Thursday, January 31, 2008


Tea: Dragonwell Green Tea
Vendor: Teavana
Price: $9.30 / 2oz.
Source: Lung Ching Garden, China
Vendor Description: Legendary tea from the Lung Ching Garden. Flat jade-green leaves produce a mellow-sweet tea with a nutty undertone. Known in China for more than 1,500 years, Dragonwell is still hand picked and processed according to the ancient methods of “Ch’a Ching.” Dragonwell is thought to boost mental alertness and and fend off disease.
When I found out that Teavana had some Dragonwell I felt that I had to try it. I have heard very interesting things about Dragonwell tea, from it being one of the ten legendary teas to it having it's very unique flat leaf shape. This was unfortunately before I had tried the sencha that I had picked up from Teavana at the same time.

The tea has very large leaves, due to the difference in Chinese and Japanese harvesting methods. It is apparent from the second you scoop up some of the tea to the final brewed tea. There is a different aroma to this tea that differs greatly from the regular aroma of Japanese green tea that I am used to.

The brewed tea has a very different taste than a sencha. It starts off with a very mellow start which builds up over time. This leads to a bitterness that is different in a sencha in that it lasts for a surprisingly long time, and it lasts at the same level for a surprisingly long time. It tapers down from that to leave you without a sense of astringency to it at all. Unlike a good sencha this does not leave your mouth with a particular clean feeling. It somewhat stays with you.

Rating: 5/10

Conclusion: Given the different nature of this tea it is difficult to tell if this is due to it being from Teavana or if this is indicative of Dragonwell. Regardless, I found this to be an unremarkable tea that did not live up to it's name. I'm not giving up on Dragonwell though and intend to try it when I can source some from a better vendor.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Champagne Rose

Tea: Champagne Rose 5532
Vendor: Lupicia USA
Price: $6.50 / 50g
Vendor Description: Flavored with sour-sweet strawberries and champagne, a typical drink for celebration. The pink and silver Argent blended in the tea are like bubbles in a glass.

At first I thought that this might be a novelty tea with the little silver and pink balls in it. According to the vendor they refer to these as Argents. When brewed these little silver and pink balls which at first reminded me a lot of nerds candy, dissolve to add a sparkle to the glass of tea. They cause tiny metallic flecks to float around the tea. This actually is not the first time that I have tried this tea, but the first time that I noticed the flecks. The first time I tried the tea was from a teabag, so it is possible that these are only present in the loose leaf version of this tea. I'm not sure.

The leaves themselves have a very strong strawberry smell to them. I found the aroma to be one of the most appealing aspects of this tea. This aroma carries very strongly into the brewed tea as well, an aspect that rarely carries over into brewed tea.

The brewed tea has a very slowly developing flavor. When it first reaches your tongue you don't really notice much of a flavor at all, and then the flavor of the tea slowly comes out and builds until it finishes with a moderate astringency. I was unable to distinctly discern the taste of strawberries and champagne as the description suggests, but they are definitely present in the aroma.

Rating: 8/10

Conclusion: While I am somewhat inexperienced in the tastes of black teas, this tea has a beautiful appearance and aroma. I was somewhat expecting something more to be found in the taste. As it is this is a very interesting tea.

Lupicia special

I know that I tend to harp on how much I like Lupicia, but even if any other vendor had the same kind of a deal I would feel compelled to post about this. Currently with a purchase of $30.00 or $50.00 you can get a free 30 piece or 50 piece Mille-feuille de the set. The Mille-feuille de the sets are packs of loose leaf teas in individual packages. So it is essentially a 30 or 50 piece sampler set. They normally sell these for $30.00 or $50.00 respectively. The great part of the deal is this, to hit your minimums you may purchase gift certificates or gift cards. Please note that they have a distinction between certificates and cards, certificates are for online purchases only and cards are for in store purchases only. If you don't live near one of the CA or HI stores I wouldn't suggest a gift card.

But if you end up getting the $50.00 gift certificate and the free set you can try out 50 of their different teas of all kinds and sources and then use the certificate to buy ones you like. A really good deal if you ask me.

