What Green Are You Drinking

Non-oxidized tea
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Bok
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Sun Feb 21, 2021 8:08 am

Second up is Hitoshichaen Tamaryokucha. I’m really parroting the pack only, I’ve no idea what these terms mean... this is a tea made from the first descendants of the first tea trees that came to Japan.

Very different kind of brew. Cloudy and thick, no bitterness, a lot of sweetness and a nice aftertaste, I like it.
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faj
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Sun Feb 21, 2021 9:04 am

Bok wrote:
Sun Feb 21, 2021 8:04 am
For the occasion Hokujo came out of forced retirement, as it’s really perfect for Japanese teas - who would’ve thought...
If you want to send your Hokujo pot back to retirement, I can provide with a comfortable and safe spot for it in my home. I promise there would be good company in the form of sencha, gyokuro and teapot buddies in the cupboard. :)
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debunix
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Sun Feb 21, 2021 12:09 pm

I have been drinking a lot of tea and posting less for various reasons, and completely forgot to review the Hevenly Drop [spelling error original on package] gyokuro from Obubu Tea Farms. It was delicious, and I loved it, but probably not as refined or smooth as the remarkable versions we shared during our best-available testing a while back. Since some of the things that make the fanciest highly prized-- a richness in something that I perceive as a bit brothy/soupy--is not my favorite aspect of gyokuro, I find this Obubu version quite satisfying.
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Victoria
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Sun Feb 21, 2021 5:24 pm

That sounds hevenly @debunix those kind of package misspellings are so funny. Nice that you continue being a member of Obubu’s monthly tea club. Do you receive around +-12 packs per year?

This morning I started with a sencha that is super strong, rich and bitter, so bitter that it might even purge some bugs in my system :) Ippodo’s Kaboku sencha. I think it’s an asamuchi. Knowing it might be bitter I steeped 10 degrees F cooler than recommended at 10g/210ml/165f/60sec Brita filtered tap water in Emu shudei. Even so it was very bitter, although not in a terribly unpleasant way, just kind of over the top. Next time I’ll try using Iceland bottled water and a Banko kyusu to see if the results are a little more refined.

Followed that eye popping session with a treat, O-cha’s Uji Gyokuhō gyokuro. Umami rich and vegetal, smooth and elegant. Steeped in Chitoshi Morita‘s hakudei clay kyusu is a perfect match. 10g/120ml/135f/90sec
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Bok
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Mon Feb 22, 2021 8:26 am

Next Sencha up is a gift from a generous friend (thanks, you know who you are!): Kama iri cha, Fujieda, Fuji Kaori cultivar. From thes du japon.

A very curious tea. I like it. Very likely because it’s more steamed and roasted like a Chinese green tea would be. I’m told only a very tiny weeny percentage of the Japanese tea market.

To me it smells like Amaretto. Very, very fragrant and it doesn’t leave that stomach churn that so many Sencha do. Pleasant.
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belewfripp
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Mon Feb 22, 2021 10:33 am

Very nice tea photos @Bok and @LeoFox (and others - there are a lot of good tea photographers on this forum).

It is making me very anxious awaiting my order from Yunomi (supposed to come today, but snow in this part of the U.S. has made delivering even harder than it has been).
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debunix
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Mon Feb 22, 2021 10:53 am

Victoria wrote:
Sun Feb 21, 2021 5:24 pm
Nice that you continue being a member of Obubu’s monthly tea club. Do you receive around +-12 packs per year?
I get packages quarterly, generous enough to keep me in sencha and more Hojicha than I know what to do with; not surprisingly, there is less gyokuro and matcha, and I ordered some of those separately last year. They arrived with my next regular shipment.

Today enjoying Autumn Moon sencha from obubu, not as mellow as a gyokuro, but not harsh; a fine start to the day.
faj
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Mon Feb 22, 2021 1:30 pm

I noticed @Bok's post about a kamairi-cha from Thés du Japon earlier today. I happens to be a tea I purchased in the past. My notes mention an almond extract taste, which matches Bok's comments. Florent's own notes described those as aromas of cherry tree leaves. Frankly I was not overly fond of that tea: that marked aromatic note was, to my taste, too dominant over the rest. Since then, I have come to associate (rightly or wrongly, I would appreciate the input of others who know Japanese cultivars better than I) similar notes to the Kôshun cultivar, though this tea was from a different cultivar.

In unrelated news, I found myself today preparing Thé du Japon's kama-iri cha from Kumamoto, Ashikita, (Kôshun cultivar) for my partner and I. Luck would have it that I used a Kohokujo kyusu. Same tea type from the same vendor, with somewhat-but-not-quite similar aromatic notes, in a somewhat-but-not-quite similar kyusu. I thought I would salute the coincidence with a picture.

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Of the kamairi-chas I have had, this one is on the lighter side of the typical kamairi-cha aromas, and accepts longer infusions without becoming too heavy with those. It does have these cherry tree aromas I am not a huge fan of, but here they are not too strong. Nothing really special, but a pleasant drink with nice balance.
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Bok
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Mon Feb 22, 2021 7:06 pm

@faj it is quite an overpowering fragrance for sure as you say. A bit like real Amaretto which can be a bit much as well if out of balance.

It might very well be that I come to dislike this tea once the novelty factor wears off... happened to me with Taiwan No.18 Hongcha which is similarly intense.

