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Recent Tasting Notes
It’s shincha time again. Last year I ordered a bunch of shincha samples from Yunomi but found none of them to be particularly interesting. So this year I returned to Yuuki-Cha, which has been my go-to vendor for Japanese greens for years. I had just finished a 100g bag of excellent Kirishima Asatsuyu sencha and wanted to try another medium steamed green tea. I picked up this one because of the promising reviews and because it came from a cultivar (yutaka) I hadn’t tried before.
The aroma out of the bag is deeply grassy and floral. Leaves are slightly more broken up than a normal chumushi sencha. I tried steeping this many different ways before settling on 2.5g/150ml for 45s using water at 158 F. Second and third steeps were for 15s at 168 F, and 30s at 162 F respectively. The first steep was very pale, almost colorless which is somewhat unusual for a Japanese green tea. Wet leaves had the aroma of roasted spinach. The taste was soft, lightly grassy with a hint of astringency in the finish. Pleasant but not terribly assertive. The second steep had a similar flavor but thicker and slightly more astringent. Liquor had a nice emerald green color this time. Surprisingly the last steep was the one I liked best. It was vegetal and grassy, a tad sweet without any bitterness to it. The reviews claim this is floral however that was far from my experience. Only at lower temperature with less leaf do I get a faint floral hint. But then the tea is so light it tastes like you’re drinking hot water.
I went through 25g of this tea, drinking and tinkering before I sat down and reviewed it. Despite Yuuki-Cha’s great track record, this one was kinda meh for me. It had little depth, no umami, more astringency than usual, and what little flavor there was faded quickly after the initial steep. I’ll cold steep the rest of my stash in the meantime and see if I have better luck with this year’s kamairicha.
Flavors: Astringent, Grass
This was my first foray into chumushi sencha and ordering from yuuki-cha for that matter. It’s a delcious unami filled tea, with the first infusion brewed at low temperature really brings it out. First steep has strong notes of unami and grassyness with bery slight astringgency. Later steeps become sweeter but a characteristic green tea taste and vegetalbleness. I’m not finding as much buttery and sweetness but all together I’ve really enjoyed this sencha and would order again.
1st – 160 for 1 minute
2nd – 170 flash
3rd – 175 for 45s
4th – 180 2 mins
Flavors: Grass, Green, Seaweed
Very nice, balanced hojicha. Nice unity of subtly-roasted and fresh aromas. One hour ago I drank this hojicha: https://steepster.com/teas/lima/82328-roasted-bancha , and this one is just so much better. The roast in this one fits perfectly with the tea itself and there is a nice, pleasantly-astringent mouthfeel that adds to the body of this tea. Hoping to order this one again in next year’s shincha order.
Tea: Koubi Shiage, Miyazaki Oolong. From the LPT International Oolong buy.
Prep: 60cc gaiwan, 5g. 10s, 10s, 20s, 30s, etc..
Sessions with this tea: 2
Lots of chopped up leaf in this sample. Somebody else added a “freshly baked bread” note and I gotta say that’s mostly what I get. Not a dark bread and not sourdough, but like a soft wheaty loaf. It has a subtle corny sweetness, some hint of roast note but is mostly on the greener side. I spaced out my sessions a few months apart to see if the leaf calmed down any, which it seems to be better at my second session. The roast steeps out after 3 steeps, leaving behind the soft sweetness. The mouthfeel is on the thin side, but is still smooth. Mild body caffeine feeling.
Unfortunately because of how chopped this is, it steeps out very quickly. I was pushing these by the 5th infusion. This is an interesting oolong and is nice to have some oolong from another production area other than china and taiwan. The flavors are quite balanced, and the roast is well done. I honestly haven’t tried to look at the pricing so I will not comment on whether or not I think its worthwhile to buy a larger quantity.
Great, very easy tea. Very forgiving. If you brew it lightly it will be subtle and refreshing; stronger brews can become nicely heavy without any bitterness or astringency. It reminds of some herbal teas, especially the earthy-grassy things in coca tea and mate.
A perfect everyday tea with character. I have to give a special mention to the color of the brew. I have never had a green tea that brews so vibrantly green, it’s really nice to look at.
Flavors: Grass, Herbs
Easily the best green tea I’ve had in 2017. This is an exquisite green tea with a full and creamy mouthfeel, silky smooth texture, and a pear like fruitiness. There’s a sweet umami quality to it almost like gyokuro.
