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Recent Tasting Notes

Saw this tea discussed on Tea Chat when the 2016 batch was first released in limited quantities. Wanting to experience it myself I purchased 100 g and brew the tea in my Mini Shudei Tokoname teapot, 140ml.
I have limited experience with Sencha but can say this Yutaka Midori is everything the reviewers here describe. An exceptional tea.

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90

Excellent quality price ratio. Overall a very nice tea. Bright green powder, with a fresh smooth smell. Prepared it as usucha (2,5-3 g), 60 ml, 75-85 C. Always got a creamy cup, with dense body and smooth taste. In general did not notice any astringency, or it was not disagreeable. However I missed some of the umami and sweetness of higher grade matchas.

Preparation
2 g 2 OZ / 60 ML

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78

Pretty good, but I wish it were a tad greener tasting. It’s got a strong toasty flavor and murky liquor. Less spectacular than the same tea from Yuuki-Cha. Matcha washes away after the first steep and then it tastes like a regular genmaicha. Not my favorite genmaicha but it does the job and is better than the bagged stuff.

Flavors: Toasted Rice

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76

My first O-Cha order in a long time. O-Cha used to be my go-to online tea shop back in the day when I started drinking tea. As other tea stores sprang up, I eventually moved on. Still I have an affinity towards them and wanted to see how they stack up against Yunomi and Yuuki-Cha, my current favorite stores for Japanese tea.

When I opened the bag, I was surprised at the amount of broken and crushed leaves which resembled matcha more than sencha. It also meant more sediment in the cup than usual. The tea leaves in a warm gaiwan were fragrant with a deep, enticing aroma of fresh cut grass and spinach.

First steep was for 1 minute at 165 F. Pale green liquor. The flavor was buttery, slightly vegetal, and grassy. Pretty standard sencha taste.

Second steep was 30s at around 170 F. Grassy with a bit of astringency.

3rd and 4th steeps were 1:15 and 1:45 respectively using 175 F water. Flavor mostly faded, harsh bitterness.

I found this to be a very average tasting green tea. There’s some grassiness to it and that’s about it. It doesn’t have the depth and character of high grade senchas. It also doesn’t resteep well. The second infusion was ok, and the ones that followed were pretty terrible.

Flavors: Bitter, Grass

Preparation
165 °F / 73 °C 1 min, 0 sec 2 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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80

Opening the bag you’ll encounter very intense but at the same time pleasing grassy aroma of the leaves which happen to be light green in colour. Here and there you’ll notice stems which are lighter in colour and give this tea more natural look while you inspect it. Tea itself is mildly sweet and has a pleasing flavor. Using recommended brewing parameters, I encountered decent but not overwhelming astringent punch. Umami “runs away” quickly but it’s there. It’s light (green) in colour as well as in taste (almost like asamushi) but it has decent roundness. I prefered brewing it at the slightly higher tempereatures and for shorter periods of time to extract the most out of it and I was not dissapointed. Very nice organic green tea with floral aroma and subtle but “sincere” flavor. I like drinking it especially after my workouts- combining already elevated levels of endorphins with theanine and catehins from green tea is the way to go.

Flavors: Almond, Earth, Floral, Grass

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 0 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 2 OZ / 65 ML

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I am reviewing the 2016 version of this tea which I still would say is fairly fresh like the rest of my Shincha. I would say this one is my favorite is has a really nice balanced flavor, vegetal and grassy with a mouthwatering sweet finish. Along with some mellow umami flavors and a tad of astringency.

Out of all of the ones I tried I found this to be my favorite and most memorable tea, one that I will for sure be buying more of in the future.

Flavors: Fruity, Grass, Seaweed, Umami, Vegetal

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 0 sec 4 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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86
drank Yame Gyokuro by O-Cha.com
4 tasting notes

A high quality gyokuro at a good price. Has a sweet flavor combined with a decent level of umami. Can become overwhelming if brewed too hot or for too long. Brewed using a houhin.

Flavors: Grass, Sweet, Umami

Preparation
150 °F / 65 °C 3 min, 0 sec 10 g 3 OZ / 90 ML

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91

A great, grassy tea with an underlying sweetness. The best sencha I’ve tried to date. Brewed in a 230ml kyusu.

Flavors: Grass, Sweet, Vegetal

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 8 g 7 OZ / 200 ML

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I am reviewing the 2016 Sencha Kaoru, I’ve had it around for a while but it still really fresh. Has a really nice sweet and grassy aroma and the leaves are quite small and broken up, which I find is normal for Fukamushi. Although I would say this one seems to be more steamed than the Yutaka Midori.

