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Recent Tasting Notes
Sipdown! Had this lil sample for so long. Too long. This tea is yet another lesson learned in not saving teas forever, particularly Japanese greens. I gave it a respectful final brew in my teeny tiny kyusu, but unfortunately it had lost most of it’s oomph. At least I enjoyed whatever lingering grassy sweetness that was left. Other than the that, the brew was thin and un-exciting. oh well. Drinking this just made me more pumped for the new greens I ordered from Yunomi :)
I’ve been enjoying the heck out of this matcha. It’s a vibrant forest green with a luscious, deep mossy flavor that makes for the perfect base for matcha lattes. Very robust and holds up well to milk and sugar. Outstanding for a budget matcha.
BTW, I might be late to it but this matcha latte preparation technique on TikTok, using only a handheld frothier, has been a real game changer
Flavors: Creamy, Sweet, Warm Grass
Last shincha of 2022.
This was delicious when fresh. Aroma is like freshly cut wet grass. The tea brews up a nice mellow green color. Notes of dairy and cornflakes. Second steep is very green, fukamushi like. It practically slaps you in the face with grassiness which I love. The third steep is soft textured, crisp, and refreshing. Less grass, more spring vegetation.
A wonderful tea but the flavor and aromatics have dropped since I first opened it 4 months ago so I have to lower the rating slightly.
Flavors: Grass, Milk, Sweet Corn, Vegetables
This was a challenging tea. I waited for a while to rate it as I’ve been trying to make it work to no avail. Now that I’m down to the last few grams of the 100g bag, I’m convinced that the problem is not me but the tea.
Despite playing around with different temperatures and times, the tea remains stubbornly bitter. Once you get past the bitterness, there is umami mingled with spinach, an oceanic saltiness, and fatty tuna. It lacks the freshness of new spring tea and just seems flat to me.
O-Cha is one of the OG online Japanese tea shops and usually has good quality teas but this was a rare miss for me.
Flavors: Bitter, Fish, Salty, Spinach, Umami
This has been my go-to for iced sencha all summer long. It’s refreshing and tastes reasonably good iced. But truthfully, the reason I started having it iced is because I didn’t know how to properly steep it hot. The steeping instructions from O-Cha resulted in a murky brew with a generic, salted grass flavor. I couldn’t taste any of those sweet grass and umami notes from the leaf aroma.
After some Googling and thanks to the tasting notes on this site, I was finally able to have a good session with it. Used 4g of leaf for 100ml and steeped 3 times: 1m @ 155 F, 20s @ 160 F, and 45s @ 165 F. Keeping the temperature low and leaf quantity high is the key here. The resulting brew had a sugar pea sweetness mingled with spring grass and pronounced umami. It has a mildly bitter but pleasant edge to it and the umami lingers into the aftertaste.
Flavors: Snow Peas, Umami, Wheatgrass
I’m not quite a gyokhead, but I can tell this one is of superior quality. It has very little of the butter and sesame flavors you’ll find in cheaper (but still good) gyokuro, with instead an intense sweet and sour tang and spectacular body. I’ve noticed that pricier gyokuro tends to exhibit a citric note, and this one has that in spades. Like many other high-end green teas, this one is much more fruity than it is vegetal.
Figured its about time I reviewed this tea now that I’ve consumed more than a third of the 100g pouch. I don’t know if it’s just me or what but I’ve found the 2019 crop of sencha to be lacking. None of the teas from the three usually reliable vendors I ordered from – Yuuki-Cha, O-Cha, and Thes Du Japon – blew me away. This one ranks near the bottom of the Japanese greens I tried this year which is disappointing because I’ve had amazing Saemidori tea from O-Cha before.
Although described as a medium steamed tea, the leaf is quite broken and powdery which leaves a lot of sediment in the cup. Dry leaf has a subtle scent of umami and grass. The color of the liquor is a vibrant lime green. I brewed this tea using a wide range of temperatures from 145 – 180 F. At lower temperatures, I get a gentle wheatgrass like taste mingled with umami. At higher temperatures, the tea has a more assertive brothy vegetative flavor but also bitterness due to how quickly the broken leaf infuses. Notes of artichoke, spinach, and grass. Overall, more savory than sweet and without much depth of flavor. Good for about 3 steeps unless you increase leaf quantity which also also leads to increased bitterness. Cold brew was not terribly impressive.