The teas that were in my 50 pack are:
4300 - Diksam FTGFOP1
7465 - "Kanaya" (Taken from the Japanese catalog)
5800 - Mint Tea
5803 - Rose Hip Tea
7006 - Tie Guan Yin
7401 - Chiran Yutakamidori
7405 - Ureshino Tamayokucha
4303 - Silonibari, BPS
4400 - Nilgiri BOP
4520 - UVA Highlands BOP
4530 - Monte Cristo
4701 - Keemun Special Grade
5000 - The first flush
5020 - Nuwara Eliya
5031 - Yojo-Health care Puer Tea
7408 - Takachiho Takachiho
7430 - Nara Tsukigase
7441 - Kaga Bocha
5101 - Afternoon Tea
5102 - English Blend
5104 - The au lait
5110 - La Belle Epoque
5201 - Earl Grey
5215 - Momo
5218 - Muscat
5219 - Grapefruit
8231 - Momo Oolong Super Grade
5040 - Kilimanjaro
8001 - Gyokuro Seiran No Homare
8201 - Jasmin Chun Hao
8210 - Lotus Tea
8223 - Grapefruit Green
8225 - Tsugaru Green
8230 - Ume
5226 - Ile Maurice Vanille
5500 - English Caramel
5503 - Wedding
5504 - The Au Chocolat
5513 - Pardise
5518 - Chaud Les Marrons
5532 - Champagne Rose
8814 - Ginger Oolong
9000 - Rooibos Naturel
9011 - Mate Green
5223 - Sakuranbo
8803 - Soba Seed Green Tea
8500 - Honey and Pear
8502 - Strawberry and Vanilla
8506 - Tokio
8508 - Happiness

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Tea: Tokio 8506
Vendor: Lupicia USA
Price: $5.50/50g
Vendor description: Green tea is delicately flavored with sweet berries. Fresh tasting tea can be enjoyed by everyone. Try as iced tea in the hot summer.

On one of my recent visits to Lupicia I came across this while smelling random flavored/scented green teas. This one was rather surprising in that it smelled very strongly like bubble gum crossed with a sweet strawberry flavor. This tea is rather unique in that it is a blend of green and black tea, as you can notice from the leaves. When brewing the strong sweet fruity smell comes through very well.

The flavor for this tea is very abrupt and very short lived, it comes on strong, dissipates quickly and finishes that wayl. It leaves with almost no astringency and no bitterness at all. This is very different from most other green teas which have multiple portions to the flavor. The life of the flavor is very rich and very strong though.

Rating: 8/10

Conclusion: This tea is an interesting blend which produces a very unique flavored tea. I very much enjoy the smell and it is not very expensive. I would say this one is worth a try, and be sure to take in the aroma and enjoy it.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Uji Shincha 2007

Tea: Uji Shincha 2007 6530
Vendor: Lupicia USA
Source: Uji, Japan

After reviewing the Sayama Shincha 2007 from Lupicia I was quite excited to try out the Shincha from Uji. Uji is a famous region of Japan well known for its tea. The Nara Tsukigase is also from an area close to Uji and that also was a very good tea so I had high expectations for the Uji Shincha. I was actually quite disappointed.

The aroma and color to the tea was nothing special, it had a very faint grassy scent, but it was very weak and actually somewhat mundane.

The taste of the tea started off with a somewhat weak start and worked its way up and left with a medium sense of astringency. There was no bite to it as there is with many sencha teas, and to be honest no bitterness at all. The flavor for this tea was very hard to notice very much and left much to be desired.

Rating: 3/10

Conclusion: I expected more from this particular tea, but it looks like I was disappointed. All the aspects I was hoping to see in this tea were lacking or not even present. It was a very mundane experience. Not recommended at all.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Strawberry and Vanilla

Tea: Strawberry & Vanilla 8502
Vendor: Lupicia
Price: $5.50 / 50g
Vendor Description:Green tea blended with Matcha and flavored with sour-sweet strawberries and vanilla. It goes well with milk.

This tea has a very strong strawberry smell when you first smell the leaves. As you brew the tea the strawberry scent dissipates and you start to notice the vanilla scent more.

The actual brewed tea is very smooth and retains the faint smell of vanilla. At the first taste there is a sweet strawberry taste which carries into a faint vanilla flavor. There is no sense of bitterness to this tea and only a light sense of astringency when finished.

