What Green Are You Drinking

Non-oxidized tea
Noonie
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Mon Sep 21, 2020 3:59 pm

I'm working my way through the last of my 2019 Sencha (stored in a small fridge dedicated to green teas) and had a different experience, or maybe I was just off...

Over the last 4-6 months I've been drinking some 2019 Sencha I purchased from Thes Du Japon pre-Shincha ordering (those are up next :D )

I have two kyusu's and a couple of glazed hohin's that I use with Japanese greens. Usually I try a tea in all four of these pots as I work my way through the bag. No real order to what goes first (I like to keep the pots guessing!). Differences in taste between the pots is usually not distinguishable. I just love the feel of the kyusu's, and at times the simplicity of the hohins. Depends on what mood I'm in, and a bit of variety is nice. To me, neither of these have been superior.

First brew with the most recent bag of Sencha (name escapes me) was in my favourite kyusu. I usually enjoy most/all Sencha in this pot for whatever reason. I usually measure and time things for consistency (in particular with Japanese greens). Anyway, first session was flat and I wondered if the this particular bag of tea wasn't very good. Second session I used one of the glazed hohin's, and it was dramatically better. The taste, scent and lingering of the tea was very good. Tomorrow I'm going to try the tea in the same kyusu as before, and will try to be objective when I taste it. I'll then try in the other kyusu, before returning to the hohin. I'm guessing I was just off the first time I tried the tea, but it prodded the idea forming in my mind that a simple, glazed brewing vessel is sometimes the best for Sencha. Anyway, I'm posting a bit in advance of gathering some more time with this tea and various teapots, but I wanted to share this in advance as I like to read others' thoughts along my own journey.
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Victoria
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Tue Sep 22, 2020 10:18 am

@Noonie what kind of unglazed kyusu are you using and which Japanese greens? With teas that I’m not familiar with, I’ll first steep in porcelain houhin to get a neutral steep, then move onto porous or non-porous kyusu, and decide on preferred size for that particular tea. Typically, once I get a good brew, I pair a particular tea with the kyusu used until the bag is finished. Doing a side-by-side in real time is very helpful because it eliminated the possibility that your body is the variable from one day to the next. Example, this morning I steeped O-cha’s Sae Midori, the same as previous mornings, and for a second time the steeps came out bitter. This time I can discount the 150f water being too hot (I kept eagle eye on that) I think it’s just my taste buds shifting from one day to the next.
faj
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Tue Sep 22, 2020 11:56 am

Victoria wrote:
Tue Sep 22, 2020 10:18 am
Example, this morning I steeped O-cha’s Sae Midori, the same as previous mornings, and for a second time the steeps came out bitter. This time I can discount the 150f water being too hot (I kept eagle eye on that) I think it’s just my taste buds shifting from one day to the next.
One the one hand, there is no doubt that there is variation in our senses. Time of day, what you ate or drank before, humidity level, mood, symptoms of a mild cold below the threshold where you notice them, etc. On the other hand, there is only so much variation we can reasonably attribute to our senses. The morning I feel my sencha is more bitter than the day before, I don't usually find my peanut butter to also be more bitter than the day before.

I hazard a guess that we sometimes blame our senses to a higher degree than warranted because we fail to account for other factors. For instance, when dealing with blended sencha, who can say for sure the blend does not change quite a bit from one session to the next? Even for unblended tea, trees and individual leaves are not identical : no one can say for sure there is no variation from one session to the next, one bag to the next, etc. Maybe your kettle says the temperature is the same as yesterday, but it is only one sensor with its own limited accuracy in a vessel where heat distribution is not perfect. Maybe the steeping lasted for a slightly different duration. Maybe the teapot was a not at the same temperature to begin with... Those little changes can add up on top of the drinker's own variability.
Noonie
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Tue Sep 22, 2020 1:44 pm

@Victoria - it's a gyokko (sp?) pot from Camellia Sinensis in Montreal (bought in store, not on their website). I can't recall the correct terminology, but it's dark in colour...mainly deep grey with some subtle red parts. It is fairly smooth. The tea is medium steamed Sencha from TDJ, a 2019 from Uji, Yamakai cultivar. I like variety so use 3-4 pots multiple times for a 100g bag of tea. Again, this pot usually does quite good with most teas so it was likely 'me'. Today I used that pot again and it may have been a tad better than the other day, but with the hohin it is brighter and sweeter; deeper with the kyusu. I'll try another hohin tomorrow to keep exploring!