Flavors: Broth, Grass, Umami, Vegetal
This tea has been offered at O-cha since I can remember. I have to say upfront, I have very mixed feelings about this tea. It’s very ordinary and probably overpriced, as there are less expensive teas on that site that are much more interesting…for example…the Sayamakaori Organic Sencha and Zairai Organic Kirishima Sencha.
Also…after drinking lots of Chinese green tea the year, I feel I may be a tad spoiled by the intactness of those leaves, making be a bit critical of senchas. I’m finding even most light steamed teas cannot compete with wholeness of Chinese green tea leaves. It would be nice if the Japanese could get over their obsession with uniform leaf size—their excuse for chopping up what would have been intact leaves into lawn clippings.
Poor aesthetics and mediocrity aside, the dry leaves are pleasantly aromatic – as dried sencha should be. Actually, that’s probably my favorite aspect of this tea. If smell could be a drug, fresh sencha leaf aroma would be meth.
Admittedly, this is a well-balanced sencha with some interesting moss and mineral notes that give it some character. There’s also a fresh sugar snap pea note that I like. I think the opaque, mellow tea soup has a comforting quality to it. Do I recommend this tea? If fukamushi is your thing, you’ll probably like it. While I’ve had better, I’m still glad I tried this one.
I’ve just received the 2019 shincha of this tea in the mail and started my first brew. The initial opening on the bag gave waves of a deep and rich grassiness, nearing on unami-ness, and smells plesently grassy. The first steep has a rich taste with little to no astringency, with a savory grassiness. Not much butteriness versus other shinchas I’ve had and not very sweet. Mouthfeel is full and thick.
1st steep, 30s, 170f
2nd steep, flash, 173f
3rd steep, 1min, 173f
Flavors: Grass, Green, Vegetal
To my black teas and herbal/fruit blends, I may now add another category: I’ve tasted and written notes about all the matchas in my Steepster cupboard!
This was a nice one to end with. Though I should clarify, I still have a lot of matcha to drink — I’ve just ended my first tastings of the ones I have.
This has a fluffy mouth feel after whisking. It’s not sweet, more grassy/seaweedy than vegetal. No prominant marine notes and a bitter downturn in the finish that leaves a savory aftertaste.
It’s very nice. I’m giving it a middle of the road rating for now. I’ve whisked (both literally and figuratively) through so many matchas over the past few months that I haven’t given a lot of thought to their comparative ratings. Now that I’ve accomplished my first run through, I can take my time comparing them to each other.
Flavors: Grass, Seaweed, Umami
Sipdown no. 4 of June 2019 (no. 76 of 2019 total, no. 564 grand total).
I do enjoy matcha, which is why I’ll be sad when mine is gone as I’m still wary of any food products coming out of Japan what with the reactor never having been fully contained and all.
This was a good one. Nice for work. Not much to add to the prior note.
It’s very late in the day for me to have matcha, but I’m determined to stick to my schedule. With luck, I won’t be awake all night.
4 oz water @ 175F, 2 spoons, sift, whisk.
Nice, long-lasting froth. Slightly bitter (but in a good way) aroma with some vegetal pea and seaweed notes. The matcha has a thickness to it in the mouth, and the froth makes it feel light and meringue-like. It has a marine note in the flavor. It isn’t overly bitter to my tastebuds.
I like it, but not as much as the Toyo Mukashi, which I’m taking to work these days. So I bumped up the rating on that one so I could give this a decently high rating but not as high as that.
Flavors: Marine, Peas, Seaweed
While I fear this is somewhat wasted on me as my matcha palate is not very refined, I can definitely smell and taste the difference between this and some of the other matchas I’ve had lately.
First, it’s very grassy and not at all seaweedy. There’s nothing marine about it.
Second, it has a fascinating taste that is both sweet and a little bitter in the same sip. The sweetness is like green peas and the bitterness is a little like arugula or kale.
