Kyoto Obubu Tea Farms

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Recent Tasting Notes

97

This was an unexpectedly delicious tea. I’m usually wary of dark roasted tea which often taste like ashtray to me so the idea of a roastier hojicha didn’t immediately grab me. However I’m glad I didn’t judge a book by its cover on this as it tasted nothing like what I imagined.

Dry leaves had an amazing aroma of mahogany, oak, and sweet tobacco. I steeped just 1g grandpa style in a teabag. Despite using such a small amount of leaf, the brewed tea was super delicious, very smooth and sweet. The taste is like the sweet scent of a cigar in liquid form but without any ashiness.

Thanks for the sample Cameron B!

Flavors: Dark Wood, Oak, Sweet, Tobacco

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 1 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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88

Sipdown! (7 | 7)

Obubu sent out a single 5g packet of this with the December subscription box, I assume as a way to enjoy a little bit of spring during the cold winter months. Well, here there is no “winter” really, but still a nice thought!

I followed the instructions I found on Yunomi, and did a rinse first to remove the salt, but kept the liquid. Then I added hot water to the rinsed blossoms and let it steep for a few minutes before tasting it, then adjusted the flavor by adding some of the stronger rinse until the saltiness was where I wanted it.

It’s delicious honestly. Being a lover of salty-sour umeboshi and sakura, this is right up my alley. With the amount of rinse I added, it reminds me more of a sipping broth or umecha than a tea. So cozy and comforting, with the savory-fruity-floral notes of the sakura taking center stage, and a viscosity that makes it taste even more brothy. I do taste a touch of the tart plum notes from the ume vinegar as well, but it’s quite subtle and doesn’t overpower the sakura. And of course, I used a small glass teapot to steep this, and the blossoms fully expand and float perfectly – they’re so beautiful.

Definitely need to add some of this, and maybe the sweet version too, to my next Obubu subscription package. It’s delicious as an infusion, but I could also see adding it to rice and enjoying it in a bento. :)

Flavors: Broth, Cherry, Floral, Fruity, Herbaceous, Plum, Sakura, Salty, Savory, Smooth, Sweet, Tart, Viscous

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 8 min or more 5 g 12 OZ / 354 ML
Mastress Alita

Using it in rice was the only way I enjoyed it, but I also really enjoyed the sakura flavored rice.

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82

Sipdown! (43 | 390)

I’ve been slacking on my Obubu teas lately, too many things to sipdown at once! Plus, you know, it would certainly help if I’d stop buying tea… ^^’

Anyway, this is a scrumptious hojicha! It’s apparently made from a spring sencha instead of the traditional bancha. I’m not sure I would know that necessarily, it doesn’t taste more vegetal than usual. But it does strike a nice balance of roasty, nutty, buttery, a touch woody, with plenty of nice autumnal dry leaf notes.

I always have a difficult time finding the subtleties of hojicha and roasted teas in general, but it’s tasty! Not sure I would necessarily order it over their other hojicha varieties. But that’s a non-issue since I still have plenty more hojicha backlog to sip through! :P

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Butter, Grain, Nuts, Roasted, Roasted Nuts, Smooth, Wood

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 1 min, 0 sec 5 g 7 OZ / 200 ML

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85

Sipdown! (25 | 372)

Mastress Alita’s Sipdown Challenge (November) – “A weird tea”

Okay, so this doesn’t sound weird from the name. When it showed up on Obubu’s website last year, it sounded like something I would love, so I ordered two bags of it. It’s a combination of sakura blossoms, sakura leaves, and mint.

However… What I didn’t realize or expect is that the sakura blossoms in this blend are actually roasted. I don’t know if this is a thing in Japan and I’ve just never heard of it, or if Obubu just decided to try something different.

In any case, I wasn’t sure what I thought about this tisane. It almost tasted a bit… plasticky? chemical? at first. Or at least the combination of flavors came off that way to me for some reason. But I found as I kept trying it, it grew on me. It’s an interesting mix of gentle roastiness with that savory-fruity-floral sakura note and a little bit of mint. Surprisingly the mint isn’t very strong, the roasted sakura definitely takes center stage.

