This is another tea I just don’t love as much as everyone else does. I was excited to try it after reading all the rave reviews. Plus, I had no idea what to expect – I’d never had sakura-flavored anything before – and I enjoy trying new and (to me) unusual flavors.
As others have mentioned, this is an absolutely gorgeous tea. And the flavor is perfectly pleasant. The sencha dominates, and it’s quite vegetal. Depending on how the tea is prepared, the cherry blossom can come through reasonably well or hardly at all – more on this below. The cherry blossom flavor, when present, is light and sweet, a combination of fruit and floral (although I find it veers more toward the floral side of things). It’s nothing like cherries, or like cherry flavoring. It tastes quite natural. It’s by no means bad, although it’s not as mind-blowing as I’d expected it to be. I thought it would be more strongly floral, and perhaps less sweet – more along the lines of a jasmine or elderflower, both of which are floral flavors I adore in teas.
I feel like I’d probably enjoy the sencha base more on its own, minus the cherry blossom flavoring. In addition to the qualms voiced in the paragraph above, I’m just not sure I like the combination of vegetal green teas and fruity/floral/sweet flavors. I like to keep sweet and salty/savory flavors separate when it comes to food, so I suppose it’s not surprising that my preferences on this carry over to tea.
I’ve tried preparing this tea several different ways. The first time I made it, I followed the instructions Den’s provides. Subsequently, I’ve made many cups’ worth of this tea western style; I’ve also tried it as a cold brew (my first!). I think my least favorite of the three methods was, surprisingly, the official one. This is partly due to my bias toward quick and easy tea preparation – I like to keep tea relaxing, and all the timing and measuring involved in gongfu brewing just doesn’t do that for me. But it’s also partly due to the differing flavor profiles – I found that the western and cold brews both gave me stronger flavors (in terms of both the sencha and the cherry blossom) than did the official method, and I like strong flavors. I found the western hot brew (which I drink hot) and the cold brew (drunk cold, obviously) to taste pretty similar, although I haven’t done a side-by-side comparison.