Ippodo

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Recent Tasting Notes

85

This has been my daily drinker as of late. It’s delightfully refreshing! Grassy overtones and a silky smooth mouthfeel, I love this tea for fuss free drinking at work. I can usually get two good cups out of the bag if i pay attention to my steep times – I have found that 90seconds for steep #1 and 2 minutes for the second steep are ideal. So sad that their retail location uptown is closed! They had the best matcha lattes.

Flavors: Cut Grass, Umami

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec 5 OZ / 147 ML

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90

Horai is a light, delicious, refreshing matcha. As usucha, I found it to have the matcha-typical floral and grass notes, with a little twang of oranges. The aftertaste is long and sweet with hints of cherry.

Flavors: Cherry, Floral, Grass, Ocean Air, Orange, Seaweed

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 g 3 OZ / 75 ML

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96
drank Kumpu by Ippodo
6 tasting notes

I love Kumpu. It is a fruity, green-tasting sencha with strong floral notes and a healthy amount of astringency. The first infusion is vibrant and lemony, and the second and third taste more oceanic and mellow. Some sencha can hold out for a fourth infusion, but this tea, not so much. Thankfully, the three steeps are more than enough to satisfy.

Flavors: Celery, Chamomile, Cucumber, Grass, Lemon, Lilac, Olives, Pine, Seaweed, Spinach

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 1 min, 0 sec 8 g 7 OZ / 200 ML

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Sipdown! (1 | 348)

Oops, never wrote a real note for this one. Sorry, Ippodo!

It’s enjoyable as a latte, but quite different from the Naoki matcha I sipped down previously. The grind seems coarser, it was noticeably harder to sift and I saw some particles sticking to the sides of the jar after shaking it with water. The flavor is also a bit less concentrated, it seems like a lighter matcha overall. It’s fresher and more grassy, versus nutty and rich like some of the others.

Still very enjoyable, just different, and doesn’t hold up quite as well to my extra creamy oat milk. I think I only have one plain matcha left, so I’m starting to look at options for restocking for lattes. Leaning toward the 100g bag of Naoki Superior Ceremonial for just under $40 at the moment. Has anyone tried the “lower” grades from Ippodo, like Hatsu or Wakaki, for lattes? I think those are the only ones from Ippodo that would be cheaper.

Flavors: Astringent, Freshly Cut Grass, Grass, Smooth, Thin

Preparation
Iced 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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97
drank Gokujo Hojicha by Ippodo
886 tasting notes

Another sipdown, though admittedly not really because I already have another bag ready to go. I absolutely love this tea, one of my favorite hojichas. It’s roasty, delicious hot or cold, and great for evenings because of the low caffeine content. It takes sweeteners and flavorings well and makes for a delicious latte, too. This is an absolute workhorse of a tea.

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100
drank Premium Gyokuro by Ippodo
886 tasting notes

Starting the new year with a sipdown of this delicious gyokuro. I had a small amount left in the bag so I made several small steeps to use it up before it goes bad rather than waste it. I am always blown away by how thick and savory-umami gyokuro is, even though I know it is and that’s why it is one of my favorite types of tea. This one did not disappoint today!

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100
drank Premium Gyokuro by Ippodo
886 tasting notes

Decided to break this open for some leisurely weekend sipping. I knew this was expensive when I bought it, but I didn’t realize that one packet only makes three pots (each resteepable). From aroma to mouthfeel to flavor, though, I can see why. The moment I opened it, the most wonderfully intense grassy smell wafted out of the bag. It brews up a deceptively light color, but I got three steeps out of the same leaves in a kyusu and each time the flavor was so robustly grassy and umami that I actually had to go get a piece of cheese to pair it with to help balance it out. I went with a slice of gouda, in case you’re wondering. The mouthfeel was so thick, it was incredible. Between that and the intense umami, it was downright brothy.

I made a salad with the spent leaves. I only had plain sesame oil, not toasted, and didn’t have any sesame seeds to garnish with, but it still came out really tasty! I found it most enjoyable mixed in with the rice, so that the dressing and leaves were well-distributed within the rice. The leaves still had a fair amount of savoriness in them, and the texture was like tiny pieces of cooked spinach, so I’d call this recipe one of the few times I somehow didn’t screw up cooking!

https://www.saveur.com/japanese-green-tea-leaf-salad-recipe/

Flavors: Grass, Umami

Cameron B.

Even though I know it’s coming, it’s a surprise every time when I first take a sip of gyokuro, because it has such intensity of flavor for such a light-colored tea! Not something I drink often, but love that thick, viscous sweet-umami character.

Kaylee

Exactly! I’m always second-guessing whether I brewed it correctly right up until I take that first sip.

