What Green Are You Drinking

Non-oxidized tea
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debunix
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Fri Feb 07, 2020 10:37 am

I'm a tea lightweight, and my sweet spot for sencha is usually 3-5 grams for my 150 mL kyusu. I get great enjoyment out of those 3-5 grams wih 4-7 infusions, adjusting infusion times or diluting the infused tea liquor with more hot water if it comes out to concentrated. I am now so comfortable with these techniques that I no longer weigh my tea or measure the water and I'm pretty sloppy with counting out the infusion times, unless I am trying a new-to-me tea or preparing a review.

Today is Kabuse from Obubu, so very delicious, brewed in my usual light manner, and very very pleasing to me, cutting through a cold-impaired palate to be delightful as well as necessarily hydrating.
faj
Posts: 166
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Location: Quebec

Fri Feb 07, 2020 11:01 am

debunix wrote:
Fri Feb 07, 2020 10:37 am
I'm a tea lightweight, and my sweet spot for sencha is usually 3-5 grams for my 150 mL kyusu.
Out of curiosity, would you say you will also use lower ratios for gyokuro (lower compared to the typical ratios mentioned by experienced members, I mean)?

I will need more experience to really be sure, but I do not think I have observed cases where reducing the amount of leaf for gyokuro (compared to recommendations) actually improves the results to my taste, although enjoyment does not scale linearly with the ratio either. This is something I must experiment with more than I have, for now it is more of a hunch.
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Ginpachi
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Location: Kassel, Germany

Fri Feb 07, 2020 1:37 pm

Hello everyone,
I am new, so I feel this thread is a good starting point after the introduction.

Today, I have enjoyed a Tamaryokucha, for the first time.
The cultivar is Yabukita, the tea comes from Shizuoka, and the vendor gave it a taste rating of 3/5.
I used two teaspoons, which is around 5 g with my teaspoons, and around 200 ml water - I am also a tea lightweight, I guess :D - and brewed it according to the instructions;
water at 75° C, steeping times 90/40/140 seconds (1st/2nd/3rd infusion).

To my surprise, the first infusion had an intense umami flavor, and it smelled somehow familiar - not because of the umami, yet I could not pinpoint it. The taste was as the smell promised; umami rich, but there was also a lingering bitter note next to it (not astringency), which I found OK since without it, the tea would be a bit too simple to my tongue.
The second infusion was enjoyable as well; the umami being less now was making way for a more complex aroma and fragrance. And then I remembered what smelled so familiar: The flowery portion of the scent felt strikingly similar to the first green oolong I drank, and which stuck in my mind as reference, since it was new to me. Back to the Tamaryokucha: interesting! I did not expect it to have such a fragrance.
The third infusion was the most balanced, to my tongue; the umami was on par with the bitterness and the flowery aromas, the mouthfeel got a bit dry/astringent, and minerality appeared on the stage.
Throughout all steepings, I found the after taste very pleasant and still lingering an hour after the last sip.
Quite a nice experience for me!
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Tamaryokucha: Spent Leaves
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Vanenbw
Posts: 151
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Location: NJ, USA

Sat Feb 08, 2020 8:24 am

faj wrote:
Fri Feb 07, 2020 7:29 am
Most of the time, I use my (rather small) teapot full, so I do not measure water. However, if I need to, I find using a scale is nice : it is already out on the counter (I always use it to measure leaves), and it avoids having another vessel to take into account in water temperature control.

Recently, I have been doing more experiments with water temperature, preheating the teapot or not, and leaf/water ratio using the same sencha. Preheating makes a surprising difference and you would not use the same water temperature to infuse with or without preheating. To my taste, more leaf is not always better : it seems to me the balance between aromatics and other aspects of the tasting experience changes in a way such that something is lost or overpowered past a certain limit. There is a tea I am going to infuse just now for which my conclusion is 70C/120s with 2g/100ml yields a result I prefer to the recommended 60C/80s with 4g/100ml.

Obviously, this is a matter of preference, but the variation in the results has surprised me and reinforces the importance of experimenting different "recipes". The same tea can go from "uninteresting" to "surprisingly good", and it is not just a matter of investing more in the cup by cranking up the amount of leaf. To me, sometimes less is more.
I've been doing the same lately. I just fill up my 160ml kyusu or houhin to the top. I'll have to try using a scale as well, but that would only be needed if I want to use less water than my teapot can hold.

I almost always preheat my kyusu, so I couldn't tell you what the difference would be if I did not. I should try not preheating it so I can discern the difference.

I think you hit on an important point that can get lost with all the guidelines out there on how to brew tea -- you want to brew tea according to your own taste. If you use 2 grams of tea leaves for 100ml of water, and someone else uses 8 grams of leaves for 100ml, but you both love the tea and think you've achieved the perfect brew, then I think you are both right. You achieved the perfect brew for your own taste.
faj
Posts: 166
Joined: Mon Oct 14, 2019 6:45 am
Location: Quebec

Sat Feb 08, 2020 9:19 am

Vanenbw wrote:
Sat Feb 08, 2020 8:24 am
I almost always preheat my kyusu, so I couldn't tell you what the difference would be if I did not.
I cannot say if preheating is "right" or "wrong" for any given tea or vessel. I can say, however, that it makes a difference (probably a bigger difference the smaller the teapot is). In my tests, I would say it is worth about a 5 degrees Celsius difference in water temperature in my teapots. Not preheating will cause a much quicker drop in temperature at the beginning of the infusion, and an overall bigger temperature delta during the whole infusion, so it is not possible to fully replicate one method by using the other with a different water temperature.