Dry leaves are curled resembling a Laoshan green with a similar aroma. The wet leaf is a very vibrant green color and tea liquor is pale yellowish green. The early steeps have a lot of fruitiness and umami to them. There’s less of the vegetal and grassiness you typically see in greens. What immediately jumps out at me is the unbelievable mouthfeel that leaves a velvety sensation lingering on the palate long after the tea is gone. I brewed this at fairly low temperatures, around 158-162 F for the first 3 steeps. The last two infusions were at 170-180 F and had a light sencha-like grassy flavor.
This to me tasted like some of the better shade-grown Laoshan teas I’ve had. I’d say the flavor profile is a cross between a Laoshan green and gyokuro. I was a little hesitant to order it as this was the most expensive kamairicha in Yuuki-Cha’s lineup but I’m glad I did because it’s totally worth it for the amazing flavor and the many infusions it gives.
Flavors: Fruity, Pear, Thick, Umami
I was feeling a little adventurous when I bought this tea. Normally I stick to my tried and true favorite, the Kirishima/Kagoshima senchas, but I was curious about the other teas in Yuuki-Cha’s lineup. This was one of their newer Saemidori variants. Despite having zero reviews, I decided to roll the dice on this mystery tea based on Yuuki-Cha’s excellent track record.
The dry leaf appearance leaves a lot to be desired. The leaves are excessively broken and look like dust and fannings of a low grade tea. Despite using a stainless fine mesh strainer, the tea leaves behind a lot of sediment that can lead to bitterness. The leaves clogged my shibo and I didn’t even attempt to brew it in my kyusu for fear of badly clogging the sasame filter. I’m not one for teabags but it may be called for here.
Because of how broken the leaf is, this tea infuses quickly so it’s important to keep infusion times short. Like under a minute. I had to mess around with the brewing parameters for a bit because I kept getting a lot of bitterness. Finally, I settled on steep times of 25s/1s/30s/45s. Also, starting with a lower temperature around 140-150 F and going from there helped minimize bitterness.
The first steep was a balanced sweet-bitter brew. Second infusion was a flash steeping and it produced a thick, grassy cup with a nice chlorophyll flavor. The thickness and deep green color of the liquor resembled matcha. It had a brisk, bold vegetal flavor and ever-present astringency. Not as sweet as the higher grade Saemidori senchas nor does it have the umami of better teas.
Overall, while I liked it, I wasn’t as impressed with this tea as others. I found this to be a good, serviceable sencha but nothing remarkable. The extra fine particles of tea were annoying and couldn’t be steeped in my nicer teaware.
Flavors: Astringent, Grass, Vegetal
This tea has faded a bit in flavour since I last reviewed it (spring 2017). However it has held up a lot better than some of the other senchas. Still a good grassy umami flavour to it but lacking sweet buttery flavour when I first tried it. This year I hope to refrigerate some of my green teas in the wine cooler so they can stay fresher longer.
4th tea from Yuuka-Cha and it is a winner too. I really did well from Yuuka-Cha choosing 4 teas I never had before and love them all. Of course I just placed a 2nd ordering an old favourite plus one extra.
So my first impression when taking a sip of this tea was how sweet it was. Super sweet! It’s fruity too with a bit of buttery taste. There’s a good umami taste to it but it’s not intense like some sencha or gyokuro teas. Sometimes that intense green taste is just too much for me even though I do love it.I was lazy today. I brewed all my other teas in my shiboridashi but just feeling like something more simple today. So I brewed it in a cup with an infuser at 75C for 30 sec.. It really is amazing. Even the last little drop with some leaves in it is not bitter. Still super sweet.
This tea was 16.65 US for 100g so it was in the mid-range. Definitely worth it. I am blown away by how good this tea is and I didn’t even use any special brewing. Very thankful to all that left reviews on Yuuki-Cha’s website as I based my tea purchases on that.
Silly me. I thought I had bought the same tea I had last year but it turns out I had the Okumidori tea not the Sakimidori one. Now I have to order that one as well!!!
This tea was the most expensive out of all the teas I ordered – running $25.20 US for 100g. Was it worth it? I think so. It’s a bit more delicate than the other two I’ve tried from this line (miyazaki Kamairicha ). They all have a buttery taste to them but this one is less robust and has a lovely floral note to it. There’s hardly any astringency and I get a bit of that deep green grassy flavour on the tongue. Not as bold as the Okumidori .
So I ordered 4 teas from Yuuki-Cha without having ever tried any of them before. 3 out of the 4 are winners so far. Have yet to try the last one. I think I’ve done a lot better from Yuuki-Cha than I do from Yunomi.