Anyway, I enjoyed this by the end, which is good because I have another bag to sip through eventually. :)

Flavors: Cherry, Cherry Blossom, Dried Fruit, Fruity, Mint, Roasted, Sakura, Savory, Sweet

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 5 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML
Mastress Alita

Were they still salt-preserved? I wonder if roasting is an alternative preservation method…

Cameron B.

I don’t think so, they didn’t have that salty taste and the blossoms in Obubu’s Sakura Sencha are just dried, not salted.

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Sipdown! (65 | 339)

So I had a batch of Oolong Needles from Obubu previously, but I remember that one mostly just looking and tasting like a sencha, and this one definitely does not! It steeps up a dark reddish gold color.

It definitely tastes like an oxidized oolong. It reminds me of a dancong because of its very prominent and aromatic floral notes (I could be crazy, but when I think of a floral oxidized oolong, dancong comes to mind). There’s a lovely toastiness to it as well, although it doesn’t claim to be roasted at all. On some sips I get sweet honeyed fruit notes that remind me of bai hao as well? Along with brown sugar or caramel and bits of hay and grains. At the end of the sip, I taste a bit of that Japanese sencha umami character hiding in the background, which is such an interesting combination with the other (mostly sweet) flavors.

An interesting tea for sure. It would never be my favorite because those floral notes are just a bit too strong for me, but I enjoyed trying it!

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Brown Sugar, Burnt Sugar, Caramel, Caramelized Sugar, Dried Fruit, Dry Leaves, Floral, Grain, Hay, Honey, Perfume, Raisins, Roasted, Stonefruit, Sweet, Toasty, Umami, Vegetal

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 1 min, 0 sec 5 g 7 OZ / 200 ML

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78

Sipdown! (28 | 302)

Mastress Alita’s Sipdown Challenge (October) – “A nutty tea”

Can’t get any nuttier than a hojicha with genmai added!

Although, honestly, I don’t taste much of the rice here? The hojicha is lovely, smooth and toasty with notes of dry autumn leaves, roasted nuts, and dark caramelized sugar. Maybe the stronger roasty flavor is just overpowering the subtler genmai? I do get a hint of it at the end of the sip.

It’s good, and very cozy for fall, but I don’t personally see any reason to choose this tea over one of Obubu’s several hojicha options.

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Burnt Sugar, Char, Charcoal, Dry Leaves, Nori, Roasted, Roasted Barley, Toasted, Wood

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 1 min, 0 sec 5 g 7 OZ / 200 ML
Martin Bednář

That sounds so good. I will look for it in my list of venodrs :)

Martin Bednář

Yay, found one on Yunomi (and ordered — my wallet is crying again).

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87

Another matcha sample courtesy of Cameron B.

Out of the bag, it had a sharp but sweet vegetal aroma. Despite its age, the color was still vibrant. It took a little effort but was able to achieve a nice froth from it. Rich, strong vegetal flavor reminiscent of steamed broccoli without any bitterness. Ended up having it as a latte but actually preferred it straight.

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 2 g

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77

Finally decided to brew this matcha sample after sitting on it forever.

Appearance wise, it was pale green in color and clumpy, likely due to its age. Steeped the entire 2g sample using 175 F water. Took a little while to whisk up due to the lumpiness. Fairly thin and didn’t produce much froth. Bitterness hits the tongue first followed by a vegetal note of cooked spinach. However, it was delicious as a matcha latte with lychee boba. That’s what really counts for me anyway as I seldom go for straight matcha.

Thanks for the sample Cameron B!

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 g
Cameron B.

I’m the same way, rarely do I crave a traditional matcha…

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drank Kyobancha by Kyoto Obubu Tea Farms
882 tasting notes

Yesterday’s sipdown, sample courtesy of Cameron B. I made this according to brewing guidelines (205f, 6oz, 2 min), but somehow both steeps had an unpleasant bitterness to them. I don’t think it’s supposed to be bitter so I assume that I screwed this up somehow. Alas.

Cameron B.

Hmm I don’t think I’ve ever had this one taste bitter, but I steep it more Western style with a lower leaf:water ratio.

