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Japanese Green Teas - Sencha, Gyokuro...and more,


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#91 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 23 January 2010 - 04:01 PM

The kyusu was rated 6 oz capacity, and when typically full, it holds 170 ml, so that was about 0.4 g/oz. I can easily see trying a bit stronger: there really wasn't much bitterness in it.

#92 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 23 January 2010 - 04:16 PM

If it is a tall or round shape kyusu you can try filling it about 80% full max; if it is a flatter shape, you can try filling it about 60% max. That's the usual recommendation.

#93 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 23 January 2010 - 04:55 PM

Interesting that it would be different than a gaiwan or yixing, where it should be completely full to Help keep the temp steady.

#94 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 24 January 2010 - 10:17 AM

Used the full 0.6 g leaf per oz water this
morning, and got an intensification of the vegetal flavors without any amplification of bitterness; but there was no increase in sweetness. Amazing how rich the flavor got without astringency or bitterness.

#95 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 28 January 2010 - 06:30 PM

If it is a tall or round shape kyusu you can try filling it about 80% full max; if it is a flatter shape, you can try filling it about 60% max. That's the usual recommendation.



Interesting that it would be different than a gaiwan or yixing, where it should be completely full to Help keep the temp steady.


This may simply be that Japanese green teas are brewed at lower temps and it is not so important to maintain the initial temp. On second infusions, these green teas usually benefit by dropping the temp another ten degrees or so, which may fit in with this explanation. On the other hand, with Chinese teas we often raise the temp on later infusions.

In addition, there is less clogging with partially full pots if you pour slowly. Avoiding bruising the leaves by slow pouring and by not swirling the leaves in the pot may also help avoid astringency.

#96 Mr. Tea

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Posted 04 February 2010 - 11:03 AM

Japanese teas are near and dear to my heart. I recommend two new shops. One has an outlet in Victoria and the other is strictly online. Try JagaSilk.com or Pavilion Tea. They are both very new and the Pavilion site is still a bit glitchy, but they really understand tea. Jagasilk is mostly independently sourced organic maccha and Pavilion has a small selection of very tasty independently sourced sencha (though it is basically gyokuro) and maccha, though no organic products. That's my two cents, hope they pan out for everyone.

#97 Mr. Tea

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Posted 04 February 2010 - 11:11 AM


If it is a tall or round shape kyusu you can try filling it about 80% full max; if it is a flatter shape, you can try filling it about 60% max. That's the usual recommendation.




Interesting that it would be different than a gaiwan or yixing, where it should be completely full to Help keep the temp steady.


This may simply be that Japanese green teas are brewed at lower temps and it is not so important to maintain the initial temp. On second infusions, these green teas usually benefit by dropping the temp another ten degrees or so, which may fit in with this explanation. On the other hand, with Chinese teas we often raise the temp on later infusions.

In addition, there is less clogging with partially full pots if you pour slowly. Avoiding bruising the leaves by slow pouring and by not swirling the leaves in the pot may also help avoid astringency.


I am not sure where this recommendation is from, but it is not Japan. It, of course, depends on your pot, you don't want to make a blathering mess, but you should put enough tea that filling the pot to the top will give you a rich and flavorful infusion.

As for the temperature, for any tea of reasonable quality one should start with either cold water, for the highest grades, or about 110, for more average teas. Each subsequent infusion should use slightly higher temperature water, in order to bring out all of the flavor of your tea. There should be little to no flavor left in the leaves when you have consumed your fill of tea. In fact, the leaves should have opened up to the point where they are recognizable as such and can be eaten without any bitter flavor. If there is bitter flavor, find a better source for your teas. With quality leaves clogging is also not an issue as the leaves will be large and without dust.

Edited by Mr. Tea, 04 February 2010 - 11:13 AM.


