This is a seasonal offering, so I assume it varies somewhat from year to year, and from what I gather, it’s best to grab it as soon as it comes available in the fall. So this review will only be truly accurate for the 2013 batch.
This particular tea is brewed with more leaves, and at a much lower temperature than most other teas. For a truly mellow cup, you can go as low as 130F. The suggested serving size is 1.5 TABLESPOONS (not teaspoons) for 200ml (about 6.5 oz) of water. Even though you can get three to four good steeps, that still makes for a very pricey cup. According to the tea’s producer, this tea will never get bitter no matter how long it is steeped, although the recommended time is 1.5-2 minutes at higher temperatures, and 2-2.5 minutes at lower temperatures.
For my cups, I chose a moderate 140F, for two minutes. As I have to pour the water from the kettle into a measuring container first, the actual steep temperature is probably closer to 135F. The first cup was strong enough to have a yellow, milky appearance. Despite that, it was not very fragrant. But what an umami punch! As promised, all that goodness dissipated with no bitter finish, only a silky smooth aftertaste.
The second cup was no longer translucent, but yellow and clear. Still only a mild aroma. The taste was definitely fuller, but less umami and more like a regular sencha. There was a slight hint of bitterness but it didn’t stay in the aftertaste. It was not unpleasant as it actually lent some body to the tea. The flavor lingered much longer from the second cup.
Third cup clear and just slightly paler, I noticed that it’s almost a yellow-green. There’s hardly any aroma. The flavor has definitely diminished from the first to the last, which is probably for the best, considering I’m practically having heart palpitations at this stage. I feel like I’ve been drinking matcha. Three steeps is all that is recommended unless you are brewing with the optional extra tea leaves, and I can see why. If I had brewed it at this strength initially, I could probably enjoy the subtle flavor, but after two mind-blowing cups, it tastes weak by comparison. There is still a mellow bite at the end which is rather nice. I feel like I’m cleansing my palate and easing my way slowly out of a tea frenzy.
That wasn’t a cuppa, that was a whole adventure.