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80
drank Uji Shincha by Ippodo
3316 tasting notes

Sipdown! (8 | 53)

Back into sipdowns! I went through my physical tea cupboard yesterday and organized it a bit, pulled out a few things that were low, and re-organized the clear acrylic bins I have on top of the counter, with small packets and teas to be sipped down. And then today, I added a few missing teas to my spreadsheet and then synchronized my Steepster cupboard with it. So I’m good to go!

I do have 8 sipdowns already, but a few of those were old teas that got dumped. I guess I could call them “trashdowns”? XD But I’m still counting them, so there!

This tea was actually a small swap sample from a sweet Instagram friend, and it’s the 2021 harvest. I was feeling a Japanese green and figured I would “kill two birds” so to speak, by also getting a sipdown. We’ll ignore the fact that I somehow managed to pick up the packet upside down and dump the leaves all over the counter and floor, much to the delight of two snorting puglets below…

Steeped for 60s and then 15s in a gravity steeper, and combined both steeps in a mug because I’m lazy. It’s always amazing when I haven’t had sencha for a while and then try one, because I forget how deep and complex of a flavor they have. It’s really unlike any other type of tea IMO. This one is thick with vegetal flavors, from darker kale, bok choy, and squash up to creamy soybean. It has a deep umami undertone and slightly viscous texture that just makes it taste so brothy and restorative to me. Quite smooth as well, with just a touch of bitterness at the end of the sip, and a subtle astringency that brings to mind dry grass, warm from the sun. I wonder if it’s shaded at all? It has a deep intensity and sweetness that I often find in kabusecha.

Anyway, I’ve rambled enough. Tea good, me like tea! Oh, and after adding some more statistics to my spreadsheet, I realllllly need to drink more Japanese teas, as I literally have 64 entries built up for Kyoto Obubu… O.O

P.S. – I had the second half of this with a honeycrisp apple and it was a super interesting pairing! The apple tasted more tart than usual and the tea tasted less vegetal/umami and more grassy, also with a stronger sakura note.

Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Bok Choy, Broth, Dry Grass, Kale, Sakura, Savory, Smooth, Soybean, Squash, Sweet, Thick, Umami, Vegetal, Viscous

Preparation
165 °F / 73 °C 1 min, 0 sec 5 g 7 OZ / 200 ML
Courtney

“Trashdown” XD

Cameron B.

Dumpdown? Tossdown? XD

Courtney

Love it — this happens to me as well. Compostdown!

Cameron B.

Even better!

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65
drank Ummon by Ippodo
16 tasting notes

Matcha blends have so much nuance that go into them, and everyone’s got a different palate. However, for the price, I didn’t think this was much to write home about. It’s not as clean and bright as their Shoin, or as good a value as their Horai. I’ve kept one serving for the next big matcha comparison, but I’ll be surprised if I keep this one in the house going forward.

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 2 tsp 2 OZ / 60 ML

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75
drank Horai [duplicate2] by Ippodo
16 tasting notes

Another highlight of my whirlwind introduction to making matcha. My usual preparation is a ‘demi-latte’, taking the edge off the traditional preparation with a tablespoon of cream and a teaspoon or two of sugar. It’s a pleasant change of pace from our go-to Ikuyo

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 tsp 60 OZ / 1774 ML

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80
drank Ikuyo by Ippodo
16 tasting notes

In my recent obsession with Matcha, I’ve tried probably a dozen varieties in under 6 months. Nothing can approach the value per gram IMHO. Traditional, hot latte, and cold latte preparations go over really well. Though admittedly, my tastes tend towards a ‘demi-latte’, taking the edge off with a tablespoon of cream and a teaspoon or two of sugar. Blasphemous, perhaps, but also delicious!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 g 2 OZ / 60 ML

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drank Kaboku by Ippodo
1 tasting notes

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95

Huge fan of the robust roast of this tea. Plus, I can have it in the evenings because it’s low caffeine. I usually get at least two and up to five steeps out of it, depending on amount of leaf and length of steep. I bought a bunch of it a few years ago and then neglected it for a while, which is a sin with tea this good. I’ve been on a delightful mission to drink it down over the past few months. This has led to some experimentation that the tea is probably too high quality for, but I do occasionally enjoy it with oat milk, vanilla agave, and pumpkin spice honey (so basically a hojicha pumpkin spice latte).

Mastress Alita

Maple also goes great in a houjicha latte!

AJRimmer

Pumpkin spice honey sounds amazing!

Kaylee

Yes maple! I love maple syrup in hojicha and also coffee.