Rating: 7/10

Conclusion: This is a very pleasant tea to try out, although I don't know if I would drink more than a few cups of this in a row. It is a pleasant change and has a very nice aroma to it. If you are looking for a mild tea this is a very good choice.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

White Blueberry

Tea: White Blueberry
Vendor: Adagio
Price: $8.00 / 2oz
Source: China, Fujian Region
Vendor Description: Premium white tea from Fujian region of China flavored with sweet blueberries. A wonderfully smooth and subtle treat, delectable both hot and cold. If you're new to white tea, this would be a good place to start.

Adagio's white blueberry was somewhat what I expected it would be. This tea has a very pleasant and strong blueberry scent when smelling the leaves and at the time of brewing, but this scent is very short lived.

The actual taste of the tea is very smooth, but with next to no actual blueberry flavor to it at all. It has a nice smooth flavor which leads to a medium level of astringency when finished. The initial taste of the tea is low profile while builds up in intensity in your mouth and finishes off with the medium level of astringency.

Rating: 6/10

Conclusion: While this tea is called white blueberry , the only place where the blueberry comes into play is before brewing and at the initial onset of brewing. There is little to no actual blueberry flavor to the tea. This is a very average white tea.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Sencha Premier

Tea: Sencha Premier
Vendor: Adagio
Price: $26.00/5oz.
Location: Shizuoka, Japan
Vendor Description: Green tea from the Shizuoka region of Japan. Special occasions call for a Japanese tea that is truly sublime. Our 'Sencha Premier' is just such tea. Made only from the dark green leaves gathered in the treasured first (early spring) flush, this tea infuses with an aroma and taste unsurpassed by any other. If you enjoy green tea, do not miss an opportunity to revel in this unique treat.

This sencha is as they describe, it is a very nice sencha. The leaves themselves are very long and slender when you first take a look at it. The leaves are all dark green and very uniform. The color of this tea is a very delicate light green (although the picture I took doesn't do it justice). I will get better at taking pictures of tea, I promise. It has a very light scent to it that captures the freshness and grassy flavor of this tea perfectly. The scent is also very delicate and a pleasure to the senses.

The initial taste of this tea is very grassy and vegetal, not quite as strong as the Yame Gyokuro from Lupicia though. After the initial grassy taste it is followed by the sencha bite, but the bite is not as strong as some other senchas, it is a bit more subdued than normal. The tea finishes off with a medium sense of astringency, enough to leave the mouth slightly dry and clean, but not enough to make you reach for the glass of water.

Rating: 9/10

Conclusion: This is one very solid sencha. While not the best that I have had, it is far from the worst. The most appealing part of this tea is the delicate scent that it has. The downside is that its price makes it a bit steep for a daily tea. It is worth a try and if it is your cup of tea for your perfect tea, personally for me my quest continues.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Sayama Shincha 2007

Tea: Sayama Shincha 2007 - 6570
Vendor: Lupicia USA
Location: Saitama, Japan
Vendor Description: A Shincha from Sayama in Saitama with, sublte sweetness and deep flavor.

This is actually my first chance to try out a Shincha. For those who don't know the term Shincha refers to the tea from the first harvest of the year. It is actually a small subset of the first harvest.

I was actually rather suprised when I first opened the package, the tea was a lot more fine than I had expected. I was expecting something consisting more of large thin needles like a fine sencha. Instead the package contained very small particles, which when brewed formed an almost paste like substance. The only real downside of this was a fairly significant amount of material made it into my tasting cup.

The color of the tea is a bit murky, probably from the smaller particles, but an enchanting shade of green. It is not quite as brilliant of a green as some gyokuros produce, but rather a darker shade of green with hues of yellow. This is a rather difficult color to attempt to describe, but I keep finding myself gazing into this cup staring at the tea.

The tea itself is quite remarkable. At the initial onset it is not particularly strong, but rather a very delicate sweetness with a sense of grassiness. It is a very mild flavor, but not weak. There is no strong bite like there is with some senchas, but a sense of the bitterness develops in your mouth over time. It has a low level of astringency with each sip, but does build up over time with the drinking of a cup. This tea is rather remarkable and makes me think about the taste as I drink it more and more.

