
Bought a bag of this at Mitsuwa to make Hojicha lattes. Back in the day, I used to buy Maeda-en sencha from the Asian market and it was one of the better grocery store loose tea brands. Their Hojicha is no exception and it not only made a tasty latte, but was delicious served straight. It’s sweet and earthy with caramel undertones.
To prepare the latte, I steeped 1 tbls of tea in 1/3 cup of 195 F water for 3 minutes. Sweetened with 1.5 tsp of sugar and added a 2/3 cup of frothed milk.
Flavors: Caramel, Earth, Sweet
Basic genmaicha – inexpensive but drinkable. Medium-light tea, though not particularly flavorful. It’s said that Maeda-en is the equivalent of Lipton’s – consistent, reasonably priced, but lacking the pungency of better genmaicha. Pretty resistant to overbrewing.
Flavors: Herbaceous, Nutty
I used my working forumula — 2 spoons, 4 oz water, 175F. Sifted, then whisked.
Nice foam on top. The matcha has a mild, vegetal smell that is also slightly salty/seaweedy.
It has a sweet pea flavor, with a slightly bitter downturn in the aftertaste — bitter in the seaweed sense and actually really pleasant.
It’s got a lot of character compared to some other matchas I’ve had recently. It’s almost smoothy like in its mouthfeel and has a nutty quality.
Very nice indeed.
Flavors: Nutty, Peas, Salty, Seaweed, Vegetal
Since I had a not very successful steep of a different gyokuro earlier, I thought I’d give another one a try with, I hope, a more successful steep.
This time I’m steeping at the high end of the range recommended on the tin. 160F, the lowest temperature available on the Breville.
This has both a fresh cut grass smell and an edamame-like undercurrent in the dry leaf. The steeped tea is pale yellow-green with leaf particles floating in it and a fine green residue at the bottom of the cup.
The tea’s aroma does smell like a sea breeze, fresh and a bit salty, with a hint of seaweed. Not heavily marine (no fishiness).
At this temperature, there is no “wateriness” as with the Lupicia I had earlier. I think I might try the Lupicia Pine Breeze at 160F.
This tea, too, is a bit drying to the mouth, but otherwise has a soft mouthfeel. It has a savory aftertaste that hints of saltiness without actually being salty.
I may never be sure I’m making gyokuro correctly, but I think the slightly higher temperature may be the way to go for me, anyway, as it seems to pull a richer flavor from the leaves without bitterness or a scalded aspect.
I have not had that many gyokuros, but this one, for me, seems to stand up to the textbook definition.
Flavors: Cut Grass, Ocean Breeze, Salty, Seaweed, Soybean
This is my main go to when it come sencha at a moderate price. It is refreshing and incredibly enjoyable both hot and cold. I love how you can brew to what ever bitterness you like. I presonally like it bitter. This is my default any time I need to get a boost.
Flavors: Bitter, Brown Toast, Freshly Cut Grass, Grass
This matcha has a bright color and a nice grassy smell. I used a bamboo scoop to measure it, two scoops. I whisked it with 3 ounces of water at 175 degrees until frothy on top. This tea had a smooth, bitter flavor that wasn’t overwhelming. I also tasted the same grassy notes I smelled before making it. It was pleasant and bright, so far my favorite. I enjoyed my matcha with mochi. The grassy bitterness helped to cut through the sweetness of the mochi, while at the same time, the sweetness of the mochi made the matcha even smoother somehow. Afterwards, I felt calm, alert, and cheerful.
Since I’m a matcha newbie, I wanted to buy something of decent quality but without spending a fortune. I thought this was a solid purchase, not cheap but not exorbitant, and so far I’m really happy with it. I used this to make an iced matcha latte using almond milk with no sweetener, whizzed up in a blender and poured over ice, no muss, no fuss. Delicious! If I’d known how easy and tasty this is, I would’ve dipped into this ages ago, but for some reason I thought I should first try it as a straight up bowl of matcha. Now that I know how good it is as a latte, I will be trying it more traditionally very soon. Well, when the weather stops being so summery – and I turn toward more hot teas than iced.
Morning Traffic reporting…break out the good stuff. Hey all sorry to be inactive for so long. It’s been kinda hectic in my world. Job…or should I say jobs..family and heading back to school. They carry this at CAM Asian market which is just a phenomenal place. I love their street crepes that they only serve on the weekends. First of all I am a fan of Genmaicha and matcha. This is inexpensive but really good. It’s good as a mixer but I think it’s good straight up hot as well.
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Flavors: Nutty, Wheat
Sipdown no. 56 of the year 2016 (no. 267 total).
Really enjoyable while it lasted. A great tea to sip during the work day. Optimally, I would have made this one go longer as it is a little on the sweet and vegetal side, which makes it more enjoyable for me if drunk occasionally rather than daily, but once I opened the packet I didn’t want to waste any time with this one given that it was already long in the tooth.
So yeah, this was a 2010 green tea and I’m just getting to it now. [Hangs head in shame.]
It was vacuum sealed and stored in my magical California climate, though, so when opened, an amazingly fresh, sweet fragrance wafted out of the packet. Like sweet, buttery spinach, where the sharpness of the spinach has been filed down and replaced with sweet pea.
The leaves are amazingly fine and hair-like. They remind me a bit of gyokuro leaves but not as dark in color. These are a light, grass green, and may even be a bit finer in texture than gyokuro, though I’m not comparing side by side.
The liquor is almost a chartreuse color, and the steeped tea smells very much like the dry leaves.
The flavor is sweet and mellow. Very drinkable, very flavorful. Makes me wonder what this would have been like when fresh. I’ve been taking this with me to work the past couple of days. It’s a nice morning tea but I’m also having some now, and it’s just as enjoyable in the evening.
There’s something bright and happy about this tea. It’s like optimism in a cup.
Flavors: Butter, Grass, Peas, Spinach
I love Genmai-cha, but this is not my favorite version of the tea. I find it quite watery, requiring a lot of extra tea to get any flavor in my cup at all. It also doesn’t have much of that lovely “popcorn” genmai-cha scent. On the other hand, it’s a nice price for quite a big bag of loose leaf tea, and it doesn’t taste bad or off.
Flavors: Grass, Nutty, Toast, Toasted Rice