#98 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 04 February 2010 - 12:02 PM

Japanese teas are near and dear to my heart. I recommend two new shops. One has an outlet in Victoria and the other is strictly online. Try JagaSilk.com or Pavilion Tea. They are both very new and the Pavilion site is still a bit glitchy, but they really understand tea. Jagasilk is mostly independently sourced organic maccha and Pavilion has a small selection of very tasty independently sourced sencha (though it is basically gyokuro) and maccha, though no organic products. That's my two cents, hope they pan out for everyone.


Welcome, Mr. Tea!

I may be mis-reading something, but the Jagasilk site appears to carry half organic maccha and half not organic. With regard to Pavilion, can you clarify what you mean when you say that their sencha is basically gyokuro?

#99 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 09 February 2010 - 09:49 AM

Started with the Fukamushi Sencha from Dens today, and after several brewings, I think there is more umami in it than in the Sencha Select from the Cultured Cup. I think I prefer the less steamed version with the sweeter lighter flavor, but it will take more brewings of both to really be sure, especially when I'm not really comparing them head to head.

#100 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 20 February 2010 - 12:23 PM

Tried a new sencha from Dens today, the Sencha Shin-ryoku that I got as a sample in my last order. I did it as exactly as I could per their suggestions: 4 grams per 6 oz water at 160° in the kyusu for 90 seconds, first infusion, and 180 degrees for 30 seconds 2nd infusion.

I was surprised by the deep golden color of the first infusion, and how clear the liquor was--very little of the fines in it. Astonishingly sweet, tasted and looked a bit like dilute honey. Wow.

The 2nd infusion was still quite sweet, but with more umami and vegetable flavors and some astringency, not bitter, just different. And there is a sweet aftertaste in my mouth that is still providing pleasure quite a few minutes after the last sip.

I will definitely buy more of this one.

Also want to share a link I found elsewhere to a youtube video of traditional hand preparation of sencha, by a Living Treasure.

That tea looks so gorgeous that it pretty much had me drooling on the keyboard. Now wondering how to get some of it, and how long I need to 'apprentice' with the conventional senchas that I've just begun to explore (now up to a total of perhaps 5 different preparations from only 2 sources, hardly ready to appreciate that grade of stuff yet) before I can justify seeking out some fabulous handmade stuff.

Edited by Wholemeal Crank, 20 February 2010 - 12:24 PM.


#101 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 12 April 2010 - 04:01 PM

Thanks for the video link, Wholemeal Crank. Did you find a source?

#102 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 12 April 2010 - 05:01 PM

Haven't found a source yet for the hand made stuff, but have decided I need more time and experience just with the senchas and gyokuro.

It took me two infusions to start to 'get' the Yuuki-Cha Kumamato Sencha Yabe from the tasting, and due to spillage I only got two infusions from that; and then I tried the highest grade of Sencha Zuiko and Gyokuro Suimei from denstea, and have tried each of them a couple of times, and still haven't gotten the best of them yet.

It still takes me at least 2 infusions to 'get' a new tea, and it would be horrible to buy a super-fantastic hand-made sencha and not be able to do it justice from the get go.

#103 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 12 April 2010 - 07:17 PM

Not to worry. I find that while it's possible to get an okay result with little effort, it often takes me 3 or 4 brewing sessions - and sometimes more - to discover the best parameters for a specific sencha for my taste buds. For me it's part of what makes exploring tea interesting.

#104 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 12 April 2010 - 07:32 PM

I have no worries about not getting it right the first couple of times--when I'm using 4-5 grams of the 56 grams in a 2 oz bag. But if I were using half of a 10g order of a master's handmade tea? The same degree of experimentation would be a criminal waste. Hence, decided not to seek such tea until I have a higher likelihood of really enjoying it. After all, it's been only a year since my first order from dens, which convinced me I do have a future with sencha and gyokuro.

#105 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 12 April 2010 - 07:54 PM

It's only been less than 6 months! You should be ready to order it within, say, two or three weeks at the rate you're going.

Do you have any idea what the hand-made tea costs?

#106 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 12 April 2010 - 08:15 PM

I've seen quotes of something like $2-3 per gram, but when sold in 10 gram lots, that's suddenly a somewhat affordable luxury, like a decent but not fancy bottle of wine.