I normally don't run multiple extractions on green teas, normally the second extraction tastes very similar to the first, but normally not as good. In this case though I decided to try making another extraction. This one was a very unique exception. The second extraction for this tea had a very strong vegetal taste. I almost like the second extraction more than the first.

Rating: 10/10

Conclusion: If you are able to get yourself some of this tea I would highly highly suggest it. I noticed that it is not for sale on Lupicia's website, and I ended up getting my pouch from one of the actual stores. Granted due to availability this wouldn't be well suited for daily drinking, but it would serve well as a tea for special occasions, while sitting out at night just relaxing and enjoying the company of a friend and your tea.

Sencha Fuka-midori

Tea: Sencha Fuka-midori
Vendor: Den's Tea
Location: Shizuoka, Japan
Price: $6.50 / 2oz.
Vendor Description: Sencha Fuka-midori is produced with an equilibrium of natural sweetness and refreshing bitterness. This is complimented by a slight roasted aroma.

This the leaf for this tea is smaller than most senchas that I try. It may partly be due to being a sample pack, but the tea had a lot of small particles and dust. This is partly the cause of the large amount of dregs in the photo.

This tea is very full bodied and bold. It has a very present vegetal taste at the onset followed by a very strong bite. It leaves me with a moderate to strong level of astringency leaving me with a fairly dry mouth.

The flavor does not seem to be particularly outstanding in any way although there is nothing bad about it. It seems very average.

Rating: 7/10

Conclusion: While I don't really have any faults with this tea, there is nothing particularly outstanding about it. If you want a bold sencha this is a good choice. I don't think I could drink this one on a regular basis due to the astringency.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Genmaicha Extra Green

Tea: Genmaicha Extra Green
Vendor: Den's Tea
Origin: Shizuoka and Nishio, Japan
Price: $4.25/2 oz.
Vendor Description: Genmaicha Extra Green (with Matcha), Den’s Tea special blend of Genmaicha with Matcha powder tea is a slightly sweet and highly aromatic tea. Match contributes its natural sweetness to the full body flavor of the Genmaicha.

This tea is a combination of genmaicha and matcha. It is genmaicha that has been rolled in matcha. The liquor itself has a brilliant green color with a certain cloudiness. I was a bit surprised at first to see the color of this tea because I wasn't expecting something with quite this shade of green to it.

The tea itself is slightly sweet and very smooth. It is a very mild tea with a light taste of the toasted rice. The toasted rice flavor is not nearly as prevalent as with other genmaichas. It has a very light astringent taste to it that is mild enough to leave the mouth with a slight sense of cleanliness, but not so much that it is highly noticeable.

Rating: 8/10

Conclusion: This is a very unusual combination of Japanese teas, it is sweet and at the same time very mild. It is not a particularly expensive tea, and I think it would be well suited for a daily tea. My favorite part of this tea is that it is somewhat mild.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sencha Overture

Tea: Sencha Overture
Vendor: Adagio
Location: Shizuoka, Japan
Price: $12.00 / 5 oz.
Vendor Description: Green tea from the Shizuoka region of Japan. Sencha translates as 'common,' but there is nothing ordinary about this exquisite 'spider leg' tea. The latter refers to the leaves' long, slender shape. Our 'Sencha Overture' is a wonderfully delicate second flush (summer) tea whose soothing taste and fresh green scent make it a perfect everyday treat.

This is one of the first new senchas that I have had in a while. Although I would have to say that I was not very impressed by this sencha. The first thing that I noticed was the color of the liquor. It is a more yellow shade than I normally expect from a sencha. A sencha normally has a much greener color to it than this. At first I suspected that this may be to overextraction, but I tried a few more after this and the liquor came out this same color regardless.

Color aside, since this was the lower grade of the two senchas that Adagio has to offer my expectations were not that high for this tea. And I would say that they were met. The bitterness that i refer to as the sencha bite came very late in this tea, it seems to have a smooth taste that slowly builds and then kicks in at the end. Like the genmai this tea had a very high astringency and was not very sweet (although this is characteristic of sencha). The taste for this tea is very clean though.

The clean feeling that is associated with this tea is by far the most outstanding quality of this tea. That is part of what draws me to love Japanese Green teas is the clean feeling and lightness that they have.

