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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.
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
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.
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.
Since my favorite plane in MTG is Ravnica, and Ravnica is vaguely inspired by Russia, I decided to dabble in Russian cooking and made a soup. Granted I picked the wrong day since it is freaking hot, but I really wanted a hearty soup. I made Kapustnyak (I saw it listed both as Russian and Ukrainian technically) a soup made with porky goodness (I used kielbasa) and sauerkraut, and man is it good! Definitely keeping this recipe around for what passes for winter in these parts. Also I have a poll with regards to blog scheduling on twitter, answer it if you have the time!
Today I am taking an adventure into Japanese dark teas with Yunomi Furyu: Tosa Bancha! It is my goal to try all the dark teas offered by Yunomi, Japanese dark teas are so fascinating. This one is a blend of pan-fried autumn picked bancha and Chamaecrista nomame, a sweet herb which, if my bit of botanical research is correct, is a member of the pea family. The leaves are gorgeous, big glossy things interspersed with a few stems and herbal bits. The aroma is savory and herbaceous, notes of sage, miso, soy, toasted rice, and a bit of hay sweetness. It is light and fluffy, delicate but distinct.
The aroma of the steeped leaves, which look uncannily like mulch, is a blend of autumn leaves, toasted rice, and toasted sage. It is very autumnal and savory, no real sweetness to be found. The aroma is lightly toasted and very gentle, notes of autumn leaves, barley, rice, and a subtle herbaceous sweetness.
The taste of this tea has a lot in common with a lightly roasted hojicha, gentle notes of autumn leaves and roasted rice. Alongside these notes is a gentle lemony salivary sweetness, then it develops a gentle fresh hay. The finish is a delicate lemon blossom and cocoa sweetness, which is peculiar but tasty. Sadly I only found this tea lasted for a single steep, luckily the first steep, for all its delicate quality was super tasty and very relaxing, it has a wonderfully mellow before sleep tea.
Really enjoyed this sencha. Equally good with both a long first steep and shorter first steep. With that longer first steep, it was decently bitter with heavy umami and a full-feeling thickness. Shorter steep gave it a lighter grassy/toasty flavor. Subsequent steeps either way were grassy with a smooth and drinkable character. Toward the end, the grassy flavor got more vegetal, as in less vibrantly green tasting.
My favorite aspect of this tea was the delayed aftertaste I got on the first 2-3 steeps with either method. It wasn’t an immediate aftertaste, but about 2 minutes after finishing a cup, my mouth started to fill up with a pretty distinct peachy/nectarine flavor. It was so good. Made my sessions take longer, as I didn’t want to start the next cup and wash that aftertaste out. Succulent and delicious. Not something I’ve gotten from a sencha before. I’m glad I got the Morita Tea Garden Sampler.
Flavors: Grass, Peach, Toasty, Umami, Vegetal
I got this as part of the Morita Tea sampler. This was a pretty good one. The aroma wasn’t quite as nutty/buttery as it would be for a sencha. I used 160F water and got steeps of 1m, 30s, 1m before upping temp to 180F and pulling one more 1m steep from the leaves.
The first steep had a robust grassy sweetness with some astringency underneath. Halfway through the first steep I started tasting some kind of pine-y flavors, along with some sweetness that kind of reminded me of honey, but I’m calling it more pine sap.
Next steep was creamy grassiness without the astringency. I didn’t get any of the pine or pine-sap flavors this time.
The last couple were just smooth grassy sweetness, with the final steep being pretty weak.
Flavors: Astringent, Grass, Pine, Smooth, Sweet
I’m glad Yunomi recommended trying this tea with “warm” (140F) and hotter water. I tried it first with 160F water and steep times of 1m, 30s, 1m. It was grassy, with pretty decent astringency in the finish. There was a honey sweetness in there somewhere as well. Next steep was a little less astringent in flavor, but more drying in the mouth, and it sort of just fell flat on the final steep.
The tea really shone when I started with cooler water. For this second session, I used 140F water for steeps of 1m, then 30s. After that, I did 1m steeps of 160F, 180F, and 200F. The first two steeps were noticeably more balanced in astringency vs. sweetness. It certainly still had an astringent note to it, but was much more mellow with a stronger grassy sweetness. I think I also detected a bit of fruit on the aftertaste, maybe melon. The next three steeps, using progressively hotter water each time, were nice and smoothly sweet with grassy and vegetal spinach flavors. The last steep acquired a noticeable bitterness, but still wasn’t overpowering. The body was strong in all but the final steep using this method, as opposed to the other method, when the main thing I got was that astringency, without a very good body to the liquid.
