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Recent Tasting Notes
This summer is going to go down as the summer of cold brew. Ever since I got the technique down, I’ve been cold brewing non-stop and my daily tea consumption has quadrupled as a result. I think I’ve only hot steeped a handful of times this week.
What follows is my shortcut cold brew method which I learned on IG and tweaked slightly. It was designed for Japanese green tea but works well with other teas too. I drop 2g of tea in an 8oz cup, fill with room temperature water, cover and walk away. 2 hours later, the tea is strained and poured over ice. With certain teas like this one, I’ll give the leaves a vigorous stir 5 minutes before straining. Lather, rinse, repeat with other teas. Way more efficient than waiting 8-10 hours for tea to steep in the fridge, IMO.
This has been my favorite tea for this cold brew method. The broken up fukamushi leaves infuse quickly and have so much more umami and sweetness as compared to hot steeping. When cold steeped, I definitely prefer the intense flavor of this deep steamed sencha over my lighter asamushi sencha. Upping my rating slightly because of how well this performs cold brewed.
Flavors: Green, Sweet, warm grass, Umami
Here’s the second tea from my Yuuki-Cha shincha order. I usually buy just one tea during shincha season since a 100g bag lasts awhile but with so many interesting teas at Yuuki-Cha this year, I went a little crazy and picked up 2 different senchas, an asamushi and this fukamushi, as well as a kamairicha. So yeah, it’ll be a while before I purchase any more Japanese greens. Anyway, I decided to check out Chiran Sencha after seeing it everywhere on my IG feed.
This is a pretty good Sencha with the deep steamed grassy flavor typical of the fukamushi style. Dry leaves have a fruity and sweet umami aroma. Wet leaf smells like a fresh ocean breeze. The tea starts off grassy with bold vegetal notes of broccoli, edamame, and asparagus. It becomes more savory as it settles, finishing with a little chlorophyll. Second steep is something like a thin matcha. Dense green, both in color and taste, and has a wheatgrass-like taste. Third steep is similar but flatter. This tea infuses quickly so best to keep steeps short to minimize bitterness. Don’t get much umami from it although for that I should probably drop the temperature. That may also help bring out more sweetness as it’s a tad savory.
Like shincha #1, this is a very good, classic tasting tea but there’s nothing really memorable about it. It’s got that in-your-face grassiness I love yet lacks complexity. Still have 85g left so I’ll continue experimenting.
Flavors: Asparagus, Broccoli, Grass, Soybean, Vegetal
And the spring green tea marathon continues. I’ve been drinking green tea almost every day this month while my 2019 teas are still fresh and haven’t grown tired of them (yet). My shincha order arrived the other day and I wasted no time diving right in.
This is an asamushi (light-steamed) sencha that’s described as subtle and aromatic. The leaves smell like flowers and grass, not fresh cut grass but grass that’s been outside drying. Wet leaf smells like spinach and cruciferous vegetables. First steep produces a pale yellow-green liquor with floral and umami notes. It becomes brothy as the tea cools. Second infusion is a brisker cup with a greener color and a refreshing grassy flavor. By the third steep, the flavor lightens and has a faint citrus hint.
A solid but unexciting sencha. Mellow flavor and very drinkable, but nothing really pops out at me.
Flavors: Grass, Umami, Vegetal
I bought this Kamairicha a few months ago. It’s the cheapest one on Yuuki-cha’s website and has good reviews so I thought I would try it out.
I’ve tried brewing this many ways but it still doesn’t appeal to me. I don’t find it a bad tea but it’s not too much like the other kamairicha’s either. This one is more savory. There’s a roasted taste to it. This tea was fired at a higher temperature than a normal kamairicha which explains why it’s so savory and roasty. For those that love roasted savory teas, that explains all the good reviews. There’s a little bit of similarity to Laoshan Green or wild jujube tea.
For me, however, I will woefully make it through this tea but wait in anticipation for the new 2019 kamairicha’s to come out.
This one sold out quickly last year, so I had to try it out this time around. I’d say Yuuki-cha’s description is spot on. It’s definitely not your typical Japanese sencha—less vegetal and more fruity, floral, oceanic. If chlorophyl had a named flavor, I’d add it to the list. It has a very nice body for a light-steamed sencha. The tea liquor is clear yet more green than some gyokuro I’ve had. It induces a very calming and cooling feeling. It’s perfect for summer.
