Saturday, February 28, 2009


Tea: Hojicha
Vendor: Wegmans Food Markets / Ito En
Price: $48.99 / lb
Vendor description: Crafted from roasted green tea, hojicha offers a visually stimulating medley of stem and leaf. Young grassy notes mingle with a taste that is effusive and toasty. It is an ideal tea for relaxing and appealing for its low caffeine content.

Leaf: This hojicha has a very evenly colored leaf. It has a brown hue with hints of green to it. There is a lightly dusty aroma to it, this is somewhat different in comparison to the normal roasted aroma of a hojicha. There is also a high leaf to stem ratio for this hojicha making it more akin to a kukicha hojicha, but not fully there.

1st Infusion Parameters: 5g, 5oz, 208F, 2 min

1st Infusion: The hojicha exhibits a very traditional brown hue. The aroma is very odd. It does not have the normal roasted aspects of a hojicha. It is duller and light. The flavor is also not terribly traditional. It is light, yet full bodied. It is smooth and rolls down the back of the tongue. The actual strength of the flavor isn't very noticeable, instead it is dominated by the texture, just not so much flavor. What flavor there is, is lightly burnt/roasted, but it is just hints.

2nd Infusion Parameters: 208F, 3 min

2nd Infusion: This infusion is more golden borwn in color. The aroma is more traditional and smells of roasting. The flavor still feels light and empty though. You feel the texture of the tea on the sides of your mouth, but the core flavor is lacking.

Rating: 3 / 10

Conclusion: This tea felt like it was missing a single part of the flavor, unfortunately that was the central core of the flavor. If that was present, it would be much better. Without that component though it felt empty and bland.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Thousand Step

Tea: Thousand Step
Vendor: Swan Sisters
Price: $9.00 /oz
Harvest: April 2008
Vendor Description:Thousand Step Oolong originates from the Wu Yi Mountains in northern Fujian, an area renowned for producing some of the finest Oolongs available in China. This special tea is crafted by the award winning tea master Liu Guo who produces only small batches of select Oolong varieties each year. The outstanding quality of this tea is apparent in its velvety texture, caramel color, and smooth creamy finish. 2 teaspoons of Thousand Step Oolong can be infused with boiling water up to 6 times.

Leaf: The leaf for this tea is dark in color, mostly a black color with a light brown/greyish surface. There are shades from a dark brown to hues of black. The aroma is deep and rich.

1st Infusion Parameters: 5g, 5oz, 208F, 45s, 5s rinse

1st Infusion: The hue of this tea reminds me of amber. This tea has a rich and thick malty aroma. The flavor is in juxtaposition to the aroma. It is very light and fruity. It is smooth and rolls down the tongue. Despite the light flavor though it is very full bodied and has a thickness to it. Just not much in terms of intensity.

2nd Infusion Parameters: 208F, 1 min

2nd Infusion: The second infusion had a slightly darker amber hue to it. The flavor felt much sharper than before, it comes through as a stronger, richer flavor. The aroma is not as abundant, but it is still thick and rich. The flavor feels bodied yet light.

3rd Infusion Parameters: 208F, 2 min

3rd Infusion: This infusion is a dark brown color, but it is very clear. The flavor feels lighter than the 2nd infusion and it has an interesting peppery feel to it.

Rating: 8/10

Conclusion: This tea has a very rich and enjoyable aroma for a Wuyi oolong. The flavor has some nice tones to it and an interesting feel on the third infusion. Compared to some Wuyi oolongs this has a more refined flavor. I have not had too many though thus far and my palatte in terms of Wuyi oolongs is still developing. At it's price it seems a bit expensive compared to other oolongs I have seen though.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Organic Sencha

Tea: Organic Sencha
Vendor: Plymouth Tea
Price: $12.50 / 4 oz
Vendor Description: An organically grown superfine grade of Sencha. It has an intense fresh vegetal bouquet and a dry ending. The organic method of raising these bushes seems to intensify all the qualities of Sencha that make it a regular choice of green tea lovers.

Leaf: The leaf for this tea is a very matte colored dry leaf. There is a fair amount of brown specs and stem pieces to this tea. These are somewhat indicative of bancha, but this tea was labeled as a sencha. The leaves are quite veiny and have lots of brown stems. Most of the leaf is chopped up and in small pieces

1st Infusion Parameters: 2.5g, 2.5 oz, 185F, 90s

1st Infusion: This tea was quite foul. The color was a yellowish hue and no particular aroma. The tea tastes somewhat chemical like in flavor. It feels like it was a flavored bancha, but there is no flavoring. I couldn't even finish the 2.5 oz of this cup.