Rating: 8/10

Conclusion: While this tea is a second flush and not the best sencha out there it is not bad. It has a unique flavor profile while meeting all of the qualities of a sencha quite well. It is not overly expensive, making it well suited as a daily tea.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Genmai cha

Tea: Genmai Cha
Vendor: Adagio
Location: Japan
Cost: $8.00 / 5 oz.
Vendor Description:Green tea from Japan that is the 'snap, crackle, pop' of teas. Genmai Cha is an exotic Japanese recipe that combines popped rice and popcorn with tender and delicate green tea leaves. First used by peasants as a cost-saving measure, our 'Genmai Cha Pop' tea is now equally popular with modern urbanites. Both groups enjoy a refreshing cup that's both sweet and nutty.

First off let me say that I am somewhat biased against genmai cha. I've never been a big fan of it, primarily because of the roots of it. Genmai was originally a way to make lower grade tea more palatable by adding the popped rice and popcorn to it. This mellows the flavor, thus hiding the flavor of the actual tea. My primary reasoning against it is that it does not pair well with foods and I started to dislike it more and more when I was served this in restaurants when I would order food.

In reference to this specific genmai though, I was actually a bit surprised. The flavor of the popped rice in this one was much stronger than most other genmai that I have had, where the popped rice has a stale flavor and you can taste that. The freshness of the popped rice reminded me a lot of senbei (japanese rice crackers). This freshness while very overpowering is a very welcome flavor to this tea, as the one food that pairs almost perfectly with tea is senbei.

The tea has a very high level of astringency to it, more than I normally desire. I rarely let the level of astringency affect my enjoyment of the tea unless it is to an extreme. While this tea isn't quite to this level it is high and pushes the limit of how I like that.

Rating: 7/10

Conclusion: While I am not a big fan of genmai, this is a particularly good and fresh genmai. Fans of this type of tea would do well by picking some of this up. It's relatively inexpensive nature makes this a good daily tea.


Tea: Gyokuro
Vendor: Adagio
Location: Japan
Cost: $29.00 / 5oz.
Vendor Description: Green tea from Japan famed for its unique shading process. Gyokuro, meaning 'pearl dew,' is among the finest of Japanese teas. Our 'Moonlight Gyokuro' is made solely from the prized tender buds gathered in the early spring flush. Three weeks prior to plucking, tea bushes are shaded from the sun. The fruits of this hard work are evident in each cup. The result is a gentle tea with an intoxicating fragrance and truly sublime taste.

One of my favorite forms of Japanese green tea is Gyokuro. While there isn't anything particularly special about this Gyokuro, it is a solid Gyokuro. It has a very grassy/vegetal taste, a very nice sense of umami, and a very low sense of astringency. There was nothing that I could particularly fault about this tea, but it had nothing truly extraordinary.

Rating: 9/10

Conclusion: This is a solid gyokuro, but nothing outstanding gyokuro. It is rather expensive if you are ordering it in quantity, but all gyokuro tends to be. I would highly suggest the sample size if you haven't tried out Gyokuro.


Tea: Hojicha
Vendor: Adagio Teas
Price: $6.00 / 2 oz.
Vendor Description: Green tea from Japan that is rendered brown by roasting Bancha tea leaves over charcoals. The popularity of our 'Hojicha Fugue' stems from its nutty and very accessible mesquite taste. The roasting process lowers its caffeine content. So if you are looking for a low-caffeine green tea, this is a wonderful alternative to our decaffeinated choices.

At first glance this almost looks like a lapsang souchong (which I will review soon). Hojicha has a smoky smell to it, due to the roasting process. The flavor is a very smooth tea with almost no taste of the smokiness in the tea, simply the scent. As a green tea it is one of the most mellow teas I have had to date, a complete contrast to the bite of a fresh sencha. It is more reminiscent of a black tea than a green tea. The taste is very short lived though and has a very low level of astringency.

The most surprising thing about this tea to me though was the color. I was amazed by the shade of brown that this tea produced, I actually sat there staring into my cup admiring the color.

