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Recent Tasting Notes
This is a very relaxing tea. It’s nice to have this pre-made hojicha to compare to the green tea that I roasted myself. The relaxing quality of this one is more deep and consistent. My theory is that this is more slowly roasted. That may also be why mine had a bit of a smoky flavor while this one was more sweet and less smoky — reminiscent of the depth and sweetness of agave syrup. I’ll have to try roasting my own tea more slowly to see if it has a different effect. This was a little bitter so I thought that I’d want some sweetener. But, I got more used to it throughout the cup and by the end, I was happy with the flavor.
When I first started drinking it, it reminded me a lot of mugicha (roasted barley tea). I used to drink mugicha cool, with sweetener. So, because it reminded me of that, I kept thinking that maybe it would be better that way. But, the warmth of it was actually refreshing. Whatever effect it had on me helped to alleviate the discomfort of the heat and humidity of the day, which was very welcome.
This is a great tea to wind down the day with. One cup was enough for me. It had a pretty strong effect.
Note: The box says to brew for 3 minutes, but I was down in the basement when the timer went off so it brewed for about 30 seconds or so longer. It ended up being quite strong.
Flavors: Bitter, Green, Roasted, Roasted Barley, Sweet
Nothing fancy today. Sometimes, you don’t want something fancy. Sometimes, you just want something common and reassuring. :)
It’s a little more astringent than normal today. That is the charm of tea, though, isn’t it? It has its moods, like any other living thing.
[3/4 tsp of tea — the form does not like fractions]
Flavors: Astringent, Green
I must have drank five (4 oz) cups of this yesterday. I think it gave me a bit of “tea drunkenness.” Some people say that this only happens with premium tea. I cannot speak for others, but for me, that is not the case. I was sleepy and relaxed and very peaceful. Unfortunately, I woke up sleepy, which was fine for the weekend, but wouldn’t work on a normal day. I stuck to the sencha today. I’ll switch to genmaicha later on in the evening. The sencha gives me more alertness and not so much of that relaxed feel, but that’s good for the prime hours of the day. The genmaicha is better for when I need to wind down.
Flavors: Green, Rice, Roasted, Sweet, Toasted Rice, Vegetal
The scent of the dry tea is a roasted, sweet one from the brown rice. The scent of the tea itself is not so strong. I don’t like smoky scents or flavors but this scent is different, it’s appealing to me. It reminds me of the sushi restaurant I often go to. I’m pretty sure that they serve genmaicha there, though I’m not sure if it’s the same brand.
The roasted rice floats at the top when putting the water in. It’s like when making cereal in the morning. ;) The scent of sweet, roasted rice is stronger and deeper than when the tea is dry.
Draining the tea from the gaiwan, there are little bits of tea that washed in. This is to be expected from YamaMotoYama, as they use pieces of leaves. The color is a light yellow with a tinted brownish color. The scent is more of roasted brown rice with a light scent of green tea that’s vegetal in nature.
The taste is that of brown rice, with a green flavor. There is a slight astringency. It borders on having a bitterness, and is lightly sweet. There isn’t a lot of body to the tea and there’s a simplicity to the flavor. It seems like a good tea to drink as a drink rather than as a tasting experience.
That leaning towards bitterness has dissolved after letting the tea sit for a few minutes. I’d still like to experiment with a slightly shorter brewing time to see if it makes a difference. Though, as-is, the flavor is nice after letting it rest. Some more astringency is coming out now and there’s a bit of a dry mouth feel. It’s a clean feeling and isn’t overwhelming. I like what the brown rice adds to the flavor. The strength and earthiness of the brown rice really makes it feel like a grounding experience to drink it.
Overall, this is a pleasant, simple tea. It is a taste of modesty and its grounding nature is very relaxing. No part of the flavor is unpleasant or overwhelming. It’s a tea that I’d like to drink more often. Its unimposing nature makes me feel like it would be hard for me to get tired of it. Truly, it has just enough presence and it just the right way. It’s like good company.
Flavors: Astringent, Green, Roasted, Sweet, Vegetal
I just roasted my own tea using the loose YamaMotoYama sencha. I don’t know if this is something that others do, but I’ve been wanting to try hojicha for a while now and I couldn’t find it available for a reasonable price. So, I roasted it myself. (Why not, right?)
I read a comment about hojicha somewhere which said that some hojicha had a more complex taste and scent than others. It was entirely by accident that I ended up setting aside tea that had been roasted to several different degrees. One batch started smoking and really roasted. The other batches I roasted more gently. I decided to combine them at the end, and it is my theory that this is what makes for a more complex flavor. Even the scent is complex like this.
