Backlog from this afternoon:

Man, I’m having a really hard time with steeping these teas from The recommended steep parameters on their site are so different from anything else I have in my cupboard that I really don’t know how to brew them properly.

Take this tea. The site says to use 2 tsp of leaf, which they say is 8 grams. But I used 3 tsp of leaf, and it was still only about half of the 10-gram sample package I was given (so 5 grams). Do I follow the weight or the volume?

In this case, I stuck with the volume, because otherwise there would have been absolutely no room left for water in my gaiwan. I don’t have a kyusu, so I figured that gaiwan steeping would be the closest thing.

On top of that, they said that for the first steep, I needed to use 3 oz of water and steep for 2 minutes. My eyes are wide with surprise – so much tea, so much time, and so little water? Wouldn’t the tea be irredeemably bitter?

I used my gaiwan anyway. Yup, this is quite grassy and bitter and umami. Which was surprising, because the dry leaf smelled so sweet and hay-like. The leaf it self was a deep emerald green, and short and small like grass clippings. Now that I’ve had this tea, I realize that one of my favourite greens, Shincha Kuro by Capital Tea Ltd, is also a gyokuro. (I should have guessed, but that was one of the first really good teas that got me started on this journey, but I digress.)

I steeped this 4 times: 2 minutes, 30s/30s/30s. The first steep was using 55C water, the later steeps using approx 80C water. By the 4th steep, the tea was still quite grassy and astringent. I really wonder if I’m doing this right.

The next time I try this, I think I’m going to follow the steeping parameters outlined for my Shincha Kuro and see if that changes anything. Withholding a rating for now.

Flavors: Grass

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Updated March 2016:

I’m a writer and editor who’s fallen in love with loose-leaf tea. I’ve also set up a site for tea reviews at – an excellent excuse to keep on buying and trying new blends. There will always be more to discover!

In the meantime, since joining Steepster in January 2014, I’ve gotten a pretty good handle on my likes and dislikes

Likes: Raw/Sheng pu’erh, sobacha, fruit flavours, masala chais, jasmine, mint, citrus, ginger, Ceylons, Chinese blacks, rooibos.

Dislikes (or at least generally disinclined towards): Hibiscus, rosehip, chamomile, licorice, lavender, really vegetal green teas, shu/ripe pu’erh.

Things I generally decide on a case-by-case basis: Oolong, white teas.

Still need to do my research on: matcha

I rarely score teas anymore, but if I do, here’s the system I follow:

100-85: A winner!
84-70: Pretty good. This is a nice, everyday kind of tea.
69-60: Decent, but not up to snuff.
59-50: Not great. Better treated as an experiment.
49-0: I didn’t like this, and I’m going to avoid it in the future. Blech.


Toronto, ON, Canada


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