For those that care, I brewed this with a gaiwan and rough-clay yakishime kyusu. The early steeps with the gaiwan are more sharp and floral—even somewhat grassy. The kyusu brewed a more balanced and aromatic cup with more distinctive mineral and moss/sweet forest notes. Taste-wise, I can’t say I prefer one brewing method over the other, aside from the kyusu being more aesthetically pleasing, which enhances the whole sencha-drinking experience, IMO.
I’d been meaning to try this tea so when I placed a teaware order with Yuuki-Cha I added it to my cart and glad I did.
The description is apt, “The taste of this Kyobancha is clean, smooth, sweet, refreshing, and perfectly roasted without any astringency or bitterness.”
The wet leaves smell like coffee, great tea to sip on all day. First time out I prepared it in a Tokoname kyusu with boiling water.
The traditional method to prepare it is to put leaves in a kettle and bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for around 5-10 minutes.
This was an okay gyokuro. It has a nice but elusive umami flavor. You have to nail down the perfect brewing parameters which I’ve only managed to achieve a couple of times. Most of the time, it has a basic green tea flavor with savory asparagus and wheatgrass overtones. Compared to other gyokuros I’ve tried, it’s on the light side and not quite as rich and buttery. There’s a fresh oceanic aroma in the leaf which I was hoping would come through in the tea but didn’t.
While most quality gyokuros give 4-5 good steeps, this goes only half the distance leaving me feeling short changed. It also doesn’t have that nice transition from umami to grassy sencha flavor.
Those who read my tasting notes know that I often favor standard grade teas over their expensive counterparts and I’ll take a sencha any day over gyokuro. Yet for some odd reason, I keep giving gyokuro a chance. Somehow I’ve convinced myself that I just haven’t found the right one yet.
Flavors: Artichoke, Asparagus, Broccoli, Grass, Umami
I’m desperate to sipdown some tea due to recent tea orders and aging teas in my cupboard.
This tea is from the Oolong group buy in 2016. I added the whole tea sample I received to my 100ml shibo so this is probably (surely) overleafed.
190F: wet leaf smells overwhelmingly of spinach, dark green
15s – woody, green, soft, green bean, creamy
20s – too strong, unpleasant green
10s – green
I don’t like this tea. Very green. I’mma go drink something else now.
Flavors: Green, Green Beans, Green Wood, Spinach
From LP Oolong group buy:
I started with 3.8 g in a 100ml gaiwan, but quickly added the rest (7g total).
15s – fruit, soft, not a whole lot of taste
15s – stronger, woodier, added rest of tea to this steep, as it cools there is a chocolate flavor – influenced by reading the tea note
20s – mineral, drying, my tongue is tingly?, not a lot of taste, there is a sweeter note that emerges as it cools
I’m going to stop this session and move onto another tea. Sipdown
Flavors: Drying, Fruity, Malt, Mineral, Sweet, Wood
I’m baaak. Took a little break from tea during a week long excursion to So-Cal where I indulged in fancy California coffee. I used to be a coffee geek way back in the day before I got into tea and still appreciate a good cup o’ joe. However I can never be away from tea for too long and brought along a few tea bags filled with loose tea for easy brewing during my journey. This was one of them.
This is my third kamairicha from Yuuki-Cha. I’ve grown to love pan-fired Japanese greens which have earned a permanent spot in my regular rotation of teas. The flavor profile reminds me a lot of another favorite, Laoshan green tea. This one not only resembled Laoshan tea with its notes of soymilk but also had some Korean Sejak-like sweet corn and toasted rice along with notes of spinach, lemongrass, and green bean. It’s a little sensitive to water temperature though and can impart a grapefruit like bitterness when pushed beyond 170 F. Keeping it in cold storage for a little while had some interesting effects on the tea. There is an unexpected gaoshan like frutiness now and floral hints that weren’t there before.
I’d rank this slightly below the other two kamairichas, mainly due to the sporadic bitterness but it’s a delicious green tea in its own right and an excellent daily drinker.
