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


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#121 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 10:11 PM

Good point about the organics.

Doubt freshness since opening is an issue, because it was opened just 10 days ago, and my impression the first time was virtually identical to this time.

Will try some filtered water tomorrow, have a new filter in the brita pitcher. And will try a couple of different concentrations of leaf in some smaller brewings in gaiwans.

#122 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 17 April 2010 - 09:40 AM

First attempt with brita-pitcher-filtered water at 160 degrees F, 1.5 grams and 1.2 grams in 2.5 oz gaiwans, infused for about 1 minute, with sips tasted at 20, 30, and 45 seconds too: more dilute, but still stronger umami/briny/vegetal than sweet.

2g 160 degrees 1 minute: sweeter, some bitter, still strong umami/vegetal/briny

2g 150 degrees 30 seconds, then 2nd infusion 20 seconds: best yet, sweeter, not bitter, better balance of sweet and umami.

And one more time: 2 g, 150 degrees, 30 seconds, compared head to head with the sencha zuiko bought and opened at the same time, and the gyokuro again gives the impression of umami over sweet, and the sencha sweet over umami, with a bit of sharpness--not bitterness, really, just a hint of an edge--that accents the sweet further, and with a bit more *tea* flavor, while the gyokuro is more understated and mellow.

I think I just like sencha better than gyokuro.

Next up, annotated tasting of the lemon myrtle rooibos, because I will need something not caffeinated after this!

Edited by Wholemeal Crank, 17 April 2010 - 09:41 AM.


#123 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 18 April 2010 - 09:51 AM

After my mildly disappointing session with the gyokuro vs sencha yesterday, tried a head-to-head tasting of the two Dens senchas I have right now, and I can't tell the difference between the Sencha Zuiko and Sencha Shin-ryoku. Infused 2 grams in the 75mL gaiwans with water at 160 to 170 degrees, infusions about 30 seconds to a bit longer, was being a bit sloppy without timer or counting off precisely, but the end result after 4 infusions is that both are sweet and taste brighter than the gyokuro did, and will bring much morning happiness over the next couple of months.

#124 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 07 May 2010 - 10:54 AM

My first two shinchas have arrived! A Magokoro Shincha from yuuki-cha and the Temomi Shincha from Sugimoto. More on these later. I'll probably wait to open them until I can brew with a tea friend or two.

Has anyone else ordered any of this season's celebratory Shinchas?

#125 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 08 May 2010 - 12:05 AM

I'm suffering decision paralysis as I consider my first order of japanese tea directly from Japan. I'm not sure how to parse the desciptions to figure out which teas will best fit my taste. I'm getting better at that with the chinese teas I've been drinking for a while, but this is a whole new realm. Shincha on top of that is extremely confusing. I've been reading contradictory information on whether it is mroe umami than regular sencha, or more delicately spring-sweet.

#126 f3xy

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Posted 18 May 2010 - 12:08 PM

My local grocery store( which has a tea bar :D) resells some of the Ito-ens teas as their own. I can purchase a pound of Ito-En's Uji Gyokuro for $188. If you buy a pound I think it comes in the original packing. Anything smaller comes in their tea pouches. It's not something you brew in just a package to hold whatever amount of loose tea you decided to purchase. They are heat sealed as well. I go out there all the time. If anyone is interested I'll ship whatever amount you like for cost of goods and shipping. If anyone is interested I can make a list of all their ito-en and prices.

#127 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 18 May 2010 - 08:14 PM

Your local grocery store has a tea bar? Where is this amazing place located?

#128 f3xy

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 03:25 PM

Your local grocery store has a tea bar? Where is this amazing place located?


The store is called Wegman's and the location with the Tea Bar is in Pittsford, NY. They are a great grocery store.