I roasted the tea on top of a gas stove on a cast iron pan that was cleaned and dried, thoroughly beforehand. I used a heat-tolerant spatula to move the leaves around to make sure they got heat as evenly as possible. Though smaller leaves and pieces invariably ended up roasting much faster.
I used 3/4 tsp of tea for 4 oz of water which was heated to about 170F. The scent at first is like roasted barley tea, coffee, with complex notes underneath them.
After a 3 minute brewing time, the color is a gentle amber color and the scent is very reminiscent of mugicha (roasted barley tea), though there are other notes there as well (perhaps from the less-roasted tea). There is a great sweetness to the scent, it’s sugary but in a light way, like a medium-colored agave syrup.
The taste is more roasted or toasted than the scent. It truly tastes a lot like mugicha, but with a light smokiness that’s more reminiscent of coffee. It doesn’t taste or smell like coffee, it’s just that it shares that roasted or toasted element. There’s a dimensionality that I don’t remember from mugicha. It is light, but at the same time, has depth from the roasted flavor and other light notes. It’s complex, but not overcomplicated.
There isn’t so much of a dry mouth feeling or astringency which the YamaMotoYama sencha and genmaicha tend to have. But, there is a subtle peeking out of that feeling. It’s extremely gentle. The taste of the roasted tea doesn’t stay in the mouth very long. It’s very unobtrusive. I can see why this tea is recommended for children and the elderly. I also feel little or no effect from caffeine. Any of the relaxing feeling is subdued and much more gentle. The roasted flavor, as others mentioned about hojicha, is very reminiscent of autumn and the winter months. It’s the kind of taste that gives you pause. Yet, it’s not a taste I often hunger for, so I think that I would set this aside for special occasions (I do have plenty left).
I’m not sure that everybody would like this roasted taste, but it’s an interesting experience. I was glad that I tried this. I would love to try the YamaMotoYama hojicha to see if their roasting methods come out the same as mine.
Note: Since I roasted this myself and it is not evident of the typical sencha experience, I am not changing any of my ratings or adding any notes in the form. This way it will not impact the rating system for typical sencha.
I walked out of the room and came back and the water was boiling. Now, that is too hot for green tea, so I let it sit, then took out a meat thermometer to measure the temperature. (Don’t judge! It’s strange, but it worked.) So, finally, I have an exact temperature for you: 160F. At this temperature, brewing ~3/4 tsp of leaves for 3 minutes in a gaiwan yields an astringent, more vegetal brew with sweet notes that I didn’t detect in other brewings. The dry mouth feeling gets stronger if taking many sips in a row, so it’s good for sipping like this. The dry mouth feeling is clean, which is nice. I imagine it would be very refreshing to have this iced with osmanthus flowers (which taste like peach/citrus).
On another note, I’ve noticed that a skin condition I have has been doing better! Don’t worry, I won’t bother you with details. I will only say that this was a persistent and troublesome condition that wasn’t resolved in other ways. The doctors were ready to give me something harsh. But, drinking green tea regularly has helped it. What a wonderful thing! I will have to see how many cups of green tea are best per day for this, but so far I’m happy that it seems to have helped. I hope others are having as positive of an experience with green teas as I am! :)
I have noticed that the caffeine (though it isn’t much) does keep me more alert towards the evening, so I should stop drinking this after dinner. But, other than that, it’s been a very rewarding experience without problems. I am looking into kettles with temperature settings now so that I can brew green tea with a more consistent effect.
Also, I am recommending this tea now. It helped to ease a condition which the doctors were about to resort to extremes to help me with, so I think that’s worthy of recommendation. :)
Flavors: Astringent, Green, Sweet, Vegetal
Another brewing, another completely different taste… This time, it’s more astringent and vegetal and, dare I say…green. You’d think “vegetal” would cover that, but this is a bit different and begs for another word. It’s reminiscent of that taste when you eat greens that are very immature — perhaps too immature. There’s that taste that’s somewhat astringent that asserts itself. That is what I’m talking about.
I’d love to see how this tea behaves if I brew water with a kettle that has a temperature gauge, so the temperature is more consistent. I never get this much variety when drinking green tea from restaurants. Then again, they usually brew genmaicha (green tea with roasted brown rice) not sencha (green tea) in restaurants. Not only is genmaicha cheaper (the roasted brown rice is a cheap filler), but in my experience, it does tend to be more resilient to temperature and brewing time fluctuations, which really fits well with the environment of a restaurant.
Amount: ~3/4 tsp
Flavors: Astringent, Green, Vegetal
I just made a second cup and was happy that the first left me relaxed and peaceful rather than anxious.
