370 Tasting Notes
After my “interesting” experience with matcha, I’m happy to have picked a more standard green tea from Nio’s generous pile of samples. I steeped 5 g of leaf in a 150 ml porcelain pot using 140F water for 1 minute, plus several 20 second steeps.
The dry aroma is of cantaloupe, nuts, sweet grass, spinach, and umami. The first steep has notes of wheatgrass, spinach, cantaloupe, cream, green beans, and umami. This tea doesn’t punch me in the face like some other green teas, and is more grassy than vegetal. The veggies become more pronounced in the second steep, with more kale and spinach, while the third and fourth steeps return to being buttery, beany, and pleasant with some cantaloupe and floral overtones. Later steeps give me a peachy, grassy aftertaste. The final few steeps are generic veggies and grass, though the bitterness never gets out of hand.
This is a pleasant sencha that I wouldn’t mind revisiting. However, most of these Japanese green teas are kind of vegetal for me.
Flavors: Butter, Cantaloupe, Creamy, Floral, Grass, Green Beans, Kale, Nuts, Peach, Spinach, Umami, Vegetal, Wheatgrass
This is my first time trying matcha! I’m surprised it’s taken me so long, but I’ve never really explored Japanese green tea and I don’t have the right tools. In line with that, I steeped my 2 g sample in a 180 ml mason jar using 160F water.
After extensive shaking, I get a jar full of very green matcha that even has some foam on the top. Taking my first sip is like having a bunch of veggies hit me in the face. I get kale, spinach, asparagus, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and grass. Cameron is right that there’s no sweetness whatever, though I don’t get any hay or mustiness either. The body is thick and creamy, and did I mention very vegetal? There were some clumps at the bottom of the jar, so I must not have shaken it as well as I thought.
I think matcha might be an acquired taste for me.
Flavors: Asparagus, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Creamy, Grass, Kale, Spinach, Thick, Vegetal
I received four Dancongs from One River Tea, all of which are on the roasty side for me. I’ve always wanted to try Osmanthus Fragrance, though it seems that most of them, like this one, are heavily roasted. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml porcelain pot using 195F water for 7, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The dry aroma is of osmanthus, chrysanthemum, buttered popcorn, peach, and sour roast. The first steep has nice floral, buttery aromas and top notes of orchid and osmanthus, with roast, wood, minerality, and sourness in the background that might get out of hand later. I get a pleasant peachy aftertaste a few minutes after drinking the tea. The next steep also has nice aromas and flavours of butter, osmanthus, peach, grass, honey, zucchini, apricot, and other florals, backed by a prominent roast. The third steep is similarly aromatic, with a lovely stonefruit and floral aftertaste. However, keeping it in the mouth for any longer than necessary is a mistake, as the tea is sour and astringent and reminds me of pencil shavings (more kindly described as woody?). By steep five, the florality is integrating more into the body of the tea, but the roast, wood, and minerality are becoming even stronger. The slightly sour, floral/grassy/buttery aftertaste is still pleasant. The next few steeps still have buttery floral elements, but the roast, minerality, wood, and sourness are taking over and the aftertaste is not as prominent. The tea remains floral to the end, although the bitterness is very pronounced.
This tea is kind of a Jekyll and Hyde. I love the floral, fruity aroma and aftertaste, but the roast overwhelms these flavours in the mouth. I’d say that this tea might become more integrated with time, but it’s from 2021 and I’m not sure how much longer it might take.
Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Butter, Chrysanthemum, Floral, Grass, Honey, Mineral, Orchid, Osmanthus, Peach, Popcorn, Roasted, Sour, Wood, Zucchini
After reading others’ descriptions of this tea as very astringent, I decided to take the vendor’s advice and cold brew this fukamushi sencha. I don’t usually do cold brewing, as it doesn’t produce as much tea as hot steeping, but avoiding bitterness and bringing out the fruit were good enough reasons for me. I steeped 5 g of leaf in a 700 ml teapot using cold water for around 4 hours, then resteeped the leaves for over 12 hours.