#129 LuckyGirl

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 07:01 AM

My local grocery store( which has a tea bar :D) resells some of the Ito-ens teas as their own. I can purchase a pound of Ito-En's Uji Gyokuro for $188. If you buy a pound I think it comes in the original packing. Anything smaller comes in their tea pouches. It's not something you brew in just a package to hold whatever amount of loose tea you decided to purchase. They are heat sealed as well. I go out there all the time. If anyone is interested I'll ship whatever amount you like for cost of goods and shipping. If anyone is interested I can make a list of all their ito-en and prices.


I am interested in trying some. Are there any organics?

#130 LuckyGirl

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 07:11 AM

My first two shinchas have arrived! A Magokoro Shincha from yuuki-cha and the Temomi Shincha from Sugimoto. More on these later. I'll probably wait to open them until I can brew with a tea friend or two.

Has anyone else ordered any of this season's celebratory Shinchas?


I just placed an order with hibiki-an dot com and will also re-order from Yuuki-cha soon which will include this year's Magokoro Shincha.

I have been drinking nothing else but the Kumamoto Sencha and the Kagoshima Kabusecha since I ordered them a month or so ago. After stumbling with the Kabusecha at first (my own brewing errors) I have fallen in love with it.

#131 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 08:18 AM

I sent a request to yuuki-cha for suggestions for specific teas I might prefer, and am waiting for a reply. Meanwhile, the Den's sencha is running low. Might have to just go ahead and order....

#132 f3xy

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 06:15 PM

I am interested in trying some. Are there any organics?


I'm not entirely sure. All the tea is from ItoEn. It's high quality. The local store carries

Tomo Sencha
Megami Sencha
Honyma Sencha
Makinohara Sencha
Umegashima Sencha
Chiran Kanayamidori
Uji Kabuse
Uji Gyokuro
Matcha
Lavender Sencha
Sakura Sencha
Yuzu Sencha
Shiso Sencha
Genmaimatcha
Kukicha
Bancha
Hojicha
Kaiseki Hojicha
Vanilla Hojicha

All of the price points are pretty good. For example a lb of Uji Gyokuro is $188.99/lb or $11.81/oz. On the ITOEN Website it's $46.50 for 3oz and $232.50 for 15oz. If any one is interested in any of these specifically let me know. I have all the pricing.

#133 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 09:36 PM

I got a very nice reply to my inquiry from Dan at Yuuki-Cha, and now have a plan for an order as soon as the recommended teas come in.

May browse through those ito-en teas in the meantime.

#134 LuckyGirl

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 09:16 AM

Is anyone interested in making our own sample pack of teas from Yuuki-cha? I would like to try all of the 2010 senchas and the gyokuros but since they don't currently offer sample sizes it's next to impossible for me to try them all.

I'm thinking that if 2 other people are interested I could order all of the gyokuros and 2010 senchas, have them shipped to me then divide them three ways and send them on to whoever goes in on the order.

We could add the kabusecha too or any others people might be interested in.

#135 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 01:01 PM

That is a great idea. I'd be happy to go in on that. I'd love a chance to compare all the different teas and be able to confirm a couple of things I've been suspecting about my tea preferences, or better yet, be proved wrong by falling in love with some teas that right now seem 'outside' my comfort zone. It's certainly happened before!

Right now I'm just waiting a bit longer for the three teas Dan recommended to me to come in, and then I'll be placing an order for those in larger quantity.

Edited by Wholemeal Crank, 21 May 2010 - 01:10 PM.


#136 f3xy

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 03:50 PM

Is anyone interested in making our own sample pack of teas from Yuuki-cha? I would like to try all of the 2010 senchas and the gyokuros but since they don't currently offer sample sizes it's next to impossible for me to try them all.

I'm thinking that if 2 other people are interested I could order all of the gyokuros and 2010 senchas, have them shipped to me then divide them three ways and send them on to whoever goes in on the order.

We could add the kabusecha too or any others people might be interested in.


I'm interested. They all look so delicious :D

#137 LuckyGirl

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 08:09 PM

Great! We have three people.

