Saturday, December 23, 2023

Tea Review: Needle Oolong (Yunomi/Obubu)

Needle Oolong
Obubu/Yunomi
Type: Oolong
Origin: Japan, Kyoto Prefecture, Wazuka
Product Description:
Medium-bodied with a rounded texture, Obubu's Oolong Needle has a fragrant aroma with a complex, rich taste, slight bitterness, and a deeper flavour. It was left unroasted, allowing you to taste fresh acidity in every cup.

The production of Oolong Needle tea, involves light steaming, rolling, and drying. Unlike traditional Oolong tea though, it is rolled into a needle-shape in the same manner as Japanese Sencha.
Temperature: 176° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 1 minute

The dry leaves have an aroma of hay and nuts.

The aroma of the golden liquor is buttery with floral, fruit, and nutty notes.  The taste is mildly astringent with notes of green vine, nuts, and a floral hint with a long lightly fruity finish.

The packaging recommended using 194° F water and brewing for 4 minutes and I found even 2 minutes at that temperature too astringent for my own preferences, though I did enjoy the fruity notes in the long finish.  Rather, I found that steeping for only 1 minute with 176° F water was rather pleasant with only mild astringency throughout three infusions.

This tea was a gift from a third party.




Friday, December 22, 2023

Tea Review: Organic Yakushima Hojicha Roasted Green Tea (Yunomi/Hachimanjyu)

Organic Yakushima Hojicha Roasted Green Tea/有機焙じ茶
Hachimanjyu/Yunomi
Type: Green
Origin: Japan, Kagoshima Prefecture, Yakushima
Product Description:
JAS certified organic tea farm and factory Hachimanjyu roasts their green tea to create a toasty hojicha.
Temperature: 194° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 1 minute

The dry leaf has a deep aroma of roasted chestnuts.

The amber-orange liquor has an aroma of roasted nuts and caramelized sugar while the taste has notes of roasted nuts and nut shells with a long toasty finish.  

Roasted chestnuts are one of my favorite cold-weather treats and I knew I was going to have a good tea tasting experience when the aroma of the freshly opened tea package hit me.  The best flavor was in the first two infusions with the third being notably lighter, though still enjoyable.  The directions on the package recommend 1 minute steeps which worked out well as this hojicha has a fair amount of leaf in it and could get astringent with longer steeps.  

This tea was purchased by me.




Thursday, December 21, 2023

Tea Review: Limited Edition Handpicked Mountain-Grown Kabusecha (Yunomi/Murakami Tea Garden)

Limited Edition Handpicked Mountain-Grown Kabusecha/かぶせ茶
Murakami Tea Garden/Yunomi
Type: Green
Origin: Japan, Shizuoka Prefecture, Yoshiwara
Product Description:
According to Hiroki Murakami, who will become the farm's 4th generation master, the family doesn't know exactly when they started farming tea, though his great-grandfather was the one who built their first processing factory in the late 19th century.

Based in the Yoshiwara district, a mountainous region famous for its sea of clouds within the municipality of Shizuoka City, the family produces about 2 tons of tea altogether per year (first and second flushes).

Their leaves are mostly processed as a near-fukamushi (deep steamed), a steaming technique that creates a tea that has fukashimicha's deep, opaque green color and sweetness, but while also retaining much of the leaf's shape.
Temperature: 160° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 1 minute

The dry leaf aroma is nutty and green with notes that remind me of brown bread.

The pale green liquor has an aroma of fresh green vegetables, edamame, and nuts.  The taste is savory with notes of nuts, sesame, edamame, and steamed green vegetables with no astringency and a refreshing lightly nutty finish.  

The flavor deepened after each infusion, becoming more savory by the third.  Often, the fullest flavor is in the first two infusions, so this was a pleasant surprise and that third steep was easily my favorite.  I was also intrigued by the more vegetal green notes as opposed to the marine, nori, or grassy green notes I usually encounter.  

This tea was purchased by me.




Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Tea Review: 2022 Gingerbread Man (White2Tea)

2022 Gingerbread Man
White2Tea
Type: Puerh
Origin: China
Product Description:
Our 2022 Gingerbread Man is a shou Puer blend that's easy on the wallet and packed full of sticky sweet molasses flavor and aroma. A great introductory shou Puer tea for anybody in a need of a hefty morning cup who has a penchant for sweet baked goods.
Temperature: 208° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 3 minutes

The dry leaf aroma has notes of dried mushrooms, smoke, and salt-cured food.  