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tbh I don’t have much in the way of a substantive review of this sipdown of a sample that came my way courtesy of Cameron B.. I had enough for two cups. I remember enjoying the first and thinking that the roastiness of the hojicha combined well with the nuttiness of the rice. But then we spent the night in the hospital because it turns out my SO has a kidney stone and everything is kind of a blur. I made the second cup when we got home so I could finish it off but I wasn’t really in any kind of shape to be thoughtful about it – I just wanted the sipdown, something that wouldn’t keep me awake, and something that I knew I would enjoy.

Cameron B.

Well I’m glad you enjoyed it and I hope it brought you some comfort. ❤

Kaylee

thanks :)

Cameron B.

And I hope your SO is feeling better!

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82

Sipdown! (29 | 126)

I haven’t been doing as well with having an Obubu tea every day lately, so I need to get back into that! I think I just have too many sipdown categories to keep up with at the moment, so something gets left out.

Anyway! This is a spring harvest kukicha, and a byproduct of matcha production. And you can definitely tell the stems came from a shaded tea, there’s a bit of that dense vegetal character. It is overall quite savory, with darker and more cruciferous flavors like kale and Brussels sprouts, with an undercurrent of umami toasted nori and squash notes. I don’t really pick up on any sweetness whatsoever, which is interesting. There is definitely nuttiness though, and it’s a rich sort of nut, maybe even very slightly roasted. I see LuckyMe mentioned chestnut and that seems about right to me.

I haven’t had kukicha in a little while and was expecting this to be a lighter and sweeter tea, and was definitely surprised ha ha! But I suppose it makes sense, given this tea was shaded almost as long as a gyokuro. I do have more of this in stash, along with a couple of Obubu’s other kukicha.

Flavors: Broth, Brussels Sprouts, Chestnut, Grain, Grass, Kabocha, Kale, Nori, Nuts, Roasted Nuts, Savory, Seaweed, Spinach, Squash, Toasted, Umami, Vegetable Broth, Vegetables, Vegetal

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec 5 g 7 OZ / 200 ML
gmathis

Yum! I know I have a little partial ounce of kukicha somewhere—this makes me want to go home NOW and dig it out.

Cameron B.

Do it! Although kukicha is such a wide spectrum, who knows how different it will be ha ha.

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82

Sipdown! (20 | 65)

Sipping down the 2021 version, but I still have this year’s harvest somewhere. This is essentially just the shincha version of Sencha of the Spring Sun. Hachijūhachi (八十八) means 88, because this was harvested on the 88th day of spring, which is supposedly the best day to begin the harvest. Anyway, it’s shincha. Or at least it was about 14 months ago… XD (my cupboard is where tea goes to die)

Steeped via the lazy method, which is doing 3 steeps (60s, 15s, 45s) in a gravity steeper and combining them into one teapot. Someday soon I should really break out the kyusu though…

Very smooth and refreshing, with a lighter grassy flavor (since it’s not a shaded tea). A nice balance of gentle vegetal sweetness, bright and fresh grassiness, and soft umami notes reminiscent of lightly toasted nori. Quite sweet up front, some vegetal umami lingers around the sides of my mouth and tongue at the end of the sip, and there’s a gently astringent grassy finish. Perhaps a touch of light nuttiness as well.

Anyway, enough already. A very tasty well-rounded sencha, and it has held up well despite being 14 months old. I never can keep up with my Obubu subscription. :P

Flavors: Asparagus, Astringent, Cut Grass, Grass, Nuts, Seaweed, Smooth, Spinach, Squash, Sweet, Umami, Vegetal

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

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Gyokuro intimidates me.

Like anything higher-end and expensive, I worry about doing it wrong and wasting something lovely. I’ve brewed a gyokuro only once before, and I was too stressed out to even really enjoy it.

But… I’m too tired to fuss over the details. This is the second to last tea in this sampler and I have more tea coming Friday from Den’s (sigh, I wanted so badly to reorder of my favorites from this sampler but I just can’t swallow $30 in international shipping costs right now), and it’s been such a week, I need to stop putting off the nice things.