Flavors: Astringent, Grass, Smooth, Spinach, Sweet
Interesting, a tea made from stems! I bought the four tea sample pack from Morita Tea on Yunomi. Reading up on it before drinking, I realized that their farm was affected by the Nuclear meltdown or whatever in Japan a few years ago. Would be worrisome, except that the tea tested fully safe. Sadly, it seems most vendors have been avoiding tea from this region, so I’m glad that I could support them!
This still tasted green, if that makes sense, but didn’t have quite the grassiness of a sencha. Instead I found it more like young green woodiness. My favorite part was the aftertaste though. It left a prominent fruity flavor in my mouth, which I struggled to place for a minute before it hit me – Honeydew melon! One of my favorite fruits! Found it best with 175F and steep times of 1m, 30s, 1m…then increased to 190F and did another 1m. Pretty consistent, got a little weaker as I went.
Flavors: Green Wood, Honeydew, Sweet
Shamefully, I am just now getting around to this tea from last year’s Japanese tea box organized and shipped by Liquid Proust. I know senchas are best enjoyed fresh but this is quite tasty even a year later. I will say that there’s no notable cherry/cherry blossom flavor at this point. Sencha’s trademark grassiness is definitely here though. I got four solid steeps out of this leaf. I saved the used leaves to mix with some soy sauce and eat over rice later. I have only tried that before with gyokuru but I have high hopes for it with this sencha.
I wanted to fancy up the experience so I made myself a little snack tray to go with the tea: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/27303333216/ Clockwise from top left: seedless green grapes, rose-flavored Turkish delight from Turkey, strawberries drizzled with vanilla agave, Japanese mini Milanos, Rainier cherries, and Frango dark chocolates. To avoid messing up my palate for tasting-note purposes, I drank one cup of each steep, followed by a snack, followed by the second cup of that steep, and ended with a few sips of water to clear my palate. I found that the fresh fruit complemented the springiness of the tea better than the cookies and candy did.
First steep: 160f for 2 minutes. The brew is thick and grassy with a hint of sweetness. I regret not using a kyusu because small bits of leaf did make it into the cup. Thankfully, the impact was mostly visual – the leaf settled at the bottom of the cup and did not impact the taste or texture of the brew.
Second steep: 175f for 20 seconds. I was surprised that the first flavor to hit me was a slight bitterness. The grassy flavor didn’t really come in until the aftertaste. It’s not quite fresh-cut grass; more like grass in springtime the day after it has been cut. There’s a nice thick mouthfeel to this steep.
Third steep: 175f for 45 seconds. This might be my favorite steep. Thick mouthfeel, smooth flavor throughout, mellow grassy flavor, and no astringency or bitterness whatsoever.
Fourth steep: 180f for 60 seconds. This steep is about the same as the third, which is to say quite lovely. The brew is slightly thinner but the flavor is the same.
Thanks Liquid Proust!
Ah, playing on single player with cheat mode on is awesome, I am like unto an Ark god! Rebuilding my swamp base will only take a few hours instead of a few weeks, and now I have a level 120 Mosasaurus, because I can. I am very against using cheat codes in multiplayer, you will see me go into a serious rage if I find out I am playing with a cheat, but in single player where it is just little ol’ me I have no problem. I do have a rule for myself though, no cheat mode until I have thoroughly experienced the game on ‘normal’ mode, that way I get a good understanding of the game and I am not cheating myself out of what could be an awesome experience. This became very important with Minecraft, I only play on creative because I don’t find survival fun anymore, certain grindy aspects of Ark affect me the same way, it was fun the first time! On a fun note, if you don’t know what a Mosasaurus is go look it up, they are maybe my favorite prehistoric sea creature.