Rating: 6/10

Conclusion: While there is nothing particularly spectacular about this tea there is nothing particularly bad about it as well. If you enjoy black teas you might like this one.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Tea: Kukicha
Vendor: Adagio
Cost: $7.00 / 4 oz.
Type: Green
Source: Japan

Today I received my first order from Adagio. In this order I got 10 samples of assorted teas from Adagio, which I find to be a very nice way to try out different teas. They offer inexpensive sample tins which are filled to the brim with whatever tea you get. Most of the samplers range from 2-6 dollars depending on the type of tea you choose. So expect a fair number of Adagio posts for a bit.

Today's tea is Kukicha, which is a combination of regular tea leaves and twigs. You can really taste the dichotomy of the twigs and the leaves in this one. The first one that you taste is the leaves which has a very sencha like flavor. It is not as sharp as a sencha normally is, nor does it have the astringency that some senchas have. This I assume is the contribution of the leaves, this is followed by a very smooth and woody flavor. This flavor is very deep and continues to linger in your mouth giving this tea a very long and deep flavor. This is the contribution of the twigs. The taste slowly tapers off leaving you with a very mellow feeling. The most surprising thing about this tea was how long the taste of the tea lasted. It is a very different change from the regular senchas that I normally drink.

Rating: 8/10

Conclusion: This is a rather different tea than the regular green teas that I am used to. It is much more mellow in flavor and good for a change once in a while. I'm not sure if this tea is going to be a regular in my tea cabinet, but it is an interesting change. For the price it is definitely worth a try.

As a side note if you are ever hoping of a chabashira (good luck sign when a tea stalk is floating upright) this is the tea to try it with. The twigs all float and initially a good number of them are floating upright.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Feedback requested

Hi everyone,
I'm really not sure how many people have been reading my blog to this point (being a whopping 4 days old), but I'm really moving along in the dark here. My question for you the dear reader is this, is there anything that you would like to see me do differently? Any qualities of the tea you would like to know about, any teas that you would like me to review. I plan to review some matchas soon, but I'm waiting until I have a bit more time to dedicate to the matcha that they deserve. I might also try to figure out some kind of drawing or something for readers. Possibly some samples of teas I enjoy or something like that if anyone is interested. Please let me know I would love to hear some feedback.

Momo Oolong Super Grade

Tea: Momo Oolong Super Grade
Vendor: Lupicia USA
Cost: $10.50/50g
Source: Taiwan

This is another one of the teas that I got in the assortment from Lupicia. The first thing that you notice about the tea is the very strong peach scent. It is rather strong and almost surprising how a tea can have such a strong fruit smell to it. The actual brewed tea has a different peach scent to it. The smell is reminiscent of biting into a fresh white peach.

The tea itself is a very smooth taste, with a light sense of astringency to it. The tea tastes like peach, but not overwhelmingly so as I feared when I first got the tea. It is a very mellow flavor that is very relaxing.

Rating: 9/10

Conclusion: This is a very nice tea, although I have had very few quality oolongs. I don't know if it is due to having never had a good oolong that I am enjoying this tea, or if it is the tea itself, but I am enjoying it. This is definitely a good tea to get if you like peaches. Hopefully as I try more oolongs I will get a better understanding of where this one lies.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Book Review: The Tea Ceremony

Today I thought I would review a book. I just finished reading The Tea Ceremony by Sen'o Tanaka/Sendo Tanaka. I read this not knowing much about the history behind it and the setting it takes place in. This book gives a detailed history of the origins of tea ceremony without dragging too much through detail. It separates the book into a few major sections. History, Aesthetic, and the actual ceremony. The last section is broken into a few smaller sections.

The history: This section starts with a brief introduction of tea in japan up until the warring states period. It then describes the changes made at the time along with the development of the tea ceremony.

The Aesthetic: This section describes the nature of the tea ceremony and what it strives to signify. This is a very difficult concept, but the book describes it well. It also includes a section on the architecture of the tea garden and the tea hut.

The Ceremony: This section describes the instruments used in the ceremony, the procedure to make thin and thick tea, the etiquette for the guests, and what the ceremony represents today. This section of the book was by far the most interesting of the three.