This is definitely different from the other sencha. The dry leaves smell….deeper, certainly a darker green, and …..something else. Something I haven’t sensed before. I really can’t believe how deeply emerald these leaves are.

135F for two minutes and… the cup is …. strangely both very pale and very cloudy.

It’s certainly quite unlike any of the sencha. Astringency— is it really astringency? There a lot of it, but it’s also very mild, somehow, It make my mouth water but it doesn’t dry me out nearly as much. It’s full and rich and brothy, savory, something in the aftertaste is almost meaty. Not grassy at all. Fascinating.

The second steeping is brighter, a little thinner, a little grassier, but every bit as savory. The damp leaves smell like dried dates and maybe nuts?

There’s a nuttiness to the third steeping too, I feel like, the richness is starting to fade, but that alkaline-noodle-soup flavor lingers on and on.

The leaves are just so pretty, floating there under the water, almost blue-green, watching them is so relaxing, like an underground jungle. It makes me sort of miss when I kept heavily planted aquariums.

I don’t think I quite love gyokuro enough to justify the price, but it is always a unique and wonderful thing to try every now and then when I get samples.

Cameron B.

I’m with you on being intimidated by gyokuro, just because I’ve only had it a few times. It’s such an interesting experience though!

Also, I have so much Obubu tea. So please send me a message and let me know which ones you love, I’d be happy to send you a care package!

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It’s been a stressful week, and I am trying really hard to slow down. I tried the Spring Sun sencha earlier and was too rushed to enjoy it, there was just too much going on. So I am making a specific effort to pay attention, this time.

The wet leaf smells like… well, sencha. I am having a hard time focusing on anything deeper than that, but there is something different in there, the first word that came to mind was ‘butterscotch,’ though I’m really don’t think that’s right.

Oh, wow. Okay. This first steeping is cloudy and physically thick. I’m not sure what I expected, but that thickness, it’s so heavy on the tongue like… not quite like cream, I don’t get a creamy flavor, but in texture… it’s certainly something. It’s got a mild brothy flavor, a little savory

The second steeping is similar, with some higher notes this time, but that heavy texture is still there. I usually enjoy these textures, but right now it feels like it is commanding such full attention of my tongue that I can’t seem to taste it.

Further steepings seem to be more or less the same. I am inclined to blame my scattered brain rather than the tea. Or maybe I am just coming down with something. It wouldn’t surprise me.

Yet, the wet leaf still smells so full of potential, there’s an almost fruity sweetness there, the aroma of new buds.

When I take a tiny, tiny drop of the tea and roll it out as thinly as possible over my tongue, I can kind of taste past the texture and find flavors similar to the ones I am smelling. Or maybe I am just smelling them this way, hah.

I guess regardless of the outcome, at least the process of focusing on the tea and paying attention in general is still deeply relaxing.

I need to order more tea soon. Specifically, I need to find an everyday sencha so that I can maintain the habit on days when I just don’t have the mental capacity to fully engage with new teas. Or… maybe what I actually need to do is maintain the habit of fully engaging with any tea, on a regular basis, regardless of whether or not I feel like I am up to it.

I haven’t felt up to it in a while, but it forces me to relax, and I know I need that.

Cameron B.

I find that shaded sencha like this one often have a thicker, more viscous mouthfeel which I think is what you’re describing. They’re also generally heavy on the intense umami notes.

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I love this like I love any houjicha. It does taste a little ‘cleaner’ compared to most houjicha, like, I dunno, less on the earthy side, more on the peanut-butter-toast side. I don’t know that I’d necessarily prefer it over the basic houjicha, but I wouldn’t mind having it in my houjicha rotation for some variety.

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I am trying too hard to do too much at once. This tea makes me slow down.

It does have a beautiful deep sweetness. It doesn’t kick in fully until later steepings but when it does, it really blooms.

Or… maybe it was there all along, but I only paid attention enough to catch it in later steepings.

It has a crisp, fresh vegetal flavor, like snap peas and summer squash, maybe young asparagus. Not terribly grassy or chlorophyllic. This might make an exceptionally refreshing cold brew, actually.