#107 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 12 April 2010 - 08:17 PM

Ah! Kaburagien carries hand-rubbed sencha from the 62nd Hand-rubbed Sencha Competition in Kansai. About $30 to $50 per 100 g. Also kabuse and matcha. The link goes to those for 2009, so the 2010 most likely is not far away.

#108 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 12 April 2010 - 08:18 PM

Here's one source: Sugimoto has it for $15/10g, but you must order by 4/15/10. Tempting, but I'll wait for next year.

Edited by Wholemeal Crank, 12 April 2010 - 08:20 PM.


#109 LuckyGirl

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Posted 13 April 2010 - 07:14 PM

Wholemeal Crank, thanks both for the link to that video and the info on the tea from Sugimoto.

What do you know about Sugimoto? Have you ordered teas from them before?

I am tempted to order the Temomi Shincha.

Our tasting of the Yuuki-Cha Kumomoto Sencha really sparked an interest in green teas for me. I ordered more of it at also Yuuki-Cha's Organic Kagoshima Kabusecha.

When I first looked at Yuuki-Cha's website I saw many teas that I wanted to try but was sorely disappointed to discover that there were no sample quantities available.

I was even more disappointed when I first brewed the Kabusecha that I had ordered and found that I strongly disliked it.

I am happy to report that my strong dislike of the Kabusecha was completely due to user error.

My first cup of the Kabusecha was horrible. It was strongly vegetal in a way that I had extreme dislike for and it had a good bit of astringency. I didn't get the special sweetness from the tea.

I decided that for the price of this tea I needed to drink my way through it.

The second time I brewed the Kabusecha I cut the time down from about 2.5 minutes to just over one minute and I dropped the temp. I found that the tea was much more drinkable. I have further reduced the temp to about 165 F and am only steeping the tea for a minute. Surprise, I am actually enjoying this tea!

Bigger surprise is that while writing this post I looked at the receipt from my Yuuki-Cha order and noticed on the brewing page sheet that I should only be brewing this tea at 149 F!

I now love both the teas I purchased from Yuuki-Cha. Spring is definitely the time for green as far as my palate goes. I have tried a few oolongs over the past two weeks but I just am not enjoying them right now.

#110 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 13 April 2010 - 07:28 PM

Cool! I'll be interested to read your description of the Kabusecha brewed at 149 F, LuckyGirl.

There are also brewing suggestions for each tea on the yuuki-cha.com site, such as this one for the Kabusecha.

#111 LuckyGirl

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Posted 14 April 2010 - 06:40 AM

I have been brewing the Kumomoto with water around 170 with results that make me happy and I thought the Kabusecha would be the same. The Kabusecha definitely likes cooler water than the Kumomoto.

I brewed the Kabusecha at 158F this morning but in my usual large cup with 7G tea to about 11oz water for one minute and the tea is weak and watery. I have a hard time seeing how reducing the water to the prescribed 7 oz per 7G and dropping the temp an additional 10 degrees of tea will produce a cup that gets all that this tea has to give but I will try that later today.

#112 LuckyGirl

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 07:26 AM

So, this morning I steeped the Kabusecha according to Yuuki-cha's suggestion of 7-G to 7-OZ at 149F for one minute. I did not care for this brewing at all. The tea was thin and insipid. I feel like I only got about a third of what it has to offer.

I steeped the leaves a second time with water that was much hotter at 165F for one minute and I probably used about 12-OZ of water. This gave me a lovely cup of goodness that was sweet, mildly vegetal with no astringency.

#113 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 07:52 AM

Interesting. I'll have to order some. What are you brewing in and what were the second and third infusions like?

#114 LuckyGirl

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 09:36 AM

My brewing set up is about as rag-tag as you can get. I brew it in one mug then pour through a tea strainer into another mug. I do weigh the tea and measure the temp of the water. I eyeball the amount of water unless like this morning I want to precisely follow a brewing recommendation.

I have a cast-iron tetsubin but I don't bother with it when I am just brewing tea for myself. It is a pain to make sure the outside is dry so that it doesn't rust.

