Thés du Japon

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Recent Tasting Notes

May 2021 harvest

The leaf is clearly thin and delicate and when dry, has a soft, high scent of butterfat with an even softer ‘dark’ undertone. The cut is small and uniform, about the size of sea salt flakes, which allows for quick infusion. Despite this, there is very little astringency and no bitterness. It is best prepared as a one-steep tea with long infusion time. Probably well suited for a European-style large teapot brew.

A doughy aroma gently stimulates the senses. I think of it less like yeast, which gmathis aptly noted, and maybe more like a fresh, doughy and warm soft pretzel.

As far as the taste, this tea is all about the tones and lacks distinct flavor notes. Low tones of well worn soft leather, old dark wood, dark bread and forest soil earthiness with some red currant brightness are so soft and rounded. Tinges of astringency and acidity. When prepared with higher leaf:water ratio, I do notice some of the vanilla sugar Thés du Japon suggests.

This profile is a bit of a mystery to me. If I am to categorize its character, it’s maybe like an African black tea with a leathery Assam but without the typical assamica punch of either. The velvety and full body is more like a high-quality Chinese Qimen and does not match what the leaf visual brings to mind.

Interesting tea and worth a try for the curious. Read more here: https://japaneseteasommelier.wordpress.com/2017/12/24/karabeni-cultivar-black-tea/

Flavors: Bread, Bread Dough, Cream, Dark Wood, Earthy, Leather, Red Currant, Round, Soft, Sugar, Vanilla

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 3 g 10 OZ / 300 ML
gmathis

Pretzels! There you go.

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Uh-oh. No notes on this one yet so I’m going to have to figure out the flavor without any help from fancier palates than mine. The cup was a little like a sensory jigsaw puzzle!

Plain old Missouri farm girl western-style steep; four minutes. The scent—-and I had to keep sniffing and thinking about it—reminded me of yeast that had been left to rise in the sun just a little too long, but in a good way. (Fermented a little, I guess.) The flavor doesn’t quite fit my usual favorite toasty or bready adjectives; it was more like a heavy Christmas fruitcake or plum cake—definitely a dark, heavy fruit thing going on.

I’ll add an amendment when I try the second steep, but in the meantime, thank you, derk—this is one I would never have stumbled across without you! It is unlike any straight black tea I’ve ever tried.

derk

I’ve had this once or twice and like you, have had a difficult time groking it. Just thought I’d toss a little your way for something different.

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April 2021 harvest.

Rich, heady florals and thick sweetness with a balanced astringency once I dialed in on this leaf’s character. It can be very finnicky, bitter and unbalanced, especially so when following TDJ’s parameters.

What transformed this tea for me was using 4g:400mL brewed in a glass vessel with water 160F or lower for a minute or two. It reminds me of oolong with its floral intensity, creamy-milky and fruity notes (like Froot Loops cereal), sugarcane-like sweetness and extended retronasal action of the aftertaste. It is equally a green tea, though, with pronounced but well integrated astringent vegetal-whitebean-grass taste. Mild, minty cooling.

It took a minute, but I’m now rather happy with this sencha and hope that others can be, too.

Oh, there’s some ghee here, too. Not your typical buttery note. GHEE. It’s sticky in my olfactories. But that note also seems unnatural, though inoffensive — if not strangely palatable — like a flavored milk oolong. I like it.

Addendum: Recommended for those who fancy a big floral bouquet and can find some pleasure in experimentation. The fruity nuances this tea has to offer are a treat. They will materialize with some coaxing and linger with the affection of a crazed lover. Intense tea. Mellow is not a quality that has ever come to mind. While I’m unlikely to seek out this sencha again, I do appreciate the exercise in patience that allowed me to finally get to know this tea.

Also, while the tea is still fresh a year after harvest, I can see it devolving quickly into pure parfum. I will work to drink this down before other green teas in my cupboard that are known practitioners of longevity.

Flavors: Beans, Brisk, Butter, Cream, Floral, Fruity, Grass, Green Wood, Lavender, Lily, Lime, Macadamia, Milk, Mint, Peach, Perfume, Pineapple, Plumeria, Raspberry, Rich, Spinach, Sugarcane, Sweet, Thick, Vegetal

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 1 min, 30 sec 4 g 14 OZ / 400 ML

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May 2021 harvest, grown without pesticides

Following TDJ’s parameters, I wasn’t impressed by the level of barklike bitterness; however, the flavor itself was pretty good and the aroma spectacular. I remember the second infusion smelling like blood oranges. I’m wondering how TDJ picked up a descriptor of ‘coconut dumplings’.

