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Recent Tasting Notes
Teaware has come to play an important role in my tea drinking experience. With all of the tea ware I’ve amassed so far, I figured it’s high time I reviewed some on Steepster so here goes.
I had coveted this Sawa Houzan Shiboridashi ever since it began popping up on Instagram. It looked so elegant with its graceful shape, webwork of crackles, gemstone-like knob, and unique “rake” filter. Online reviews convinced me to get it and I finally picked one up during a sale at Yunomi. Having owned this for well over a year and half now, I have quite a few thoughts to share about its positives as well as its downsides.
When I first received it, I was disappointed that it looked different from what was pictured online. In pictures, its cream colored with faint pink streaks. However the one I received was all cream which looked rather plain and not as exquisite. I ended up keeping it though since it would have been too costly to ship it back to Japan. Another feature not as advertised was the capacity. It’s supposed to be 150ml but mine is closer to 120ml which actually works out better for me. The interior is glazed allowing you to brew any kind of tea in it. This teapot is designed for steeping Japanese green tea, but ironically I’ve found Japanese greens to be the worst suited tea for this vessel. The fine leaves clog the filter creating a huge mess and leading to longer steeping time and bitterness. And it’s a chore to scrape the small tea leaves off the lid, filter, and walls of the teapot. It’s the same story whether you use a full leaf tea like gyokuro or a fine sencha. But all is not lost because it works fabulously with Chinese greens, blacks, and oolongs. There are 20 or so fine grooves near the spout that effectively catch the leaves and minimize the amount of sediment in the cup. No need for an external filter when using this teapot. The pour is a little longer than a gaiwan though so it may not be ideal for puerh or other flash steeped teas. I find that Chinese greens and kamairicha taste better in my shibo than gaiwan which I attribute in part to the better heat retention from its thicker walls. In fact it’s my preferred teapot for steeping all greens but sencha which still works best in a kyusu.
It’s growing on me. Really good cold brew 5g to a liter overnight. The cool thickness soothes my parched morning throat. Continues to lubricate after finishing. Nutty, grassy, sweet and bitter. No hint of salt or seaweed to be found. 2.5g left to try another small gaiwan tasting. Bumped from 60 to 70.
Edit: In the spirit of a sipdown, I already brewed the remaining 2.5g as prepared earlier this week. This time I let it cool before drinking and it was much better. I think something about the mixture of hot liquid with intense umami green turned me off last time. Sitting well after eating a breakfast of leftover homemade stir fry. I let the third steep sit for too long but it turned out pleasantly bitter and floral. I enjoyed this flavor so I kept steeping the leaves. Glad I did. Bumping again to 74. My persistence and flexibility has produced good results.
Tea #3 from a teaswap with Mastress Alita. Thanks!
I prepared this as closely as possible to the guidelines given by Yunomi. Don’t have any Japanese teaware and I had a bad experience with some Japanese green tea last week, so I used 2.5g of leaf in a 60mL porcelain gaiwan for small steepings. I didn’t have a thermometer handy and the lowest temp setting on my kettle is 160F. The guildelines call for 140F, so I just let the hot water sit for a few minutes. Didn’t follow the guidelines for subsequent steeps which called for an increase in water temperature and volume.
First steep produced a very thick kind of slimy brew similar to the salted sakura leaf green tea I had last week. It was a little salty, mostly green umami with some grassiness behind that. It made my stomach turn a little, but not nearly as bad as the sakura tea. It reminded me of pickleweed, which is a plant I’m intimately familiar with that grows on the upland edges of the salt marshes in the San Francisco Bay. Pickleweed is known also known as sea bean and sold in higher end markets around here. Eaten as a vegetable by those who enjoy its taste.
Second steep was lighter, still kind of salty, less umami, more grass. Third steep was still lighter. I think I enjoyed the second and third steeps the most. I dug around the very pretty spent leaf in the gaiwan and noticed the leaves felt very slick. I wonder if this is a quality of Japanese greens.