I guess most people will either always preheat, or never preheat, their teapot, for any given tea type. It is probably why this parameters does not seem to be mentioned often (contrary to leaf ratio, water temperature, duration, teapot selection). I will start including this in my personal notes to improve my ability to reproduce past results, and as another parameter to explore when searching for my preferred parameters for a tea.
faj
Posts: 166
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Location: Quebec

Sat Feb 08, 2020 9:53 am

This morning, I made an (involuntary) experiment.

I had two different bags of tea from Thés du Japon, both with about the same amount of leaf remaining. One sencha, one gyokuro. Basically identical bags, except for the text.

I wanted to prepare gyokuro. I measured the amount of leaf I wanted, started my kettle, and wandered off for a few moments. As the water was heating, I changed my mind as to the amount of leaf I wanted to use, deciding to reduce it a bit. I went to get the bag to put leaves back in it and distractedly grabbed the sencha bag on my storage shelf. I went to the counter near the scale, put my previously measured leaves inside the (wrong) bag I just grabbed with the intent of starting over and... then saw the gyokuro bag that had remained on the counter.

So I found myself with a sencha bag that had about one fifth of gyokuro leaves in it.

I tried infusing that using the parameters I had previously used with success for that sencha (2g/100ml, 70C, 120s), and the result was... not good. It is like the small amount of gyokuro robbed the sencha of its distinctive clean and soft character. It is a gyokuro that has more bitterness than most others I have tasted in my limited experience, and a sencha that is light and soft with delicate aromatics and not much of a grassy vibe going on.

I then tried the blend with parameters close to the vendor's recommendation for that sencha (4g/100ml, 60C, 90s). Closer to what you would expect to work for gyokuro. That actually worked better, though not as well as my preferred parameters with the unblended sencha. It kind of made the gyokuro disappear, hiding the bitterness, but leaving the sencha a bit heavy and unbalanced to my taste, the exact result that had gotten me to alter my brewing parameters to start with...

Hopefully, this will be the first and last entry in my "accidental blend" series.
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debunix
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Sat Feb 08, 2020 11:22 am

faj wrote:
Fri Feb 07, 2020 11:01 am
debunix wrote:
Fri Feb 07, 2020 10:37 am
I'm a tea lightweight, and my sweet spot for sencha is usually 3-5 grams for my 150 mL kyusu.
Out of curiosity, would you say you will also use lower ratios for gyokuro (lower compared to the typical ratios mentioned by experienced members, I mean)?

I will need more experience to really be sure, but I do not think I have observed cases where reducing the amount of leaf for gyokuro (compared to recommendations) actually improves the results to my taste, although enjoyment does not scale linearly with the ratio either. This is something I must experiment with more than I have, for now it is more of a hunch.
I enjoy my gyokuro as much or more when I infuse it more like I do sencha (less leaf, hotter water) but I have also enjoyed it brewed cooler and richer, per the tasting we did at @Victoria's home a few months ago.

I didn't like the briny impression I got when I first tried gyokuro the usual way, and it wasn't until I realized I could treat it more like sencha that I began to drink it regularly. Now my gyo sessions are sencha-brewed more often than not, but I do more leaf/cooler/smaller vessel when I want to have a different and more focused experience

Image

that is a 50mL shiboridashi) that is especially enjoyable with some fine chocolate

Image

I'm more likely to infuse the exceptional gyos we got for our more recent tasting in this more intense way, but even so, I'm still infusing warmer and more dilute than most guidelines because that's the way I roll. A series of very frustrating winter colds (a professional hazard of working with children) has kept me from working on them the way I would like to but gyokuro keeps well, so I am telling myself, and warmer weather with fewer sniffles is coming.

This morning, enjoying more Kabuse sencha from Obubu, in my Petr Novak kyusu, and after shaking out this morning's leaf by eye, I weighed it and it was about 3 grams in my 150mL pot, and I'm on my 5th infusion (water temp has now increased up to 190 degrees, vs starting temp of 170 degrees, and infused about 3 minutes), and it is lovely, sniffles and all.
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Ginpachi
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Location: Kassel, Germany

Sun Feb 09, 2020 1:26 pm

@debunix That looks very delicious!
The shiboridashi looks nice, as well. With 50 ml volume, it would be a delicate work, I believe.

