Inaugural Group Tasting: Sinensis Yokkaichi & Ippodo Tokusen Gyokuro

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Shine Magical
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Fri Oct 18, 2019 11:11 am

1st try with Tokusen
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Victoria
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Fri Oct 18, 2019 2:16 pm

@Shine Magical love reading your handwritten tasting notes. I’m thinking maybe try steeping in another vessel. I also found Kobiwako clay to bring out high notes muting some lower ones. I’ve been steeping Ippodo’s gyokuro in a Tokoname kyusu that is very dense and doesn’t alter the brew when steeped, by Gyokuro (Mr. Umehara Jiro). The body on Ippodo’s gyokuro is already very rich and it seems to me it’s overkill to steep in a porous clay like Kobiwako that will further thicken the already brothy brew.
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pedant
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Fri Oct 18, 2019 2:50 pm

thanks again to @Victoria for setting this up and to everyone else for sharing their thoughts on these teas.

last night, i had my first crack at them:

3.5g in a pre-warmed 60mL shibo. pouring was done slowly -- a total of one minute waiting for final drips, which the times below do not include.
118°F -- 2min, 4min, 10min

i brewed them both the same way just for comparison's sake.

the sinensis was up first. first steep too light, but engaging aromatics. second steep brought out a little too much bitterness. third steep was surprisingly my favorite.

then ippodo: first steep noticeably thicker, darker, richer. it and the following steeps were tasty, but i'm sure i have room for improvement with fine tuning the brewing.

general impressions of the teas.. the ippodo leaf appears darker / more shaded overall, hinting at higher concentration of soluble glutamates. the first steep of the ippodo clearly extracted much more stuff than the sinensis. the ippodo seems easier to brew, or maybe these parameters coincidentally favored it. unfortunately, my only shibo is tiny, so i couldn't follow the parameters in the OP. i'll just use a slightly larger kyusu for my next try.
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Victoria
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Fri Oct 18, 2019 6:52 pm

pedant wrote:
Fri Oct 18, 2019 2:50 pm
3.5g in a pre-warmed 60mL shibo. pouring was done slowly -- a total of one minute waiting for final drips, which the times below do not include.
118°F -- 2min, 4min, 10min
For the benefit of newer members not familiar with how finicky Japanese greens are, I would try recommended proportions (upsize or downsize) for each gyokuro to get a better idea of how each should taste. Scaling each proportionally to fit your steeping vessel. Ippodo does better with slightly more heat and more leaf, Sinensis does better with less heat (+-208F) and less leaf. But I guess you are trying to arrive at your own parameters through trial and error. Rock on :) .

Vendor Recommended Steeping
Ippodo Tokusen Gyokuro
10g/ 80ml (3oz)/ 140F (60c)/ 90sec, 90, 3min, 6, 15, 3.5hrs, overnight

Sinensis Yokkaichi Gyokuro (I’m using 108F)
6g/ 114ml (4oz)/ 104-122F (40-50C)/ 2 min, 2, 4, 10, overnight
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Chip
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Fri Oct 18, 2019 7:52 pm

"Breath the free air!" (Gandalf)
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Several rounds of Yokkaichi completed, bag is almost empty. Review forthcoming.

I was contemplating opening the much heralded Ippodo Tokusen tonight for tomorrow ... and then I began having possible early onset of a sinus infection symptoms this evening. Hoping it is just a flukey irritated throat!

A sinus infection for me would mean postponing the Tokusen for possibly a couple weeks.

So likely not opening the Tokusen tonight. :x
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Victoria
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Sat Oct 19, 2019 4:10 pm

I hope you get your sense of smell back quickly @Chip.

Wow, experiencing intense salivation brought about by Sinensis Yokkaichi liquor. This is especially apparent after having had a great session with a Kabusecha sencha from Kagoshima. Anyone else also experiencing an intense sweet umami induced salivation after savoring the liquor? Also, the aroma of baked sweet bread coming off dry leaf fills the pre-heated Shiboridashi. I’m savoring the delicate fruit, umami rich liquor. This is such an elegant gyokuro.

Steeped in a pre-heated Tani Seiuemon (b. 1913) Shigaraki clay shiboridashi 7.8g/130ml/109f/2.30min, using Iceland Spring water. This more porous clay pairs well with this gyokuro, it produces a slightly richer denser liquor.

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Victoria
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Sat Oct 19, 2019 7:09 pm

Guess which gyokuro this is :)

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It’s Ippodo Tokusen time! Steeped in Jozan III kyusu with Iceland Spring water. I reduced proportionally both leaf and water from Ippodo recommended 10 grams: 80ml down to 6.5g: 52ml while still using 140F/90sec. Oh Dios mío this is so Good! Any questions I had about steeping using proportionally less leaf:water are resolved. The brew is still great! ~ Just less liquor to savor though .. :) .. Lots of salivation with this one as well.