So far, it seems that Japanese green teas that aren’t roasted or genmaicha don’t sit well in my stomach. This tea seems high quality given my limited knowledge, but something that seems to be an acquired taste for my palate. I’ll finish the rest of the sample but I won’t seek out more. Thanks again Mastress Alita :)
Summer Vacation! Slept all day and I think I’m feeling just coherent enough to give gyokuro another try. I tried one earlier in the week but didn’t really have enough leaf to do it properly, so now I’m going to give it another shot and see if I can’t attempt to get it right. I’m expecting failure my first try, because pretty much anytime I try to do things in a gong fu style using a gaiwan or shiboridashi (and I’ll be using my shiboridashi for this), I mess up on my first try despite my best intentions.
This is a sampler I picked up from Yunomi some time ago, just on a whim. The name just kind of gave me the impression that it must be a good gyokuro to pick for people that have never tried it and have no idea what to pick when they want to try a gyokuro with no knowledge for the sake of trying.
Everything I read has such high leaf suggestions for brewing this stuff, and if there is anything that makes me nervous when brewing green tea, it is overleafing, so I just… ya. Even if it is wrong wrong wrong, I have probably underleafed this terribly because of fear of that, because I’ve had some bad experiences with bitter nasty overleafed green tea in the past. The site I was referencing for this suggested 6.6 grams, I decided to drop it down to 5 and cross my fingers and pray to the Tea Gods. Since my cockatiel has been with me for 20 years now, I decided an animal sacrifice to the Tea Gods wouldn’t be necessary.
The dry leaf definitely smells very similar to my Kabusecha, which is a very sweet but somewhat vegetal grassy scent, similar to matcha. So I’m already expecting this to taste much like the kabusecha and less like the other gyokuro (of which I had hardly any leaf) that I tried. And the steeped tea smells very umami/vegetal, which again is more of what I was expecting, and closer to my experience with the kabusecha. My strainer wasn’t able to handle the small leaf escaping the shiboridashi, but eeeeeh… I could use the vitamins.
Well, the good news is it isn’t bitter as sin! Whether using the extra gram and a half would’ve made a huge difference, I don’t know, but the tea is definitely more along the lines of what I was expecting for gyokuro. It’s like a thick vegetable broth in flavor, with ocean salt and seaweed notes, and very umami. I think I pick out notes of cucumber, asparagus, and spinach in that thick vegetal note, though the oceanic/seaweed flavor comes off most heavily toward the end of the sip. It’s very savory, so I’m glad I’m sipping this slowly out of little shiboridashi cups. I steeped this five times, and am unsure if it still had more to give; I had my fill by that point. I did notice it had a thinner mouthfeel by the third steep, and a slight (though not unpleasant) astringency.
So happy this came out correctly. This tea has certainly proved good practice for my gong fu/shiboridashi skills. I can tell this sort of tea isn’t the sort of thing I’d particularly want to brew up very often, and the extra work of preparation doesn’t make it feasible to use as ramen broth either, which is what I usually use really savory/soupy teas for, so I imagine for me, gyokuro will be something I just enjoy sampling from time to time. Perhaps as an accompaniment when I get a hankering for white rice.
Flavors: Asparagus, Cucumber, Ocean Air, Salty, Seaweed, Spinach, Thick, Umami, Vegetable Broth, Vegetal
Summer Vacation! Had an early morning staff meeting today, so I pulled out one of the few Japanese blacks I have, a Yuzu black tea I picked up from an older Yunomi order but have still to try. I’ve been wanting to try yuzu for some time, though, and the base of this is benifuuki, a black tea cultivar I’ve also been wanting to try (my most recent Yunomi order which hasn’t arrived yet has some pure benifuuki on it, so hopefully in the next month or so I’ll have a chance to compare).
This is quite nice; the yuzu is very lemony, with a juicy citrus taste that is also a bit peppery (unless the pepper note is coming from the benifuuki base, but until I have some straight benifuuki for comparison, I won’t know for certain…). The black tea base is very smooth, and reminds me a little of the taste of the Yunnan tea I tried not long ago, for being a bit malty/smoky mixed with that peppery taste from the citrus, though it’s just a bit more mild on the malt and smoke and the pepper is more pronounced.