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There’s a… floralness to this one, a rich nuttiness and a sweet honey aftertaste. I really, really like it. Like. wow. What even is this? The most glorious thing in a cup. What makes it so different…? I have had so many… still good, perfectly satisfactory roasted teas, but this?? What other level of ambrosia is this?? I feel like this is the roasted-tea ideal I have in my memory and have been searching for, and until now have been settling for less. And less is still… really good, but this is a perfection I have only ever dreamed of.

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drank Kyobancha by Kyoto Obubu Tea Farms
76 tasting notes

I absolutely love how huge these leaves are. It’s just a lot of fun to watch brew. A very smooth and comforting flavor. I may actually pick up a bunch of this; it’s very budget friendly and might be the perfect after-dinner tea.

Cameron B.

One of my favorites, especially in the fall and winter. And yes, super cheap! :D

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Smelling both the dry and wet leaves really made me want to sneeze, so I didn’t inhale too much.

The first steeping immediately coats the tongue. It’s thick and sour. Kind of a toasty aftertaste. which is weird. Maybe I should have washed my pot more thoroughly after drinking all those roasted teas. Interestingly it’s very mild overall, except when you’re hit with that… sour-astrigency? Maybe lot more sour than astringent, but it hits the back and sides of the tongue in such a thick and juicy way.

It’s…. extremely intense, though, I think a bit too much for me. Drinking it also gives me a weird…. headache/sinusy feeling, and a tickle in my nose, like I am going to sneeze. Is it possible to have respiratory allergies to tea? Did a bunch of pollen end up in this somehow?

I gave my housemate some of it and they also got the nose-tickly feeling from it, so at least it’s not just me.

I think this is the first tea in the sampler I just can’t drink past the first steeping. The flavor is complex and interesting, and I’d really like to explore it more, but it’s probably not a good idea to keep drinking a tea that is giving me such weirdly strong allergy symptoms. I don’t see any of the other notes mentioning this though, so maybe it really is just us for some reason. How odd.

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I believe the Brightness tea I tried the other day was also a summer-harvest tea, so it’ll be interesting to see how this differs.

Dry leaves smell plenty grassy and dark green, sweeter, I think, than the last tea, and maybe there’s some milkiness in there. Wet leaves are foresty, mossy and…. why do I keep getting chocolate vibes in these teas?

For once, I don’t think I understeeped the first cup. It’s certainly…. interesting, starting out kind of sweet and brothy and turning astringent and … sour, like a hot and sour soup, maybe. It feels heavy and substantial in the mouth. The second steeping is a bit more immediate on the astringency but also… richer, more savory, less sweet. The sour notes are nearly gone, but seem to return in the third steeping, a umami-adjacent juiciness. It’s got some background grassiness, but that’s far from the focus. I’m not sure I can really define the focus, but it’s… it’s really good and just so interesting, competes with the Autumn Moon for my favorite tea in this sampler. I’d like to get more of each and try them side by side.

Looking at the website, it appears the only difference between this tea and Brightness is that Brightness is shaded for two weeks before harvest, while this tea is not. And I think I prefer this tea to Brightness, so maybe I just prefer unshaded teas? Brightness was still very interesting its own way, and might be excellent in certain applications, but this tea is more to my personal tastes, I feel. I love how so many of the teas in this sampler vary just slightly enough that I can start drawing conclusions like this.

I should start thinking ahead though, as I realize I’m about halfway through this sampler. While I still have enough houjicha to last me ~2 weeks, I should probably start shopping around for new sencha to try, given shipping can take a while. I’ll need to finish this sampler before I make any reordering decisions, so in the meantime I’m open to vendor or specific sencha recommendations, if anyone has any suggestions!

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Dry leaves smell very.. deeply green, very chlorophyll-rich, with that bitter edge that tends to accompany darker greens, like chard and lacinato kale. Wet leaves remind me of a pond overgrown with algae and teeming with life.

Despite my attempt to brave my fears and not understeep this, letting it sit a whole 15 seconds longer, the first steeping is still quite mild, slightly green-bitter at the backend, otherwise, vaguely pondwater flavored.