Finally, the body is neither very thick nor very thin. I believed this was supposed to be a thin matcha (though the description says “think” I believe that to be a typo ;-)) but then I read that it is supposed to be thick. I get neither very thick nor very thin out of this. I might try doubling the amount of matcha next time and see if it acquires a thickness.
Even with my not knowing whether I was able to get the consistency right, I admire the grassy sweet/vegetally bitter aspect of this that makes it different in flavor from other matchas I have tried.
Flavors: Freshly Cut Grass, Kale, Lettuce, Peas
Sipdown no. 14 of 2019 (no. 502 total).
This became my latest take it to work tea through the magic of the shake in the thermos method.
I hit upon 100 shakes as the perfect number. With 100 shakes, I never got any clumps.
Also key: don’t put in too much water. You need room to shake!
Trying to decide on my next take it to work tea. I might go with a sencha teabag from Harney tomorrow if I haven’t figured it out yet.
Made using the formula that’s been working for me: 4 oz water at 175F, sifted 2 spoons, whisk.
Nice froth, mild aroma and seaweed flavor with a slight downturn at the end of the sip.
I see why people call it an every day matcha — it’s good for that.
ETA: This is probably the shortest initial note I’ve ever written and I fear I gave this short shrift — but as I was writing, a friend called back, both kids were in my face, and the BF was hounding me to get in the car to get the turkey. This is my life — utter chaos, most of the time.
Sipdown no. 2 of May 2019 (no. 64 of 2019 total, no. 552 grand total).
An accidental out of order sipdown. I didn’t read the label, I just went by the color of the can. I meant to sipdown the kyo mukashi instead. Sigh. Not that it matters since it turns out I rated them the same.
This was quite great as a take it to work tea. I had missed taking green tea to work while I was working my way through a bunch of lower rated whites and oolongs.
Surprised I’m the first to write a note for this.
I was able to get a nice froth on the top for the second day running — I’ve hit upon the right formula, it appears. .5 cup 175F over 2 spoons sifted matcha and whisk.
But I’m not sure I like the flavor of this one quite as much as yesterday’s. The description says it is between thick and thin, which may be the reason. This one doesn’t have as full of a mouthfeel despite the froth and while it is tasty, it doesn’t have as much interest going on. It’s a pretty straight, mild seaweed flavor.
Can someone who knows how please fix the broken image for this? I tried but couldn’t get it to work.
Eureka! I finally got sea green foam today for the first time in a long time. The secret? MORE MATCHA.
O-Cha recommends 1.5 to 1.75 chashaku. I did 2. I sifted. I heated the water to 175 in the Breville, then measured .5 cups and whisked. The foam came almost instantaneously!
I also used a different bowl. Not sure whether that makes a difference. I can’t think of why it should.
In any case, everything worked very nicely.
I don’t know whether it is psychological or not, but I think matcha tastes better with foam. Is it just that thing where a sandwich tastes better if someone else makes it? Or is it real?
This has a fluffy mouthfeel from the foam. It has a mild flavor with a slight downturn that isn’t sour or bitter but could be headed that way. In any case, it is pleasant, not disturbing.
It has an interesting, sweet pea note at the front of the sip and a grassy, seaweed finish. Not marine, like yesterday’s. More reminiscent of a field than an ocean.
My success today makes me want to go back and try all of the other matchas that were a miss in the foam department over again.
All in good time.
Flavors: Grass, Peas, Seaweed
Sipdown no. 4 of August 2019 (no. 90 of 2019 total, no. 578 grand total).
This became my take it to work tea for the last couple of weeks using the “shake it in the thermos” method.
It was a very matcha matcha. Nothing that stands out as particularly different from others, but everything I would expect. Which is a good thing.
I have lost my matcha touch! I don’t seem to be able to get anything right about it any more. I can’t seem to produce a foam to save my life.
I tried following a how to video to make a cup of this this morning. I think, however, that I didn’t use enough tea and used too much water. Also, next time, I may use a higher water temp to see what that does.
This is all very sad, because I love matcha and I’m just starting to rediscover it.