This is a pretty large sampler, so I think I want to try this as an iced tea, too. It’s a strong citrus flavor so I think it would work well that way.
Flavors: Citrus, Lemon, Malt, Pepper, Smoke
Summer Vacation! This is a whole leaf tea that is sold in sachets that I picked up from Yunomi, and my prediction was correct; I left myself even less time this morning than before, mainly on account of a migraine (seriously, I should’ve called in, but my job can be such a butt about it… here I am at work and still thinking I made the wrong choice, meh). The forest fire smoke is such a migraine trigger for me, it’s just awful. May still bail at lunch…
In any event, I just boiled some water, tossed one of these bags in the cup, steeped it while throwing clothes on, then removed it from the thermos before I was out the door. It’s green tea with soba, and I was expecting it to be pretty close to my beloved genmaicha. And it is, mostly, though I find it actually tastes a lot sweeter than genmaicha, which surprised me. Like there is a slightly more honeyed note toward the end of the sip, beneath that toasted cereal flavor. The green tea also has a nice, smooth, grassy flavor with no bitterness, and a very subtle lemony citrus flavor at the end of the sip. This is a nice tea that would appeal to fans of genmaicha that has some slight deviations in the flavor.
Flavors: Citrus, Honey, Lemon, Nutty, Sweet, Sweet, warm grass, Toasty, Wheat
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Flavors: Green, Stems, Umami, Vegetal
June Wedding! This is a newer tea, which I bought just last month during Yunomi’s Golden Week free shipping sale. I was curious about it mainly because it had so many… negative/odd reviews on Steepster, which made me want to taste it for myself!
The tea leaves are huge, and definitely look reminescent of autumn leaves, because they are so large and brown. They really fill out after infusion, too! The dry leaf smells strongly of fermented sour pickles, but I love pickles, and since most of the reviews described the tea as having a pickle sort of flavor, I figured I probably would like this okay.
Brewed up, I definitely find this to have a pickle flavor. I first sampled it on vacation with my friend, and he agreed; I found it more agreeable than he did. In addition to the sort of tart, pickle top note, there is that sea salt/brine sort of taste I get from some green teas, though it is lacking the seaweed note that usually accompanies that particular flavor in those green teas.
Overall, the tea comes off a bit more on the savory side, so I tried ochazuke (white rice submerged in green tea) with this tea. I wasn’t too impressed with my first try of the Japanese dish, but I think that was mostly because the texture was too much like porridge, which is just too mushy for my tastes. I’m still glad I tried it, though.
I’m a bit middle-of-the-road with this one; I don’t dislike it, because I do like that tart-pickly taste, but it also isn’t a flavor I’d particularly feel in the mood for in tea very often, so even though I only have an ounce of leaf, it’ll probably take a while for me to use it up. I can tell this will very much be something where I’d have to be in the right mood.
Flavors: Dill, Ocean Air, Salt, Tart
June Wedding! Something new… but that I’ve put off trying for a while. (For my purposes, anything from this year is pretty much “new” as far as I’m concerned!) I got this from one of my Yunomi orders to use as ramen broth. I was incredibly surprised how good the ume kobucha (plum kelp) “soup tea” my friend brought me back from Japan was, so I have high hopes for this shiitake mushroom soup tea.
This is another dissolvable powder like the ume kobucha, and like the ume kobucha, it is very salty, so I really wouldn’t recommend drinking it as a tea, but instead using it as a soup broth or in cooking. As a ramen broth, this one is quite nice too! I’d say it is maybe a bit more savory than the ume kobucha, which had a more sweet-tart flavor over all, while this one has salty mushroom taste. Of the two I think I actually like the sweet-tart of the ume kobucha a bit more, but both are great and I’m glad to have another option for eating my noodles, since I need MSG-free broth options.
Flavors: Mushrooms, Salty
When I first tried this tea, I thought I had mistakenly brewed one of my cherry blossom scented teas. This is a straight tea with an astonishing cherry blossom like taste and aroma. It brews up light green, buttery smooth and clean without any bitterness. Grassiness is more subdued than other Japanese greens and there are dominant notes of sakura and umeboshi pickled plums. There’s a sweet and salty flavor to it that reminds me of biting into a sakura mochi.