The dry aroma is of spinach, kale, umami, apple, and papaya. Though the tea is still vegetal, it isn’t as astringent as I suspect it would be hot. I get notes of spinach, kale, grass, umami, beans, butter, apple, and faint papaya. I still wouldn’t describe it as particularly fruity. The tea is smoother than the two hot fukamushi senchas I’ve had, with a thicker body. The longer second steep produced a pleasant grassy, vegetal tea with no fruit and little character, so I think it’s best to cold steep it only once.
Flavors: Apple, Butter, Grass, Green Beans, Kale, Papaya, Smooth, Spinach, Umami, Vegetal
I received 50 g of fresh spring 2023 pre-Qingming Bi Luo Chun about a week ago, and got this new-to-me tea as one of my two free samples. This is something I probably never would have tried, so thanks to Teavivre for including it! I steeped around 3 g of leaf in an 85 ml teapot at 176F for 20, 25, 35, 50, 80, 120, and 240 seconds, plus some uncounted steeps. I also steeped the remaining 2 g in around 250 ml of 176F water for 5 minutes, topping up the water as needed.
The dry aroma of these flat, almost uniform leaves is of chestnuts, seaweed, and grass. The first steep has notes of chestnuts, green beans, asparagus, butter, umami, and grass. The next steep adds notes of orange peel and florals, and the tea is slightly drying. The tea is less sweet than Dragonwell and has a starchy quality. The orange disappears in the next couple steeps, and stronger notes of asparagus, chestnut, and green beans emerge. The final steeps are a bit more bitter and add kale and grass to the veggie combo.
Bowl steeped, this tea has notes of chestnut, asparagus, spinach, green pepper, faint florals, seaweed, and grass. There’s some bitterness, but it’s not overwhelming. I get more green beans and grass as the session goes on, and the tea becomes slightly sweeter and more floral. It lasts for several infusions.
This is close to the type of nutty, less abrasive Chinese green tea that I like, though Dragonwell appeals to me a little more because it tends to be sweeter. As usual, bowl steeping provided the more pleasant experience, though the citrus in the gongfu session was a nice surprise. This isn’t something I need to rush out and buy, but I’m glad I got to try it.
Flavors: Asparagus, Butter, Chestnut, Drying, Floral, Grass, Green Beans, Green Pepper, Kale, Orange Zest, Seaweed, Spinach, Sweet, Umami, Vegetal
Last week’s Steepster freeze felt like a month! I’m glad we can all post tasting notes again, and I have a bit of a backlog.
This is my second fukamushi sencha. I’m using my Finum infuser instead of my other strainer, and I hope it will filter out more of the leaf. I steeped the 5 g sample in a 150 ml teapot using 150F water for 45, 20, 20, 20, and 20 seconds, followed by a few uncounted steeps.
The dry leaves have aromas of spinach, umami, nuts, and tropical fruit. The Finum indeed worked better than my other strainer, and I’m happy to report that no leaf bits made their way into my cup. The first steep has lots of umami, plus spinach, brussels sprouts, butter, asparagus, nuts, and hints of passionfruit (thanks, Cameron!). The second steep has a thick body and is a bit more bitter, but still has pleasant flavours of nuts, asparagus, kale, and passionfruit. Subsequent infusions are quite vegetal and grassy, though not as astringent as the other fukamushi sencha, and the final long steeps have hints of florality.
I enjoyed this more than the previous fukamushi sencha, particularly the passionfruit that appeared near the beginning of the session. The tea is smoother and less aggressively vegetal, which are both qualities I appreciate.
Flavors: Asparagus, Astringent, Brussels Sprouts, Butter, Floral, Grass, Kale, Nuts, Passion Fruit, Spinach, Thick, Umami, Vegetal
In my last Camellia Sinensis order, I got a mystery teabag as part of a contest, and if you identified what it was, you could win $500 worth of tea. Unfortunately, I only looked at the teabag after the contest was over, so here we are. At least I know what it is! I steeped 3 g of leaf in a 355 ml mug using 185F water for 3:30, 4:30, 6, and 10 minutes.
The dry aroma is of kale, spinach, hazelnuts, and sunflower seeds. The first steep has notes of spinach, kale, lettuce, green beans, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, earth, and umami. I can sort of see how the vendor says it is herbaceous. The finish is a little drying, but it’s not particularly bitter, though more bitterness comes out as it cools. The next couple steeps accentuate the beans and hazelnuts, with an earthy, herbaceous, vegetal background. The final long steep is vegetal and grassy.