Well, I did something really stupid today. Shopping at a Chinese Food Market I picked up grocery store sencha. Why oh why? Got it home, opened it and tried it and it smelled and tasted bad. What was I expecting? You only get what you pay for. Oh well. One of those bad decisions.
However, buying this tea was not a bad decision. Buying this was a VERY GOOD decision. The name is almost the same as the tea I loved from last year but the Tokujo in the name is different. It runs a little cheaper than that expensive tea (which I did buy too). This tea is very buttery and has a definite floral taste in the first 2 infusions. After that it’s just buttery & smooth. Very little astringency in this one compared to other Japanese greens. Did 3 infusions 30sec, 2 sec, 5 sec
So I’ve tried 2 out of the 4 teas I got from Yuuki-Cha and they are both great.
I normally buy my Japanese greens from Yunomi. However, last year I purchased one tea from Yuuki-Cha and enjoyed it so much; I decided to go with them. Based on the reviews of this tea it was supposed to have a grapefruit/green taste to it. I didn’t really taste the grapefruit but it did have that little astringent bite that would be similar to grapefruit. It was sweet and grassy and lasted through 4 infusions. Best of all this tea was 13.65US for 100g. That’s a good price for good quality shincha.
Very happy with this one.
It’s got a nice roast the tea tastes really clean not too much complexity on the first steep but still quite refreshing and nice.
It’s got an interesting smell, quite green and lots of top notes with a little sourness but with a lovely roasted quality with its body.
I’m the actual tea there is only a slight slight sourness that I would blame more on the quality of the water then the tea. The top notes that I smell on the tea are much different then the. The after taste is all delicious roast.
Pushed this tea pretty hard on this steep and the next one. No bitterness or astringency. Not a lot of complexity either but still very refreshing. Its got quite a nice fruity quality to it that is quite refreshing.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Fruity, Pleasantly Sour, Roasted, Stonefruits
If Lipton made green oolong tea, I imagine this is what it would taste like. Having been spoiled by quality Taiwanese and Chinese oolongs, I found this to be a rough tea. Lots of broken leaf, astringency, and no complexity in flavor.
The dry leaves are pale green and twisted with a mild fragrance of orchid and gardenia. The wet leaf has a pleasant gardenia and lilac aroma. Unlike Chinese oolong, the leaf isn’t intact. The broken leaf and debris made brewing in a gaiwan a mess. It also clogged the filter of a regular teapot. A metal brew basket or a teapot with a mesh strainer is the way to go.
The flavor of this tea is similar to jin xuan and baozhong but not nearly as refined. It’s buttery with light gardenia florals and a fair amount of bitterness. Short infusion times are key to minimizing the ever present astringency. It can only steep about 3 times which is pretty disappointing. When it comes to judging green oolongs Taiwanese teas are the gold standard for me. I feel this is missing many elements of the flavor, texture, and rich aroma that characterize Taiwanese oolongs. Amongst other things, it lacks the fresh, clean taste, the minerals, and thick mouthfeel.
I had high hopes for this tea but found it to be really subpar. Glad I got to try it, but I see no reason to order it again given all the high quality oolongs out there.
Flavors: Bitter, Gardenias, Vegetal
Traveling around Japan with my tastebuds again. Checking out their oolongs! Thanks to Liquid Proust for the awesome group buy.
Maybe it’s the power of suggestion, but the tea just seems very much like a sencha. Not in flavor, of course, but in production. It reaches out to the tea drinker with a very composed, articulate flavor profile whose primary flavors have a controlled development and whose background flavors come very neatly up to the front in the finish and aftertaste. Maybe I just picture the Japanese way of doing things while drinking this tea – very neat, very orderly, and quality-assured. In any event, this tea lives up to those expectations.
Overall, a delicious tea. A nice, chocolately sweetness is present throughout, but it is not cloyingly sweet. Very restrained, controlled, and composed. Also, if you are not a huge fan of roastiness or overt nuttiness, this is a good choice.
Price is good – about $7 for 50g. Has a bit more longevity than the other Japanese oolong (Kagoshima) that I tried. Excellent purchase.
Dry leaf: peanut shell, milk chocolate, cocoa powder, chocolate fudge. In preheated vessel – more peanut shell and roasted nut, some dry chocolate notes and red fruit.
Smell: roasted nut, peanut shell, notes of Mexican chocolate and dry baking spice, some hints of red currant
Taste: dry nuttiness, roast almonds, peanut shell, some dry baking spice notes, sticky rice sweetness and savoriness, hints of molasses and chocolate fudge. Aftertaste of dark syrup sweetness and red fruit. Returning chocolate fudge aftertaste (not heavy, but a strong hint of this flavor.)