Steeped 3g:300mL for several minutes, again the aroma is pronounced, with a mixture of lychee, apple, blackberry, cream, cinnamon and almond, a touch of malt. The body of the tea consists of dominant qualities that are dark and tannic-drying, reminding me of rosewood, with a dark and dry leaf litter vibe. The aroma does flow very well through the taste and lingers like a thick vapor. Camphory, cypressy freshness abounds soon after the swallow, spreading from the chest to the throat, eventually taking over the mouth with minty freshness; not overbearing, just very natural and a marker for me of a high-quality tea. A candied orange peel aftertaste blooms slowly and grows with the sense of calm that this tea induces.
That aftertaste morphs into a tree-sappy returning sweetness with notes of something more like mandarin-apricot. I also notice a rasp on the tongue which reinforces the notion of cinnamon I caught in the aroma.

This is a tricky leaf, as I’m finding out with my exploration of Japanese teas, but it has an elegant heaviness and depth if approached in an appreciative manner. In other words, it’s a tea to respect, to sit with, not one to brew and drink in a rush.

Flavors: Allspice, Almond, Apricot, Bark, Blackberry, Blood Orange, Camphor, Chili, Cinnamon, Cream, Dark Bittersweet, Dry Leaves, Drying, Floral, Forest Floor, Lychee, Malt, Mandarin, Orange Zest, Osmanthus, Rosewood, Spicy, Tannin, Vanilla, Woody

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 g 10 OZ / 300 ML

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Thanks, Derk, for all the generous Japanese tea samples! This is also my first Japanese oolong, and I was drawn to the ones featured on the Thés du Japon site because they were described as resembling Taiwanese gaoshan, even down to the cultivars used. I had no idea how to steep this, not having a 60 ml vessel, so I filled my 85 ml teapot most of the way and hoped it was okay. TDJ also only gives directions for the first steep. I used my 3 g of leaf in boiling water and steeped it for 30, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.

The dry aroma is of apricot, tart fruit (I haven’t had quince, but that seems accurate), grain, lemon, lilies and other flowers, and sugarcane. The lily, honeysuckle, orchid, and maybe even lilac florals do remind me of a Baozhong, as does the grass, butter, and silky texture. There’s definitely an element of grain that I haven’t found in Baozhong, and the tart quince/apricot/peach comes in on the aftertaste. (That peachy aftertaste might be the best part of this steep!) Spice is quite prominent in steep two, along with flowers, grass, minerals, grain, sap, and tart fruit. I see how Derk is getting mango in steep three, though there’s also some astringency, grass, spinach, lily, apricot, lemon, and minerals. The tea is starting to get a bit rough around the edges. Coconut appears in the fourth steep, though the spinach and grass are getting stronger and the fruit/florals are backing off. There’s still some creamy mango sweetness as it cools. The coconut, mango, and apricot continue in the next few steeps, but this oolong is getting very grassy, vegetal, and bitter.

This oolong evolved throughout my gongfu session and was a bit temperamental, though that could have been due to user error. While it did have some similarities to Baozhong, it took a wildly different direction in later steeps. (Also, keep those coconut teas coming!) Thanks to Derk for letting me try this tea!

Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Butter, Coconut, Cream, Floral, Grain, Grass, Honeysuckle, Lemon, Lilac, Lily, Mango, Mineral, Orchid, Peach, Quince, Sap, Silky, Spices, Spinach, Sugarcane, Tart, Vegetal

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 3 g 3 OZ / 85 ML
derk

Haha 3g does not a generous sample make. Sorry bout that. But glad you got some coconut out of it

Leafhopper

LOL! It was nice of you to send me some at all. :) I appreciate all the samples.

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A lingering specimen from Mastress Alita’s Monthly Sipdown Challenge, March 2022 – A floral tea

The dry and warm leaves of this Japanese oolong smell like a bowl of Captain Crunch Berries cereal. I’d love to see confirmation of that.

Beyond that cutesy, drool-worthy leaf aroma, this tea is green, pretentious and stubborn, often unfeelingly brash, with some quiet depth beyond the florals. I could never fully open up this tea no matter the preparation; it stayed rigid and zipped up kinda like a certain someone sometimes haha. Because of this, I could never sink into the experience.

