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Recent Tasting Notes
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
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.
For review, brewed around 150F for a little under two minutes for the first steep. Pours a medium cloudy green, plenty of sediment from my pot with a clay filter (recommend using a mesh filter for this one). The smell is sweet, comforting, and slightly brothy. The texture is thick, almost creamy. The taste has that sweet-savory balance of cooked shiitake, but with a more green/grassy flavor. There’s a touch of bright, tangy sourness on the palate and a light astringency on the tongue. The overall effect is quite comforting. The second steep is thinner and slightly more bitter.
Flavors: Broth, Grass, Mushrooms
My first experience with Japanese oolongs, and I’m impressed. Leaves are a rich dark green, rolled into irregular shapes. For this testing I brewed at 200F in a kyusu clay pot. The liquor was a dark gold with a touch of green, slightly cloudy. The taste is a rich but restrained floral flavor (the seller says it’s gardenia, specifically—I don’t know my flowers well enough to confirm). The light roasting gives it a smooth palate with light sweetness and not much bitterness. The texture is light and refreshing, but with a touch of buttery avocado richness.
By the time I got around to reviewing this, the tea was about 6 months old and had lost some of its initial vibrancy, but still quite good. I did three steeps. The third was noticeably lighter in color and, while it still had some nice tingly effervescence on the tongue, has lost much of its flavor. So I’d stick with 2-3 steepings on this (unless perhaps you’re trying very short steeps).
Overall a lovely discovery at a reasonable price that will proves Japanese oolongs have a place on my tea shelf next to the Taiwanese and Chinese.
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Green
The refrigerator can have interesting effects on tea. So after my less than wonderful experience with this tea earlier, I tried a small batch I had refrigerated about a month ago. And wouldn’t you know it, this time it tasted like a totally different tea. The harsh bitterness that made it unpalatable before? Gone. The chill from the fridge seems to have transformed the tea, smoothing out its rough edges and giving it a nice, mellow flavor.
Now I can’t guarantee refrigeration will help all teas. My own experiences with it have been mixed. I recently had to chuck sencha which had turned foul sitting in the fridge and finer dragon wells haven’t fared too well. But other senchas, kamairicha, and some Chinese green teas like bilochun have in fact benefited from cold storage. This is very much a YMMV thing, but it can’t hurt to try it on lackluster teas.
Flavors: Butter, Grass, Vegetal
I had a rough time with this tea. For starters, it was very finicky. Brewed as sencha, it’s bitter with an unpleasant vegetal aftertaste. The flavor improved slightly when I doubled the leaf quantity and steeped in the manner of gyokuro (i.e., lower temperature, slightly longer steep). About 140F/90s worked for me.
The first steep is umami rich and has an assertive vegetal character. There’ some astringency at the end which is pleasant enough. The second steep I brewed like sencha for 1m at 160F and got a more sencha like flavor, grassy and less umami. However, there was a sulfur like bitterness as it went down. Not very enjoyable The third steep was flat and bitter.
Overall, this gyokuro is decidedly less sweet and more umami focused, which is fine but the harsh, persistent bitterness just doesn’t do it for me.
Flavors: Bitter, Broccoli, Grass, Umami
My first black tea from Japan; I was excited.
Smaller leaves, sized like Darjeeling, which can lead to strong infusions if not careful. Indeed, I played around with the temperature a bit and settled on, i’m guessing, 85-90C with short infusions.
First steeps near 100C were powerful, mouth-filling malt and spice. Later steeps with cooler water brought out much more lifted notes of lemon oil and roses, along with roasted coriander seed and marzipan, all backed by plenty of earthiness.
The marzipan aroma becomes more prominent in later steepings.
There’s a lingering bitterness playing in the background – this was at all temperatures that I used.
Perhaps a little clumsy at times, but certainly worth trying.
Between friends and I, 40g of this was drank in only two days… only two days, one type of tea, 40g… yeah.
This stuff has the complex yunomi that a Japanese green tea has, BUT it also has that creamy aspect that a Jin Xuan has while carrying some of that green oolong taste with the texture.
This is some seriously good stuff. Requires a bit a concentration to realize there is more than a texture, but an actual taste as well. I used a gaiwan, I used a teapot, I used a kyusu. Each time it was lovely
This may be my absolute favorite black tea.
It reminds me of a Darjeeling, but deeper in flavor. It is rich, has heaps of chaqi, flavors of plum and hints of astringency. There is a subtle deep floral element that is intoxicating.
Flavors: Flowers, Plums