Overall I found this to be a very informative book, it's not too detailed to the point of being boring so I rather enjoyed the read. It provides a significant amount of detail into the history of the tea ceremony and the meaning of it. I would highly recommend this book if you are interested in learning about the tea ceremony. If you are looking for a book that is going to describe in detail how to make a good bowl of matcha though you're out of luck here. It actually does not talk much at all about the actual making of the matcha, but rather as the title suggests the actual ceremony.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Gunpowder Tea

Tea: Gunpowder Tea 7053
Vendor: Lupicia USA
Price: unkn
Location: Zhejiang, China

I got this tea as well in part of the assortment pack that Lupicia had. (I do drink teas other than from Lupicia, I swear. I just happen to have a lot of them to try after stocking up last time I was there) I can't seem to find it on their website so I don't know what the pricing would be per package.

The flavor of this tea reminds me of drinking scotch. It has a very strong woody/smoky flavor to it, in the same way that a scotch has an oak flavor. While the taste of scotch is that of oak the flavor of this tea is a bit harder to place. I'm tempted to say that the flavor is almost like bamboo. I'm reminded of the taste that you get if you suck on the end of a pair of disposable chopsticks. The smokiness seems to preclude the fact that this is a green tea you can't really tell by the taste of the tea. All of the characteristics associated with a nice sencha or gyokuro are overwhelmed by the smokiness.

I did notice that the tea did change significantly with between the first and second infusions. The color also did change. The first extraction is in the picture on the left and second on the right. The heavy smoky flavor in the first is not quite as strong in the second, but not subdued enough to let the green tea come through.

Rating: 2/10

Conclusion: If you enjoy scotch and are looking for a tea that tastes like scotch, then this may be the tea for you. Aside from that the flavor is a bit too smoky for my tastes. I have a feeling that this is a tea that is going to be sitting in the back of my shelf for quite some time. I might try to find some use for it for cooking.

Nara Tsukigase

Tea: Nara Tsukigase 7430
Vendor: Lupicia USA
Price: $5.00/50g

So far this has been one of my favorite senchas todate. The taste is very smooth. It initially has hints of grassy and vegetal tastes, but nowhere in the same nature as the Yame Gyokuro I reviewed earlier. Unlike a gyokuro though this one has the sencha bitterness to it, although the taste leads up to it. Most senchas that I have had get hit by the pang of bitterness toward the end of the taste, but in the case of this one it slowly ramps up to the taste and then after that pang at the height of bitterness it falls off and leaves your mouth with a slight tannin dryness, but not to any extreme. It is a very light astringency which leaves the mouth feeling clean and fresh.

Rating: 10/10

Conclusion: So far this has been my favorite tea, and at the price it is not overly expensive. If you enjoy green tea at all I would highly suggest this one.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Paradise Green

Tea: Paradise Green 8503
Vendor: Lupicia USA
Price: $6.50 / 50g

First off let me apologize for not having a picture of this tea. I brewed all of it that I had before I started this blog. The picture on lupicia's website does a good job of the variety of colors and flavors in this tea though. Although the amount in the picture on their website has all of the petals on the top of the tea.

This tea made me want to go back into making chilled iced tea, while the flavor is nice when served hot, this tea is spectacular when iced. When I was at the lupicia store I had the opportunity to smell this tea before brewing. I simply had to get some. The aroma of the tea is best described as tropical. It is a combination of an assortment of fruits, to the point where I am unable to discern one from another.

Drinking this tea iced accentuates the main characteristics of this tea. The first thing that you notice when you pour this tea is the sweet aroma that comes from it. It almost reminds me of smelling a fruit punch. When you drink the tea you immediately notice the sweet tropical flavor, which is followed by the slight bitterness of a sencha. The contrast of the sweetness and the biterness of the sencha make this tea a perfect iced tea. It finally is followed up by the tannin of the tea leaving your mouth with a dry clean feeling.

Rating: 9/10

Conclusion: I would definitely get this tea again. I can't wait until summer when I can have some more of it iced on a hot day. Definitely worth a try if you enjoy iced tea.

Edit: Adjusted the rating to 9, to remove fractionals from the scale and improve the tagging.

Sencha Matcha

Tea: Sencha Matcha
Vendor: Wegman's Food Markets, Pittsford, NY / Ito-en
Cost: $2.75/ 2oz.