This is a good tea with a rather atypical profile for a Japanese green. While I enjoyed it, it tastes too similar to the 3 sakura senchas I already own for me to consider getting more. Recommended if you’re looking for a Japanese green that’s a little different from the usual.
Flavors: Cherry Blossom, Plums, Salty
For my latest batch of iced tea I decided to make a quart of cold brewed mugicha, Japanese roasted barley tea. I’ve never tried it before, but know it is a cultural staple there for the summer months, so I’ve been very curious to try it. The mugicha I purchased from Yunomi came in 10g bags, so I simply dropped one in my quart mason jar, sealed it up, and left it to cold brew in my fridge overnight.
Now, I have a confession to make… I like coffee. Yes, it’s true, you can revoke my Steepster account and kick me off the site now. I drank it for years, until I had to go through a “caffeine detox” period to test if caffeine affected my migraines (for better or for worse). During that time I switched to tisanes, since I was still so used to having warm beverages in the morning, and was really shocked by all the flavor options. Once it was determined caffeine wasn’t a migraine trigger and I could have it, I just started exploring more teas rather than taking back up coffee, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like it or won’t drink it. In fact, if I don’t have good tea on me at a restaurant, I will order coffee instead rather than take their LQ brand bagged drivel. If I’m going to be paying for a single cuppa, I at least want to make it a good cuppa, and I’ll take a froo-froo mocha over Lipton or Bigelow anyday!
So imagine my surprise to discover that roasted barley tasted exactly like chilled coffee! I was expecting mugicha to have a sort of houjicha taste from the roasting process, but I’m definitely getting a very distinct coffee bean sort of flavor… the only difference is the drink is of course not as heavy of a mouthfeel as coffee, and very light and refreshing without leaving that acidic feeling in the stomach. I looooooove iced coffee and usually ordered my drinks iced rather than hot at cafes, so this was an extremely pleasant surprise! I can only imagine that I’ll be making loads of this stuff over the summer.
Flavors: Coffee, Roasted
The liquid had a pale, golden yellow color. The aroma again is dominated by scents of cedar wood and smoke. The body is medium, with a very smooth, velvety texture. There is no bitterness or astringency. The taste is also dominated by notes of cedar wood and smoke, with an overall roasty character. The aftertaste is sweet and woody.
See the full review at https://teajourneyman.com/
Flavors: Cedar, Roasted, Smoke
Technically, this isn’t the tea I currently have in my cupboard, though what I have is very similar — my friend Todd brought me back a small jar of powdered ume kobucha (plum kelp) tea from his trip to Japan, and since the jar is fully in Japanese, other than reading the “ume kobucha” on the front, I have no idea the brand name. I used the directions for preparing the tea from this Sennenya brand listed on Yunomi’s site, my current go-to for Japanese teas, and from the few ingredients I could read with my limited Japanese skills, what I have and this one seem to be the same sort of thing. I am guessing the brands are probably pretty close and with the same sort of ingredients, anyway.
Todd knows that I have been looking for good teas to use as broth bases for ramen noodles, because my chronic migraine condition means I can’t use the packaged flavor packets (MSG is one of my triggers). I actually grabbed a shiitake tea from Yunomi for this purpose, and was pretty surprised by this plum kelp tea that Todd found, which apparently is another of the “brothy” variety of teas. I wasn’t so sure about the taste from the description, but I’ll try anything!
I definitely wouldn’t just drink this as a tea — it’s far too savory and salty for that! — but this is actually a really tasty broth! Despite being a thin broth the tea has a very thick mouthfeel because it is very salty. There is a vegetal, seaweed-like note to the tea, but it isn’t overwhelming — it is actually more subtle than the umami seaweed flavor I find in many green teas — and it is quickly chased by a slightly fruity sweet-tart plum note. The sip closes on a salty, soupy broth flavor. This was perfect for ramen noodles, and gave them the salt and flavor they’ve been missing, and I really enjoyed sipping up all the broth afterwards! The little flecks of dried kelp and ume were even a fine garnish on the noodles.