I certainly feel like I’m getting my veggies with this one, and though this isn’t a bad thing, I can’t see myself drinking it regularly. Still, I’m glad to have tried a tea that I normally would have ignored, especially because it was pretty good!
Flavors: Earth, Grass, Green Beans, Hazelnut, Herbaceous, Kale, Lettuce, Spinach, Sunflower Seed, Umami, Vegetal
The first sample I grabbed today was a matcha, but I have no tools for preparing it so I put it back in the bag. I’m glad that my second pick was a gyokuro. I steeped 5 g of leaf in a 120 ml kyusu using 140F water for 2 minutes, followed by several steeps of 20 seconds.
The dry aroma is of spinach, grass, and earth. The first steep has notes of spinach, brussels sprouts, broccoli, umami, grass, herbs, butter, and earth. I get very little sweetness and lots of bitter veggies. The next steep features edamame and umami and is still quite bitter. The final steeps have somewhat sweet grassy notes with other veggies.
I didn’t enjoy this gyokuro as much as the Gyokuro Cha Musume I had a couple days ago. It lacked sweetness and fruitiness and was quite vegetal and bitter. I was happy to try it, but it’s not the type of flavour profile I gravitate toward.
These Advent calendar samples also contain a lot of matcha. It seems dumb to buy a $60 matcha kit to make free tea, especially since I’ve never had matcha before and don’t know if I even like it. I don’t have a milk frother or blender, so those options are out, too. Hmm.
Flavors: Beany, Bitter, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Butter, Earth, Grass, Herbaceous, Spinach, Umami, Vegetal
This was my first ever deep-steamed sencha and I wrecked it with an inadequate strainer. Suspecting it would have more bitterness than yesterday’s gyokuro, I steeped it in my 150 ml porcelain pot using a strainer from a bigger pot that I thought would filter out the tiny leaf bits. I used 160F water and steeped it for 1 minute, followed by several 20 second steeps.
The dry aroma of the leaves was of spinach, edamame, and corn. My first indication that something had gone wrong was the dark green colour of the tea in the pot caused by all the leaf fragments at the bottom. What a mess! The first steep packed a wallop of bitter spinach and grass, followed by notes of edamame and sweet corn. The next couple steeps were actually a bit less bitter, with notes of spinach, grass, edamame, corn, butter, asparagus, and kale. Hints of florality and a thicker texture came out near the end of the session.
Though my steeping didn’t help, to say the least, I think this flavour profile would have been too bitter for me anyway. I won’t rate the tea, but I’d say my brewing was about a 40. Next time, I’ll have to use my Finum infuser.
Flavors: Asparagus, Astringent, Beany, Butter, Floral, Grass, Kale, Spinach, Sweet Corn, Vegetal
Nio Teas kindly sent me their Advent calendar in December, and sent samples again when that package failed to arrive. Thank you for your persistence and generosity! I have minimal experience with Japanese teas, so this should be interesting!
Since I enjoy gyokuro, I was happy to grab this first from my pile of samples. I have a 120 ml kyusu instead of a 150 ml one, which means I had to deviate from their instructions slightly. I steeped 5 g of leaf in 120 ml of 140F water for 2 minutes, then three more times for 20 seconds.
The dry leaf has aromas of spinach, seaweed, and grass. The first steep has notes of spinach, squash, umami, kale, butter, and grass, with slight but noticeable bitterness. I also get the creamy hazelnut mentioned in the description. The next steeps are a bit sweeter, with more of that hazelnut, umami, and grass. As Cameron noted, it does taste more like a sencha as the session goes on. By the fourth steep, I was able to taste squash, apple, and sweet grass as the vegetal bitterness diminished.
This is a nice tea, though it doesn’t have the fruitiness I’ve found in other gyokuro. I particularly appreciate the comparative lack of bitterness.
Flavors: Apple, Butter, Creamy, Grass, Hazelnut, Kale, Seaweed, Spinach, Squash, Sweet, Umami, Vegetal