For a while I was using a sweet little antique Lennox porcelein teapot but sadly I broke it a few months ago.

I have contacted the Japanese company that Wholemeal Crank recently posted about and am waiting to hear back from them about ordering two of their teapots.

#115 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 09:51 AM

Two mugs and a strainer works okay for some teas, and that's a set up that I often recommend to friends who want to try fine leaf teas for the least expense. Too bad about the Lennox, but I think you'll enjoy using a Japanese clay teapot for Japanese teas. I'll look forward to seeing them if you can take a pic.

#116 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 15 April 2010 - 07:13 PM

I should mention, LuckyGirl, that for several years I brewed sencha in a cup with parameters very similar to your second infusion. I found it delicious.

#117 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 08:45 AM

Today I am trying the gyokuro suimei from Dens tea again. This time I am measuring per their instructions: 6 g tea for my 6 oz pot, water 140 degrees for 150s first infusion, 160 degrees 60s second infusion, with the timer.

I think I am getting what I am supposed to get: a strongly vegetal, briny, deep green flavor, no hint of bitterness. But not a lot of sweet. A lot of vegetal, briny, deep green. And when I set it down for 10 minutes to go out and shoot my blooming protea when the morning light hit it at the most flattering angle, coming back, the sweet was less and the briny overwhelming.

I will have to try more of this brewed closer to my earlier parameters--a little hotter, a little shorter, to see if I can bring out more sweet. But I suspect that what this really means is that I do prefer the brighter flavor of sencha, in general.

Edited by Wholemeal Crank, 16 April 2010 - 08:46 AM.


#118 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 01:36 PM

This is puzzling, since their site says it should be super sweet in addition to the other elements you are finding. What do you make of that? Perhaps you could ask them if this gyokuro has lost some sweetness since last spring.

#119 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 05:54 PM

This is puzzling, since their site says it should be super sweet in addition to the other elements you are finding. What do you make of that? Perhaps you could ask them if this gyokuro has lost some sweetness since last spring.


I am not sure what to make of this.

Several possibilities come to mind: am I making it a bit too concentrated? I am using a kyusu with a nominal capacity of 6 oz and filled it nearly to the brim this morning, and measured 6g of tea, so kept the 2g/2oz ratio they suggested. But my actual volume in the kyusu was under 6 oz, then I may be overdoing the leaf to water ratio.

Also, it may be past its prime, but I've come across suggestions in a few places that gyokuro tends to improve with a short aging, so one should concentrate on sencha in the spring and summer, when it is freshest, and gyokuro in the fall and winter. By that calculation, the gyokuro should be better than the (last year's) sencha right now.

There's also a question of water to investigate: I have been using my LA city tap water for all of my teas, and this might be one more sensitive to that than my usual oolongs and puerhs.

I am tempted also to conclude that the ratings of the teas are more consistent with their umami than their sweetness, and that I may be happiest with a good but not best quality gyokuro or sencha, those with a bit less umami to overwhelm the sweetness. This would be consistent with my experience to date, but I am so new at these Japanese green that I'm just not sure. I'm a little hesitant to make my first forays into ordering straight from Japan before I figure this out.

I'm planning another couple of sessions with shorter infusions, more dilute, and perhaps starting with the water temps in 160s, to get a better idea.

#120 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 08:01 PM

Most of these teas benefit from playing with small tweaks of the parameters, as you know. (And it would be interesting to see what would happen if you used filtered water for a month for all teas. Inexpensive experiment.) It will be interesting to see what else you turn up.

It also may depend upon how long ago you opened the bag of gyokuro. I find that I can tell a difference after even a week, with gradual changes through about two months of worthwhile brewing. I try to finish a bag within a month, but can't always do it.

Another consideration regarding the umami. Non-organics tend to have more pumped up umami, whereas the organics have a more traditional profile, apparently similar to all Japanese teas before the 1950s. I have had non-organics paired with food to heighten the umami and certainly enjoyed it, but the organics have been growing on me increasingly.