142 Tasting Notes
This tea has been offered at O-cha since I can remember. I have to say upfront, I have very mixed feelings about this tea. It’s very ordinary and probably overpriced, as there are less expensive teas on that site that are much more interesting…for example…the Sayamakaori Organic Sencha and Zairai Organic Kirishima Sencha.
Also…after drinking lots of Chinese green tea the year, I feel I may be a tad spoiled by the intactness of those leaves, making be a bit critical of senchas. I’m finding even most light steamed teas cannot compete with wholeness of Chinese green tea leaves. It would be nice if the Japanese could get over their obsession with uniform leaf size—their excuse for chopping up what would have been intact leaves into lawn clippings.
Poor aesthetics and mediocrity aside, the dry leaves are pleasantly aromatic – as dried sencha should be. Actually, that’s probably my favorite aspect of this tea. If smell could be a drug, fresh sencha leaf aroma would be meth.
Admittedly, this is a well-balanced sencha with some interesting moss and mineral notes that give it some character. There’s also a fresh sugar snap pea note that I like. I think the opaque, mellow tea soup has a comforting quality to it. Do I recommend this tea? If fukamushi is your thing, you’ll probably like it. While I’ve had better, I’m still glad I tried this one.
This one sold out quickly last year, so I had to try it out this time around. I’d say Yuuki-cha’s description is spot on. It’s definitely not your typical Japanese sencha—less vegetal and more fruity, floral, oceanic. If chlorophyl had a named flavor, I’d add it to the list. It has a very nice body for a light-steamed sencha. The tea liquor is clear yet more green than some gyokuro I’ve had. It induces a very calming and cooling feeling. It’s perfect for summer.
For those that care, I brewed this with a gaiwan and rough-clay yakishime kyusu. The early steeps with the gaiwan are more sharp and floral—even somewhat grassy. The kyusu brewed a more balanced and aromatic cup with more distinctive mineral and moss/sweet forest notes. Taste-wise, I can’t say I prefer one brewing method over the other, aside from the kyusu being more aesthetically pleasing, which enhances the whole sencha-drinking experience, IMO.
This one arrived two days ago. It’s a very comforting tea that, to me, differs somewhat from its description and that can be a good thing. I don’t get anything that reminds me of citrus or fruits (as described by Yuukicha) which I actually think is fine since I prefer more warming-savory flavors this time of year.
This has roasted notes possessing a savory-sweetness that reminded me of naturally sweet chestnut and acorn. This is reflected in the aromas of the wet leaf, which is much closer to deep steamed sencha, as there aren’t any intact leaves here (Yuukicha describes the leaves as mostly intact).
There’s a depth and complexity in the aroma and aftertaste that reminds me of a primordial forest. It has that certain rustic charm that I think is unique to Japanese sencha. It’s perfect for those early autumn mornings.
The tea soup is quite clear and pale green in color. Its sweet, mellow flavors were pretty straight forward and enjoyable, but there are other hidden flavors that can be picked up if the drinker sits quietly with the tea.
The light vegetal notes remind me of fresh young spinach from the garden, young fern, and alfalfa. Oceanic notes are reminiscent of roasted Korean nori. It just feels very clean and pure. The tea coats the tongue with a luxurious softness and subtle vibration as it goes down the throat, which I attribute to how well it was processed.
I haven’t had gyokuro for over a decade. Mainly due to it’s overly seaweed-like and umami-heavy flavor. I’ve definitely had pleasant oceanic notes in sencha, but the way these flavors are expressed in most gyokuro weren’t enjoyable and felt artificial to me. However, Yuuki-cha sells very reliably good green tea. Period. Thus, I thought I’d give gyokuro another try, especially since their Kirishima Gyokuro Saemidori was $13/50g at time of purchase. I wasn’t disappointed!
Nowadays, I find myself reaching for this tea more often than my young sheng pu’er. In all it’s subtly and softness, I find I don’t have to pay attention to this tea to enjoy it. It’s perfect for work as well as relaxation.
I’ve had this sample lying around for over a year. I tried it the year it was pressed and didn’t like the sweet fruity rum, dates, prunes, and molasses flavor combos I was getting then. I’m sure those notes sound nice to some folks, but it reminded me too much of Christmas fruit cake – something I strongly dislike.
Well, here I am revisiting this one on a cool, rainy Sunday afternoon…and I’m happy with where it’s at. It’s a lot more subtle and complex. Much less boozy and sweet. There’s a little brandy and dried fruit in the front, but it quickly moves into the background, allowing more subtle notes of brown sugar, green wood, Chinese dates (hence the “zao” in tea’s name), and sandalwood. The tea’s bitterness and astringency comes through as the liquid cools in the cup. It’s not overwhelming, but just enough to add interest. In a way, the bitterness exhibits the tea’s clean nature. It transforms into a very nice huigan, which mingles for a while with some residual bitterness on the tongue and in the back of the mouth.
These subtle notes allow the drinker to enjoy the tea’s less tangible aspects — warming qi, tingly and cooling sensations on the tongue, and strong mouthfeel. The qi is felt in the chest and back of the head. It’s got a nice calming energy that lasts a while, making mundane tasks, such as vacuuming, more meditative. All in all, the tea has become more subtle, but definitely distinct and more pleasurable. It will stay with the drinker throughout the day.
(If you don’t want to read my thoughts, skip down to the last three paragraphs for flavor notes.)
I’m under the impression that most of us in the West have yet to experience really good white tea. For whatever reason, white teas just aren’t popular outside the Chinese cultural realm. And Westerners who practice gongfu-stlyle tea drinking gravitate towards oolong, black, pu’er, and green teas.
