526 Tasting Notes
[Spring 2019 harvest]
I got a free sample of this tea, which I am glad because I haven’t had it yet. It’s nice to be able to try it even though any conclusions have to come with a qualification that the tea is now one year old.
In a preheated pot, dry leaves smell of bacon, rosemary and corn husks. Subsequently, I get an aroma of peas and candle smoke during the session.
The pea note also comes up in the flavour profile, here it is most reminiscent of pea soup. Other than that, the profile is savoury, a little nutty and with a mild lemon tartness but devoid of the sourness. There are also notes of butter, carambola and seaweed; and the finish gets progressively sweeter in later infusions.
Aftertaste is generally very crisp and cooling. There is an interesting earthy hint that’s not all that common among green teas and the dominant flavour is that of green bell peppers.
As for the mouthfeel, this tea strikes pretty high there. The liquor is smooth, oily and thick. All in all, it is quite an enjoyable tea that I would be happy to try fresh at some point in the future. It has a good body, and there is very little bitterness or astringency. The latter does appear eventually, but only at around 85°C.
Flavors: Butter, Corn Husk, Earth, Green Bell Peppers, Herbs, Lemon, Meat, Nutty, Peas, Seaweed, Smoke, Sweet, Tart, Thick
Generally, I find Taiwanese oolongs to be a fairly safe bet. They are rarely flops. For some reason, this tea just doesn’t do it for me though. I don’t know if it’s just this batch or since I haven’t had other ones.
The aromas and flavours are fairly weak, the only distinctive note being an osmanthus scent. The taste is somewhat more sour than I am used to, but otherwise doesn’t really stand out in any way and the same can be said about the mouthfeel. There is a cooling aftertaste with a persisting sourness and quite a strong defocusing cha qi.
I don’t, maybe it’s just me. If my impression changes as I finish my pack, I will update the note.
Flavors: Floral, Flowers, Grass, Osmanthus, Sour
Here’s a well balanced, intricate, and full-bodied Dong Ding – one that I would happily reorder given its reasonable price. It has the right amount of roasting to drink young. Maybe as the only drawback I would mention that the taste is a bit muted and the aftertaste somewhat simple.
Dry leaf aroma is very nice and memorable already. It has a somewhat earthy and cooling base with notes of apple, parsnip, and beeswax on top. During the session, the scent is also fairly complex and mostly floral with some complementary vegetal and sweet, woody tones.
The taste is well balanced, but overall skewed towards mineral and savoury flavours. Bitterness and sweetness are present too, the latter especially in the aftertaste. Specific notes includes ones like bone broth, raisins, butter, lavender, and parsnip.
As I mentioned already, liquor is thick and has a very nice brothy and bubbly mouthfeel. The chh qi is pleasant too and mind clarity inducing.
All in all, a lovely tea that I can definitely recommend.
Flavors: Apple, Bitter, Broth, Earth, Honey, Lavender, Meat, Mineral, Parsley, Raisins, Sweet, Thick, Vegetables, Vegetal, Wet Rocks, Wood
This karigane is nice, although fairly basic and doesn’t stand out all that much.
Dry leaves are in fact very fragrant with a brothy, nutty and a touch grassy smell. There are notes of sake, some flowers but also cookies. Later on, the wet leaf aroma also reminds of bok choy, celery and likewise some bone broth and alcohol again.
Taste is sweet as expected; the nutty, umami, grassy and bitter notes are a bit less pronounced. I could also detect some flavours like those of chicken broth, milk, raisins and fennel.
Flavors: Alcohol, Bitter, Bok Choy, Broth, Celery, Chicken Soup, Cookie, Fennel, Flowers, Grass, Milk, Nutty, Raisins, Sweet, Umami
I bought this cake from Scott Wilson recently and here are some of my first impressions. Since the two sessions I’ve had with it were mostly quite broken-up material, it’s hard to assess its longevity, but it seems to be a tea just above the 150ml/g mark. I suspect this led to a higher flavour intensity and possibly thicker body too.
Still, it has a medium body and a slightly thicker mouthfeel than what I learned to expect from plantation tea from the mid 2000’s. Though the main takeaway for me is that rather than having a very specific flavour profile, the tea has a good depth and breadth of flavours, as well as an expansive aftertaste with a pretty impressive huigan.
If pressed, I would describe its flavour character as sweet and woody with a savoury finish. There are notes of brown sugar, bread, grass, spruce and thyme, and a touch of honey in the aftertaste. The astringency is mild but definitely present, while I didn’t detect much bitterness. Aroma is sweet, woody and herbaceous with a hint of smokiness.
I definitely don’t regret the blind purchase, I don’t have too many teas like this at the moment and for the price it’s hard to ask for much more.
Flavors: Astringent, Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Grass, Herbaceous, Pine, Sweet, Thyme, Wood
[April 2020 harvest]
It’s been a while since I’ve had a fukamushi sencha, so this one is a welcome addition. The interesting thing about it is that it is more herbaceous and minty than grassy or vegetal. There is some good bitterness too and the umami flavours are mostly bready. Liquor has a medium to full body and a thick, oily mouthfeel with next to no astringency.
The aroma is concentrated around the dry leaves, later there is almost none to discern, and displays a mix of vegetal (courgette) and forest (mushrooms) notes.
The taste is crisp, marine, sweet and a little metallic with dominant flavours of mint and bread. Other notes include asparagus, edamame, licorice, and pine needles.
As is common for fukamushi senchas, the colour here goes from deep nuclear green to light green and then to a very light mix of yellow and green.
