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Recent Tasting Notes
I’ve been returning to senchas after having consistently drank raw pu’er and to a lesser extent, Chinese greens, Taiwanese and Wuyi oolongs, and heichas. That’s not to say I’m done with these teas. I’ve just been craving that distict combination of steamed bitter greens, brininess, moss, and floral and piney notes that are unique to Japanese sencha. I’m definitely a green tea kind of guy and I consider senchas to be at the greenest end of the spectrum in both taste and color.
I began my tea nerd journey with sencha, so maybe this is my baseline for all teas? I find them to be the most comforting of all teas. Maybe it’s that final roasting stage that makes this so, or maybe it’s the lack of fuss with regards to tea ware? No need for a chahai and no fussy filter, tea table, tea pets, or anything like that. Just a kyusu and mid-sized cup. Done.
There’s nothing remarkable about this tea. It’s even less fussy in nature since it’s aracha and tea stems and tea dust have not been sorted, making it a cheaper but IMO just as tasty. It’s seems to be mid to heavily steamed, as some of the leaves are in tact, but most are in pieces. The initial steeps are sweet and savory grass with faint hints of young pine shoots and wild flowers. I like it.
Mid steeps reveal more sweet grassy notes and roasted zucchini and broccoli. The tea soup begins an attractive light lime green with tea bits settling in the bottom, but mid steeps yield a more swampy dark green. So this isn’t the most visually appealing tea, but it’s still quite tasty and comforting. I’ve been wanting this for a while. I found myself in a slightly more meditative and focused state for the rest of the day.
The fifth and sixth steeps were lighter of course, but still revealed similar roasted veggie and sweet grass notes to those mid-steeps and was never unpleasant in its astringency. Perfect way to celebrate Daylight Savings Time and the coming of spring.
5g of tea
1st steep, 45°C, 60 sec, 100 ml: The mouthfeel is incredible, so silky. The colour of the first steep is actually very light compared to the latter ones and not cloudy at all. The taste is quite salty even for a gyokuro, but the umami is not super strong. The finish is bready and the aftertaste has honey sweetness.
2nd steep, 55°C, 15 sec, 100 ml: Again, great viscosity, but with a very strong green colour that could almost compete with some matchas. I like the taste more than the first steep, it is a bit more complex with grassy notes and some bitterness appearing. Otherwise not too dissimilar from the previous steep.
3rd steep, 60°C, 30 sec, 100 ml: The colour is still holding up, only slightly weaker now. The taste is vegetal and a little bit spicy, hints of courgette, black pepper and pattypan squash. The savoury tastes are still present, but much more modest, allowing for a yet more complex flavour. There is also a slight astringency kicking in and the taste is a bit more buttery overall with hints of citrus fruits.
4th steep, 70°C, 45 sec, 100 ml: Finally, the viscosity drops to standard levels. The taste is not too complex, but fairly balanced and enjoyable. The astringency is naturally a bit stronger but not overbearing at all.
5th steep, 80°C, 120 sec, 100 ml: I was feeling the tea is already giving up a little bit so I tried to get as much out of it for the 5th infusion, hoping that the bitterness and astringency won’t be too strong. And it isn’t, the tea holds up well even with longer steeps (with respect to how small the leaf bits are). There is a noticeable caffeine bitterness, but it is not too strong.
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Black Pepper, Butter, Butternut Squash, Freshly Cut Grass, Honey, Parsley, Salty, Umami, Zucchini
Very light and nutty, resembling dry foliage. Remindes me a bit of an Liu An or old Sheng.
Images and more at https://puerh.blog/teanotes/furyu-batabatacha
Light roasting-notes and refreshing light sourness, but a bit light tastewise.
Images and more at https://puerh.blog/teanotes/tosa-bancha
Flavors: Lemon, Roasted, Sour
Almost caught up on backlogged notes! This is one of many teas I recently received from Hoalatha and I tried it a couple of weeks ago.
The dark green, dry leaves had a salty, minerally, umami aroma and have been rolled in a unique way, like a cross between a gunpowder green and a twisted sencha.
The first steep produced a very light, yellow liquor and released a very deep aroma from the leaves. The taste is light and refreshing, and has a sweet finish.
As is customary, the second steep is a quicker one. The produced liquor is more yellow and the leaves begin to quickly unfurl. The flavor is a familiar blend of umami, beaniness and sweet chestnut, with mineral notes on the exhale. I really enjoyed this sample and would definitely try more teas processed this way in the future. Thanks tea friend!
