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Recent Tasting Notes
While I have not had extensive exposure to Gyokuro, from the ones I’ve tried thus far I’ve found that I’m not that big of a fan of drinking them gong fu (though I do get highly buzzed drinking them that way!) because they just taste a bit too strongly of seaweed/marine notes for me… but I have really enjoyed them cold brewed, which seems to bring out a cleaner, sweeter taste. Since I’ve been exclusively cold brewing lately, I grabbed this 20g sample that I got from Yunomi back in 2018; they source it from Nishide Tea Factory in Kyoto.
With a straight green tea, my preference is 5g for a liter pitcher. Brewed this way, I’m getting a very refreshing brew, with a clean green taste that has a more subtle seaweed note, as well as fresh, sweet grass, peas, cucumber, and mineral water. I get a sweet melon sort of note left in my mouth in the aftertaste of the swallow.
Lovely cold brew, even for such old green tea.
Flavors: Cucumber, Grass, Melon, Mineral, Peas, Seaweed, Spring Water, Sweet, Umami, Vegetal, Wet Rocks
Based on Sara’s tasting note, I bought 100 grams of this stuff. I estimated the “2-3 grams per liter” down to 1 gram in 12 oz of water. The main flavor is sweetness, with saccharin, floral, and bitter notes towards the end of the sip. I would say it’s “very sweet,” but still falls short of discovering “too sweet,” which is something I have only heard of, and have never tasted. I shall try brewing it stronger next time. It would also be worth trying as a sweetener in a sweet tea, as Sara has done.
Oh. Oh. Amazing. I tried it with 5 grams of leaf in 12 ounces of water, and… my face is puckering up! Is it too much of the other flavors, or is this actually too sweet? I can drink it, but whoa. I think it is too sweet. Thank you, Yunomi, for this experience. It’s amazing.
Flavors: Bitter, Floral, Sweet
I need a new nightly tisane, and was looking through my oldest herbals on my spreadsheet and came across this. I ordered this tea sampler from the Kunohe Village Revitalization Project through Yunomi a long time ago… I was expecting “sweet” based on the name, but didn’t know much about it. Apparently these dried Hydrangea leaves make a sweet tea that is known as “Buddha’s Tea” and drank on his birthday. (I’m quite a fan of Japanese culture but this was all new to me!)
The instructions on the packet are for a full liter, not a cup, so I kinda had to wing it, not knowing how much to brew. A tea blog said they use two leaves (1g) per 100ml so I went with that… but they were also doing gong fu preparation, and I’m more of a western brewer, so I’m still not sure if that’s going to be way too strong…
It steeps a marigold color and smells very floral, but not a flower I could place. There is a honey-like sweetness in the aroma, as well… I think the florality in the scent is driving in a wildflower honey vibe. There is also something about the aroma that smells herbaceous, like a wet straw sort of aroma.
WOAH! It tastes like I dissolved sugar in a cup! The mouthfeel is fuller and silkier than dropping sugar in hot water would be, but the taste! There is almost a toasty flavor, some hot hay, definitely a wildflower vibe, and then a thick, coating sweetness. The feel of it on the mouth sort of reminds me of licorice root, except it tastes more like sugar. So sugar with the coating mouthfeel and lingering aftertaste that licorice root provides? Something like that.
I really have no problem drinking this myself, but I definitely think this little oddity of a tisane would be way too sweet for most. Perhaps dropping the amount of leaf used or the steep time could produce a cup better attuned to one’s personal sweetness levels, though. I do think I brewed this too strong as I’m starting to get that heavy feeling in the stomach that one can get from eating too many sweets. I couldn’t finish the whole cup! (You know that feeling when you think you can eat the whole slice of cheesecake, then you hit that bite where you suddenly realize, “I cannot eat this whole slice of cheesecake”? Very much those feels!) I’ll definitely be playing around with the amount/steeping times.
