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Recent Tasting Notes
Steeped gongfu in my Houjicha dedicated yixing pot.
Thank you Starfevre for sharing this – it feels like ages ago you did, so I’m sorry I’m just now getting around to trying it…
This is from last Sunday; I had a whole giant tea picnic planned that I was going to take to the park, but it was ridiculously windy outside so rather than cancel everything or try to have a peaceful session outside during a dust storm I just had an indoor picnic instead. So in addition to steeping up this tea, I also had freshly sliced mangoes (a suggestion from Togo, I believe, to pair with my houjicha) as well as cannolis!
The tea was nice; it immediately brewed up super strong. This is a fairly dark roast on a houjicha and the leaf itself is so stemmy – so that roastiness is immediately prevalent in the cup. It’s definitely a soba cha/roasted barley sort of profile primarily but it has the caramel/roasted nut notes that are often present in houjicha as well. Oddly, I found this almost boozy too, and I’m not totally sure what that flavour note was coming from but it was quite interesting, tasty, and complex. I felt like I was getting a big hug with each slurp of tea!
The cannoli was just perfect as a pairing; sweet pastry and creamy filling with dark roasted barley notes? Obviously that’s going to be a win. The mango was interesting; I actually enjoyed the two together quite a bit but it’s certainly not the sort of pairing I would have ever thought to put together on my own and I’m not totally sure why it worked either. I guess maybe the “pineapple and ham” effect where they’re just so different from one another that they come together perfectly!? It reminded me, though, of drinking one of Lupicia’s roasted barley teas that have the added fruit flavours: those are so dense and heavily roasted that they’re almost like black coffee and the fruit flavours are usually sweet and syrupy, so it’s like adding a flavour shot to black coffee. Incredibly strange – but still good in an unusual type of way. That was my experience with the tea and mango together…
Lovely indoor picnic though! It would have been nicer outdoors, but I’m just happy that I still made it happen in general.
Thanks so much Starfevre! I don’t think I’ve ever had tiny white pearls before. Only big ole white pearls or green jasmine pearls. These aren’t the freshest, so I can’t accurately judge. But they were pretty tasty. I got busy during the second steep and oversteeped them, so that’s too bad. The first cup tasted like a typical white tea. This was one serving so now they’re gone!
Sweeter and lighter than I expect from an archetypal Assam, with only the faintest characteristic malty notes on the back end and increasing slightly as it cools, but a pleasant cup. Slightly floral, light-medium body. I normally enjoy adding milk to my Assams, but this one, with its more delicate character, seems to me to want to be drunk plain. (Note that I inherited this tea, unopened, from another tea lover’s stash and that I’m drinking it three years after its initial release, so it may or may not taste now as it did then…) It tasted just as good on a second infusion at the same temperature and steeping time as the first, which is another point in its favor.
Thank you Ubacat for adding this to the box. I never had one of the Steepster teas before but this was a great introduction. Check out my review here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2017/03/22/genmai-matcha-matsujirushi-from-steepster/
A bit ginger-dominant, but that’s what I like in a chai. Must-have cardamon is there, too, so it’s a good fit for me. Doesn’t go bad if over-steeped (but I usually add milk anyway).
Flavors: Cacao, Cardamon, Ginger, Malt, Spices
I only had a tiny sample of this left. The package was open so it looks like I had at least one tea from it before but never left a review. So I brewed it up and took a sip. Yuk! It’s like a smoky campfire. Sharp and smoky. I threw it out and went to reach for my favourite non-smoked Lapsang souchong.
Flavors: Campfire, Smoke
I was not looking forward to trying this tea. The idea of drinking turmeric and ginger sounds pretty gross to me. However, it’s not quite as bad as I thought it might be. It’s actually drinkable and if someone loves ginger and turmeric they might like this tea. Actually I DO like ginger and turmeric in food, just not my tea. The lemony touch makes it go down a little easier. It’s nice and warming on the throat so not a total waste for a tea.
Flavors: Ginger, Lemon, Spicy
This sample comes courtesy of Stephanie. Thanks again for our swap, m’dear! This is a really strange tea for me, because I’m accustomed to hojicha being roasty and leaning more toward a black flavor profile. This hojicha, however, claims on the front of the packet to be candied sweetness between a green and an oolong. Curious, I decided to brew some up to see if these claims held true. It is definitely sweet, especially as it hits the back of the throat. Not quite cane sugar, but something fairly close. Unrefined sugar? Letting it sit on my tongue evokes a more vegetal, outcome, and proves to be a bit drying. There’s a whisper of roasted grain if I gulp, although that might be my brain attempting to compensate for what it expects to be there. The closest I can come to a solid flavor comparison would be green beans. All in all, not bad! I’m definitely chalking it up as a learning experience, since my notions about what a hojicha should taste like were challenged here. I think it’d take some flavoring really well, although it’s a perfectly acceptable straight tea.
Flavors: Green Beans, Roasted Barley, Sugar, Sweet, Vegetal
Got a sample of this from the Steepster select boxes on sale.
This really is such a nice fall tea. The aroma is fall leaves and roasted brown rice. It’s a very comforting tea, great for a fall day. I should have had it on the week-end when it was soooo cold. Now it’s sunny out and the temperature is going back up.
So the taste is very roasty- like a brown rice roasted. It’s not a dark roast because this is a green tea so it’s lighter. It brews up a dark golden and is a bit astringent.
It’s not the kind of tea I would reach for often but I still enjoy it.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Rice, Roasted
I bought a bag figuring it’s worth a try; I didn’t expect it to be my new favorite tea! It’s the perfect blend of black tea with bergamot. It’s a forgiving tea, too. I once accidentally let it steep for up to 5 minutes without it becoming bitter or the bergamot overpowering the tea leaves. The other things I really like about this tea is how large the leaves are, that one teaspoon is good for 12 oz, and that it can be re-steeped twice! It’s my go-to tea at work for its convenience, flavor, and caffeine content.
Flavors: Earl Grey
This was from my free Steepster subscription ages ago. I tried the other sample a while ago but didn’t write a tasting note because it is tough for me to say much about roasted oolongs. It’s certainly a decent tasting roasted oolong, but I just end up tasting a charcoal flavor with any roasted oolong. Maybe a bit of caramel. I like to actually taste the GREEN of green oolongs, so roasted oolongs just aren’t my thing. I think this might have been the only roasted oolong I had remaining in the cupboard!
Steep #1 // 10 minutes after boiling // rinse // 1 minute
Steep #2 // just boiled // 1 1/2 min
One of the least favorite teas I ever received in a Steepster select box. Perhaps I received the “bottom of the barrel” scrapings, but the mere teaspoon sample in the pouch was not identifiable as any type of oolong. More like a musty mess of really poor grade leaves. I like earthy teas, but this really was sub par. Rethinking the cost of Steepster Select with the tiny size of samples recently.
Flavors: Decayed wood, Dirt, Earth
From the Here’s Hoping TTB.
Dumped the entire thing in a tea pot and brewed Western style. Steeping times: 30 seconds, 30, 60.
It slipped my mind to take a note of the dry/wet leaf aroma…so no word on that. Oopsies.
The only other houjicha I’ve had was the bagged kind (pyramidal and big squares) when I was back in Kyoto a few years ago. Whatever it was, it was inexpensive. So this is my first houjicha of a better quality, and I like it. It has a flavor profile with unexpected notes and it evolves (kinda). The first infusion tastes mostly like barely tea with a hint of chocolate, the second of Raisinettes, and the third – at this point, the leaf has weakened – of plain ol’ houjiacha.
I don’t particularly like Raisinettes but if it’s my tea, sure why not!