It brews up a nice dark green color with some cloudiness, it has a wonderful grassy flavor along with quite a bit of umami. The flavor increased quite a lot on the second steep, to the point where the steep time had to be quite fast.

Flavors: Grass, Sweet, Umami

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 1 min, 0 sec 4 g 150 OZ / 4436 ML

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92

Dry leaf – GRASSY, VEGETAL, SWEET: dewy grass, cooked sweetcorn, pine nuts. In preheated vessel: vegetal aromas intensify – corn, sundried tomatoes; dried dill and parsley, hint of tangy tropical fruit.

Smell – GRASSY, VEGETAL: warm wet grass, tomato vine, corn, wilted spinach

Taste – GRASSY, VEGETAL, SWEET, MARINE: Arrival is new grass, sweetcorn. Develops into vegetal sweetness, cooked spinach, with notes of sweet butter and cooked pears. Finish is salty and marine, with the expected savory umami finish. Aftertaste has tart freshness of green apple and fresh mint.

Great tea. It’s like a little pouch of springtime. What I appreciate the most about it is its three distinct flavor profiles: thick, sweet grassy flavor that finishes in a mouth-coating marine brininess, which eventually transforms into a fresh and pleasant tartness.

In summation – the leaves look like green snuff, the brew achieves a glow-in-the-dark Ecto-Cooler green, and it tastes delicious. What’s not to love?

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 45 sec 3 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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90

Dry leaf: SWEET and VEGETAL (sweetcorn, sweet tomato vine, sun-dried tomatoes, stone fruit, melon)

Smell: VEGETAL, GRASSY, SWEET (sweetcorn, edamame, sweet grass, cooked spinach, hints of peach and baking spices)

Taste: VEGETAL, GRASSY, FRUITY, and much MORE! (edamame, corn, spinach, tomato vine, nori, mulched grass, honeysuckle, fresh peach and apricot, cantaloupe and honeydew melon, hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, cherry wood, minerality, brine, vanilla extract, mint leaf, canned pineapple juice). Thick in mouth – flavors are long-lasting and develop considerably from arrival to finish to aftertaste.

This is the perfect tea with which to lie in ambush at work. As someone dunks a green tea bag into their mug, bust some of this stuff out and let its aromas and beautiful green leaves work their magic. Then, casually remark, “Oh – I like green tea too!” At this point, watch their dismay as they behold your radiant green tea wafting of melon and springtime as they take their mug of boiled sawdust back to their desk.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec 3 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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95
drank Chiran Sencha by O-Cha.com
35 tasting notes

I’ve been out of school for the past couple weeks, hanging around Boston and now Santa Monica. Since it finally feels like summer, time to move into summer teas!

So this is the first shincha I’ve ever had, and I’m loving it! The color is this brilliant nuclear green, with little flecks of tender leaf. I’ve had little to no success brewing this in a gaiwan—instead,the best method I’ve found is 2g of leaf in 8 oz water, and 1 minute steeps.

Flavor wise, this tea tastes like eating buttered grass, it’s so smooth and sweet. Different sort of grassy than white tea, which tastes like tender grassroots. This is more like full grown, vegetal grass. Delicious!

Also, the other day I tried eating the steeped leaves with a little soy sauce, as per o-cha’s directions. It was surprisingly good! Sort of like spinach with sauce. I just got a few weird looks from my family…they don’t know what they’re missing.

Matu

Yea, just ignore all the strange looks ;)

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This was a shincha originally bought back in 2014 and stored until just recently when it was time to revisit. I’ve got to say that even with age this is just as amazing as I remember. The usual grassy goodness but also so much more…like a buttery miso soup. I have several other Japanese green teas stored and will slowly start to drink them down and share if there is interest in older stored green teas. This was a shared tea session which is always nice and a great excuse for larger teaware.

6g of beautiful bright green leaf, 290ml Masaki Tachi Shigaraki Kyusu, with a 20s first steep at 190F, second at 5s, third at 10s and a fourth and fifth at 200F for 45s and 60s. Served in an
Oni hagi warikoudai yunomi by Yamane Seigan.

Part of "A Week of Tea Exploration” suggested by Lion on Steepster, day two of seven, green tea.