I was quite curious to see how this would work blended with other things to add sweetness… So my next cup I decided to mix some leaves with plain hibiscus. Everyone (but me, apparently) thinks hibiscus is “too tart”, right? Unsurprisingly, this is the sweetest cup of hibiscus tea I’ve had! Hibiscus too sour for you? Try dropping a leaf or two of this stuff in it…
I also want to try making Southern Sweet Tea using this in lieu of the sugar!
Flavors: Flowers, Honey, Hot Hay, Sugar, Sweet, Toasty
I didn’t have many options for U in my cupboard for Ode to Tea, but I did have this, and it is a very old tea that needs sipped down anyway! This tea is from Chasandai Tea Factory and was purchased through Yunomi… back in 2018, and is well past its best by date. It was still sealed, but I really should do better, especially with green teas…
While I get a mood now and again for a warm cuppa green tea, I actually prefer it cold brewed, and find that typically works best for me with these neglected, old leaf greens anyway; the instructions said one teabag was for 500ml and my mason jars are 1000ml, so I just dropped two teabags in a jar, left it overnight, and removed them in the morning.
This tea… confuses me. It has this somewhat roasted sort of taste to me, but it is bancha, not a roasted green tea, so I don’t know where it is coming from! Sort of an earthy/minerally, roasted nuts flavor that I often get from oolongs, reminding me a bit of walnuts. I have never had shiso (perilla leaf) so I have no idea if that is what I’m tasting here. Everything I read about perilla says it should taste minty or citrusy, and I’m not tasting either of those flavors… though at least one site says “basil” and “petrichor” and I do see those associations to what I’m tasting. It is kind of reminding me of a softer/mellower tulsi, with a stronger minerality that I can definitely get a petrichor/wet rocks vibe from. There is also a light grassiness underneath, but it does sort of have that “stale” taste to it, more of a dry grass flavor, which is the fault of my neglect, not the tea. I’m not tasting the ume (plum) at all though?! Maybe, if I squint, it kinda peeks out in the aftertaste, but it isn’t as strong as I’d prefer.
For a tea well past its prime, it has that refreshing/thirst-quenching quality I enjoy from cold brewed greens, and I don’t dislike the earthy/mineral/nutty flavor. I wouldn’t say its a favorite either, and am uncertain if that would be different if this were fresher.
Edit: So, after working through two liters worth of cold brew of this, my opinion has changed and I’m dropping the rating. I’m getting this saltiness coming out that is kind of killing the “refreshing/thirst-quenching” quality I go for in cold brewed green teas. None of the ingredients say they are salt preserved, but it is definitely noticable. I think I’ll use the remaining teabags to make rice, which is what I tend to do with “salty” teas since I don’t mind that note in food, but don’t care for it much in a sipped cuppa.
Flavors: Basil, Dry Grass, Earth, Mineral, Nutty, Petrichor, Plum, Roasted Nuts, Salty, Walnut, Wet Rocks
An Ode to Tea, O Entry.
This tea comes from the Kurihara Tea Farm, but was acquired via Yunomi. I don’t have much experience with Japanese blacks, which is probably why I dropped a 20g sample of this into a very long-ago order. My tastes pretty much never agree with the steeping instructions provided with Japanese teas (which always have water-to-leaf ratios that just aren’t pleasant to me) so I disregarded them and brewed the way I usually make blacks (2.5g per 350ml) though I did drop the water temperature down from my typical 205F to their suggested 195F.
The steeped cup has a smooth, breakfast tea malty/baked bread aroma, with a strong fruity cherry note, and an underlying florality, like a wildflower honey. It’s nice! I’m surprised how fruity this black is! I definitely taste that warm baked bread and malt flavor, but very quickly a sharp floral/fruity taste dominates the cup, tasting mostly of cherries, orange peel, and more subtly, rose. There is a very aromatic feeling left on the tongue, which reminds me of the feeling I get when I drink scented French teas, and a mild drying after the sip. Remarkably smooth prepared this way. I sort of expected this is to be a pretty harsh black and expected I’d be using up the remainder of the packet making lattes, but this is perfect as-is.