A few questions:

What I meant that I would like to try are all of the 2010 Shinchas. Are you both into that or were you thinking I meant the other Senchas listed under their own heading?

Are you interested in splitting the teas four ways if another person is interested or would you like to keep it at three.

If the answer from Wholemeal Crank and f3xy is yes on the above question is there a fourth person who would like to join us?

Wholemeal Crank and f3xy, I will PM you tomorrow with questions about any teas you may want to be sure to incluse or ones maybe you have no interest in trying. Or, feel free to PM me with your input prior to hearing from me.

Trying all these teas will be great fun.

#138 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 21 May 2010 - 09:30 PM

I'd be interested in it either way--shinchas alone, or sinchas plus senchas. I'm still very new to the japanese greens, and find the prices and minimum orders and need to consume the teas quickly after opening to all be barriers to trying a wide variety of them. A large order split between three or four of us would help with the cost and the what-to-do-with-so-much-tea dilemma both.

#139 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 06 June 2010 - 09:40 AM

30", 15", 30": that was the key.

I am enjoying my third infusion of Yuuki-Cha's Tenryu Misakuo Organic Shincha. It is sweet, light, and vegetal, a hint of the expected astringency in the third infusion, but overall, quite a delightful experience. Infusing 4.5 gram of tea in my 5 oz kyusu (about 150 mL water) with water at 160 degrees, the first is light and sweet and vegetal; the second is sweet, a bit heavier with some sweet vegetal flavor and a bit of vanilla, a touch of umami but not much (a 30" second infusion was too heavy bodied), and the third infusion is more like the second, but the astringency starts to increase a little.

Delicious.

I think that shorter 2nd infusion allows the elements that have already started to leak from the wet leaves to be recovered without too much more coming out of the leaves (which would result in in an overly strong infusion for my tastes), and then the 3rd infusion, there is not so much rushing out into the water, so an infusion the length of the first works fine.

The 4th infusion is trickier, and length depends on how much the water has cooled in the teapot, and how much time I have before I must run out the door (the usual situation in the morning), and this morning, with the water too cool at 120 degrees, I left it for a good couple of minutes, and was well rewarded.

Should also add that the dry leaves in their bag smell vegetal and sweet, and transform from very deep dark green when dry to bright and lighter green of the fresh young leaf when wet afterwards. Pretty. Yumm.

#140 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 07 June 2010 - 04:13 PM

Thanks for the report, WC. I have the Tenryu Misakuo Organic Shincha coming in my order this week, and I'll keep your experience with it in mind.

#141 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 08 June 2010 - 07:24 PM

Organic Kagoshima Shincha Magokoro

This is a yuuki-cha.com deep-steamed shincha from Kagoshima, Kyushu, Japan made from yutakamidori tea bushes. The first shincha of the season for me. I have experimented with it quite a bit and have found that it is a tea that merits playing with the parameters in fine tuned ways, as long as you start out with a temp of 154f for the first infusion, with .75 g leaf/ounce of water. On the first infusion I have varied the time from 30 - 60 seconds.

One the second infusion i have had success with 154f - 158f, and times from 10 seconds to instant pour. On the third, 163f and 30 - 60 seconds. I have had great success with a glorious third infusion at 60 seconds, by holding back on the temp and time on the second one. That infusion was beautifully well-balanced and integrated.

This can be well-balanced - fresh, medium-bodied with a nice dose of umami, sweetly vegetal, and with a sharpness that can be adjusted to taste.

On all infusions I used a very slow pour, as slow as humanly possible. For four ounces of water that means about 30 seconds. Brewed in a banko kyusu that I got last year from Dan at yuuki-cha.com - made by Japanese ceramic artist Tachi Masaki, and undoubtedly the very best brewing kyusu I have.

I like this one a lot, and recommend it if you are willing to experiment to get the flavor profiles you enjoy for the three or more infusions.