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100
drank Gokujo Hojicha by Ippodo
2 tasting notes

The winter olympics has caught my attention more than usual this year. It’s unbelievable how high the athletes fly off the halfpipe. I imagine the wind chill must have quite a bite at such high speeds. But what would I know, sitting at home making pots of tea for my family while we cheer on the competitors. Hojicha is a good tea for nearly any season. For the colder months, the toasty flavor is very cozy, and during summer it’s light body makes it refreshing iced. There’s no bitterness whatsoever, making it great to brew while you’re busy focusing on something else. Ippodo’s hojicha is a crowd pleaser. Woodsy fragrance fills the room once water hits the leaves, more so than other hojicha that I’ve tried. Non-tea drinkers can appreciate it’s sweetness, but it’s also unique and complex enough to satisfy more adventurous guests. Overall one of my favorite teas ever and I’d recommend it to anyone.

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95

Tried with oat milk this time: adds a creaminess and offsets the seaweed taste a little bit. I always have matcha with a tsp of sugar, but maybe one day I’ll wean myself off of it haha.

Flavors: Seaweed, Spinach, Vegetal

Preparation
145 °F / 62 °C 8 min or more 0 tsp 14 OZ / 400 ML

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90

Rich Sayaka-No-Mukashi Matcha- Ippodo Tea

Dry tea

Bright lime green, small smooth particles

Smell: Fresh cut grass, mild sweetness, light notes of sugar snap peas, steamed spinach, hints of zucchini, light indistinct floral notes

Koicha

Deep jade green, smooth, thick

Smell: creamy plant milk notes, deeply vegetal, grassy, steamed spinach

Taste: Deeply vegetal, not bitter, smooth, grassy, creamy, sharp, bright, hint of zucchini

Usucha

Jade green, bubbly

Smell: bright, grassy, sweet, creamy like oat milk, light steamed spinach notes

Taste: smooth bubbly mouthfeel, grassy, crisp, bright, light sharpness, light bitterness, creamy plant milk notes

Video of whisking this ceremonial matcha: https://www.instagram.com/reel/CVJmbEsJOl0/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Flavors: Cut Grass, Floral, Grass, Oats, Peas, Spinach, Sweet, Vegetal, Zucchini

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C

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drank Iribancha by Ippodo
3316 tasting notes

I picked up a pouch of this in one-pot teabags to accompany my pretty new Ippodo glass carafe. I’ve been cold brewing constantly lately so they got me good when they sent an email advertising it… :P

The carafe itself is lovely, but holy shit is this tea smoky! I was quite taken aback because the only Kyobancha I’ve had is Obubu’s, and it’s completely different from this version. This is Lapsang-level smoky, like sitting next to a campfire with the smoke drifting directly into your face. I’m not able to taste the more nuanced notes of the roast well at all because the smokiness is so intense.

Maybe next time I’ll try a shorter steep or just one teabag per liter… o.o

Flavors: Ash, Autumn Leaf Pile, Campfire, Smoke, Wood

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more 34 OZ / 1000 ML
Todd

Wow, “sitting next to a campfire with the smoke drifting directly into your face” is how I’ve described a lapsang before. I think I’ll avoid that one.

Cameron B.

Oh definitely, would not recommend this for those who don’t like lapsang he he.

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80

Thank you Cameron for this sample!

I am still brand new to Hojicha. This one was pleasant but I found the flavor profile a bit mild for my taste. The warmth roast quality comes through and makes it a relaxing, peaceful cup. I like how earthy and soothing it is, but I’m looking for a little more oomph in flavor with my weaker taste buds to be a higher rating. People should enjoy this one, however.

Flavors: Earth, Roasted

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 5 OZ / 147 ML
Cameron B.

The kukicha version is often milder, as the stems are milder and sweeter than the leaves!

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85

Another sample courtesy of Cameron. Made a yummy iced matcha latte with this today. I started by whisking a heaping teaspoon of the matcha powder with a little room temperature water in a mason jar. The slightly yellow tinged powder dissolved easily and turned into a thick, green sludge. Sweetened with a little simple syrup, added ice cubes, and topped off with oat milk before giving everything a good shake.

The result was a rich and creamy matcha, more vegetal than grassy and a touch floral. There’s a nuttiness that I thought was from the oat milk, but upon tasting the matcha on its own, it does indeed have an almondy edge to it. Felt energized, not wired, all morning after I drank this. Really nice and tasted like a better version of my powdered kamairicha.

Flavors: Creamy, Floral, Nutty, Vegetal

Preparation
Iced 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML
Cameron B.