However, this Sencha doesn’t have a fragrance that feels perfumed or artificial. I’ll report back on how I feel after I reach the bottom of the bag.
faj
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Mon Feb 22, 2021 7:22 pm

Bok wrote:
Mon Feb 22, 2021 7:06 pm
It might very well be that I come to dislike this tea once the novelty factor wears off... happened to me with Taiwan No.18 Hongcha which is similarly intense.
I certainly agree that some teas impress at first with distinctive characteristics, but end up not being long-term companions. Some people are like that too.

It is a matter of preference, really, and to someone who appreciates those almond-like notes, these teas might very well be favorites.

In my case, maybe "dislike" is too strong a word : both these kamairi-chas from Thés du Japon are fine teas, and I would much rather have them than no tea at all. But with so many teas to choose from, if given the chance they are not what I will reach for first. So I would say I like them, just not as much as other teas.
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Baisao
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Tue Feb 23, 2021 4:04 pm

Regarding the posts by @Bok and @faj, I think fuji-kaori is best appreciated in context. It does have a strong cherry leaf fragrance and is probably best used in blending. It has assamica genes that are responsible for this characteristic and bitterness.

There is cultural context involved as it was selected for this characteristic by a culture that is fond of this aroma (I once had a gyokuro with Kewpie mayonnaise notes, blech!). I happen to like the cherry leaf aroma as it reminds me of American cherry pie, which is often enriched with almond extract.

Lastly, while not an everyday drinker, the fuji-kaori kamairi from TDJ was the first Japanese tea that genuinely surprised me. Too often Japanese teas are 3 note affairs: umami, some kind of citrus, and green tea flavor. They get boring. Like listening to nothing other than top 40. Like eating pizza for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Like driving a Camry. This does not follow the typical convention and is a genuine surprise to anyone used to boring 3 note Japanese teas.
faj
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Tue Feb 23, 2021 5:48 pm

Baisao wrote:
Tue Feb 23, 2021 4:04 pm
Lastly, while not an everyday drinker, the fuji-kaori kamairi from TDJ was the first Japanese tea that genuinely surprised me. Too often Japanese teas are 3 note affairs: umami, some kind of citrus, and green tea flavor. They get boring.
With anything repetitive, there is a risk of being bored at some point. That being said, I do not feel Japanese tea has a duty of being enough in itself to satisfy every need of the avid tea drinker. It is a lot to put on its shoulders.

Perhaps because I do not have your depth of experience, at this point I find the biggest challenge with senchas is not that they are all similar, but rather that finding really good ones is not easy. I have this feeling of often being close enough to what I am looking for to keep on searching, but not quite there yet. Small differences in the cup cause a wide variation in enjoyment. The target feels small.

There is one identifiable aspect you do not mention I have become more sensitive to (or been recently less lucky with) : the level of roast. I have grown increasingly bothered by it. I do not know if it tends to be "overdone" to target a certain profile that people like, or if it helps hide faults or blandness. In any case, I often feel it intrudes.
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Baisao
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Tue Feb 23, 2021 8:03 pm

faj wrote:
Tue Feb 23, 2021 5:48 pm
There is one identifiable aspect you do not mention I have become more sensitive to (or been recently less lucky with) : the level of roast. I have grown increasingly bothered by it. I do not know if it tends to be "overdone" to target a certain profile that people like, or if it helps hide faults or blandness. In any case, I often feel it intrudes.
I heartily agree. I think some of the roasting levels are cultural or roasted to type. It’s not uncommon for Taiwanese Tieguanyin to be almost charred. These will never age out of their unpleasantness, unlike other heavily roasted oolongs: you either like that briquette flavor or not.

My limited experience with DHP is that very heavily roasting will attenuate after a decade of resting. I’ve never had one as charred as some of the Taiwanese Tieguanyin though.

My take is that the roast should match the oxidation, and allow the tea to rest where the roasting is a bit more than the oxidation. And charred tea will always taste charred because the carbon is inert.

Edit: It may be pertinent that I mostly drink medium roasted Taiwanese oolongs and Japanese greens. I used to mostly drink gaoshan and baozhong but eventually I got a wee bit bored with florals and wanted more fruit flavors. I reckon this is will change as well.
faj
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Tue Feb 23, 2021 8:50 pm

Baisao wrote:
Tue Feb 23, 2021 8:03 pm
I heartily agree. I think some of the roasting levels are cultural or roasted to type. It’s not uncommon for Taiwanese Tieguanyin to be almost charred.

Edit: It may be pertinent that I mostly drink medium roasted Taiwanese oolongs and Japanese greens. I used to mostly drink gaoshan and baozhong but eventually I got a wee bit bored with florals and wanted more fruit flavors. I reckon this is will change as well.
Sorry for not being clear, but in my message I was referring to the final roasting or firing sencha can be subjected to, or at least so is my understanding (I really do not know processing in any detail). It is obviously not the same intensity as with roasted oolongs, but it does not take much to mess with what I look for in sencha.

To be fair, and keeping in mind I do not drink oolongs very often, the few I have tried the taste of which was dominated by their roast have not been my favorites.
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Baisao
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Tue Feb 23, 2021 11:14 pm

@faj, I confess that this is something I have only noticed in bancha (some), zairai (some), kamairi-cha, not sencha. You must have a finer palate than I do!
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