If I had had an idea that I didn’t possess the skill to get this tea where I think it needed to be, I wouldn’t have purchased it. Sorry Leafhopper, this one was a gamble. Maybe you’ll have the touch begged for to explore its emotionally unavailable diva-like character.

Either myself or this tea needs therapy.

Daylon R Thomas

It does sound a lot like the sample you got me…

Leafhopper

Oof! Well, I have 25 g to play with.

derk

If you try it and don’t like it, you can ship it back this way :P

derk

Daylon, I’m certain this is the one in question

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84

Sipdown, and upping the rating. I don’t remember what I did differently, but kept things shorter at 15, and then 30 seconds so far. Orange is coming out with the geranium and rose, having a herbaceous finish for me. I’m enjoying it more.

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84

Thank you Derk! Here’s my input-I’m going to have a hard time going into this tea blind since I’ve read your note and the description from the website, so here it goes.

I brew this in my gong fu 2 go, and intuitively make it. I did about 25-30 seconds in the first brew with about two thirds of the bag. I immediately noticed a geranium-lilac aroma coming from the cup, and drinking it up, chestnut or even butternut squash coats the palette. There’s some brown sugar sweetness here and there, and some woodsiness. It’s not as woody as other Japanese Teas I’ve had. Instead, it’s more floral and smooth bordering on some oolong qualities. How the florals flatten on my tongue, and then rise into my sinuses remind me of quality Baozhong flower notes, and even has the same kind of gold floral malt some of them have. The savory qualities make it lean more black, but the mouthfeel does interesting things, starting low, creamy, then cooling up into a sweetness with piquant bitter hints. Middle steeps were more floral, more rosy, but lilac, squash, brown sugar, and light wood hit my brain the most. Later steeps, 4 and 5, were sweeter/lighter towards squash and sugar, maybe cinnamon, and the last brew was sweet, light, and the most woodsy.

I’m not too sure about some of the fruitier notes described, but I can see them because the teas naturally sweet and has the kind of acidic bite strawberries might have. Camphor is something I immediately get to approximate the sweet wood cooling oil quality of the tea. I’m leaning towards petrichor in terms of mood and feel. Cinnamon is a little bit more psychological. I see it more in the later steeps than in the earlier ones, though I’m not sure if I’d peg that as a note comparing it to cinnamon in teas and Rou Guis.

I really like this one, and enjoyed it more than the Tsushima black a little bit because this one was more easy going. I still have one Japanese black to try out along with others, but I enjoyed this one. More experienced drinkers would be better with this one than newbs because it might just taste like a savory floral tea to them. I hope my input was decent derk!

Flavors: Brown Sugar, Butternut Squash, Camphor, Floral, Geranium, Lilac, Oily, Petrichor, Rosewood, Squash, Sweet

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What did I do to deserve derk? Nothing, that’s what. As I thought about that, I was reminded of a little story I read a long time ago in a sermon trying to explain the concept of the grace of God.

A businessman from up north is traveling through the Southern US. He stops at a diner and orders breakfast – bacon, eggs, and toast. A waitress brings his plate and he points at a white mass and asks, “What is this?”

“That’s grits,” she replies.

“But I didn’t order grits,” he responds.

Patiently she tells him, “You don’t order grits. They just come.”

And that is how grits are like the grace of God and derk. Derk, you are better than grits, and I like grits a lot.

On to the tea! Wow, skinny skinny sharp and pointy deep dark green. Water hits the leaves and deep golden color develops quickly. Before I ever take a sip from the cup, I know this tea is thick. I mean, THICC. Brothy and very like seasoned broth from a well-seasoned and long stewed chicken. Umami to the tenth power.

So much flavor. My tongue is tingling with the briskness which builds and I just drink more and more. The most remarkable part is that I finished the first cup and did a bit of cleaning and the flavor was still lingering. The rising sweetness we so often hear about (usually I thought with Chinese green tea) is relentless. I keep getting a burble of this very sweet flavor.

The second steep is just as flavorful, perhaps a tad more brisk but still the rising sweetness that follows lingers for a long, long time. It just doesn’t quit. More steeps to come, but honestly I think I will be tasting this for literally hours today because I am STILL tasting the last of the second steep even though it has been a while since I sipped.