Looking forward to sipping this down over the next few days!
Flavors: Baked Bread, Cherry, Drying, Floral, Fruity, Honey, Malt, Orange Zest, Rose, Smooth
#tiffanys2021sipdown Tea #97 overall / Tea #13 for March
Thursday 3/11 (WRITTEN 3/16/21) - I was about to start my note with “so” and then I realized I think I use the word “so” a lot. After I had planned for the first-time to do three festivals (Toronto, Seattle, and Chicago) one happened + had a blast plus 2nd time to that city/3rd time to country (Toronto), one I went to the location anyway since I had planned a week vacation visiting there for first time (Seattle), and one I went to location anyway since I planned a long weekend, but actual festival was online (Chicago). Anywhoo I got this a sample in my upgraded box for last fall Chicago Tea Festival turned International Virtual Tea Festival (IVTF). The last few years (since 2019?) I’ve been trying to get into more traditional/straight teas. This tea was so lovely, smelled very fresh and green. Sipping wise I had some hot with my @teathoughts v-day box gaiwan and then made the rest cold-brew in 32 oz glass jar. I don’t have better notes for the taste or anything like that, but hope as I get more experience sipping teas I’ll be better in the future.
#tiffanydrinkstea #tiffanys2021 #tiffanysfaves #tiffanyinthe614 #tiffanysteasipdown #sipdownchallenge
Yunomi Kabusecha green tea
2.6g, 100ml Duanni rongtian (yes this is the same one I use for yancha but I didn’t want to bother with filtering out leaves in gaiwan and I haven’t used it in over a month so I will assume this was okay)
This is my first Japanese tea that’s not matcha. Dry leaves have an interesting smell. Extremely seafoody (i suppose the umami?), but also slight matcha-ness. when I first opened my sample, I didn’t expect how strong it would be and inhaled heavily and felt revolted. In the pot, it was fine, but also, lesson learned.
Slightly thick brew that’s a nice light greenish yellow.
140f for 1 min like yunomi suggests on the bag first steep (website says 2 min, but 1 min seems to be more common for Japanese greens in general). Light green color. Very strong seafood, then grass, and then vegetables.
176f for 20s second steep. Maybe a bit more since the spout on my pot got plugged and slowed a bit. Forgot to smell the wet leaves before but they don’t have much smell now, just slightly green and seafood. Astringency that hits, slight seafood, and then grassy vegetables. A bit more sweet on the aftertaste.
Last steep: 200f for 30s. Burnt matcha flavor like when I first started matcha making LOL. Aftertaste is light and grassy.
I tried to push it for one more steep, but nothing interesting to note there. I would say 3 steeps is about what it can handle.
A fun experiment! I can see why people drink Japanese greens on the daily. Pretty unoffensive and refreshing. For now, it’s priced a bit more than what I’m comfortable with given the number of “good” steepings, but if the bookstore decided to pay me more than 5% of what I paid for my textbooks, maybe I’d blow it on some Japanese greens to treat myself.
Since I’ve heard so much about cold-brewing Japanese greens, I decided to give it a run myself. 5g tea, 500 mL Poland spring bottled water overnight in a Hario cold brew bottle. I saw a 1g:60mL recommended ratio for kabusecha but after trying my standard 1:100 ratio, I wouldn’t make it any stronger. Cold brewing enhanced grassy notes/aftertase (which become much more prominent), as well as umami notes. But it also feels like it’s pulling in way too many directions at once, which didn’t sit as well for my personal preference. I would be unlikely to cold-brew this again.
Flavors: Astringent, Grass, Green, Sweet, Umami, Vegetables
The black teas from Japan could be weird but the same weirdness can make them unique and appealing (to some people – as there is no worldwide clamoring for them unlike for blacks from China or India).