The dark reddish-brown liquor is opaque with a savory aroma of moss, dried mushrooms, and wood pulp.  The taste is smooth, rich, and almost sweet with notes of earth and wood and a finish that is earthy with just a hint of spice cookies.

This was one of the smoothest shou puerh I've had the opportunity to taste and the dry leaf aroma left me with a distinct craving for smoke-cured food.

This tea was a gift from a third party.





Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Tea Review: Blended Herbal Tea, Grandma (Yunomi/Nakazen)

Blended Herbal Tea, Grandma/おばあ茶ん
Nakazen/Yunomi
Type: Herbal
Origin: Japan, Okinawa
Product Description: 
Grandma is a tea blended with 8 different types of herbs. With no astringency, the sunny flavor profile has a hint of mulberry leaves, and conjures up images of a tropical rainforest.
Temperature: 208-212° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 5-10 minutes

The dry leaf blend includes sicklepod, Job’s Tears, dokudami (Houttuynia cordata/Chinese lizard tail), kumis kucing (Orthosiphon aristatus/cat's whiskers), safflower, guava leaves, biwa (loquat) leaves, and reishi mushroom.

The golden infusion has a spicy herbal aroma reminiscent of wild rice seasoning and autumn leaves.  The taste is sweet and herbaceous with notes of seasonings, cooked rice, and nuts.

This was a fascinating and surprisingly pleasant blend with a comforting aroma and taste.  The appearance and aroma of the dry blend reminded me distinctly of autumn.  For the purposes of this review, I initially prepared three infusions using 208° F water, 5 grams of leaf, and steeping for 5 minutes with very pleasing results.  I also prepared an infusion following the directions on the packaging, boiling 6 grams of leaf for 10 minutes in 250ml water with similar results, though there seemed to be just a little more flavor in the 5-minute infusions.  

At the time of this review, this herbal blend is not currently available.

This tea was purchased by me.




Monday, December 18, 2023

Tea Review: Horai Kincha Single Cultivar Sayama Golden Sencha (Yunomi/Yoshino Tea Garden)

Horai Kincha Single Cultivar Sayama Golden Sencha
Yoshino Tea Garden/Yunomi
Type: Green
Origin: Japan, Saitama Prefecture, Hidaka City (Sayama)
Product Description:
The golden field you see in the photos is a proprietary cultivar named Horai Kincha (蓬莱錦茶); Horai refers to an island in Chinese and Japanese mythology while "Kin" refers to a type of weaving called nishiki (famous in Kyoto) in which golden threads are interwoven with other colors.

The Horai Kincha is an extremely rare single-cultivar tea from the Yoshino Tea Garden. The tea fields of this cultivar will have a golden luminous shine for a temporary period of time once a year in May (this is when the new leaves are harvested). A special only one cultivar that is found at the Yoshino Tea Garden. This golden sencha is known to have a naturally abundant level of amino acids giving it a rather savory fruity umami flavor (almost like gyokuro) despite no shading. But be warned, this is a tea for connoisseurs!
Temperature: 160° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 1-2 minutes

The dry leaves have a deep aroma of macadamia nuts.

The liquor is bright green and cloudy with a nutty and sweet green aroma.  The taste is savory, nutty, and mouthwatering green with a long green and sweet almost fruity finish.  

The best flavor is in the first umami-filled infusion with at least one lighter yet enjoyable second infusion to look forward to.  The finish was especially noteworthy for being so flavorful.

This tea was purchased by me.




Thursday, December 14, 2023

Tea Review: Jeju Island First Flush (Whatcom Tea)

Jeju Island First Flush
Whatcom Tea
Type: Green
Origin: South Korea, Jeju Island
Product Description: Not provided.

Temperature: 160-175° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 1 minute

The dry leaf aroma has vegetal, nutty, and mineral notes.  

The light yellow infusion has an aroma of steamed green vegetables and nuts.  The taste is vegetal, green, and nutty.  

The flavor and aroma remained surprisingly similar whether the tea is was brewed for 1 or 2 minutes and whether the water temperature was 160° F or 175° F.  The best results for my preferences came with a lighter 1 minute infusion using 160° F water.