I am not nearly as eloquent as derk, nor am I as good at detecting flavors, but this is great tea and I am very happy I had this opportunity to try it.

Thank you, derk!

derk

Just a little something :) You have an eloquence in words that I don’t possess – that of tender emotion. Thanks for being you.

gmathis

Reading that just makes my heart happy. You’re both pretty special. <3

derk

Hey, isn’t your birthday coming up, g?

Martin Bednář

derk is such a lovely person. And the tea that you received seems in many ways very similar :)

gmathis

derk, you’re sweet to remember! Easter weekend. I grew up with a lot of bunnies on my cakes.

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I went for it first because it was the Baozhong like one. Brewing it up, it struck me as being closer to a first flush darjeeling than a Taiwanese oolong. It had a thick body, beautiful leaves like a Baozhong, and some florals that remind me of Jin Xuan and Baozhong, especially in texture, but the profile was heavier with umami for me. I kept on getting the same kind of notes that I get in Gyurkos and First Flushes, like a little bit of apricot and strawberry hints, but lots of greener ones like soy, edamame, cream, fresh grass, gardenia, and drying astringency. I had hard time getting past the 5th cup gong fu. I liked it, but it was a little bit astringent and almost too green for me.

Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Gardenias, Green, Green Beans, Snow Peas, Soybean, Strawberry, Thick, Umami, Vegetal

derk

I either mislabeled this or accidentally slipped it into your package instead of Leafhopper’s. How much did I send you? I think it’s supposed to be Kojû cultivar oolong :$

Daylon R Thomas

5 grams only

Daylon R Thomas

I could have oversteeped it since I did it all at once using 4-5 oz, and did 25, 15, 30, 25, 30, 40. It’s hard to tell since the leaves of both cultivars look VERY similar. I will also see if the Kojun is in the stash you sent me. I think a requested for this one specifically. There were A LOT of florals in this one, but it was also on the astringent green side pushing it into umami for me in the aftertaste.

derk

The Haru-meguri was only a wee 6g sample sent by TDJ so what you drank here is probably Kojû. Pretty sure my session of Haru-meguri was more than one gram ;P Sorry if there was a mix-up! Gonna make a pot of Kojû right now to compare.

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Thank you Derk for all the teas!

I started with the oolong, but started with this one blind. I picked it out because I’m somewhat familiar with Tsushima due to video game popculture, and made the choice for this reason.

Parameters-30, 20, 40, 50, and 60. I need to do a disclaimer first: I tend to find Japanese blacks very sweet, but very grassy or woodsy with a complex dryness. Sometimes I like it, and other times I don’t. Going into this one, the first steep was sweet and aromatic, making me think of anything colored brown and hot pink, though the liquid was a bright light red. I personally thought of cherry blossom, roses and fall leaves, cherries, almond, and lots of wood. The second steep had a little bit more fruit in the form of satsuma orange with a cooling acidic rise into a tannic finish. The last few steeps were generally almondy, woody, and floral again with the cherry blossom.

Interestingly enough, the description for this one said Lychee. I can kinda see that, but it wasn’t fructose-y enough for my palette to go in the direction. I know cherry blossoms is the most basic white person response, but it did remind me of salted cherry blossoms in tea.

I don’t think I’m going to rate it, but I will say it was a fun tasting experience. I don’t love it since it’s a little bit too tannic for me, but I really like the kind of profile it had. More of a tea nerds kind of tea though rather than a newbie tea.

Flavors: Almond, Bitter, Cherry, Cherry Blossom, Cherry Wood, Citrus, Dry Grass, Dry Leaves, Drying, Floral, Rose, Sweet, Tannin, Tea, Wood

derk

You’re welcome. Now that you mention it, I can see this tea as grassy. Never crossed my mind! Thanks for trying this tea. It’s good to get other perspectives :)

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Western is smoother but doesn’t carry the intensity of flavor. Prepared with lower ratio than my usual 3g:300mL, it makes a light, fruity-honey-sweet cup with smooth spice.

Last cup of the bag was the first time I looked at the spent leaf. It is stunning!

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April 27, 2021 harvest.

Difficult to describe… Complex and rich fruit and spice flavors that dance off the palate, aroma lingers in the throat. Deep but not thick turbinado sugar type of sweetness that is lightened and balanced playfuly by the tannins, mild astringency and bitterness of a malty black tea. Strong citrus and floral presences are difficult to isolate because they’re so well integrated, peaking in and out of the mid- to high ranges. It’s not like perfume at all to me.