If you are looking for a good “soup” tea, I’d highly recommend this! Just make a cuppa of something else to actually quench your thirst.
Flavors: Broth, Chicken Soup, Plums, Salty, Seaweed, Tart
Such a smoooooth gyokuro. The umami flavor is just a hint when you swallow and let in more air. It quickly subsides and resolves in a cool, slightly sweet fruit note, mostly melon to my tongue. Did I experiment with this at 190? Yep. Was I rewarded with a new gyok experience? Yep. The leaves even gave a fairly nice second cup.
If it were a bit less expensive, this could be a sensible daily drinker.
Flavors: Green Melons, Sweet, warm grass, Umami
Surprisingly full-bodied. I thought it would be a bit delicate, but it works both hot and iced. Perfect for Spring. Not a “classic” Japanese green cup, but definitely not a Spring Blossom Pekoe. To my tongue, it was something a bit new. Kinda like when you first have a fresh Japanese black when you mostly know Assams and Keemuns. Loved it.
Flavors: Grass, Spearmint, Sweet, Vegetal, Wheat
It took my whole workday yesterday, but I finished writing up my tea presentation for National Library Week next Thursday! Phew…
Felt in the mood for some houjicha this morning, so I decided to make a cup of this Amber Roast sampler by Kyoto Obubu Tea Farms that I got from Yunomi. It’s the first houjicha I’ve tried that’s made from a sencha rather than bancha, and I’m actually saving the rest of my sampler to sipdown when I see my bestie next month on vacation, since houjicha is his favorite kind of tea, and he’s never tried this kind of houjicha either. I could certainly tell a difference in the flavor, and I’m curious if he’ll be able to tell, as well!
The tea steeps up a bright amber color and has the woody, roasted nuts aroma common of houjicha. The flavor of the tea has a lovely roasted, malty flavor, with some slightly sweet notes that remind me of honeyed oats mid-sip, but the finish closes with a slightly astringent, smoky, savory seaweed aftertaste that I’ve never had from a houjicha before. I’ve never tried the Sencha of the Summer Sun this houjicha was produced from, but it’s obvious this particular note is left lingering through from the base leaves, and makes this houjicha very unique. This particular vegetal aftertaste fades a bit on subsequent steeps, leaving it tasting a bit more like a more standard (though still delicious) houjicha, but that first steep remains a truly unique houjicha experience and I’d highly recommend it to fans of houjicha and sencha alike!
Flavors: Astringent, Honey, Malt, Oats, Roasted, Seaweed, Smoke, Toasty, Umami, Wood
The dry leaves smell of muffins and marshmallows. The wet leaves give a nice cherry fragrance to the room. The first couple steeps had little to offer. However it opened up in a big way on the 3rd. Its a very pleasant natural sweetness. Reminds me a lot of marshmallows and baked goods. The black tea taste doesn’t come through much at all. Its all strong sakura flavor here. My brother said it got so strong after a bit it turned his stomach. That didn’t happen to me but something to note.
I do recommend this tea. Nothing else like it.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Cherry, Floral, Marshmallow, Sweet
Green March! I recently put in a big order with Yunomi, and I was just shy of qualifying for free shipping and didn’t know what I wanted, so what better way than to drop some mystery tea onto the order? What I ended up getting was a May 2017 harvest of Kabusecha Saeakari from Marushige Shimizu Tea Farm. I’ve never tried (and I’ll admit, even heard of) Kabusecha before. From the description it seems to be a bit of a fusion between sencha and gyokuro, but the preparation instructions are definitely more like that of gyokuro. And I’ve never tried gyokuro before, so I was expecting a little wobbliness in preparation making this for the first time.