The session:
https://instagram.com/p/BFxQ_zxBUrQ/

The tea:
https://instagram.com/p/BFxTA0PhUvB/

The teapot:
https://instagram.com/p/BFxU40TBUi2/

Preparation
6 g 10 OZ / 290 ML

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Flavors: Broccoli, Umami

Preparation
140 °F / 60 °C 2 min, 0 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 90 ML

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85

Tasted at Josephine House in Austin, TX.

This was our pre-meal tea and it was deeply enjoyed. The tea was a beautiful vibrant green and although it was very grassy in flavor, it was very soothing, like the smell of a field after it rains.

Flavors: petrichor, Sweet, warm grass

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87

This was a really mild-mannered and enjoyable gyokuro, really sweet and less umami-rich (savory) than the others I have tried, though I must admit at this point my experience with gyokuro is limited to this one and a sampler I tried of four different ones from Kurihara Family estate.

So, while the flavor this time didn’t have quite the intense umami that really impressed me from my former gyokuro experience, it also didn’t have strong bitterness at the end of the sip like the teas I tried from Kurihara Family. It’s kind of a trade-off. Do I prefer a gyokuro with a really rich umami flavor that packs a bit of a bitter punch at the end? Or one that is sweet and mild with just an average amount of umami flavor, that needs more leaf to have a rich flavor?

It’s hard to say, but it could in fact be the case that the Tsurujirushi represents a high enough quality gyokuro that I could simply use an even higher leaf to water ratio to bring out more of the rich umami flavor… Certainly the lack of much bitterness points in that direction, though I’m already using quite a bit of leaf with 3g per each 20ml of water and a 2 minute infusion at ~50C.

The second infusion of this tea actually had the best flavor and the most richness and depth. I shared this with a group of friends recently who were all enjoying gyokuro prepared the traditional way for the first time, and I was surprised that everyone enjoyed it. I think with the highly concentrated, tepid, tiny serving that you drink when serving gyokuro in this manner, it can be a bit of a strange experience for some tea drinkers. I know it was for me the first time I had it. The flavor was so intense and unlike anything else I’ve ever tasted. Pure umami kick to the tastebuds.

Overall, I would say the Tsurujirushi was a very clean-tasting and sweet gyokuro. Really easy to drink even in the highly concentrated way for beginners.

I think I would enjoy trying a wider variety of gyokuro before purchasing this one again, but to be honest gyokuro is not a favorite tea of mine and I’m simply fascinated by the method of preparing and drinking it, so in that regard, it’s a bit of a novelty to me. For something as diligently labored over and as highly priced as gyokuro, I think you have to really be into it to justify purchasing it more than once in a blue moon.

Despite this gyokuro does seem to be a pretty high quality, the only reason I’m not rating it more highly in my scoring is because I feel you have to really use a lot of it to bring out the flavor… and it’s expensive compared to other types of tea, so it’s quite a commitment.

Flavors: Sweet, Umami, Vegetal

Preparation
140 °F / 60 °C 2 min, 0 sec 15 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Single Origin Teas

Welcome back to the tea world! I mailed you some tea samples I thought you would enjoy.

Lion

Oh, thank you! I am excited! :D

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76

Another green tea redeemed! I had all but given up on this tea due to it’s flat astringent taste. Usually I brewed it between 165-170 F, which is within the standard temperature range for green tea. Yesterday I used slightly cooler water, about 160 F and brewed the tea 1 minute. It tasted like a completely different tea – buttery, smooth, and sweet. Second and third steeps for 25 and 45 seconds respectively, though were fairly non-descript .

Flavors: Butter, Grass, Sweet

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 1 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 4 OZ / 118 ML

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76

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Flavors: Grass, Hay, Vegetal

Preparation
165 °F / 73 °C 1 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 4 OZ / 118 ML

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83

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

Preparation
7 g 4 OZ / 112 ML

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95

The first brew for this tea is incredible with overwhelming umami notes of fried chicken and seaweed, but they are nowhere to be found in subsequent brews :(

Flavors: Chicken Soup, Grass, Seaweed, Umami

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 1 min, 0 sec 5 g 7 OZ / 220 ML

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85

There is a lot going on in this tea. I’m a big fan of zairai (base species grown from seed) since they always provided unique and complex flavor profiles with underlying mineral notes. The leaves a deep rich green and are highly fragrant, both dried and steeped. The liquor is a bright yellow/green. Flavors are uplifting, savory, sweet, deep, and complex, with notes of chestnut, pine, minerals, pistachio, and kale. It is reminiscent of organic upper-tier high mountain Chinese green teas.

Flavors: Floral, Grass, Kale, Menthol, Mineral, Pine, Sage

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 30 sec 2 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

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