First steep takes boiling water and long steep beautifully; second steep takes some attention to time to mitigate the tingling bark-like medicinal bitters which can make a third infusion worthwhile if you’re into that kind of feeling-taste.

This tea, when prepared with TDJ’s parameters, is a medium-bodied tea with rich aromatics and flavor. It presents characteristics of Wuyi zhengshan xiaozhong, Taiwanese and Nepali black teas.

Flavors: Allspice, Almond, Apple, Apricot, Astringent, Bark, Bitter, Blackberry, Brown Sugar, Butter, Chamomile, Chili, Chrysanthemum, Cinnamon, Citrus Fruits, Citrusy, Cream, Floral, Fruity, Lychee, Malt, Peach, Peony, Rose, Rosewood, Spicy, Sweet, Tannin, Woody

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 3 g 5 OZ / 150 ML
Leafhopper

I just tried this today using TDJ’s parameters (3 g, 150 ml, 200F, 5 minutes), and wow, it’s gorgeous and intense! There’s more tannins and astringency than I prefer, but the citrus, stonefruit, spicy, floral, and malty flavours make up for it. It’s the first time I’ve recognized rosewood in a tea. I agree with you that it resembles a Lapsang Souchong or Taiwanese black tea. Too bad they don’t give instructions for the second steep. I’ll post a tasting note after a few more sessions. Did you give Daylon some of this tea?

Daylon R Thomas

Pretty sure I did. I thought I wrote on it-I’d have to double check.

Leafhopper

Daylon, I don’t see your review here, though maybe it’s somewhere else. I find the names of these Japanese teas to be a bit confusing.

Daylon R Thomas

I probably drank some, and then forgot to write about it.

Leafhopper

LOL, that happens to me. Other times I want to have multiple sessions before writing a tasting note.

derk

Dunno if I sent this to you, Daylon.

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96

Unpretentious.

Fine art.

Silk.

Is.

Flavors: Apple, Bok Choy, Cacao, Custard, Kiwi, Moss, Roasted Nuts, Silky, Smooth, Snow Peas, Soft, Sweet

derk

A cool, sweet, soft stream that disappears. I don’t have the words.

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After trying ice-brewing again, I decided it wasn’t for me. Since I have so many teas at home I’d rather drink, this had the potential to become severely neglected. It’s good enough that I didn’t want to toss the leaf, so I took it to work to see what I could do with it there.

Turns out the key to my appreciation for this tea lies in a much lower leaf-to-water ratio than is custom for gyokuro. I let the cup of dispenser hot water sit while I dive into these involved projects I’m working on and by the time I come up for a breather, the water has cooled to gyokuro brewing temperature or lower. Take a big pinch of leaf (3-4g) and let it steep for several minutes (a 2nd steep, too). The resulting cup effects my mood and work pace in a very beneficial way. I detect almost no bitterness and the low, deep, thick and rich umami is lightened enough that my body and tastebuds do not protest. With longer steeps, some eucalyptus and pineapple can come out in the aftertaste.

Flavors: Alkaline, Cheesecake, Eucalyptus, Fish Broth, Kale, Lima Beans, Marine, Pineapple, Seafood, Spinach, Thick, Umami

Preparation
3 min, 0 sec 10 OZ / 295 ML

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Tried my hand at ice-brewing, following a guideline somewhere that called for 1g of tea to 30g of ice (yeah, I weighed it). It’s better than hot-brewed for my tastes but still too intense for my liking, thick with shellfish umami, soybean sweetness and those cholorphyllic wheatgrass notes. Some of the bitterness is mitigated by this method. The leaf will be relatively easy to finish off as ice brews. Not a repurchase, though. This particular gyokuro is simply not for me.

Flavors: Alkaline, Bitter, Green, Round, Shellfish, Soybean, Sweet, Thick, Umami, Wheatgrass

Preparation
Iced 4 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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A family friend from Texas landed unexpectedly at our house last night for an impromptu weekend visit. After nerding out about tea with King Weird for a bit last night, I put together a care package for him of Japanese greens (and many other teas!) which is what prompted this note.

April 28, 2021 harvest

Very intense when brewed with TDJ’s parameters. The amino acid content made my stomach turn, so with this session, I dialed back the first infusion time to 1 minute. Much better, still intense but kinder to my constitution.