I was mainly concerned getting the right temperature. I don’t own a food themometer, and the lowest setting on my temperature-control kettle is 160 degrees F. The recommended steeping temperature for this tea was 122-140 degrees F. And while I do own a small porcelain Japanese teapot, I don’t have a fancy gyokuro-style set with the water-holder dishes and whatnot. So, I winged it. I used the lowest setting on my kettle, poured that into my teacup, let it sit while I measured out 4 grams of leaf to put in the teapot, then moved the water to another teacup just before dumping it into the teapot, hoping by that point it would be in the proper temperature zone. While I’ll never know for certain, after my cup steeped for the recommended two minutes, the resulting steep certainly didn’t feel more than just a little above tepid to my tongue, so hopefully it was in the ballpark?
The first thing that struck me was how much of a salty aroma the tea had! The flavor was very strong; I didn’t find it unpleasant, but was not used to such a strong savory taste from my tea having never had it before, and I had to sip through the infusion very slowly. It did have a thick umami profile, with salty notes and vegetal seaweed flavors that reminded me of a seafood taste similar to shrimp. There was also a bit of grassiness and a sweet finish that comes with nice green tea. I didn’t get any astringency from the cup at all; it was very thick and smooth.
The second steep brought on more of a sencha flavor, with a more prominent grassy taste, but notable deeper, umami seaweed notes in the finish of the sip. By the third steep, the umami notes had waned from the cup, but it still had a pleasant vegetal flavor and made for a relaxing cup of green tea.
The first steep was certainly the most unique, but I think it’s going to take a bit of adapting to get my palate used to those strong umami notes. (I’ll get there; once upon a time, I used to not be able to drink bergomot, and now I have more earl grey blends in my cupboard than I care to count). So at the moment that second steep was my favorite, which brought out more of a blend of the new flavors and old, familar notes. I’ll have to continue to work with this tea… apparently the flavor can change a lot depending on temperature and steep times, and I’m especially curious to try it iced!
Flavors: Grass, Salty, Seaweed, Sweet, Thick, Umami, Vegetal
My first ever houjicha, received in a sampler set from Yunomi. Unfortunately this was my least favorite tea in the sampler. This tea has a smoky nose, and is both savory and roasted when drinking, but I don’t feel like it goes anywhere after that. Unlike other teas commonly described as smoky or roasted (e.g. Lapsang suchong), this is not what I would describe as leather—this is definitely more of a true burning wood flavor to me.
I do not want to provide a numerical value or provide a recommendation either way, because this is my first houjicha, maybe I am just not into them in general.
I recently tried a sakura-flavored green tea, so I decided to sample a sakura-flavored black tea this morning! (What can I say, the spring-like weather has me in the mood, even if we don’t have cherry trees in my area). This tea is made by the Japanese company Creha Tea, but I ordered it through Yunomi.
The first thing to note with this tea is it does use some flavoring, unlike the green tea I sampled recently, so this tea has a much more prominent flavor — having a black tea base, I don’t think there would be any flavor at all without it, given how subtle the sakura taste was on its own when I tasted it in the green tea. But this does give the tea a far more pronounced cherry flavor rather than a subtle floral touch; I imagine for some that will be far more to their liking, and for others, it may be far more disappointing.
The base of the tea is not an extremely strong black, so it isn’t overwhelming to the flavor. More of light-to-medium brew that takes the flavor well, and it’s very smooth. I find no astringencies with the tea, a light maltiness, and a very subtle leafy or woody note. It’s very pleasant. The finish of the sip has this sweet cherry taste, but it isn’t like the cherry flavoring i often find in American blends, that is syrupy, strong, and overbearing. This has a light delicateness to it that really does make me think of cherry-flavored mochi or marshmallows — something soft, fluffy, and sweet, but not overly strong with the flavor. The tea base itself shines through a lot on this, with a softer and more rounded sweet hint of cherry at the end of the sip. It certainly doesn’t have that off-putting “cough-syrup” taste like many cherry teas, and would be a good choice for someone looking for a tea with a subtle and sweet cherry flavor lacking those nasty overbearing medicinal notes.
Flavors: Cherry, Cherry Wood, Malt, Marshmallow, Sweet
Green March! I am a fan of anything and everything sakura (I’m a March baby, I love things associated with Japanese culture, and they just have such a pretty look and smell! Last March I got to see them blooming in Portland, Oregon, but it is my dream to get to go to a proper Hanami in Japan one day!), so when I saw actual sakura-flavored tea, and not that common faux-sakura green tea that is everywhere using cherry-flavoring and rose petals (and don’t get me wrong, I freaking love that stuff!) I knew I had to try it!