This tea is less unusual then many Japan blacks I have tried: a lot of malt, some saltiness and a hint of mint. There is also a presence of an alien kind of sweetness, reminiscent of artificial sweeteners. IMHO, the best use case for this tea is to work as a bracing breakfast drink for those who prefer to have salty and savory notes on the malty backbone rather than variations of sweetness.
P.S. The astringent malt REAAAALLY lingers after you long finished your cup.
Flavors: Malt, Medicinal, Mineral, Mint, Salty, Sweet
Thanks for this sample derk :) It’s the first goishicha I’ve ever tried!
The tea has a pungent aroma. When dry, I detected notes of peach, alcohol, wooden cabinet, and lemon zest. On the other hand, after the rinse the smell is more milky, sweet with notes of fermented fruits and pollen.
Taste itself is very mild and dominated by milky sweetness and lemon-like sourness with a base note of sandy earth. Mouthfeel is very smooth and silky, but not thick.
Flavors: Alcohol, Fruity, Lemon, Lemon Zest, Milk, Peach, Smooth, Sour, Sweet, Wood
Hardy little Gyokuro that brews up rather consistently. Quite grassy with a nice backbone of green melons in the aftertaste. Slightly sweet, but not as perceptible. Little to no astringency detected.
Flavors: Grass, Grass Seed, Green Melons, Sweet, Warm Grass
This is a beautiful and rare tea offered during spring harvest from Yunomi. I decided to pre-order a small amount this year to give it a shot, and i am so glad that I did! The leaves give off an enticing sweet scent of cream, hazelnut, and honey. It’s amazing how dessert-like this Sencha smells. The brew’s taste lies someplace between an Anhui Yellow Tea and Fresh Gyokuru. The cup begins with a spring water juiciness with a thick body and ends with a slight vegetle tannic finish. It’s a wonderful brew, and I’ll be adding this to my must-haves spring harvests!
Flavors: Freshly Cut Grass, Hazelnut, Honey, Milk, Sweet, Tannic, Vegetal
This is the last tea from my 2019 Shincha order. Since I stored it mostly in the fridge and only opened now, I am hoping it retained at least part of its freshness. After opening I notice that the leaves are quite broken up, I will need to be careful not to overbrew this one.
In the preheated pot, I get an early spring aroma of freshly ploughed soil, sprouting grass and mild flowers. It’s pleasant, but not too pronounced. After the leaves have been infused, the scent is mostly vegetal and kind of nondescript.
After drinking I can say that, just like the dry leaf aroma, the taste profile is well balanced and pleasant, but not very pungent. This tea lacks the umami known from shaded teas. Instead, it has more of a creamy vegetal character with a soft sweetness, crisp tartness, and a bitter backbone to balance it out. One of the vegetables that it reminds me of is okra.
In all fairness, the flavours are not what caught my attention first when drinking the tea. I was just taken aback by the incredibly thick and creamy texture.
The aftertaste is at first mostly grassy and astringent, but later develops a long-lasting sweetness in the throat. There are some notes of onion as well as hyacinth.
This would be a good tea for those who don’t like the profile of gyokuro and prioritize mouthfeel and huigan in their teas. It can also wake you up just like any other good Japanese green tea – these are still my favourites as far as getting my mind in working mode is concerned.
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Creamy, Flowers, Freshly Cut Grass, Grass, Green, Sweet, Tart, Thick, Vegetables, Vegetal, Wet Earth
I absolutely love kabocha, and I have a newfound love of hojicha. So, I was very excited to see this offering by Yunomi. I bought 2 20gram bags because it was almost sold out, and I thought I would love it. While I do enjoy it, there isn’t much of a pumpkin flavor. It’s a bit savory, but the flavor is very mild. Still quite enjoyable, just not what I was expecting.
This was sent to my by the lovely derk!
Ok, so I’m going hard for the music right now and left my kettle (you know, the one without the keep warm function) sit for 15 minutes after boiling. And then, after that, I still didn’t turn down the music and I don’t know how long my beeper was going off before I went to get the tea. So while I aimed for 212F/8min, it’s probably wildly off.
