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Recent Tasting Notes
I wrote this note during one of the recent Steepster freezes, and forgot to record which tea it was for. I think this is the one!
I’m happy to see another single-cultivar sencha in this bag of samples! I steeped 5 g of leaf in 150 ml of 140F water for 1 minute, followed by several 20 second steeps.
The dry aroma is of apple, grain, sweetgrass, gentle umami, and veggies. The first steep has a nice, thick body and notes of sweetgrass, spinach, asparagus, apple, and grain. It’s surprisingly easy going for a sencha. The next few steeps give me more apple, grain, asparagus, grass, herbs, and spinach. The fruit fades near the end of the session, but the tea never gets too bitter or harsh.
Unlike many of the Japanese greens I’ve been drinking, this tea has dimensions other than veggies. It’s a nice change of pace, and I wish I’d been able to pay more attention to it during what was apparently a hectic workday.
Flavors: Apple, Asparagus, Grain, Grass, Herbaceous, Spinach, Sweet, Thick, Umami, Vegetal
There is something about roasted teas. Especially hojicha. A mellow and pleasant taste and aroma experience. The dry leaf is quite different. Looks more like a bancha than a sencha. Which, in all honesty, it could be any of the varieties or cultivars so I’m not saying bancha like that’s a bad thing just that it reminds me more of other bancha than it does other Japanese tea types. It is fairly tightly twisted into long shapes with some twigs. The aroma is very nice. Roasty, toasty, slight charcoal, and a bit of chocolate. The wet aroma of the leaves is unique with charcoal maple notes. And creme brulee. Someone needs to make that dairy free. Man, I miss that desert. The main flavor… not quite as strong as I was hoping. A very mellow hojicha. One minute was not enough. I did at least three. The charcoal notes mix well with the toasty and roasty notes. And slight woody notes but other than that I don’t find it to be that inspiring.
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
Traditional matcha has to be really high quality for me to enjoy it. Otherwise, I like to use it for sweet lattes, usually cold but sometimes hot. And with both traditional and lattes, a small piece of dark chocolate or a little something usually accompanies it.
Ashmanra, chocolate makes everything better, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it worked with matcha. Maybe I should find a bigger jar so I can dilute it a bit.
It is certainly an acquired taste haha. I have found that using the traditional techniques (bamboo whisk to get a froth) help a lot with texture and flavor to my surprise.
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
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
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
For the matcha, you could try using a regular whisk if you have one for cooking/baking. I also like to drink matcha cold shaken with water or oat milk, and you don’t need any special tools for that.
I don’t have a whisk, but I do have jars and water bottles that could work for cold brewing. Do you use the same amount of water you’d use for hot matcha?
I personally use about a teaspoon for 8 ounces of liquid, so quite a bit more diluted than a traditional usucha. Obviously that totally depends on your personal tastes though. Maybe start stronger and you can always add more liquid.
Nope. I have relatively few kitchen gadgets. However, these things would be easy to find if I decide I like matcha and want to keep making it.
I got my cocktail shaker at an estate sale for cheap cheap and the protein powder was one from Vitamin Shoppe with their logo and it was also cheap but has endured like a champ. Ashman uses it several times a week to mix Instant Breakfast but I have used it for matcha lattes. Also, I have a cheap Aerolatte, and someone (maybe matchaoutlet.com or 3leaftea had them for $7.
Thanks! It’s possible that thrift stores might also have cheap cocktail shakers. If I try a couple of these matchas and decide I like them, I’ll explore getting the tools. However, I already have a lot of tea stuff in my small apartment (along with the ever-expanding tea museum) and don’t want to accumulate things I won’t use.
Also, watch me break this resolution and buy an entire matcha set if I decide I enjoy these samples! :D
@Leafhopper if you have a jar with a lid, you can use it as a shaker to mix up the matcha. You don’t need fancy equipment for matcha. I often use a small balloon whisk from the dollar store and a rice bowl.
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
I also made a duplicate entry for this tea that I don’t know how to delete. It’s been that kind of day.
It’s not your fault, the other entry was called “Shincha Kasugaen Asatsuyu” but it’s the same tea so I changed it. Removed the duplicate!
Also, fukamushi sencha does usually have a darker and more intense green color than other Japanese greens.
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
Before today, I’ve had two fantastic gyokuro in my life and one really bad one. This fell somewhere in the middle toward the good end of the spectrum. I like fruity gyokuro with very little bitterness, which means it’s hard to shop for them.
Also, I need to drink that green from TDJ before it’s completely dead!
I think I need to relearn how to make matcha. Yikes.
Woke up from a long nap after a long night at work, and thought this would be a perfect preface to a smoothie and a gongfu session. I think I maybe went too heavy on my ratio at 6g:9oz. I also was sad to find I’d chucked my matcha whisk at some point, after not having used it for several years. I used an electric frother, which maybe contributed to bitterness?
Anyway, I didn’t get the lovely spinach and edamame and hay that I was expecting. It was kinda sour, kinda bitter. I finished it because I felt like I should, but I didn’t enjoy it. I’ll come back and try to use less powder and less aggressive frothing.
No rating, I’m sure this was user error.
One of two teas I had with my mom in the park, chilled. It was refreshing and delicious. Previous notes include wood, charcoal roast, and a smooth amber liquor.
For real, I actually bought a travel gongfu set just for that and started a weekly tasting session for Thursday mornings.
We lost my dad last year and it was a good time to take stock on our busy lives and bettering the time we have to spend together. :)
That is wonderful!
The only tea my mom made or drank was sweet Southern iced tea – three cups of sugar to a little over a gallon. Ha ha! Almost pure syrup, and believe me, everyone loved it! But she would have loved getting into fine tea, I just know she would have, and we have had such good times laughing and bonding over it. I have been missing her a lot lately.
This time I brewed multiple gongfu infusions and collected them together for a liter of chilled tea. It’s quite savory and refreshing.
There is a woody almost mineral note that sticks to the tongue, but with a great roasty body full of flavor and mouthfeel. Definitely the best kukicha/hojicha I have ever tried. Looking forward to chilling this in the summer and having a low-caffeine option for evening consumption.
Flavors: Roasted, Savory, Woody
I chilled a batch of this after brewing Gongfu, what a taste sensation! It’s very hard to describe: but it does taste like a nice roasty kukicha tea. Looking forward to making a larger chilled batch for later consumption.
Will leave a full review once I have time to digest what I am tasting with this one.