@faj you're correct about variation, though as someone who mixes it up a bit in terms of teaware, I based my view on general trends/observations. It's like if I use a pot 200-300 times in a the span of a couple of years, always with the same type of tea (Sencha/Shincha) but often different in terms of vendor, steaming (light, normal), varietal, etc., and if a pot usually gets a 'thumbs up', then it is a bit strange when all of a sudden it gets a thumbs down (I didn't give it a thumb down until the next day when I used the hohin and it was noticeably better). After today's session I give it the thumb is heading in the right direction, but if I was crazy about getting the best flavour every time, then at least with this particular tea I would probably stick with the hohin; but I won't :-)
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Dresden
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Wed Sep 23, 2020 10:05 pm

Today I was rummaging through my tea and I found an unopened bag of last year's Farmer's Shincha from Hibiki-an. Still seems to be pretty good so this will probably be my daily drinker for the near future.

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Victoria
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Wed Sep 23, 2020 10:13 pm

Dresden wrote:
Wed Sep 23, 2020 10:05 pm
Today I was rummaging through my tea and I found an unopened bag of last year's Farmer's Shincha from Hibiki-an. Still seems to be pretty good so this will probably be my daily drinker for the near future.
Looks like the perfect set up to accompany this shincha 🍃
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LeoFox
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Fri Sep 25, 2020 4:59 pm

This morning had a taiping shida hou kui from teavivre. Vendor claims harvest date is April 16, 2020 and that processing was by hand.

Images of leaves:

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Leaves are bud + 2 leaves for the most part. Color dark to medium green. Almost no scent from the leaves. Inside of the bag is coated with white hair, as expected.

There are regular indentations on the leaf, suggesting they were pressed by cloth and not smooth machine (zoom in on upper pic). Therefore, these leaves might be hand made or partially hand made. However, i imagine it wouldn't be too hard to fake these indentations on machine pressed leaves.

Brewed 5 g in 250 mL 85 C water in glazed kyusu with the lid off.

Rinse / 1 min / 1:30 / 2:30 / 5:00 / 10 min / 20 mi / 40 min / 80 min / 120 min / planning to do o/n

As typical of hou kui in my experience, extraction is slow and long lasting.

In the mouth: very light and a little creamy. A little peach flavor. Very smooth and a bit oily as it cooled down. There was a distinct ocean air saltiness/umami that was like very fresh raw scallops. Aftertaste was a little drying and chalky. Definitely not a premium hou yun. Overall it was satisfying and provided good energy.

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debunix
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Wed Sep 30, 2020 12:05 pm

Looks like it was a lovely session. TPHK is so dramatic. I love watching the long leaves wet and soften and sink into the too-short pot or shibo....

This morning starting my second session with Heavenly Drop gyokuro from Obubu. The bits of leaf are much larger than I'm used to with other gyos, but the rich green is very typical.
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The flavor is perhaps not quite as brothy or umami as some of those I was drinking recently (the wonderful Camellia Sinensis from last year's gyo special offer & tasting), but it's deeper than a kabuse, and definitely softer (less sharp/astringent/grassy) than a sencha.
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And the overnight last infusion from yesterday's session was a delightful start to the day.
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LeoFox
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Wed Sep 30, 2020 6:05 pm

@debunix
That is an amazing green! Did you end up eating the leaves the next day?