I tasted floral and nutty too! It’s always nice to have someone else validate that you’re not just making stuff up. ;)

LuckyMe

No lie, I end up second guessing myself whenever my tasting note is off the mark. I enjoy that extra feeling of validation when a Steepster review matches mine. :-D

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80

Sipdown! (19 | 92)

I made a lazy hot latte with the rest of this today. And by lazy, I mean pouring oat milk into my milk frother and then adding the matcha in once it starts swirling. I generally make matcha lattes by preparing the matcha by hand with a small amount of warm water and then adding frothed milk separately. But in this case I was using oat milk, so I just put the matcha right in since plant milk is always more watery than dairy milk. I added a drizzle of vanilla syrup as well.

It’s really yummy! I like the flavor of oat milk with matcha, and since this matcha is a bit nutty it really brings out those notes well. I can still taste the yummy vegetal notes as well as some grassiness.

Yum yum. I only have one more package of plain matcha, and once that’s gone I think Ippodo will be the source for my next restock.

Flavors: Grass, Nutty, Sweet, Vegetal

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 2 tsp 14 OZ / 414 ML
Mastress Alita

I guess I always make my matcha “lazily” then — I put the powder in my milk frother, pour the oat milk in, turn on the “hot” button and let it do its thing.

Cameron B.

It definitely worked well here! I waited for the milk to start swirling and added the matcha gradually as I was afraid it would get stuck at the bottom or something, ha ha.

Mastress Alita

I’ve never tried operating it without the lid on, maybe I’ll try it sometime, heh.

Lexie Aleah

I also tend to make my matcha lazily often by using a Vitamix for matcha lattes hehe

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80

Matcha Monday!

I’m almost out of flavored matcha to sip down, so I figured I would break into the straight matcha this morning! I bought this one at Ippodo in Kyoto in November of 2019. So it’s a bit older, and I won’t judge it too harshly…

It has a beautiful vibrant dark green color and bright green foam. The taste is very powerful, with an emphasis on sharp grassiness and deep green seaweed-like umami notes. Up front is a strong and slightly bitter greens/grass note, which then transitions to an umami-filled marine flavor, followed by a gentle sweetness and nuttiness and, in the aftertaste, a light floral note and clear fruitiness that reminds me of green grapes or starfruit. Maybe a bit of green apple as well?

Definitely still has plenty of flavor left! Whether this is the original flavor, who knows? I enjoyed my cup and was very impressed by how long the matcha remained suspended, even though I was distracted by a work call and pugs.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CJ6V21eg4W8/

Flavors: Bitter, Floral, Freshly Cut Grass, Grain, Grass, Green, Green Apple, Lettuce, Marine, Nuts, Seaweed, Sweet, Umami, White Grapes

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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85
drank Gokujo Hojicha by Ippodo
3316 tasting notes

I really don’t drink enough Japanese teas. And I feel bad about it, because I get a lovely package of fresh teas from Obubu every quarter, and I’m just not in the habit of drinking them. So once I’m done with advent teas in a couple of days, I’d really like to try to drink a Japanese tea every day, or at least a few times a week. So I chose this hojicha as my last tea of the night in the spirit of that idea! I also bought this particular tea in Kyoto, and had a lovely cuppa in their little tea room. So it brings back nice memories as well.

Going with lazy Western-style in a mug since I’m not going to drag out the kyūsu at 11 PM… I sort of winged the parameters, and the result is delicious. This has a fairly dark color, both in the leaf and the steeped tea, but a surprisingly mellow flavor. Very smooth with notes of light roast coffee and toast, and plenty of the usual autumn leaf and wet wood. Because it’s mellow there’s just a little hint of soft smoke in the background. But my favorite thing about this tea is the lingering clear sweetness that appears at the end of the sip…

Such a perfect tea for a cozy evening, and I slurped down every last drop… :D

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Coffee, Mineral, Roasted, Smoke, Smooth, Sweet, Toast, Wet Wood

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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100
drank Wakayanagi by Ippodo
1 tasting notes

Tea profile is grassy, reminiscent of a freshly moved lawn. There is slightly astringent notes that help to fill out the tea’s grassy body. The nose is herbaceous and misty while the tail is clean and clear with no aftertaste and a emerald green liqueur.

A note about this tea, it is a green although unlike typical green teas, which are brewed between shrimp eye and crab eye, this is brewed to dragon water. As such, the tea should be flash steeped. Any longer and the liqueur will quickly brown, the tea will overstep and the umami will be lost.

Lastly, if you can try to brew it over binchoutan or lump charcoal. If you are unable to, then try alchohol and if that is not possible an infrared element. The charcoal brings the most flavor out of tea in general and penetrates the leaves more thoroughly than any other fuel method.

Flavors: Astringent, Grass, Herbaceous

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 10 g 8 OZ / 240 ML

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