Definitely interesting to see what kind of dark oolongs Japan produces. The flavor reminded me of Tie Luo Han Chinese oolong. Roasty and nutty, with some cocoa and fruit notes. Most noticeable, however, is that interesting pleasant sourness that TLH has (I called it “blue raspberry” in my TLH review – basically an underripe raspberry or sweet grapefruit flavor that produces a very pleasant sweet/sour flavor). Anyway, very engaging flavor profile – plenty of complexity.
However, it does lack the staying power of Tie Luo Han. After infusion #4, it started petering out. The leaves are small and give up their flavor very quickly. Keep steep times short for the first three infusions, and don’t bother rinsing it.
It would be interesting to brew this up at lower temps and longer steep times just to see what would happen. The leaves remind me of soft, delicate sencha leaves. Treating them with more finesse could yield interesting results. But, I only had 7g, so I brewed it like a hardy oolong and didn’t use kid gloves!
All that said, the price is right. Just over $5 for 50g. So, well worth purchasing, in my opinion. Certainly if you are drinking a bunch of sencha, this would be a welcome change of pace.
Dry leaf: dark cocoa, nutty, peanut shell, hints of cinnamon, red fruit, and citrus pith. In preheated vessel: strong roast nut and chocolate
Smell: Mexican chocolate, roasted peanut, dried red fruit
Taste: roasted pecan and almond, chocolate, cherry-infused milk chocolate, dried strawberries. Finish has chocolate cherry cordial, dried strawberries, underripe raspberries, and sweet grapefruit. Pleasant fruitiness and sweet/sour in aftertaste.
Prep: 140cc shibo, 4g, 85C water, rinse x1, 40s, 50s, 60s, 80s, 90s, 120s
Sessions with this tea: 1
Taste: Opens like a black tea, with typical tannic and cocoa notes. After steep 3 it settled into more familiar oolong territory, with some playful woody notes.
Body: thin/medium thickness, more astringency than expected on the first 2 steeps, but then settled down and was actually somewhat lackluster in terms of body. Mild energy, not very stimulating.
Leaf: normally don’t comment on this, but this leaf is quite chopped up. It steeped out longer than I expected given how chopped up this is, but I ended up using a shibo with straining edges rather than my gaiwan for this reason
Overall I need another session with this to evaluate. Not my favorite off the bat, because of the black tea opening, but interesting nonetheless
This was very oolongy with more cocoa notes in the roast that I usually do not expect from an oolong. Overall, it reminded me of toasted grains, oatmeal, and cedar wood, but it was on the sweeter end. I enjoyed it, but I am glad that the sample is not too big. It good enough for me to enjoy another session respecting it as a quality tea but not good enough for me to seek it out.
Sipdown. I gotta say most of the oolongs in this sampler were a little closer to black than oolong for me personally. Most of them were the way I prefer my blacks and half of them the way I prefer darker oolongs, but still, darker than I expected the sampler being.
Ending this one off, it was one of my favorites along with the Wild Orchid, the unroasted Yushan, and the other Japanese Oolong. I know that this tea was hit or miss for a lot of people, but I personally liked it because of how nutty and chocolaty it was in terms of its roast. It satisfied my coffee cravings for a few hours and paired surprisingly well with aged Gouda and buttery crackers producing some rosy and roasty results. I also found myself not wanting to grab a chocolate bar for a while.
I am glad that I can count this as a dark tea, and another I’ve finished off. Apparently, putting one two teas in your cabinet and drinking them both in a day is an effective way to sip down.
I second Rasseru’s tasting notes: toasted rice, with emphasis on roast, chocolate, and fruity on notes. Reading this, do not expect to taste literally every one of those things as flavors because you know how pretentious tea notes work.
Back to speaking in pretentious tea notes. I was not expecting the cocoa notes to be as heavy as they were along with the fruit notes-they were things that I typically demand in my black teas but I got it in an oolong instead. If I were a total novice, I probably would have identified some of the teas in the group buy as blacks, but after LP’s extensive education of me in the world of oolongs, the only way that I could tell that this was an oolong was its roasty similarities to a Da Hong Pao and the woodiness that would pop up. Roast, wood, fruit, and nuts are tastes that I usually get in a black tea anyway, but this was lighter on the malt, and heavy on the roast, nuts, and fruity. What do I know anyway?
I liked that it was off of my oolong expectations and though it personally tasted close to a black, it has a lot of the qualities that I want in my blacks anyway. Guess I won’t have to reshelve my darker tea category too soon.