The second steeping explodes. Green peas and spinach, a slight nuttiness and a vegetal sweetness, a pretty intense green flavor that makes me feel like I am getting a lot of vitamins in this. I don’t know how much of that is actually true. I guess for one they’d have to be water soluble nutrients, and probably only in very small quantities, equating to those in a mouthful of spinach at most. But, no matter. I’ve never been into tea for any alleged health benefits, but it’s a nice perk when it happens.

There’s a hint of a crisp mineral-ness to this too, brightening the dark-green depth just enough. I keep coming back to “pondwater” and believe me when I say I mean that in the most affectionate way. The minerally and algal flavors just meld into something I can’t think of a better way to describe.

Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s agreeing very well with my empty stomach. Some green teas are just… like that, and I don’t entirely know why. Maybe I can narrow it down, though, if I keep taking notes.

I will say, I am also getting a very relaxed headiness from this tea, what I used to (and I guess may as well still) call “tea-high.” It is also something that some teas do better than others, for reasons I’ve never really narrowed down. I think in the past I’ve most commonly gotten it from younger sheng, and once very intensely from a mid-grade silver needle. I’m uncertain if I’ve ever gotten this from a sencha before. It’s interesting. But for all I know, it’s nothing to do with the tea, and more to do with other biochemical factors of whatever else is going on in my body at the moment. I’ve never really scienced it out that far.

I really need to start noting whether or not I would purchase more of this in these notes, because otherwise I am going to forget. I think only very rarely do I re-purchase tea, though, it’s so much more fun to try new things than familiar things, even things that I know I love. And when I do want to repurchase tea, it’s usually for the comforting factor of it rather than the complexity or interest of it, and the comforting factors are usually factors that are present in teas of lower grades, so it becomes a matter of finding the most budget-friendly version of the tea rather than the version that most perfectly encapsulates what I am looking for.

And tea is so darn seasonal, really, especially sencha. who knows if a repurchase of this tea would be from the same harvest, it might be entirely different! But I guess one can assume that summer harvest teas from the same farm would at least retain similar enough characteristics.

Anyway… as for this tea, I’m not sure I would go out of my way for it, but if I did end up with more of it, I think I might like to try it with a hearty, smokey stew, or some kind of campfire-meal. It just tastes like such an outdoorsy sort of tea. I’d also like to try cold-brewing it, I think.

Cameron B.

I usually steep for about 45-60s the first time, and then shorten the second to about 15s.

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drank Genmaicha by Kyoto Obubu Tea Farms
76 tasting notes

Measuring out genmaicha for a session in grams doesn’t really…. work. The brown rice is so heavy. You have to at least double it, if not more. So, some adjustments had to be made to get a flavor out of this 5 gram sample packet.

It’s really been a few years since I had a genmaicha. The delightful aroma of the wet leaves has me wondering why. It’s so satisfying, savory, nutty. The toasted flavor is entirely different from the toasted flavor of houjicha. Something in it just feels…. extra nourishing.

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Sticks!

I think it’s very cute that each of the different types of kukicha in this sampler has a different little bird on it.

It smells like. roasted sticks! With maybe a hint of sweetness. But mostly roasted. Actually, it smells a tad burned. Like if I smelled this when I pulled something out of the oven, I would be a little concerned.

When you add the water, it definitely looks like mud. Kukicha is already a weird tea to explain to your family. Roasted kukicha, even more so. Luckily, no one is home to judge me.

When I went to smell the wet leaves, something in there was…. I dunno, it had a cooling sensation, like maybe something mentholy? I sniffed it a few more times, trying to figure out what it was. I inhaled deeply. And then I sneezed. A lot. So much, my ears were ringing!

I hope I am not somehow allergic to something in this stick-tea. That would be a shame. Well, if I have an allergic reaction and die, I hope whoever finds me thinks to read the screen I am sitting in front of and realizes what the culprit is.

I really need to figure out words to differentiate between different roasted flavors besides Roasted. I guess it’s kind of a roasted grain flavor, like mugicha, but more chlorinated. That’s not the right word either. But I’m unable to pinpoint exactly what I am thinking of. There’s just a hint of effervescent freshness I get every so often, I think I am associating it with something in Tiger Balm or some kind of cleaning product. It’s not unpleasantly chemical or anything, I just wish I could identify it.