I also like to enjoy dark chocolate as o-cha-uke.
Yet, not today, since I was trying a new tea: a Yanagicha from chasen.de, which is older leaf material, according to the vendors site.
I received a free sample, did not know about that sort of tea, before. The cultivar is Yabukita.
The tea comes from Uji and is JAS certified organic. According to the vendor, the taste is rated 3 out of 5.
Rich in umami, a flowery Fragrance, and pleasant bitterness. Not very complex, but a smooth transition between the aromas, nothing peaking out. The mouthfeel is round and smooth, at first. Didn't expect that since I did not spot any stems. Could that be typical of Yanagicha, due to the bigger leaves?
I like the aftertaste; it is very intense, a bit dry but the umami and the bitterness stay quite long before turning into sweetness. Might be a bit harsh on an empty stomach, though. Good to have some o-cha-uke at hand :D
Vanenbw
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Location: NJ, USA

Mon Feb 10, 2020 5:27 pm

faj wrote:
Sat Feb 08, 2020 9:19 am
I cannot say if preheating is "right" or "wrong" for any given tea or vessel. I can say, however, that it makes a difference (probably a bigger difference the smaller the teapot is). In my tests, I would say it is worth about a 5 degrees Celsius difference in water temperature in my teapots. Not preheating will cause a much quicker drop in temperature at the beginning of the infusion, and an overall bigger temperature delta during the whole infusion, so it is not possible to fully replicate one method by using the other with a different water temperature.
Interesting. We often see guidelines on brewing tea and it might say brew at 70c or 80c, but when you think about it, you are only pouring it at that temperature. Just pouring it into a vessel (heated or not) is going to drop the temperature by several degrees. I tested this one before. I preheated my kyusu and pour in water that was 70c. As soon as I poured the water into the kyusu I tested the temperature and it was 65c. But we understand when someone says to brew at 70c they mean to pour in the water once the temperature reaches 70c. Just figured I'd throw that out there.
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pedant
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Wed Feb 12, 2020 9:20 pm

i just opened up my last pack of o-cha 20th anniversary sae midori. great stuff. too bad it's a one time only offering. :x

o-cha 20th anniversary tea
o-cha 20th anniversary tea
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Victoria
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Sat Feb 15, 2020 2:26 pm

Oh, @pedant that 20th anniversary Sae Midori was so delicious, a symphony of flavors and aroma.

Savoring biscotti bakery notes coming off Birouen‘s kabusecha this morning. It’s curious how many different aromas Japanese green teas can have. Lately I’ve been enjoying the warming notes coming off a few that have biscotti nutty milky aroma like this one and Thes du Japon’s Miyakonojo, Miyazaki, Oku-Midori. Both are futsumushi deep steamed sencha, and from the southern tip of the island of Kyushu in Japan, with Birouen’s being Sae Midori cultivar from Kagoshima, and Thes du Japon’s is Oku Midori cultivar from Miyakonojô Town, Miyazaki Prefecture.

10g/230ml /155f/1.30min in Maekawa Junzo kobiwako clay 240ml kyusu

DA98D5E2-A21D-4EF4-8521-A9333C435EF5.jpeg
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Vanenbw
Posts: 151
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Location: NJ, USA

Mon Feb 17, 2020 6:48 pm

I have no images to share, but I did want to write about my first taste of kabusecha tea. My order came in from O-cha a couple of days ago. I didn't know what to expect because I wasn't familiar with this tea. I just knew I wanted to order something different from my previous order, so I thought I would try the organic kabusecha. I brewed the tea in my 160ml kobiwako houhin. First infusion was 70c/160/4.65 grams of tea. From the moment I poured it I thought it looked like sae midori asamuchi. So light in color, I was afraid it would have little flavor. I'm used to years of drinking dark, cloudy green teas that I have come to expect all my green teas to look (and even taste) similar, but what I am learning quickly is that there is wide host of green teas with varying colors and flavors. I also thought there was no flavor on my first sip, and then it hit me -- a pleasant, sweet umami taste. I noticed on O-cha's website the photograph of the tea was very green compared to my cup. It could have been the lighting, but I thought the tea was almost colorless. A very light, green, if anything. But it was flavorful. I might try pushing it to 5.5 or 6 grams of leaves next time and see how I like it.
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Ginpachi
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Tue Feb 18, 2020 5:55 am

Vanenbw wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 6:48 pm
A very light, green, if anything. But it was flavorful.
Hello Vanenbw, thanks for sharing your first impression on a Kabusecha.
Just these days I refrained from ordering a tea just because the color of the liquid appeared to be "too light" to my eyes, and I thought where should the flavor be in that colorless liquid?
Might have been a mistake. I guess I should try tasting with my tongue than my eyes :D
Vanenbw
Posts: 151
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Location: NJ, USA

Tue Feb 18, 2020 6:09 am

Ginpachi wrote:
Tue Feb 18, 2020 5:55 am
Just these days I refrained from ordering a tea just because the color of the liquid appeared to be "too light" to my eyes, and I thought where should the flavor be in that colorless liquid?
Might have been a mistake. I guess I should try tasting with my tongue than my eyes :D
I can certainly appreciate your resolution, and I kind of felt the same way. I'm used to drinking dark, cloudy green teas that are more astringent in flavor. This tea is the total opposite: it's light in color and light in taste, with practically no astringency at all. But it's pleasantly sweet and full of umami flavor. I'm going to increase the amount of leaves when I have my tea tonight and see what kind of flavor it yields.
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