This tea was ordered from Yunomi, but is made from a Japanese tea company called Chasandai Tea Factory. From what I’ve found from my (limited) research into flavored Japanese sakura teas, usually the sakura leaves and flowers are salted, not sugared (and I have some of the salted variety on order from Lupicia on the way… can’t wait to try those, too! I’ll just consider going way over my tea budget this month on sakura seasonals a birthday present to myself. cough cough) I’ll be curious to compare the differences, but I have to say, this tea is very unique, and I really like it!
First off, and I know this is quite strange to say about a tea that probably everyone would unanimously think of as floral, it comes off very dessert like to me… in fact my very first impression was sugar cookies, and I often don’t even get that feeling from tea blends that are boasting themselves as cookie blends. Yet, it is hard to put my finger on exactly what it is that strikes those feelings in me. I certainly can taste a rich, vegetative sencha note in the base of the tea, and it is obvious this is a quality sencha. But it has a sort of buttery quality to it that reminds me a bit of drinking a Jin Xuan oolong… that creamy/buttery/vegetative note. It just feels a little lighter in body than a Jin Xuan. Then it has this very notable sweetness, both from the sugared leaves and the natural sweetness of the floral quality of the sakura. Somehow those things put together just make it taste somehow very cookie-like to me, rather than like a typical floral tea. It certainly doesn’t read with a heavy floral taste the way rose petal tea does. It’s a very subtle touch.
The flavor isn’t strong, but it is something very unique. To me it’s like a Jin Xuan that has a subtle sakura petal note instead of that orchid/lilac note that is often lingering under the buttery/vegetal flavor. And it’s just a bit sweeter, hitting this buttercream/cookie note at the back of my throat. If you want something that is going to scream “sakura” at you, honestly the faux teas that taste strongly of cherry and flowers but are accomplishing the deed in an artificial way are going to do it better, because as I’ve discovered, sakura is a very subtle flavor note. But this is quite different, and quite tasty! I’ll definitely be enjoying this, and may try making an iced brew and seeing how that tastes, as well.
Flavors: Butter, Cookie, Cream, Floral, Sugar, Sweet, Vegetal
I shouldn’t have read the notes prior to trying this one. Particularly not Liquid Proust’s, because now I’m thinking of dead human bodies that might have turned into plants, and it’s all suddenly very Lovecraftian.
The leaves are something different. They’re huge for one, and look like leaves you might find outside on the ground in autumn. They certainly don’t resemble any tea I’ve ever tried. The scent, though, is truly awful. It’s very vinegary, and while I can see the comparisons to pickles and olives, mostly I’m thinking embalming fluid. That’s all LP’s fault, I’m sure.
Now that I’ve filled my mind with such comparisons, I know I’m going to have a hard time tasting pleasant things. It’s not terrible, but it’s not something I’d want to drink routinely (or even ever again…) It’s very savoury, which is fine, but it mostly tastes like a combination of brine and vinegar with an undertone of decay.
I’m going to say I recommend this one, because I think everyone should have this experience at least once in their lives. It’s unique.
I feel like the more I drink this tea, the more I like it. It fares well with various different parameters. This time I tried a high leaf/water ratio and cooler temperature for first two steeps. Namely, 1st steep at 80°C, 2nd at 86°C, 3rd straight off the boil and 4th was a 10 minute simmer, now my standard ending of Hojicha sessions.
All infusions were very thick, but also very different from each other. It started off mild and roasty, yet complex and finished with a dark woody brew with competing coffee bitterness, green tea astringency and caramel sweetness.
Flavors: Caramel, Cedar
I tried less leaf and cooler water this time, yielding a lighter and less complex, but definitely very tasty tea. The lower bitterness and astringency allowed me to focus more on the mouthfeel of the liquor, which is oily, thick and effervescent. There is still some powderiness from the astringency, but fairly subdued.
Flavors: Rooibos, Seaweed, Umami