#142 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 12 June 2010 - 10:46 AM

Honoyama Organic Shincha from Yuuki-Cha today, my first tasting of this one.

Dry leaves are needlelike, very dark, rich sweet vegetal scent

Posted Image

4 grams of tea in 5 oz preheated kyusu

30" 160°F /71°C sweet, vegetal, delicate

10" 160°F/71°C umami, sweet, vegetal, nothing overpowering,

30" 168°F/76°C sweet, vegetal, hint of astringency aftertaste

1 minute 168°F/76°C sweet, vegetal, no astringency

a 5th infusion, with water that had cooled to 130°F/54°C in the kettle, for about 2 minutes, was losing steam, very dilute, but still sweet, vegetal, mellow.

Leaves after infusion are light green, small, few are entirely whole, but not very small pieces, with mild vegetal scent

Posted Image

This is wonderful, wonderful stuff, and my tastebuds are dancing with happiness.

Edited by Wholemeal Crank, 12 June 2010 - 11:13 AM.


#143 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 11:26 AM

Today, a head-to-head comparison of the Tenryu Misakubo vs the Honoyama organic shinchas from Yuuki-Cha. Both are lovely teas. As anticipated, the Tenryu was richer with umami than the Honoyama, which was lighter bodied. I prefer the Honoyama for the lighter taste, which allows the sweetness I especially enjoy to come through, but if you prefer the deeper umami flavors, you might prefer the Tenryu.

#144 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 02:11 PM

2010 Organic Uji Gokujo Shincha
yuuki-cha.com

I received a small sample of this 2010 Shincha in a trade with a tea friend. So this brief report is based on only one brewing. That said, this impresses me as an easy to brew shicha; I blew some of the infusion parameters I was aiming for and still got a pleasant result. With 1 g per ounce for infusion 1 and 2, and a little more dilute for the third (4g/5 ou, and times of 45 sec, 20 sec and 45 sec, this leaf produces a tea liquor that has a hay-like aroma (not newly cut hay; hay that has been drying a bit), a medium mouthfeel, and baby asparagus and sharp taste components. My second infusion was the best integrated. The first infusion had the sharp component out front and cutting back the timing to 60 seconds may make for a better balance. I think that this shincha would give a good fourth and maybe fifth infusion, with a better eye on water quantity in the third infusion and a better eye on timing.

The easy brewing of this tea is in contrast to the sencha of the same name from last year that gave me such a difficult time uptopic.

(Just a reminder to readers that our tasting notes are subjective. YMMV, as always.)

Edited by Richard Kilgore, 13 June 2010 - 04:39 PM.
spellin'


#145 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 02:49 PM

(Just a reminder to readers that our tasting notes are subjective. YMMV, as always.)


Absolutely true. I suspect my tastes are not typical of a lot of people drinking japanese green teas, a preference for a certain lightness and sweetness over the usually more favored umami, and I try to make that clear in my notes.

The easy brewing of this tea is in contrast to the sencha of the same name from last year that gave me such a difficult time uptopic.


Do you think it is a difference in the tea, or in your brewing skills?

#146 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 04:40 PM

I have had a goodly amount of organic and non-organic fukamushi sencha and have enjoyed it, WC; it is fun to pair it with foods other than sushi and fish, such as grape tomatoes and parmigiano reggiano. I have come, however, to enjoy a great deal the organic versions with less umami and the subtler light-steamed organic senchas with even less.

As far as last years brewing vs this years, I am sure my skill has improved, but my understanding is that the batch of last years Uji Gokujo Sencha that I got was particularly challenging to brew, and it was brewed more in the style of gyokuro.

#147 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 29 June 2010 - 12:04 PM

Any new reports on this year's shinchas from various tea merchants anyone?