It’s dry, in a wood-y type of way, which for some reason is more tolerable with stick-teas. It feels more like a flavor that belongs.

In the third steeping that I left longer than intended, I was pleasantly surprised by a mouthful of …cocoa and cinnamon, almost, rich and dark. I think I really am just very shy of oversteeping and probably not letting these teas reach their potential. Another reason that I should have ordered two of these samplers, hah.

The astringency becomes more pronounced and less pleasant as it cools; this tea seems to be at its best (and most comforting) when it’s piping hot.

Four or five steepings in and my favorite part is the raisin-sweet aftertaste on the roof of my mouth. And… it is comforting. I don’t know what it is about these roasted teas that sometimes just deactivate my racing brain. I guess all teas do that to some extent, but there’s something extra in roasted teas.

This is also making me want to make gimbap for dinner. Sometimes green teas stimulate my appetite and sometimes they suppress it, I really don’t know why, or which. But I think in this case, the comfort of this tea is nudging me towards comfort food, so I think I will go start some rice.

Cameron B.

I also tend to have more difficulty describing roasted teas, so you’re not alone there! Not sure what it is about them.

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Now this one smells quite grassy, the dry leaf somewhere between hay and lawn clippings, but also something else, maybe a bit damp and mulchy, soil-y, and… oh, well, I guess this is literally named “earth.” That tracks.

The wet leaf smells about like what I might just call “classic” sencha. Like one whiff of this would probably make anyone go, “oh yeah, that’s sencha.” Someday maybe I’ll have better words to describe this, but all I can say is that the scent is quite directly attached to a specific memory.

First steeping is quite mild, but I got a lovely surprise melon rind or cucumber note amid this grassiness.

I think I chronically under-steep my first steeping, but the second always seems to be where senchas really wake up. Another note about this tea said it would be good with sushi, and I feel like I agree. While I’m not finding anything fantastically bold or stand-out about this sencha, it’s just overall pleasant, with the grassiness and borderline savory brothiness I tend to favor in sushi-sencha without too much astringency.

I am gradually starting to relearn the visual differences in these teas. The leaves in this one are substantially smaller compared to the leaves in the autumn harvest tea I had the other day, which makes sense. Not especially small, but the autumn harvest tea had some impressively large leaves in it. This tea also seems a bit more fragmented than the last, but maybe that’s also just a common appearance with smaller leaves. I’m not sure what amount of stem-iness is common in these teas, but it feels like there are fewer in this spring tea. Hm, now I kind of wish I had photographed the leaves of prior teas for later comparison. Maybe I’ll start doing that.

By steeping 4 or 5 (I’ve lost track), it’s mellowed out into an array of boiled vegetable flavors, I’m getting bok choi and lima bean, maybe a hint of not-unpleasant collard-bitterness. I have been doing these tea sessions on an empty stomach lately, and I feel like it helps me tune into the flavors a little more, in the way that everything tastes better when you’re hungry. So far I have yet to get an upset stomach from this practice, though I have been warned some teas can do that.

It says on the packet that these teas were harvested from 30 year old tea trees. I wonder what flavor differences there are between old and new trees? I don’t see anything advertising “young” trees, so I am inclined to think that the older trees are more favored. Some very brief initial research shows that older teas are greatly favored in the puerh world as they impact how well a tea ages, but I am not sure what their role is in un-aged sencha. Hmmmm.

If I regret anything about ordering this Obubu sampler, it is perhaps not ordering two. It might have been fun to drink one session going in blind, as I often try to do, and a second after reading through the tasting notes and having a better grasp on what others find in each tea, and see if I can find similar flavors. A form of.. I dunno, mentally calibrating my tastes, I guess.

Really, it’s just nice to be mindfully tasting tea like this again. The last time I was in this habit, it was nearly a decade ago and I was coping with… a lot. Tea kept me grounded. Life is a lot easier now in many ways, even if it’s a little harder in others. I don’t necessarily need the tea habit as much now, but… I just really love it. And it’s nice to be finally enjoying a period in my life where I can do things that I love because I love them, without them needing to fulfill some practical function to be worth doing. I’m so grateful for that.

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