To me, it is often a good thing if a gyokuro is not an umami bomb. To quote hojo from one of his news letters;
I believe most of those who tasted Gyokuro might have the impression that Gyokuro gives a very strong seaweed flavor with creamy texture and taste like amino acid. No doubt Gyokuro has such an overwhelming character which is hard to forget once you tasted it. Nevertheless, personally I did not enjoy those distinctive characters of Gyokuro. To me, this tea taste like a soup or some kind of astronaut food, yet it gives very weak after taste and its flavor is relatively flat if compared to many other teas that I usually enjoy.
faj
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Wed Sep 30, 2020 6:18 pm

LeoFox wrote:
Wed Sep 30, 2020 6:05 pm
To me, it is often a good thing if a gyokuro is not an umami bomb. To quote hojo from one of his news letters;
I think balance is more important than umami strength on an absolute scale. A gyokuro with strong umami that is balanced with strong, pleasant aromatics can be enjoyed with less leaf if that is what you prefer, but will probably be great if infused with a high leaf-to-water ratio. On the other hand, a gyokuro that has too much umami relative to its other characteristics will remain out of balance no matter how much or how little leaf you use.
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debunix
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Thu Oct 01, 2020 11:05 am

LeoFox wrote:
Wed Sep 30, 2020 6:05 pm
debunix
That is an amazing green! Did you end up eating the leaves the next day?
Sadly, no. I think it is time to set up a little container in the freezer to collect fine leaves like these for when I have a use. I don't prepare enough food daily to use them regularly fresh or refrigerated (my soups and stews and grain-dishes are mostly made ahead and frozen in individual servings, not so conducive to a sprinkling of wet leaf) but tossing a bunch of them from the freezer into a pot of soup or beans is a great idea.
LeoFox wrote:
Wed Sep 30, 2020 6:05 pm
To me, it is often a good thing if a gyokuro is not an umami bomb.
agreed. I really enjoyed the amazing gyos we had last year, but I'm also very happy with this 'lighter' but wonderful version from Obubu. I'm very glad I went for the subscription model with them....and pleased to see a DHL notice confirming that my next quarterly delivery is coming soon. My Obubu sencha is starting to run low and I had such a nice session with some kukicha the other day, and there is not much of that left either, especially since kukicha does not really stretch to many steeps, even for this lover of 'sweetwater' and extended steeps.
faj
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Fri Oct 02, 2020 9:27 pm

Had Camellia Sinensis's (the store) gyokuro Tamahomare yesterday, and also this morning, prepared two different ways.

I first tried a "barely covered leaves" infusion, which I measured to be 15ml of water to 4g of tea in a Hokujo shiboridashi, first infusion at 55C for 90C. Predictably powerful. Good, but not on the level of Ippodo's Tokusen which I prepared several days ago in a similar fashion. Not as balanced.

Then, this morning, I tried it infused more like a sencha, a method I have commented on a few times that has given me very satisfying sessions with gyokuro. I tried the Tokusen infused this way too a few weeks ago, but it left me unimpressed. 4g to about 100ml of 75C water, in a Masaki Tachi Shigaraki teapot. The first two infusions were 30s each. Both shockingly good. I would say probably the best "sencha-style" gyokuro session I have had up until now (and I really liked those I had before, a lot). I had 6 great infusions, increasing time and temperature, and a seventh one which was still good.

Those two teas can both shine, but not under the same light.
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LeoFox
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Wed Oct 07, 2020 2:38 pm

Just brewed Hojo's Tsukigase Zairai Sencha in Hojo's kobiwako shibo:

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Brewed at 90 C per Hojo's instruction.

The tea smells almost exactly like Taiwanese bao zhong! It is also very green:

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Although it smelled like bao zhong, the taste is something very new to me. It is a little like melon and avocado but it is really a taste i cannot describe. The taste seems to linger for a long time. The tea also has a very thick body, maybe courtesy of the kobiwako.
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debunix
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Sat Oct 10, 2020 12:47 pm

More Heavenly Drop gyo from Obubu: I am enjoying ths so much, so mellow and undemanding, but also freshly, vibrantly vegetal, with a light touch of umami. Mmm. I'm almost to the end of the packet, and will be happy to have the contrasting brightness of sencha next.
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debunix
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Thu Oct 15, 2020 11:04 am

Finished the gyo, so today it was time for Wind sencha from Obubu. It's a bit sharper than the gyo, more astringency, but still light and pleasing.
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