Nutty-sweet and starchy white sweet potato scent of the dry leaf with a sheer, creamy overlay; soft, clean note of boiled spinach. Something elusive, like a combination of marzipan, some kind of fruit and cinnamon. It’s a mystery to me, but it’s there and very well hidden.

The liquor is very low-pitched and seafood umami/sweet-driven. Alkaline, brothy and moderately thick (but not oily) with a dominant taste of soft, sweet seafood and edamame, bitterness of dark green kale. Some cashew nuttiness, a sharper umami note of white bean paste that’s more in the nose than mouth, and a quiet, undefinable fruit undertone. The ultra-green chlorophyllic wheatgrass note of shaded green teas expresses itself greater with each subsequent infusion.

Really difficult tea to understand and take in. The bitterness isn’t well integrated and always pulls me out of the moment. Gyokuro’s charm continues to evade me. I can say that I did enjoy another of TDJ’s gyokuro from Asahina more: https://steepster.com/teas/thes-du-japon/98109-gyokuro-from-asahina-saemidori-cultivar

Maybe I’ll try this one ice-brewed.

Flavors: Alkaline, Beans, Bitter, Broth, Cashew, Cinnamon, Green, Irish Cream, Kale, Marine, Marzipan, Round, Seafood, Shellfish, Soybean, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes, Tree Fruit, Umami, Wheatgrass

Preparation
140 °F / 60 °C 1 min, 0 sec 5 g 1 OZ / 30 ML
ashmanra

That sounds like a grand surprise!

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94

Each teapot a deep treasure, each tumbler a sweet pleasure. This tea hasn’t goofed me yet. It was slow to build on me but now that it’s almost gone, I’m comfortable giving a personal rating.

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94

Another interesting sencha and so different from any I’ve had :) April 26/27, 2021 harvest.

The dark green needles smell very sweet and fruity like raspberries but not raspberries, you know, some other obscure regional berry that never makes it way into a market! There’s also undertones white grapes and melon, more deep red watermelon leaning than anything, even candy-like, without that cucumbery smell they can sometimes have. The dry leaf smelled so good that the leaf that I spilled got picked up by my finger and went straight into my mouth to crunch on.

Warming the leaf brings another awesome aroma of raspberry danishes with a mellow undertone of cooked greens. Bahahaha!

Aroma is of raspberry, cherry blossom and wheatgrass with a small amount of dark bitterness.

Tea itself is thick with alkaline umami and some peaty bitterness. The raspberry/berry aromatics evaporate off palate and low into the sinuses. Here, it tastes/smells more like a berry flavored vitamin than the fruit. A moist, natural sweetness comes about in the back of the mouth in the ensuing minutes. The 3 or 4 subsequent steeps lighten evenly across all characteristics. I forgot about a final pot last night and poured it cold this morning after it sat for 12 hours. The tea was sweet and very tasty with practically no bitterness remaining and the berry character presented fully.

I don’t know. I’ve had this tea several times now and can’t help but think I’m describing it too simply. Dewy-thick-alkaline-umami-peaty-bitter-fruity-sweet. All that hyphenation tells me it’s round. I don’t find any distinct vegetal, grassy or seaweed tastes in this tea, only in the leaf and liquor aromas and a bit of a grass vibe as it steeps out.

Flavors: Alkaline, Beans, Berry, Bitter, Bittersweet, Butter, Candy, Cream, Fruity, Grass, Pastries, Peat, Popcorn, Raspberry, Round, Sakura, Savory, Smooth, Spinach, Sugar, Sweet, Sweet Corn, Thick, Watermelon, Wheatgrass, White Grapes

Preparation
140 °F / 60 °C 1 min, 15 sec 4 g 2 OZ / 70 ML
ashmanra

I have to check this company out!

Leafhopper

After reading your note, I had to check our emails to see if this was the sencha I’m getting. Sounds like I should have picked this one!

derk

Coming y’alls way.

Leafhopper

Yay! Glad I’m getting a sample. I’m still waiting for the package from TheTea, so you don’t have to rush to send it out.

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I enjoyed what I had of this tea very quickly. May 20, 2021 harvest.

The dry leaf when I first opened the bag smelled quite floral, spicy and woody like a Nepali black tea. By the time I brewed the last serving, its scent became earthier and deeper like a dark tobacco. When warmed, the leaf displays a strong camphor-wintergreen note atop malted barley and an undertone of hard peaches and their flowers.