Flavors: Bitter Melon, Corn Husk, Fruity, Grapefruit, Soybean
This tea has what I would call the classic Japanese green tea flavor. It’s clean, grassy, and feels like a gentle sea breeze. There is a nice balance of green/vegetal and sweet notes with a subtle umami quality and minimal bitterness provided you don’t oversteep.
While this is an enjoyable tea, it’s not mind-blowing. This happens to be the most expensive sencha in Yuuki-Cha’s lineup but IMHO the quality doesn’t justify the price. It doesn’t resteep well – only get 2 good steeps from it – and it lacks the richness of other less pricey Japanese green teas from the same cultivar.
Flavors: Grass, Lemongrass, Ocean Breeze, Umami
This one arrived two days ago. It’s a very comforting tea that, to me, differs somewhat from its description and that can be a good thing. I don’t get anything that reminds me of citrus or fruits (as described by Yuukicha) which I actually think is fine since I prefer more warming-savory flavors this time of year.
This has roasted notes possessing a savory-sweetness that reminded me of naturally sweet chestnut and acorn. This is reflected in the aromas of the wet leaf, which is much closer to deep steamed sencha, as there aren’t any intact leaves here (Yuukicha describes the leaves as mostly intact).
There’s a depth and complexity in the aroma and aftertaste that reminds me of a primordial forest. It has that certain rustic charm that I think is unique to Japanese sencha. It’s perfect for those early autumn mornings.
This is a great matcha for the price if you’re looking for something above culinary grade for lattes. It holds up well to milk and sugar and also tastes pretty good when drunk straight. The smell of the powder is incredible. It has sweet smell that reminds me of rice mochi and green tea flavored pastries. When prepared in a chawan, it froths up nicely and has an vibrant green color. The taste is chlorophyll rich with an assertive vegetal-wheatgrass flavor and a slight chalkiness. It’s got a greenish quality to it that feels like drinking a forest.
But straight matcha isn’t really my thing and the real test was having it in latte form. The results were downright delicious. A splash of milk and a pinch of sugar transforms it into an indulgent, confectionery like treat yet still retaining an appreciable green flavor. It also helps temper the strong flavor and brings out its natural sweetness.
Flavors: Rainforest, Sweet, warm grass, Umami, Vegetal
The tea soup is quite clear and pale green in color. Its sweet, mellow flavors were pretty straight forward and enjoyable, but there are other hidden flavors that can be picked up if the drinker sits quietly with the tea.
The light vegetal notes remind me of fresh young spinach from the garden, young fern, and alfalfa. Oceanic notes are reminiscent of roasted Korean nori. It just feels very clean and pure. The tea coats the tongue with a luxurious softness and subtle vibration as it goes down the throat, which I attribute to how well it was processed.
I haven’t had gyokuro for over a decade. Mainly due to it’s overly seaweed-like and umami-heavy flavor. I’ve definitely had pleasant oceanic notes in sencha, but the way these flavors are expressed in most gyokuro weren’t enjoyable and felt artificial to me. However, Yuuki-cha sells very reliably good green tea. Period. Thus, I thought I’d give gyokuro another try, especially since their Kirishima Gyokuro Saemidori was $13/50g at time of purchase. I wasn’t disappointed!
Nowadays, I find myself reaching for this tea more often than my young sheng pu’er. In all it’s subtly and softness, I find I don’t have to pay attention to this tea to enjoy it. It’s perfect for work as well as relaxation.
This is really hitting the spot today. I had relegated this tea to my work stash as it just wasn’t doing it for me. Here at the office, I don’t have the benefit of my fancy clay kyusu, gram scale, or precise water temperature. So I’m basically winging it most of the time and end up brewing more or less western style.
I reckon I brewed this close to 180 F and with a lower leaf to water ratio. It’s astonishing how dramatically different it tasted after tweaking just a few variables. Instead of the usual muddled flavor and astringency, I got an intensely sweet and floral cup. Reminded me of some high mountain oolongs. Resteeps were good, but not as amazing as the first steep.
A finicky tea that can be rewarding once you figure it out. Bumping up my rating for this one.
Flavors: Floral, Grass, Sweet
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