Sunday, January 4, 2009


Tea: O-buku-cha
Vendor: Ippodo
Price: 500 Yen / 100g
Source: Japan
Vendor Description: Bringing good luck for the New Year

The O-buku-cha tradition began over 10 centuries ago, during the Heian period.

In 951, a serious epidemic swept through Kyoto. In an effort to relieve the suffering, Buddhist priest Kuya distributed tea to those in need. It has been said that to share in these virtues, Emperor Murakami ushered in the New Year with a special cup of tea.

Since then, it has become a Japanese tradition to drink O-buku-cha (literally, great happiness tea ) during the New Years season. The O-buku-cha offered by each tea shop differs depending on the shop. At IPPODO, we are pleased to offer a special time-limited, high-grade genmaicha as our O-buku-cha. Packaged in the traditional festive colors of red and white, we hope that our O-buku-cha will bring renewed health and happiness to you and your loved ones.

Leaf: This tea consists of mostly larger thin pieces. There is a light amount of rice, some stems and some flatter leaf mixed in as well.

1st Infusion Parameters: 5g, 185F, 5 oz, 90s

1st Infusion: This infusion had a yellow green hue to it. The aroma was very crisp with hints of the rice aroma. The aroma reminded me very much of a pure bancha with a crisp almost stinging aroma to it. There are hints of a sencha like sweetness in the aroma as well. The flavor has a definite bancha bitterness and tang to it. This is paired with a light rice flavor and a noticeable starchiness. The tea finishes with a light sense of astringency and a clean and refreshing feeling.

2nd Infusion Parameters: 185F, No steeping time, immediate pour.

2nd Infusion: This time the infusion was a lighter green color with a yellow brightness to it. The aroma was sweeter and had a more mellow starchiness to it. The flavor was definitive bancha flavoring, with a light almost metallic taste to it. It seemed to have an astringency which was primarily on the sides of the mouth.

Rating: 3/10

Conclusion: This tea isn't bad for the price. The problem is that the price to ship this over from Japan is quite significant. I'm curious to see how this tea stacks up against their regular genmaicha. I don't consider this to be a particularly great genmaicha, but it is acceptable at it's price. I was somewhat hoping for a genmai based with sencha rather than bancha when I read the description of this tea.


olivierco said...

Nice article, as always.

I brewed it with boiling water at approximatively 1g/oz and 40s and got a sharper taste.

Eric said...

I'm not a particularly big fan of sharp flavored genmai. I like the smooth round flavor that the rice adds. Especially for matcha laced ones, where you get the rice sweetness and matcha sweetness mixed together. Paired with a smooth tea flavor is just sweet and smooth.