Flavors: Asparagus, Baked Bread, Beany, Bitter, Forest Floor, Grass, Herbaceous, Licorice, Marine, Metallic, Mint, Mushrooms, Pine, Sweet, Umami, Vegetal, Zucchini
I finally have a glazed gaiwan of comparable size to my young sheng clay pot, so that I can do a side by side comparison. I used this particular tea for that purpose, as I haven’t tried it in a while.
The tea itself hasn’t changed much. It is still very floral with a strong honey sweetness, a chalky mouthfeel and a green bell pepper flavour to it. The main characteristics are its incredible longetivity and huigan (given the price). In some sense, this is the perfect tea to explain what huigan is to people who are not into pu’er.
As far as the pot comparison is concerned, I found very little difference. The glazed gaiwan yielded a bit more astringency and bite initiallly, and a slightly more vegetal profile overall. On the other hand, the tea from the clay pot was less floral and a bit more brassy. All in all, the difference was negligible I would say.
Flavors: Astringent, Floral, Green Bell Peppers, Honey, Sweet
A couple of new notes for this tea appeared recently so I decided to pull it out of my storage to check up on it too. It has a fairly dark orange liquor already. It is better than a year ago, but still quite astringent. However, it is drinkable beyond 10th steep and thus one can get more out of the session.
I find that the aromas has changed quite a bit. It is more muted now, but also has a different character. Dry leaves have a sweet, meadow-like scent with a green bell pepper note to it. Wet leaf aroma is at first mineral and forest-like, later becomes marine with a cut grass undertone.
The taste profile is a mix of sweet, fruity and bitter notes. Among the notes I detected in today’s session are pineapple, grapes, stewed vegetables, parsley, red apple, and juniper berries. The aftertaste is very astringent, but also quite sweet. There is a nice apricot note appearing at times about 10 minutes after drinking, as well as a sort of lavender fragrance.
The body is medium with a little foamy mouthfeel at first, which is dominated by the astringency though. The texture is fairly watery and not too interesting. I do like the cha qi, which is strong and warming. However, the caffeine content seems to be quite high too unfortunately.
Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Berry, Bitter, Cut grass, Drying, Floral, Forest Floor, Fruity, Grapes, Green Bell Peppers, Lavender, Marine, Mineral, Parsley, Pineapple, Red Apple, Stewed Fruits, Sweet
Among the Japanese teas that I got this year is this sencha – the most expensive among the crowd in Yuuki-cha’s line-up. There are a lot of things to like about it, but the most memorable aspect is probably the texture of the first infusion, which is the softest I’ve ever experienced in any tea. I don’t think I ever described the mouthfeel of some tea as fluffy, but it kind of fits here.
Anyway, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The fragrance is generally not a crucial part of sencha appreciation, but it definitely plays its role. Here, we have a fairly standard range of aromas, but more complex than average. Dry leaves smell of toasted bread and sweet grass initially and of green peas, twigs and bread dough in a preheated pot. During the session I picked up further notes of freshly cut grass and egg whites, as well as a distinct candy-like scent in the empty cha hai – maybe the most unusual part of the bouquet.
As I mentioned already, the first infusion has a super soft and smooth texture, at the same time being buttery thick. The profile is a mix of bitter and umami flavours, the most prominent among them are broth, sugar snap peas, moss, and decaying wood.
Second steep is a bit more balanced in its flavour profile, but also less interesting. There are notes of chicken broth, sweet grass, and rapini. The aftertaste is cooling, mineral and very sweet with notes of rock sugar and white pepper. I also quickly notice the cha qi, which is very invigorating as I would hope from a high-end sencha.
Third infusion is very refreshing with a touch of bitterness and sourness – quite a bit like lemon zest actually. More vegetal flavours also appear at this stage. The next steep is then more on the sweet and fruity side with a hint of cloves.
I wouldn’t be necessarily say that it’s the best sencha I’ve had, but it’s up there and I am certainly glad to have ordered it.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Bitter, Broccoli, Broth, Butter, Candy, Chicken Soup, Cloves, Decayed wood, Freshly Cut Grass, Garden Peas, Lemon Zest, Mineral, Moss, Peas, Peppercorn, Smooth, Sugar, Sweet, Sweet, warm grass, Umami, Vegetal, Yeast
If memory serves me right, this is the first Kamairicha I’ve had in any significant amount. Its character is an interesting mix of Japanese and Chinese style (think Laoshan) green teas.
The first time I drank the tea, I followed a recommendation I found online for the parameters, but I found it to be a bit overbrewed. Today I started slightly lighter and it yielded better results. Namely, the parameters I used were: 45s, 72°C / 15s, 82°C / 30s, 80°C / 45s, 85°C / 75s, 85°C / 2min, 90°C / …
One of the nice things about fresh green teas is the range of aromas they display, which is definitely the case here. Dry leaves smell of corn, toasted rice and grass at first and then in a preheated gaiwan I notice more of a bready scent with notes of thistles and sugarcane as well. On the other hand, during the session, the wet leaf aroma has a strong chicken broth character with a lot of vegetal notes such as celery, broccoli, squash and green beans. Empty cup aroma is then more on the milky and floral side of the spectrum.
The taste is quite savoury with a nice bitterness and biting astringency that can last a while. First infusion is more buttery and citrusy than later ones that become more grassy and sweet. There are flavours such as those of fiddlehead fern, yeast, spinach, green apple and others appearing throughout the session. The body is medium to full and the mouthfeel cooling and on the oily side. It takes a while until the sweetness properly takes over the aftertaste, but it does so eventually.
Flavors: Astringent, Biting, Bitter, Broccoli, Broth, Butter, Celery, Chicken Soup, Citrusy, Grass, Green, Green Apple, Green Beans, Kettle Corn, Plants, Pumpkin, Spinach, Sugarcane, Sweet, Toasted Rice, Umami, Vegetal, Yeast