White tea is comparatively more subtle, which requires more attention from the tea drinker to appreciate its nuances. You’d be hard pressed enough patience in a post-modern Western society to generate a market for something as soft-spoken as authentic Fujian white tea.
I think of white tea as naked tea. It cannot impress with flavor and aroma alone like, say, an Assam black tea or Taiwanese high mountain oolong. Therefore, leaf quality and skilled processing will have to speak for themselves – which my fellow sheng pu’er drinkers understand can be expressed via: mouthfeel, aftertaste, sensations (cooling/tingling/silky), viscosity, qi, and throat / body feel.
Cindy emphasized the strength of this tea, and I can see why. I haven’t had a white tea like this before. This tea has all of the above, including strong aroma (ripened peach and pear and fresh chamomile flowers) and subtle, sophisticated flavors (Korean pear, chamomile, sweet grass, raw sugar cane juice, and a hint of nutmeg).
What’s really incredible about this tea is it’s very strong mouthfeel, which combined with qi will take the drinker for a nice euphoric ride. The leaves are quite green and non-uniform compared with regular silver needle – which to me makes them more attractive.
I drank this at work with a tumbler and at home using a gaiwan. Maybe my office’s water filter was recently switched, but I enjoyed my office session a lot more. I had to actually step away from drinking it because the combo of qi and mouthfeel was so intense. It made the world stop for a moment.
This is the kind of green tea I’ve been looking forward to all winter. I sort of internally celebrate each year’s harvest – it’s really my chance to experience different tea regions. Based on the description, this one is from Zheng He county in Fujian, where Cindy sources her Advanced Bai Mu Dan white tea. I think it shares many similarities with that tea.
The dry leaf aroma is intoxicating – ripe fruit and orchids. It has good structure to it – beyond just flavors, as it’s more subtle than other green teas, with a sweetness that is closer to mineral than vegetal. It somewhat resembles the Laoshan imperial green tea (of which I am a fan) in appearance and Huangshan maofeng in its flavor characteristics, but I this one wins in terms of qi, mouthfeel, and depth. It also feels more refined and can for at least 7 steeps.
For me, black teas need to be outstanding for me to bother with them. I just find other teas more agreeable taste-wise. This was one of those exceptional black teas that has me coming back for more. It’s got that typical malty black tea thing, but there’s so much more going on here. Very nice mouthfeel and feeling in the throat and body. It’s gentle, yet assertive in its uniqueness. Great depth and viscosity as well. The leaves look “wild” – spindly tendrils with a maocha-like appearance.
It’s highly fragrant, both dry and wet leaf – musky floral and sweet forest mist – and not smoky at all (huge plus in my book). This is reflected in the flavor, which has an intriguing character – mellow mineral sweetness with notes of dried cherries, wild flowers, molasses, and moss. This is one of those feel-good teas. Cindy has been sourcing these leaves and processing them herself for a long time. I think it’s this combination that makes this tea extra special. Black tea-lovers should definitely check out Wuyiorigin and try this one.
Among all of the YS 2017 presses, this was my favorite for several reasons.
1. It has an intriguing complexity that reminds me of some Yiwu teas, yet it’s distinctively Jinggu. That complexity is well described in the tea’s description, but I would add that there’s good depth and a mellow qi. There’s a brothy richness that reminds me of truffles and I’m not quite sure how I feel about it, but that doesn’t matter since the tea is less than 1 year old at the time of this writing and flavors change most rapidly during the first few years. I expect this will develop very nicely.
2. The price is right. I think this was $74, which will go up in a week or so as YS gets ready to welcome 2018 teas. It’s not cheap tea, but it’s very reasonable considering the current market.
3. I don’t have other teas like this in my collection.
I finished this sample quickly and ordered a cake.
I’ve been returning to senchas after having consistently drank raw pu’er and to a lesser extent, Chinese greens, Taiwanese and Wuyi oolongs, and heichas. That’s not to say I’m done with these teas. I’ve just been craving that distict combination of steamed bitter greens, brininess, moss, and floral and piney notes that are unique to Japanese sencha. I’m definitely a green tea kind of guy and I consider senchas to be at the greenest end of the spectrum in both taste and color.
I began my tea nerd journey with sencha, so maybe this is my baseline for all teas? I find them to be the most comforting of all teas. Maybe it’s that final roasting stage that makes this so, or maybe it’s the lack of fuss with regards to tea ware? No need for a chahai and no fussy filter, tea table, tea pets, or anything like that. Just a kyusu and mid-sized cup. Done.
There’s nothing remarkable about this tea. It’s even less fussy in nature since it’s aracha and tea stems and tea dust have not been sorted, making it a cheaper but IMO just as tasty. It’s seems to be mid to heavily steamed, as some of the leaves are in tact, but most are in pieces. The initial steeps are sweet and savory grass with faint hints of young pine shoots and wild flowers. I like it.
Mid steeps reveal more sweet grassy notes and roasted zucchini and broccoli. The tea soup begins an attractive light lime green with tea bits settling in the bottom, but mid steeps yield a more swampy dark green. So this isn’t the most visually appealing tea, but it’s still quite tasty and comforting. I’ve been wanting this for a while. I found myself in a slightly more meditative and focused state for the rest of the day.
The fifth and sixth steeps were lighter of course, but still revealed similar roasted veggie and sweet grass notes to those mid-steeps and was never unpleasant in its astringency. Perfect way to celebrate Daylight Savings Time and the coming of spring.