This tea was purchased by me.




Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Tea Review: Kohaku Platinum Sayama Green Oolong Tea (Yunomi/Bizenya)

Kohaku Platinum Sayama Green Oolong Tea
Bizenya/Yunomi
Type: Green/Oolong
Origin: Japan, Saitama Prefecture, Hidaka City, Takahagi
Product Description:
Expertly crafted to be more oxidized than withered green tea, but not nearly as oxidized as most oolongs, Bizenya's Master Tea Craftsman Keiichi Shimizu's Kohaku Platinum will take you on a journey of new aromatic sensations.
Temperature: 194° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 1.5 minutes

The dry leaf aroma is savory and nutty with notes of seasoned wood and a hint of fruit.

The light yellow infusion has a savory aroma with buttery, nutty, and light floral notes.  The taste is nutty and vine green with light floral and fruit-like notes.  

The aroma of the dry leaves was deliciously savory and very reminiscent of some of the oolongs I've encountered with a flavor of that was quite enjoyable yet difficult to pin down.  The best flavor was in the first two infusions, mellowing by the third.

This tea was purchased by me.





Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Tea Review: Spice It Up (Pippa's Real Tea)

Spice It Up
Pippa's Real Tea & Cafe Tenby
Type: Flavored Puerh
Origin: Not Provided
Product Description:
This tea will wake you up in more ways than one!  Like a Mexican hot chocolate with a kick of chili at the finish.
Temperature: 208° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 3 minutes

The dry leaf blend includes puerh, cinnamon, honeybush, cacao nibs, safflower, chili flakes, and chocolate.

The liquor is dark reddish-brown with aroma notes of cocoa, sweet cinnamon, spicy chili, and buttery caramel.  The taste is smooth with notes of cocoa, cinnamon, chili, and caramel with a chili and caramel finish.

This tea blend was definitely a treat.  The chocolate notes were most pronounced in the first infusion, reminiscent of Mexican hot chocolate.  Following that, buttery caramel notes took over and I was reminded of the delicious chocolate covered chili caramels I used to get from a local chocolatier.  While the best flavor was in the first two infusions, the third was smooth and quite enjoyable.

This tea was purchased by me.




Monday, December 11, 2023

Tea Review: Yame Gyokuro (Charaku)

Yame Gyokuro
Charaku
Type: Green
Origin: Japan, Fukuoka Prefecture, Yame, Hoshino Village
Product Description: 
This special blend of cultivars infuses from a light golden-green on the first infusion to a rich emerald green on the second infusion. it starts with a marine air fragrance, which fades in later infusions. The first infusion has a full mouth feel and smooth texture with plenty of umami and buttery and slightly salty notes and a warm grassy finish. Later infusions continue smooth with umami and increasing amami (sweetness) and decreasing astringency.

Good gyokuro is often compared to a fine dashi (broth) and this tea is full in the mouth with an herbaceous, sweet, and slight marine flavors. A low temperature is needed to bring out the "amami," or sweetness, and low astringency for which gyokuro is known. The Yame region of Fukuoka Prefecture on Japan's southern island of Kyushu is known for producing high quality, but a relatively limited amount, of sencha and gyokuro. The region consistently produces gyokuro that wins awards at Japanese national tea competitions. A person living in Tokyo would find it a real treat to enjoy this fine tea. You can now have it here in North America.
Temperature: 145-155° F
Amount: 3 grams
Steeping Time: 30 seconds-3 minutes

The dry leaf aroma is savory and nutty with green grass and almost salty broth-like notes.

The liquor is pale green with a lightly nutty and green aroma.  The taste is savory with umami and nutty with green notes in back that move forward after the first sip and a light, refreshing green finish.

For the purpose of this review, I prepared this gyokuro using the provided instructions with a 3 minute initial steep using 155° F water, followed by a 1 minute second steep using 155° F water, and then a 30 second third steep using 155° F water.  The tea was rich with umami and the fresh green taste of spring.  While a hint of astringency was waiting in the periphery, it didn't have a chance to develop thanks to the thoughtful brewing instructions and I was able to fully enjoy more than 3 pleasantly savory infusions.  

This tea was purchased by me.