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Richard Kilgore

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

170 posts in this topic

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.

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

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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....

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 (log)

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

4693978144_2a8fe81189.jpg

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

4693336131_a2e0d1532b.jpg

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


Edited by Wholemeal Crank (log)

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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.

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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 spellin' (log)

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(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?

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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.

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A shincha tasting July 2010

Four teas from Yuuki-Cha.com:

Tenryu Misakubo

Honoyama

Okuyutaka

Sayamakaori

4673288573_80d9b47985.jpg

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

4760558365_0a30997d0b.jpg

Infused liquor & wet leaves:

Left to Right Tenryu Misakubo; Honoyama; Okuyutaka; Sayamakaori

4761191918_f498ff00ba.jpg

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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 (log)

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