Today I am looking at a fun, rare tea from Japan! Yunomi’s Mimasaka Bancha by Furyu Bancha Specialty Shop. Japan has some epic dark tea, it is somewhat hard to get my hands on, but when I do I am happy! This particular tea was said to be the favorite of Miyamoto Musashi, legendary swordsman of classic Japanese literature. This tea looks a lot like a favorite of mine, Kyobancha, the leaves are shinier, the aroma is similar to but with a twist. Notes of soy sauce, sour ponzu sauce, pine resins, roast, pine needles, and underlying autumn leaf pile and dry wood. It is pleasant, the savory food like notes are light and the more woody notes prominent.
Into my kyusu the leaves go for a very long steeping, Yunomi recommends 8 minutes which works for me. The aroma of the soggy leaves (which look like mulch and this amuses me) is wet autumn leaves, a bit of sour fermented soy (kinda like tempeh but a bit more sour) meaty winter stew, roasty toasty, pine wood, and a finish of oak barrel. This is an evocative pile of leaves. The aroma of the liquid is nice and mild and seriously comfy, it doesn’t smell like a warm robe on a cold day but it certainly evokes that. Notes of wood, soggy leaves, soy beans, and a sweet caramelized sugar and rice undertone.
The first time I tried this tea I found it a but underwhelming, turns out I just underleafed it, this is a tea that tastes best when you are very heavy handed with the leaf amount. Do not be afraid to just load up on the fluffy leaves. The taste is smooth, similar to a mildly roasted Hojicha or Kyobancha with notes of autumn leaf pile, gentle roast, and sweet caramelized sugar. Towards the end the roast becomes stronger, bringing in notes of rice and toasted soy beans with a hint of meaty soy sauce. Like other Japanese dark teas I have tried this tea is pretty good chilled, bringing out just a hint of sourness like a very distant lemon. I was able to get a second steep out of this tea, but it was like the first only diminished, so I stuck it in my fridge and had the rest for breakfast, which I found immensely refreshing and hydrating. If you are a fan of either Hojicha or Kyobancha I say give this one a try, it is more of an entry level to the uniqueness of Japanese Dark Teas.
I know I said that I thought this would be best served hot, but something about the hot mug I made last night didn’t sit well with me. I think it was the apple? It was just sort of tart which was a little funky next to the roasty profile of the houjicha and the warming ginger flavour. If I ever cross pathes with this again I think I need to go back to drinking it cold…
Flavors: Apple, Ginger, Nutty, Roasted, Tart
So I am finally getting around to getting the mouthpiece and valve oil for my thrift store French Horn, took me long enough, and I find myself in a bit of a pickle. A lot has changed in the world since I played my little heart out 15 years ago, mainly I have no idea where to find sheet music…or really how to read music (I gotta start over from scratch, I hope the knowledge comes back quickly) so that is going to be a fun search. I definitely think one of the things I will look for is the Jurassic Park theme, that piece is wonderful for the horn and was a favorite of mine years ago…well that and Bolero!
Today is a lazy day, meaning I lack the brain power to write about a tea with many many steeps, instead I want something relaxing…so I turn to an old classic relaxation tea, a Hojicha! Looking at Yunomi’s Ocharaka’s Hojicha Mint Chocolate Flavored Roasted Green Tea, a blend of Hojicha , black tea, peppermint, cornflowers, flavoring, and my favorite part…silver sparkles! Edible ones of course. The aroma of this tea is like a piece of toast with chocolate sauce and a very distant mint. Like chocolate mints for someone who wants more chocolate than mint and I am totally ok with that!
I was gifted this tea from a tea friend and thought it was just chocolate hojicha, so it was quite the surprise when it had mint and the silver sparkles, it was kinda epic steeping it and seeing the sparkle. The aroma of toasty chocolate (reminds me of the smell of the edge of a pan of brownies, actually) with gentle cooling mint notes as an afterthought. The liquid is pretty balanced with chocolate and mint with a finish of roasty toasty notes that are quite pleasant, like blending autumn warmth and the crispness of winter.
I found myself really torn, was this a winter tea or an autumn tea? On the one hand the gentle sweet mint and chocolate remind me of winter, with cooling mint notes and my favorite holiday indulgence (so many chocolate mints get devoured that time of year.) On the other hand the notes of pine sap, burning autumn leaves, and woody leaf notes remind me of autumn. This tea is a perfect relaxing cup of sweetness that feels like a warm blanket and afternoon naps, which is something I was much in need of.