My first and last pot of this tea followed TDJ’s parameters. The cups in between were brewed at work in a mug basket strainer. I enjoyed both ways of preparation.

The aroma has a light caramel sweetness mixed with malty orange. There is a camphor freshness to this tea that fits well with the flavors and light earthiness, producing a mixed evergreen-deciduous forest character.

Brewed for 5 minutes in a teapot, I notice the malty, tangy orange character accented by tobacco, sweet potato and wood as soon as I sip, immediately followed by a tingly woody-pithy-peaty bitterness, then the light freshness of camphor and mineral character. When I notice my mouth watering, I also perceive a floral aftertaste. The second steep is very creamy-orange with a fructose sweetness, and the sweet potato and woody tastes that were accents in the first infusion become more prominent.

When had in a mug, the tea is sweet and refreshing while still maintaining fresh forest character. The leaf’s lower oxidation is pronounced in this manner.

My conclusion is succinct — I really enjoyed this tea and it was very easy to drink :) It’s not a heavy black tea by any means.

Flavors: Bitter, Camphor, Caramel, Chili, Chocolate, Cream, Creamy, Drying, Earth, Floral, Forest Floor, Fruit Tree Flowers, Malt, Mineral, Orange, Peach, Peat, Rose, Rosewood, Spicy, Sweet Potatoes, Sweet, Warm Grass, Tangy, Tobacco, Wintergreen, Wood, Woody

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May 8, 2021 harvest. Initial tasting from a few nights ago.

The dry leaf smells just like the 3 descriptors TDJ lists — sweet red beans, herbs, butter.

The taste is much the same, moderately buttery and beany with some bitterness and a bright grass-pineapple astringency that considerably lightens what could be an umami bomb.

Dinner was a rice bowl with kimchi, fried egg and seaweed. This sencha served as a solid palate cleanser for such a piquant meal, while still having enough flavor to stand on its own. A little too much caffeine to be having a few hours before bed, though :P To me, this is a utilitarian tea and performs well over 3 steeps.

I’ll probably go more in depth sometime since I have 100g to play with.

Flavors: Astringent, Beans, Beany, Bitter, Butter, Fruity, Grass, Grassy, Herbs, Oily, Pineapple, Umami

gmathis

I’m getting tired and slap-happy….I’m hyper-focusing on saying beans, beany, bitter, butter, fruity, grass five times fast like a tongue twister. On a more rational note, I’ve been completely fascinated by your reviews of the entire Thes du Japon lineup!

Mastress Alita

Oh man, I would be up all night if I had a Japanese green before bed! Of all the tea types I’ve tried so far, for some reason those hit me hard!

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93

Haha, wow!

Grounding, stimulating yet calming, refreshing. It’s like an overlay of three California environments — the Montara Mountain trailhead eucalyptus grove saturated with early evening fog; a sunny Oro Blanco grapefruit grove in southern California; the cool coastline with scattered tangles of sea vegetation.

If you like eucalyptus, flowers, grapefruit peel and a strong aftertaste, please give this a try. I never would have expected such a profile from sencha.

April 28, 2021 harvest

Flavors: Apple, Apricot, Astringent, Beans, Bitter, Bittersweet, Citrus Zest, Cream, Eucalyptus, Floral, Flowers, Grapefruit, Grass, Grassy, Marine, Melon, Ocean Breeze, Orange Blossom, Peach, Peppermint, Perfume, Pine, Sage, Seaweed, Spinach, Sugarcane, Sweet, Thick

Leafhopper

This company should hire you to write tasting notes! These teas all sound great, in spite of the fact that I don’t gravitate toward Japanese greens.

ashmanra

I second that!

derk

Thanks. It’s difficult to put into words an experience and to assemble subjective complexities into a cohesive description. Thés du Japon has very good teas. I never appreciated Japanese teas until ordering from them.

Martin Bednář

derk: I rarely find good words for the experience as well. Moreover, translating it to English. Sometimes it soudns great in my language, but feels “boring” in English. So, yeah… making cohesive and complex review is often hard. But you did well here!

derk

Some things just need to be taken in.