I used the same amount of tea (approximately 3/4 tsp) and roughly the same amount of water (between 3-4 oz, which fills up the gaiwan). Again, I waited just for small bubbles to start forming in the water and poured it onto the tea then. I timed the brewing for 3 minutes and I hesitated when I went over to pour it out of the gaiwan, trying to avoid burning myself. It must have brewed for a few seconds longer and already the scent is more vegetal! I did say this tea was finicky, didn’t I? ;)
The color is almost the same shade of light yellow, though it’s a bit darker this time. The flavor is more vegetal, though it does have light flowery notes to it. This has an even more calming feel. (Perhaps that is the greater brewing time, but perhaps it is also because this is my second cup.)
This more vegetal flavor is more rich and feels more substantial than the flowery brew before. It also has more of an astringency to it and leaves my mouth a bit more dry than before.
There is more astringency as the cup is coming to a finish. There are almost citrus notes in the taste.
What personality this tea has! It’s like a different tea every time I brew it. I know that I might get more consistency with a kettle that has temperature settings, but what fun would that be? I want to see all the faces of this tea. :)
I’m rating this brewing higher because the deeper, more vegetal flavor felt more substantial and relaxing. I’m left very happy as I finish this cup. This is a wonderful thing!
Note: I did not rinse the tea before brewing and I did not re-brew leaves.
Flavors: Astringent, Citrus, Flowers, Vegetal
Before brewing, the tea had a nice vegetal scent with light flowery notes. I was surprised that it had such a scent still because it’s very old. But, I had stored it very well in an airtight container out of light, so perhaps that helped.
I prepared the water at a temperature just before boiling. A few tiny bubbles rose up from the bottom of the pot and once it was clear that they were not on their own, I poured the water into the gaiwan and covered it. When checking the tea, the scent was vegetal and very lightly astringent.
When done, I drained it into a cup. These leaves seem to be pieces and were not well-suited for draining from a gaiwan, but I’ve just gotten more practice and I could drain it with only a few leaf fragments getting into my cup, so I’m confident that others could manage this, too.
The scent was very flowery and light with vegetal notes and the water was a gentle shade of yellow. The taste was lightly astringent, flowery, and vegetal. There was a vague and passing taste of bitterness that I’d attribute to the leaf pieces falling into the cup and continuing to brew. The scent and taste became more flowery and less vegetal after time and the astringency leveled out so that it left an only slightly dry feeling on the mouth after drinking. The feeling it imparts is a good, peaceful and healthy feeling.
The flavor is pleasant and the cost is low, so in theory, it is a good tea for daily use. But, unfortunately, it can be finicky. Perhaps it is the influence of Western kettles, which are made for herbal and black teas and thus tend to shut off or whistle when the water is boiling. That is a problem because boiling water is far too hot for this tea. To use boiling water on green tea will result in the tea becoming stewed which will result in a bitter, unpleasant taste, which is not something you’d want to drink. Indeed, this is why I didn’t click “recommend.” It is not that this tea isn’t good, it’s that the tools that are available are often ill-suited for making this tea properly. So, unless you have the time to boil water in a pan and check to see its appearance is appropriate, or to use a special electric kettle with different temperature settings, it would be better to avoid this all together rather than get a terribly bitter stewing of tea. To those who are willing to take the time, I do think it’s worth it. It tastes much more expensive than it is when made properly. The floweriness is reminiscent of a premium oolong I have that cost many times what this did, and the feeling it imparts is very pleasant.
As a summary:
Form: loose leaves (~3/4 tsp — the form did not allow fractions, so I’m specifying it here)
Brewing method: gaiwan
Color: gentle yellow
Scent: vegetal/astringent > flowery/astringent > flowery
Taste: flowery/vegetal/astringent > flowery/astringent > flowery
Flavors: Astringent, Flowers, Vegetal
Its quite warm in my part of the world. I can go without tights, and abandon my coat at lunchtime, and all is well. Bleh, I say. Bring me the cold weather instantly.
But still, its usually freezing in my office, and so I brought a sample of toasty genmai chai with me today.
This is a pleasant, but somewhat weak blend. Its very light, but the toasty notes ar at the forefront of each sip, and the greenness of the tea never gets vegetal.
I’m glad to have tried it.
Quite bitter with first infusion at 170 degrees. Next day, I did a 10 second rinse, then used cold water and a overnight cold steep. Much improved. Color was less cloudy after the quick rinse. Bitterness decreased and sweetness increased. Good everyday ice tea.
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Flavors: Astringent, Grain, Green, Rice, Tannic, Toasted, Toasted Rice, Toasty