I happen to have been in NY a bit ago for work and was told to try out the tea bar in a grocery store called Wegman's Food Markets. This was a rather unique experience in and of itself. They had installed a tea bar inside of their store. That was a rather unique experience in and of itself. I ended up bringing back quite a few different teas.

After a bit of research it looks as though their teas are supplied by Ito-en, a company that is more known for their bottled teas than for their loose leaf tea. I don't have any concrete evidence to prove this, but the similarities between their tea that they offer and the lineup offered by Ito-en is very suggestive. Along with one of their suppliers for cookies ( also serves Ito-en tea at their cafe. And they list that it is on their menu. Their cookies are delicious by the way.

Anyway to the tea.

This is by no means my favorite sencha, but it is a unique sencha. The processed tea leaves are combined with matcha powder, and guessing by the price of it, the matcha is cooking grade matcha. But it provides a very unique tea experience. There are really two different cups of tea that you get out of two infusions of this tea. The first is a very sweet cup of tea that is predominated by the matcha powder that the sencha is rolled in. Compared to a cup of matcha this is quite bitter (a characteristic of the sencha), but compared to a cup of regular sencha this is very sweet. The second infusion is almost purely sencha, because by this point almost all of the matcha powder was washed off in the fist infusion.

Both the sencha and the matcha are not of any particular quality themselves, but combined make a novel tea experience. While I don't expect that anyone would use a spectacular sencha combined with a high grade matcha to make this experience, this combination will work just fine.

Rating: 6/10

Conclusion: While this is not a spectacular tea experience, it is a novelty. Also at the price this is quite suitable for a daily tea.

Jasmin Dragon Pearl

Tea: Jasmin Dragon Pearl 8202
Vendor: Lupicia USA
Price: $7.50 / 25g

While I tend to lean toward Japanese green teas, I got this as part of a promo from Lupicia USA. The Dragon Pearls are very interesting because of the way they are packaged. The tea comes in pea sized balls which when brewed unravel into their original form. With this one in particular each ball turns out to be a few young developing leaves from the tip of the stem. The process of watching the pearls unravel makes this tea worth trying just because of the unique nature of it.

I had to experiment with this tea a few times to brew a cup that I really liked. The Jasmine scent/flavor of this tea is very very strong, and almost overpowering. I ended up cutting the amount of tea down rather considerably. As you can tell from the picture (I'm sorry for my sad photo abilities, i'll get better I promise) the tea is very light in color. This is because this is a weaker cup of tea. This allows me to enjoy it without being overpowered by the Jasmine scent and taste of this tea. If you are a big fan of Jasmine I would highly suggest this tea. That is the most noticeable characteristic of this tea. All other flavors involved are put on the back burner.

Rating: 5/10

Conclusion: This tea is interesting to brew and watch, but unless you really like Jasmine it is probably going to be very overwhelming to you.

Yame Hoshino Vil. Gyokuro

Tea: Yame Hoshino Vil. Gyokuro
Vendor: Lupicia USA
Cost: $25.00 / 50g

The two more prevalent locations from which gyokuro is grown are Yame and Uji. Today I decided to review some of my Yame gyokuro. (Uji to come later) This was actually the first Gyokuro that I have gotten from Yame and I was quite surprised by it. The taste is very grassy and vegetal, much more so than any other gyokuro I have come across. When you first taste it, it has a very smooth flavor, followed by the grassy / vegetal flavor. It is finished with a slight tinge similar to the flavor of a sencha.

Thoughts: Overall I have been very impressed by this tea. Although at the price it is not a tea that I would drink regularly. It is something that is wonderful to try if you have the opportunity, but I don't see myself drinking this on a regular basis. If you are a fan of gyokuro this one is worth picking up though.

Rating: 9/10

Inaugural Post


This is the first post of my new tea blog. While I know that this is nothing new, as there are many people who enjoy tea and started blogging about their tea experiences, I figured I might as well join the ranks of them. My personal tea preference is toward Japanese Green teas, which I have noticed that there aren't that many bloggers who review that many of them. A lot of other bloggers from what I have noticed like to review a wide assortment of puerh teas. I guess i'm hoping that this is my niche.

Thanks for taking a look, and hopefully i'll have lots of posts for you in the time to come.