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Recent Tasting Notes
Fourth tea for March Mad(Hatter)ness! This is for the green tea round, going against Fukujuen’s Gyokuro Karigane. Both teas were little tins that my friend Todd brought me back from a trip he took to Japan back in 2018. I still haven’t opened them and they are quite old now, especially for green tea. Oops! (I also couldn’t find any pictures online and had to scrounge out my digital camera to log them…)
The dry leaf has a pleasant oaty aroma, as well as the roasted nuts scent I’m familiar with in houjicha. Steeped 2g (a full perfect teaspoon) in 350ml 205F water for 3 minutes. The steeped tea has a deeply roasty aroma, with some hints of nuts and wood, and a slight minerality. It has a nice, rich flavor; I’ve had some older houjicha that tasted a bit “dusty” or “bark-like” but not this one! There is a deep, smooth woodiness that leaves a subtle bitterness on the tongue, but it is in no way unpleasant, lacking any drying qualities. The strongest flavor note for me is roasted nuts, particularly that somewhat earthy walnut note, with more subtle notes of oats, toasted bread, and minerals. It’s a superb cup of houjicha!
This is probably the hardest round for me thus far! By flavor I’d probably say this houjicha (though the gyokuro karigane was very nice!), but the gyokuro karigane had such a pleasant cha qi for me! I woke ridiculously early and couldn’t fall back asleep (thanks, cat!) and two pots of the gyokuro karigane gave me so much energy; I didn’t feel buzzed like I used to get on coffee, but a focused wakefulness that got me through the day. Houjicha is a relaxing warm hug, with so little caffeine I can drink it as an alternative to herbals in the evening. Very different functions…
I think the houjicha wins this one, mostly because, compared to other houjicha I’ve had, this one is such a nice quality and flavor. With the Gyokuro Karigane was an excellent green tea, I don’t have any other gyokuro karigane to compare it to in my mind, and compared to other green teas in general, I have had some I prefer to it. That said, I’m quite looking forward to sipping it down, especially on those mornings that I just can’t get going!
Uji-Houjicha: Yamashiro-no-Sato moves on!
Flavors: Dark Bittersweet, Mineral, Nutty, Oats, Roasted, Roasted Nuts, Toasty, Walnut, Wood
Third tea for March Mad(Hatter)ness! This is for the green tea round, going against Fukujuen’s Uji-Houjicha: Yama-no-Sato. Both teas were little tins that my friend Todd brought me back from a trip he took to Japan back in 2018. I still haven’t opened them and they are quite old now, especially for green tea. Oops! (I also couldn’t find any pictures online and had to scrounge out my digital camera to log them…)
I’m shocked and appalled the directions inside the tin said to use 3g per 60ml! Is that how people usually make green tea, or do they just make it that strong in Japan? Zoinks, I only use between 2-3g for western brews between 350-500ml or I just get a bomb of bitterness…
That said, I opted to brew this “my way” and did 3g to a 500ml pot, steeped for 2 minutes in 175F water. The dry leaf had a somewhat sweet, mellow grassy aroma. Brewed, it is deeply vegetal and umami on the nose, with some spinach and ocean air aroma notes. The brew is, thankfully, lacking any bitterness; it starts with a very fresh and sweet grassy taste, then a stronger umami vegetal presence of spinach and peas settles over my tongue (reminds me of the vegetal flavors I get drinking Bi Luo Chun), with a very mild salty seaweed note at the very back of my throat. I haven’t been a fan of gyokuro that have a strong seaweed/oceany taste, but this karigane, while those notes are present, is more gentle. I’m really liking it, actually! It is more on the savory side, but satisfying for a too-early morning, and it is settling down a stomach that also woke up on the wrong side of the bed.
As far as green teas go, this is definitely a nice one. I am quite a fan of houjicha, though, so it’ll be interesting to see how it stacks up to that tea.
Flavors: Ocean Air, Peas, Seaweed, Spinach, Sweet, Sweet, Warm Grass, Umami, Vegetal
Trying to get a quick sipdown in here, since there were only 5 teabags in this little box which came in a gift set that Todd brought me back from Japan in 2018. Three are currently cold steeping in the frige, and I’m preparing the other two now as a hot brew to take to work.
This is nice! The yuzu isn’t overpowering, but is present enough that the green tea has a noticable citrusy flavor. I really enjoy the flavor of yuzu too; it is the distinct lemony flavor that is very sharp/tart and has just the mildest peppery aftertaste, and doesn’t wax cleaner-esque in my brain. The sencha itself is quite nice here too; I’m getting a slight buttery note, which I find rare in sencha but love when it pops up, as well as sweet and mellow grassiness.
I imagine the sharp citrus note will translate even better to the cold brew as being quite refreshing! Very enjoyable. I’ve got the yuzu burpies this morning!
Flavors: Butter, Citrus, Lemon, Lemon Zest, Pepper, Smooth, Sweet, Warm Grass, Tart
I purchased this tea at a local international foods grocery for a relatively decent amount of money (100g for $10). Being only fluent in English, it was difficult for me to know what I was getting since the packaging is mostly in Japanese. I could understand the maker was Fukujuen and the it was a blend of Kabusencha and Sencha prepared in Fukamushi style (or deep steamed). I couldn’t figure out the location of where the tea came from for sure but I believe it is near Kyoto. Kabusencha has been grown in the shade more than Sencha. Kabusencha is supposed to have a flavor profile similar to Sencha with more Umami but perhaps not as much as Gyokuro. Fukamushi processing results in a tea much darker than a Sencha style. Fukamushi processing is supposed to suppress the astringency, while gaining more body and sweetness. I feel it also has a much more pronounced “marine essence”. For this tea, the packaging was very good and did an excellent job retaining the freshness of the tea. When I opened the bag for the first time and took a sniff, the scent was amazing. Moist, vegetal, and very grassy smelling. The first time I brewed this tea, I didn’t enjoy it too much. It tasted flat and boring plus I didn’t enjoy the tea debris in the bottom of my cup (result of Fukamushi processing from what I understand). The second time was a completely different story. I used a different filter and mug with less tea and a lower temperature (brewing Western Style). Going a little lower in temperature helped this tea immensely. Right around 160 degrees F for 2 minutes was my sweet spot. The recommendation on the packaging is to steep for 45 seconds but I prefer a longer steep. Adjusting the brewing temperature brought out a very smooth, sweet, umami rich flavor. This obviously is not the highest quality Japanese tea money can buy but with some care, you can get a very worthwhile experience out of this purchase.
Flavors: Cut Grass, Marine, Ocean Air, Vegetal
There is a great Japanese food store next to our layover hotel in YVR. I try to pick up different things while I’m there. I ran out of genmaicha so I figured I’d try this out. I like it better then their bottle version which I don’t think has enough of a brown rice flavor. The first few cups were meh. But this last one was good. Perhaps its because I had to get back a taste for it.