#148 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 04 July 2010 - 12:23 PM

A shincha tasting July 2010

Four teas from Yuuki-Cha.com:
Tenryu Misakubo
Honoyama
Okuyutaka
Sayamakaori

Posted Image


This was less straightforward than most of my recent tastings, because the four teas are so similar in character. And the delay in drinking the infusions due to finding and setting up the camera obscured some of the finer points of the varied flavors of the teas. I am less fond of umami and more fond of a sugary sweetness, so tend to prefer my japanese teas on the lighter side. Also, must note in fairness that these teas were not opened at the same time: the Tenryu Misakubo was open for several weeks, the Sayamakaori only a week.

Setup: 2 grams of tea in 75 mL gaiwan, water 160 degrees, 1st infusion 30 seconds; 2nd infusion 165 degrees 15 seconds*; 3rd infusion 170 degrees 1 minute, 4th infusions 170 degrees 90 seconds.

Tenryu Misakubo
Dry Leaves: green, needle-like, smaller fragments than the others, sweet and mild vegetal scent
Liquor has stronger first hit of umami in the 2nd infusion, brinier than the others especially in the first couple of infusions, but mellower and more similar as the infusions progress as the sweetness comes a bit more to the fore
Wet Leaves: smaller pieces of bright green leaves, green vegetal aroma, like cooked peas or asparagus

Honoyama
Dry Leaves: green, needle-like, fragment, slightly deeper vegetal scent
Liquor is sweeter and lighter from the start, lightly vegetal--sweet spring peas, freshly cut grass in spring
Wet Leaves: pieces of bright green leaves, similar vegetal aroma

Okuyutaka
Dry Leaves: green, needle-like, leaf fragments, sweet deep vegetal scent
Probably in between the Honoyama and the Tenryu Misakubo, sweet with moderate umami, delicious
Wet Leaves: pieces of bright green leaves, similar vegetal aroma

Sayamakaori
Dry Leaves: green, needle-like, longer and more intact fragments than the others, deep sweet scent full of umami
Also sweet start to the liquor, mild umami, bright and lovely
Wet Leaves: larger pieces of bright green leaves, similar vegetal aroma

Final impression? I like the Honoyama best, I think, but how to order the middle two is very hard: Sayamakaori then Okuyutaka or Okuyutaka then Sayamakaori, either works for me, and the Tenryu Misakubo is my least favorite, but still a lovely lovely tea. If you prefer more umami--deeper, brinier flavors, and like gyokuro over sencha, you probably should reverse the order of my preferences, and grab the Tenryu Misakubo first, leaving more Honoyama for me! All of these are very good teas: none have anything bitter or harsh or otherwise off to make them less than highly recommended.

Dry leaves

upper left is Tenryu Misakubo; upper right is Honoyama; lower left Okuyutaka; lower right is Sayamakaori

Posted Image

Infused liquor & wet leaves:

Left to Right Tenryu Misakubo; Honoyama; Okuyutaka; Sayamakaori

Posted Image

#149 Wholemeal Crank

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Posted 26 September 2010 - 10:13 AM

Enjoying a most lovely long sweet aftertaste from this morning's Sayamakaori sencha from Yuuki-cha, so nice that even though I'm still a bit thirsty and want to drink that next cup, I am waiting a bit. I used a bit more leaf that usual (5.7g in my 5 oz kyusu) because I was too lazy to scoop just the extra gram back into the bag. The downside was that the second infusion was not quite as wonderful as usual--a bit overly strong--but the others have all been very nice.

Edited by Wholemeal Crank, 26 September 2010 - 10:13 AM.


#150 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 15 November 2010 - 11:11 AM

eGullet Society member Greg Glancy at Norbu Tea recently added several pages of helpful and interesting information on Japanese teas on norbutea.com.

Japanese Tea Types: A Brief Guide to Japanese Tea Terminology

Japanese Tea: Overview/History

How Japanese Tea is Produced: Processing Japanese Green Tea

Japanese Tea Steeping Guide