Flavors: Beany, Chestnut, Mineral, Sweet, Umami
Got this as a free sample from Yunomi and this tea is really cool. I’m trying to think if I’ve ever had buckwheat tea, but I don’t believe I have. Since it’s caffeine-free and I really should be in bed by now, I decided to brew some up without fear of keeping myself awake. The result is a lovely liquor that is very hearty and buttery.. almost brothy? This is very savory and a great herbal tea especially for those that do not like the vegetal taste of green tea. Also, the instructions suggested eating the buckwheat kernels and I can confirm you CAN. Tastes just like cereal and a little like popcorn. This might even be the MORE fun part. I used a strainer for this tea but next time I may not and just eat the kernels as they come next time.
Flavors: Butter, Popcorn, Salty, Wheat
Drank the last of this one the other day and actually got a measure on the amount of water I used, which is not typical. I used the last four remaining grams from my order and added 53 ml of water for the first steep.
One of the things about the first steep with Japanese greens is that the leaves always absorb SO much water that you get back much less than you put in. I probably got around 20 or 30 ml of liquor to actually drink from this steep.
The leaves were expanded with the water they’d absorbed in the next steep, so I only had room for 29 ml of water, though I probably got most of that back. All in all, I’m glad I decided to measure this with the last of these leaves, as it gives me a better idea of what kind of ratio gives me the flavor concentration I look for instead of relying on the size of the vessel to do that for me.
For some reason this review from two days ago was on Brown Sugar, so I’m just fixing that…
Returned to one of my recent go to greens this morning. This morning this tea was almost syrupy in texture, umami, briny and sweet with just the right amount of vegetal finish.
Flavors: Seaweed, Sweet, Thick, Umami, Vegetal
I’ve had the #1 from Nakamura-en (the gyokuro mecha), so I was looking forward to trying this one even though I know it is the fannings. Considering how flavorful the mecha is, I figure this one must release a lot of flavor, as well.
And I wasn’t let down. Though this is a bit of a pain to steep and strain in the vessel I chose since it clogged up the straining holes and the strainer I poured through, the flavor doesn’t seem to have been affected. The liquor poured light green and was flavorful from the first sip. Buttery and umami with sweet vegetal notes. Smooth without bitterness or astringency.
Steep two comes out even greener and mostly sweet with a lighter vegetal umami backdrop. Quite different from what I’ve had in the past, and a very good in my opinion!
60C, 45s, plus long pour
Flavors: Broth, Sweet, Umami, Vegetal
After reading some of the reviews on this tea, I realize I may be the black sheep. I personally was not a big fan of this tea. It was extremely astringent, but not in a good way. It left his astringent taste that just tasted bad. It’s hard to describe. I just found it having a bad aftertaste.
To start, the dry leaf’s appearance was a finely chopped mix of light and dark green pieces. It was very powdery and left an interesting first impression. I initially thought this was a sign of poor quality, but realized that this is what “konacha” means. I’m still new to Japanese terms so I was ignorant of this fact. The smell of the dry leaf was like astringent greens. Very reminiscent of matcha.
For the first infusion, I steeped 5g of tea for 30 seconds at 140 degrees in 75ml of water. The resulting liquor was a greenish/yellow with lots of leaf particles and powder (due to the broken up aspect of the leaf). It did not look super appealing. The aroma was not bad though. It had a very deep matcha smell. Bitter. The wet leaves themselves were a beautiful deep green mush (due to the small leave size). The aroma was nice and light. Not too overpowering.
The taste was umami and astringent. Initially this was really great. However, following the initial burst of umami and astringency was a super bitter bad aftertaste. It was not a simple bite, but a taste that left me running my tongue around in my mouth trying to get rid of all the liquid. Furthermore, this bad taste lingered. Now, this was not something that ruined the tea, but something I personally cannot stand.
The second infusion was made with 250ml of 160 degree water for 30 seconds. The liquor was a very deep green and very matcha like. Much more appealing than the first infusion. The aroma, however, was pretty lacking. It just wasn’t strong enough to really smell. The taste was similar to the first infusion in the fact that it was very astringent and bitter. There was a strong taste of overcooked spinach. Again, a lingering bad bitter aftertaste.
Overall this tea was ok. After reading the other reviews I am looking forward to trying it again. Maybe I simply don’t appreciate the flavor profile. Regardless, at this point it is not my favorite by any means nor would I recommend it.
Ratings (from 1-10)
6 – Dry Leaf Appearance
7 – Dry Leaf Smell
7 – Wet Leaf Appearance
6 – Wet Leaf Smell
4 – Liquor Appearance
6 – Aroma
5 – Taste
5 – Value (Is this taste, aroma, and overall experience worth the cost.)