P.S. One thing that gets lost using proportionally less leaf:water is in the 4th and 5th steeps richness is reduced.
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Victoria
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Sun Oct 20, 2019 3:32 pm

There is no self wrote:
Sat Oct 12, 2019 3:20 am
Victoria wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 7:54 pm
Super fast shipping for almost everyone! Well except Torino, Italy where There is no self is. Hope you get your’s soon :) .
USPS recently surprised me by delivering in barely two weeks, so hopefully it won't be too long. :mrgreen:
Meanwhile have fun tasting, everyone!
@There is no self, Did you get your shipment yet?
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There is no self
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Mon Oct 21, 2019 12:22 pm

Victoria wrote:
Sun Oct 20, 2019 3:32 pm
There is no self wrote:
Sat Oct 12, 2019 3:20 am
Victoria wrote:
Fri Oct 11, 2019 7:54 pm
Super fast shipping for almost everyone! Well except Torino, Italy where There is no self is. Hope you get your’s soon :) .
USPS recently surprised me by delivering in barely two weeks, so hopefully it won't be too long. :mrgreen:
Meanwhile have fun tasting, everyone!
There is no self, Did you get your shipment yet?
Stuck in customs in Milan. A part of me died just by typing that, but I'm hopeful it'll get here for a Halloween tasting.
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Victoria
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Mon Oct 21, 2019 2:24 pm

There is no self wrote:
Mon Oct 21, 2019 12:22 pm
Victoria wrote:
Sun Oct 20, 2019 3:32 pm
There is no self, Did you get your shipment yet?
Stuck in customs in Milan. A part of me died just by typing that, but I'm hopeful it'll get here for a Halloween tasting.
Arrrr.. think of it as resting peacefully, so that when you get it all you need to do is open, let it breath, seal and then next day steep it and enjoy :) 🍃
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pedant
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Tue Oct 22, 2019 12:25 am

i tried the parameters in the OP this time for both teas, and they're both sublime.

Shudei kyusu by YAMADA Jozan III (120mL)
Shudei kyusu by YAMADA Jozan III (120mL)
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i was completely satisfied with this ippodo tokusen session and feel no desire to experiment further with the parameters.

the sinensis yokkaichi was not a disappointing session, but on the other hand, i feel like there's something about it that i haven't "figured out" yet, and i want to keep playing with it.

i'm really happy with the selections in this tasting. very different teas. i'm enjoying the contrast.
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Victoria
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Tue Oct 22, 2019 2:42 am

Wowza @pedant, I can almost taste your awesomely crisp photo. What water tds are you using? Yokkaichi is elegant, not as obvious as Tokusen gyokuro. Icelandic Spring worked well with both, even though it’s a lower tds than I thought was optimal. I’d suggest steeping Yokkaichi in your Tachi Masaki Shigaraki kyusu with tds 50-75. A beautiful Jozan there, really super.

P.S. tomorrow I’ll try Yokkaichi with a few different tds water levels and report back.
P.S.S. @pedant which water temperature did you use for Sinensis? I’m using 108, 109F. No bitterness, rich flavors coming through with cooler water temperature.
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Wed Oct 23, 2019 8:16 pm

Had a Goldilocks session with the Yokkaichi on Monday - third water was a charm (Waiakea water from Hawaii - 8.2 pH and somewhere in the high double digits TDS if we average one reading on a meter and a data sheet online.) This rectified everything that was lacking in the two previous sessions - umami and savory flavors were present and distinct but not exaggerated, texture was unctuous but deft, flavors were clean and bright but not hollow. Actually glad to know that the very strong bovril note in the first steep was still there - I love those flavors and was coincidentally reading about miso and legume ferments earlier that day. The highlight for me was the savory intensity of the first steep and how it contrasted with a bright, herbal cooling sensation on the second. It's a sensation of mouth activity I associate with young (usually Northern) sheng puer and kept the finish of the tea pushing along for quite some time. My sentiments line up with other tasters in that the third steep moves on from distinct and interesting notes to a gentler harmony that is very pleasant - I found the green herbal notes always balanced by a very slight melon sweetness and twinge of salinity. It's the kind of effortless joy that makes similar qualities in oysters so easy to keep eating and eating.
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Shine Magical
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Fri Oct 25, 2019 11:23 am

My favorite tasting of the Tokusen was actually 2 days after I opened the packet for the first time. The flavors really popped and were strong umami and salty. I used 10g for that session because a friend came over and I shared it. I used porcelain at that time to brew it and have been using it since then as well.

Now I've had the packet open for a week and after today's session I only have enough tea left for 1 more session. The flavors of the tea are much sweeter now, and even more noticeably sweeter in the first few steeps. I would have never really paid attention to this and probably would have just said "oh the flavors are degrading" but Victoria's suggestion at opening the packet and then waiting made me start paying closer attention. I am using less leaf today, only 6g because I personally cannot handle 10g of green tea at any given time. I know Ippodo likes it strong, I have experience with their teas and brewing style. I don't have much else to say except I found the change in tea leaves over time to be interesting to observe. The dry leaves smell like toasted nori sheets to me, I don't think it smells like arame anymore.
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pedant
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Sat Oct 26, 2019 1:59 am

i'm working my way up in temperature for the sinensis yokkaichi. i did 6g in the same 120mL kyusu, 125°F, shorter steeps than before (didn't time them though). the flavor is popping more. next i'll try 140°F.
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