Anyway, this tastes like coffee? I’m so confused. It tastes like a roasted, nutty coffee, and I don’t know how that works? I’ve really been jonesing for coffee lately (I know, revoke my login), and getting the new Keurig machine has led to me buying a bunch of coffee and drinking it. So yeah, this hits the spot. Very VERY much like nutty coffee.
So thanks for the sample derk!
Flavors: Coffee, Nutty, Roasted
No notes yet. Add one?
This is supposedly a rare tea cultivar, plus it is an aged Japan black, which is also not very common.
As is always with tea from Japan it is broken up into pretty small pieces. The wet leaf smells strongly of leafy greens, sea, sourness and umami. The taste largely follows the nose. Sourness, medicinal herbs, seafood, soy. Pretty smooth and understated.
This is pretty far from a regular tea territory flavor-wise, bordering on medicinal herbal concoctions or traditional Asian food. I was not a big fun, to be honest.
Flavors: Medicinal, Seaweed, Sour, Soy Sauce, Spinach
This is not the most complex or unique sencha, it’s just very solid. It has clear liquor, a well balanced astringency and bitterness as well as a good range of flavours. The body is medium and the mouthfeel on the oily side I’d say.
I didn’t find the aroma to be particularly strong, but I did detect notes of green vegetables, banana, baked bread in the dry leaf scent. First infusion is very mineral and yeasty with a light sweetness and an intriguing spiciness. There are marine notes as well as a bone broth flavour. Subsequent steeps highlight more of vegetable and fruity flavours, such as broccoli and peach. The aftertaste has a sugary sweetness throughout, but not that much going on beyond that.
Flavors: Baked Bread, banana, Broccoli, Broth, Drying, Fruity, Marine, Mineral, Peach, Pleasantly Sour, Spicy, Sugar, Sweet, Umami, Vegetables, Yeast
I continue my little personal exploration of Japanese black teas. This is the aged tea (2016 harvest) from the northern coast of Japan, from Matsue – which is not far from Hiroshima. As is common for Japanese blacks, this tea is quite chopped up into small pieces.
The dry leaf has a strong umami smell of vegetable broth, with the secondary notes of seaweed and soy sauce. The tea, which I prepared in the Western style, is pale of color. The dominant notes are of the same boiled vegetables: cabbage, carrots. Also present are seaweed, tartness, and the unavoidable tongue-puckering Assamica maltiness.
The vegetable taste lingers quite a bit and coats your mouth. Unfortunately, the Assamica tartness readily lingers as well, and since the tea is so finely chopped-up it is really easy to overbrew it.
Overall, the taste is not by any means complex, but somewhat unusual and pleasant – especially if you are into soups and boiled vegetables. It would be interesting to see how this tea would come out if the leaves were preserved intact. I honestly do not understand that insatiable desire of Japanese tea makers to pulverize any cha that comes their way.
Flavors: Carrot, Malt, Seaweed, Soy Sauce, Tart, Vegetable Broth
This sencha seems to be more about the flavour than anything else really. Having said that, the empty cup aroma is quite distinctive – and reminiscent of Taiwanese high mountain oolongs. The taste is balanced, but also a bit muted. It is a mix of bitter, sour, brothy, salty, and sweet flavours, with a fruity aftertaste that leaves a constrictive, cooling sensation. The mouthfeel is oily I’d say. Overall, it is different from other senchas I’ve had, probably mostly due to its processing, but not really better.
Flavors: Bitter, Grass, Green Apple, Salty, Sour, Sweet, Umami
From the Marco Polo TTB ages ago.
Last time I drank Houjicha was maybe 5 years ago and I remember not liking it as much… yeah that didn’t change. It’s the roastiness that I don’t like?? It legit tastes like you’re eating a mouthful of tanbark, and trust me, I know how tanbark tastes like since once in elementary school I fell of a swing and landed on my face hahaha
Anyway, good tea, but not a fan. If you like a woodsy taste, then this would be your cuppa
Flavors: Bark, Wood