This one has a little bit of a gritty quality to it, even after sifting and whisking for about 2 minutes. I’m hoping I can figure out what caused that and fix it.
The aroma and flavor are of mild seaweed and something reminiscent of soy, but not overly soy-like.
I couldn’t get the lovely sea green color. Mine is more like a forest green. But nevertheless, I will persist.
Flavors: Seaweed, Soybean, Umami
It has been eons since I had matcha. I’m a little conflicted about drinking it. I am worried that once my matcha is all gone, I won’t feel comfortable ordering more. I have a phobia about all Japanese food products because as far as I can tell from internet searches, Fukushima never stopped dumping radioactivity into the ocean around Japan.
Fortunately I don’t have to make any decisions just yet because I still have some Japanese green tea from before the disaster. Which, you might rightly point out, makes it extremely old. In its and my defense, I can only say that I typically don’t open tea before I plan to start drinking it in earnest and I also live in a climate that is dry and not prone to temperature extremes. I have a fair amount of confidence in my storage methods.
This, for example, was still vacuum packed in a pull top tin that hadn’t been opened until today.
I decided to opt for SenchaMatcha’s measurements. 1 tsp, 4 oz water, 180 temp.
I am definitely out of practice. I didn’t get froth. I went back and read one of my other matcha notes and apparently I didn’t get froth when I first tried this a while back either. So I’ll have to practice some. And my tea was pool table green, not sea green, probably for lack of froth.
That said, I enjoyed this. It tasted to me like a sort of super ramped sencha. Seaweedy/grassy, not bitter, not sweet either, definitely what I understand to be umami which could be a flawed understanding.
I did not, however, taste zucchini. Maybe a little green bean, though.
Pretty sure I’ve liked other matchas better, but this was a nice re-intro to the genre.
Flavors: Cut Grass, Green Beans, Seaweed, Umami
First time with gyokuro here folks, so proceed with caution!
The long-and-short of this review is buy some of this tea. Absolutely delicious. Great balance of sweet and savory, and its complexity blew me away. Amazing development with an incredible range of flavors.
It certainly didn’t blow my head off with umami, although that could be easily achieved with a bit more leaf and slightly higher temps. It arrived as a delicious nori and herbal arrival that transformed into vegetal and corn sweet savoriness. Then, beginning with the finish, the notes become fresh, fruity, and sweet. A joy to drink all-around.
Also, given the regular cost of gyokuro, this is an absolute steal. Of course, I can’t speak to how it compares with more expensive options, but you certainly can’t go wrong with this offering by O-Cha.
Dry leaf – butter cream frosting, sweet corn, pineapple, coconut, honeydew melon, grilled corn
Smell – buttercream, buttered greens, pineapple, spice cake
Taste – nori arrival, dried parsley/cilantro, spinach, edamame, sweet corn development, chlorophyll and fresh parslely and sweet corn in finish; raw almond, watermelon rind, pineapple rind in aftertaste. Mint in long aftertaste
I jumped the gun and pre-ordered this as a shincha. I wanted to get slapped in the face by fresh spring grass, and this didn’t disappoint. When I first brewed it, I was actually a bit taken back by the grassiness, but it was because I eyeballed the proportions and took my best guess on the temperature.
The second time around, I followed the instructions, and the flavor was much more subdued and sweet.
However, the more the I drank it, the more I kept pushing the brewing parameters by increasing leaf and even using slightly hotter water because I found myself wanting more grassiness and umami. The tea responded incredibly well. I was really happy with how much I could manipulate the experience to my liking – more sweetness sometimes, more umami other times, etc.
Overall, the tea has a nice pineapple and coconut sweetness followed by fresh parsley that lingers as parsley and minty aftertaste. In the background (which you can bring out more with stronger brewing parameters), there is a backbone of steamed spinach, edamame, and marine umami.
Dry leaf – grass, honeydew melon, pineapple juice, roasted corn
Smell – roasted corn, cooked spinach, melon sweetness
Taste – spinach, roasted corn, pineapple rind, coconut, salted melon, fresh grass, chlorophyll savory sweetness, fresh parsley
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