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Final freebie from the order, thank you :)

October 22, 2021 harvest

I feel surrounded by flowers — lily, lilac, sweet pea, freesia, gardenia, honeysuckle. A very complex, aromatic tea with persistent retronasal action. I did brew this with boiling water as suggested, at least initially, and then dialed it down after the second infusion. The liquor is — I finally get what TDJ refers to as fluid. There’s a bit of weight to it in the mouth but it’s not necessarily thick or oily. It moves around. A little alkaline-umami with a floral bitterness, some drying astringency. In the gripping aftertaste is a fruity, morphing mix of strawberry glaze, sugary peach and vanilla-cream mixed with the heady floral bouquet. Got maybe 7 infusions with long-ish steeping times, last steep produce a pure floral perfume taste-aroma.

The leaf is beautiful. I haven’t seen leaf edges rimmed with oxidation in a while. I like it. And wish I had more to play. I never expected a tea with this strong of a floral bouquet to come out of Japan. Well done!

This is even more baozhong-like than the other oolong I tried — from Sashima, Kanaya-midori cultivar. The cultivar of this one is teased at in the description. It’s probably Qing Xin. Could be Four Seasons, could be Jin Xuan shrug

Flavors: Alkaline, Astringent, Baby Powder, Bitter, Cream, Drying, Escarole, Floral, Flowers, Fruity, Gardenias, Grain, Honeysuckle, Jam, Lilac, Lily, Peach, Perfume, Strawberry, Sugar, Umami, Vanilla

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 3 g 2 OZ / 60 ML
LuckyMe

Sounds intriguing. How does this compare to Taiwanese oolongs? I had a Japanese oolong from Yuuki-Cha once that was also baozhong-like but a lot rougher around the edges.

derk

It’s a tad rough with the drying character and floral bitterness that presented when brewed with boiling as recommended. Keep in mind that I generally welcome bitterness, so if your tolerance is low, it may be prickly for you. Leafhopper will be getting a small sample, so maybe she can mitigate the bitterness by using lower temperature water? The oxidation level I thought was wonderful, allowing the flowers to be balanced by fruit in the aftertaste. All that said, if I had done a blind tasting, I’d never guess this wasn’t Taiwanese.

Leafhopper

Sounds like these TDJ oolongs are winners!

Leafhopper

Derk, I just saw your comment. I’ll remember to use 195F water to mitigate the bitterness, as I tend to enjoy milder teas.

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And another freebie, thank you!

May 4th, 2021 harvest.

I can’t recall ever having a Japanese oolong before.

Thés du Japon likens this tea to a baozhong oolong. I have to agree, though it is much less florally intense than the Taiwanese teas I’ve had of this style.

The dry leaf smells toasty-biscuity with sweet-sour baked fruits, like an apricot-quince compote if I were to imagine one. The aroma of the tea is floral-sugarcane sweet with a creamy lily note.

First cup is smooth and silky, fruity-tangy with a unique sweetness and a spicy catch in the throat; drying with a persistent fruity mango-coconut? aftertaste. As I sip the second cup, I realize the overall taste is not well-defined but is round and rather ethereal, much like a Taiwanese Dayuling I had several years ago. Maybe with that silky mouthfeel it’s like coconut water? With the second steep, I notice a tiny bit of bitterness, however it’s not off-putting. Here is where I am arrested immediately by the intoxicating aroma coming off the wet leaf, the tea itself and also the bottom the cup. Macerated peaches with sugar and lemon sticks sweetly to everything! This carries into the third steep where the tea becomes slatey-mineral, reminding me in a way of how activated charcoal feels. I know that sounds strange but that’s where my mind went. From the fourth infusion on, the tea seems to regain a sense of self beyond the mineral character. The sweet, fruity aroma and aftertaste both carry even into the seventh infusion, where I call it quits.

I’m having a difficult time describing this tea and wish I had more to play around with! Despite this difficulty, it’s a treat of a tea with its aroma, silky mouthfeel and aftertaste. And it handles boiling water with grace, which is always a plus.

Flavors: Apricot, Butter, Coconut, Creamy, Drying, Fruity, Grain, Lemon, Lily, Mango, Mineral, Peach, Quince, Round, Silky, Smooth, Stewed Fruits, Sugar, Sugarcane, Sweet, Tangy, Toast

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 3 g 2 OZ / 60 ML
Leafhopper

This one sounds good!

Martin Bednář

If I remember correctly, another is waiting for you at the post office :wink:

derk

Oh cool :) I forgot the post office wasn’t open yesterday (public holiday) and I couldn’t make it before closing today. Tomorrow!

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