Total = 56
0.5 – Dry Leaf Appearance
0.5 – Dry Leaf Smell
0.5 – Wet Leaf Appearance
0.5 – Wet Leaf Smell
0.5 – Liquor Appearance
3.5 – Aroma
3.5 – Taste
0.5 – Value (Is this taste, aroma, and overall experience worth the cost.)
Flavors: Astringent, Spinach
Nothing like good gyokuro in the morning. This is one that I continue to enjoy coming back to again and again, and I plan to try others from Nakamura-en. I’m glad I bought this in a large quantity, as it has made it possible for me to share with a few people and still have a good amount for my stash. :3
So I chose this as the first thing to steep in the shiboridashi I made and oh my goodness. Umami and brothy with a creaminess that is more butter than cream. I get spinach out of the vegetal element here, and the brothiness is definitely of a briny nature.
While the first steep came out a deep golden hue, the second and third are a deep, vivid green, thick, silky soup, full of a more balanced medley of flavors than the first steep. So glad I got as much of this stuff as I did!
Flavors: Broth, Butter, Creamy, Smooth, Spinach, Thick, Umami, Vegetal
I didn’t like this genmaicha as much as the NaturaliTea one I drank yesterday. I found the green tea to be a little bitter, which is okay, but the flavour intensified and intensified until I couldn’t really stand it anymore. If you like bitter flavours, you might love this genmaicha, but it’s just really not my bag. Oh well.
Flavors: Bitter, Nutty, Toasted Rice
Wow, this was my first gyokuro from this company. I picked this sample up in the Puerh Plus TTB. This was such an interesting experience, and such a wonderful tea. It’s so food tasting that it’s almost filling.
Steep 1: 140 for 2 minutes in 4oz. Holy crap, this is a buttery mushroom bomb. Creamy and umami to the extreme. Seriously, I have eaten mushrooms that taste less like mushroom than this tea. Honestly, I can’t even find anything in this flavor other than buttery mushrooms. I can’t stress this enough: MUSHROOMS. Okay, maybe I am getting a little of that fresh grass clipping taste that I get with matcha, and probably the dark green of kale or spinach, but seriously, that flavor is so muted under the mushrooms.
Steep 2: Instructions said 8oz at 176 for 10 seconds, and I wasn’t expecting so much color to come from such a short steep. It’s a dark, cloudy green. It’s less intense, thank goodness. I just had mushrooms for lunch, and it’s a little much for directly after. The mushroom flavor is subdued somewhat, allowing the dark green vegetal flavor to shine through. The butteriness remains. I’m still reminded of a really nice matcha.
The flavors don’t seem to change much through subsequent steepings. Really, an incredible tea with a huge amount of flavor. Great to drink before (or instead of) lunch.
A rather different seeming gyokuro. Leaf buds and tips are smaller than the leaf usually used for this kind of tea. Taking that in mind, I didn’t brew it as long as I normally do for gyokuro, and I’m glad I didn’t. First steep was 1 minute at 140F – this steep was thick, with umami and grassy flavors, along with a nutty or bready finish that I really wasn’t a huge fan of. Next, I did steeps of 15s, 30s, and 1m with 175F water. The umami was basically gone after the first steep, as was the nutty/bready business that was going on. The grassiness took a more prominent place for the rest of the session, and the tea developed a pretty nice asparagus vegetal note as well.
Flavors: Grass, Nutty, Thick, Umami
I saw this in the puerh plus TTB and wasn’t interested. I’ve been drinking hojicha a long time and one of the first loose leaf teas I bought were packets of Yamamotoyama hojicha. I assumed toasting was a great equalizer of tea quality. The stems were such a gorgeous deep brown color that I eventually opened the packet for a sniff. It smelled like chocolate. I’m not sure how or why but exactly like chocolate. So I took the sample and waited all of a week before I had to have it.
I doubted my senses so I double checked with my favorite non-tea drinker by shoving the package in their facing and asking what it smelled like. “Chocolate” came out on its own from someone who couldn’t tell hojicha from a nice mulch so it wasn’t just my brain playing tricks on me. I brewed this in a steeper mug and got two cups of glorious toasty chocolate tasting late night tea. The toasty was was full without being acrid. I think I probably could have got another cup out of it, should I not turned into the night. I am ashamed about my past ambivalence to hojicha, and now feel the need to see if I can find a particularly fine example of roasted barley tea out there.