56 Tasting Notes
I’ve never had a genmaicha before and this sure wasn’t what I expected! I anticipated an umami flavor with some crispness behind it. That would be a no on both fronts, it’s quite smooth with no umami character.
Dry leaves smell like dry hay and a little citrusy. The rinsed leaves have a stronger citrus scent with a little seaweed character. The liqueur is a lightly cloudy, greenish gold.First steeping tastes strongly like unbuttered popcorn kernels a little bit burned, with the seaweedy, citrusy sweetness just peeking in at the end. I cannot believe how creamy the mouthfeel of this one is, I was not anticipating it! It leaves a really fuzzy, soft feeling on the palate, it’s delightful. There’s a very slight mouthwatering floral aftertaste I can’t really place. This is equal parts sweet and toasty, they play off each other very well.
The seaweed character increases into the second and third steep, bringing a grassiness with it. There’s a gentle cooling green flavor in here now as well… maybe celery? The creamy mouthfeel has softened and the tannins are just starting to dry but still the tea is still far from bitter or even crisp. My empty chahai smells a little like cotton candy as it cools.
By the fourth and fifth steep the toastiness is beginning to really fade and a sweet lemon-grassiness I expect from many greens takes over. I’m going to ice the remains while a little toastiness still remains.
I’ll admit that I ate a little of the steeped rice toast at this point… I’m certain that the leftover tea and rice would be delicious mixed in with some steamed rice!
Edit: I ate some of the brewed leaves. Nope, nope, nope. These leaves are for brewing, not for eating.
Flavors: Burnt, Celery, Floral, Hay, Lemon, Popcorn, Seaweed, Sweet, Toast, Toasted Rice
I’m still new to gaiwan brewing and I botched this batch of tea pretty badly by using water just under boiling. I was under the impression that the short brew time meant most teas could be done at higher temps but that certainly is not true for this one! Delicious buttery cracker notes on the nose, horrendous bitterness on the palate. It’s like this tea is playing hard to get; I need a wingman.
Here is the secret to making this tea the best possible: Two pearls per about 8-12 oz, do a quick warm steep to open them up, drink up and then prepare the unfurled pearls with room temp water and straight into the fridge. If you start straight with room temp water you won’t get the cocoa notes as neatly.
I greatly prefer this tea iced! It reminds me a little of laoshan black with sweet graham and damp woody notes. The cocoa notes are much stronger, as well. This brew is delightful especially considering I hot brewed the pearls several times before the final fridge treatment!
Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Graham
Raw leaf smells extremely sweet like a caramel taffy, wet leaf has more vegetal characteristics.
The first infusion is a very light, sunny liqueur with an aroma like buttered broccoli. The flavor is overwhelmingly like lightly browned salted butter, perhaps like oversalted madeleines, with an almost coconut flavored sensation of creaminess that fades to a juicy cool. The sweetness is subtly reminiscent of peas and green melon.
Second infusion has more green notes, the butteriness softening and the overall sweetness intensifying and taking on a honey flavor as the tea cools. By the third infusion, a crisp bright character begins to rear, with a bite of kale and unripe nut bitterness along with a subtle fruity character I can’t quite place. The round butteriness remains still in the background. The fourth infusion is unexpectedly too bitter for my taste, resting in the throat a bit like bile, yet still with that buttered broccoli flavor!
I suspect this tea would be well served grandpa style with cooler water. Even with the sudden brash bitterness at the end I’d call this a top notch, interesting tea.
Flavors: Broccoli, Butter, Coconut, Cream, Garden Peas, Green Melons, Honey, Kale, Popcorn
Brewed in my glass pitcher.
The pearls are beautiful to watch unfurling. The dry leaf smells sweet and hazelnutty while the wet leaf smells surprisingly woody and vegetal in comparison.
The most positive thing I have to say about this tea is that, even for a black, it lacks any tanniny leatheriness. It’s nearly impossible to overbrew and remains light and smooth even with a good deal of brewers abuse. First steeping is relatively sweet with a soft maltiness and subtle damp hay aroma and flavor. Pleasant but subtle cocoa notes, very juicy tasting on the palate. Second steep has lost most of the sweetness and remains smooth and malty with dark cocoa tones becoming more prominent.
Overall, this is a pretty underwhelming but otherwise pleasant black tea. I would not recommend it with milk as its subtle flavors would be completely drowned out.
Edit: gave a sip to my bf, who is not a tea fanatic. I agree with his note: “It is a huge improvement from bagged black but not great for a loose tea.”
Flavors: Cocoa, Hay, Honey, Malt, Smooth
A very palatable green, great for a relaxing beverage, but otherwise unexceptional considering the price. Vegetal, briney and round upfront with a pleasant underlying grassy sweetness.
Flavors: Asparagus, Seaweed, Sweet, warm grass, Umami