Rating: 1/10

Conclusion: This tea was probably the worst sencha I have ever tasted. In all rights there is no reason to ever get this. I can't think of any redeeming qualities to this tea. Unfortunately my rating scale is 1-10 so it gets a 1. It almost gives othe 1 rated teas a bad name. Thank you to Jessica at Authoritea for providing this sample though.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Guangzhou Milk Oolong

Tea: Guangzhou Milk Oolong
Vendor: David's Tea
Price: $9.00 / 25g
Vendor Description: This limited-edition oolong from the Wuyi Mountains of China is velvety smooth and lightly creamy, with a subtle hint of orchid. It’s said that it came about when the moon fell in love with a comet. The comet passed her by, as comets will do. The moon cried milky tears, which chilled the tea fields, withering the leaves and giving them a delicate creaminess. It’s been a rare luxury ever since.

Leaf: The leaf smells very much like a sweet milk candy. It has a very prominent sweet and milky aroma. It is rolled into tight little balls. There is a light green to almost black spectrum of colors. There are a few rather varied shapes and sizes to the balls.

1st Infusion Parameters: 5g, 5 oz, 208F, 45s

1st Infusion: The first infusion has a clear yellow hue to it. There is a very strong milky aroma. The flavor matches the aroma and is very milky. The amount of milky flavor makes the overall flavor sweet and smooth. The flavor component of the tea is smooth and light with a light sense of bitterness. The milk and oolong flavors seem to be almost clashing with one another.

2nd Infusion Parameters: 208F, 1:15

2nd Infusion: The second infusion has a darker yellow hue. The aroma is less milky, and a more oolong like aroma. The tea is much more noticeably a green oolong. The flavor feels rougher than the first with some of the more distinctive notes of a green oolong. The flavor is shifted very heavily to the back end of the profile. It ends with a light sense of astringency and a little bit of milkiness on the aftertaste.

3rd Infusion Parameters: 208F, 2:30

3rd Infusion: This infusion had yet an even darker yellow hue. There was still a little bit of milkiness to the aroma, but for the most part it was gone. The flavor had a little bit of tang and bitterness to it, the notes of being a green oolong were shining through much brighter now. They were not overwhelming though. The flavor was less astringent and it felt a little empty. The majority of the flavor was there, but it showed signs of lightening up.

4th Infusion Parameters: 208F, 3:30

4th Infusion: At this point the hue started lightening up to a lighter shade of yellow. The aroma was light and barely noticeable. There was a little bit of milk aroma left. The flavor felt milkier than the 3rd infusion probably because of a less pronounced oolong flavor.

Rating: 6/10

Conclusion: This tea is very unusual. From what I have read to generate this flavor the oolong is effectively dipped in milk during the process to add the milkiness flavor. This makes it effectively a flavored oolong, just as jasmine scenting would be as well. I felt like the flavors were not blending well together, more like fighting for the front seat pushing the other aside momentarily. It is also fairly highly priced, and for that level of pricing I would opt to look for a Dan Cong instead.

EDIT:  Apparently what I have previously heard about milk oolong is incorrect.  The flavor is apparently generated through artificial flavoring and not the use of milk.  This explains why it tastes more like milk candy than it does actual milk.  

Monday, February 23, 2009

Bai Hao Yin Zhen

Tea: Bai Hao Yin Zhen
Vendor: David's Tea
Price: $20.00 / 50g
Vendor Description: This is a true luxury, considered by many to be China’s most famous white tea. To create it, only the first leaves and downy, silvery unopened buds of the tea plant are picked by hand during the April harvest. How does this influence the flavour and aroma? Connoisseurs rave about its sweet complexity, and about an underlying grassy taste that makes it uniquely perfect.

Leaf: This tea was a very mixed bag of needles. Some where very broken for a Silver Needle (Bai Hao Yin Zhen), but yet it was very fluffy. It was primarily a budset tea, but did not appear as purely of one compared to others. It has a light and fresh aroma to it and an interesting green hue amongst the silvery white hairs.

1st Infusion Parameters: 5g, 5 oz, 185F, 1:00

1st Infusion: The tea has a very sweet aroma to it. The color is a clear yellow hue. The sweetness of the aroma reminds me of the Emerald Needle from Adagio. The flavor however does not seem to match the aroma well. The flavor is light and smooth, but lacks the sweetness of the aroma. It is a subdued and subtle taste, very conservative for a Silver Needle. The flavor feels muddled and mixed, more akin to a white peony than a Silver Needle.

2nd Infusion Parameters: 185F, 2:00

2nd Infusion: This infusion has a darker straw yellow hue to it. The aroma is distinctively a silver needle. The flavor is richer and more appropriate. The backend of the flavor feels emptier and there is a light sense of bitternes, partly from the increased strength of the infusion, but also from the tea itself I suspect. There are honey tones in the flavor, similar to a honey smoothness. It finishes off with a light sense of astringency.

Rating: 6/10

Conclusion: This Silver Needle didn't seem as pure as some of the others I have tried, most notably the Seven Cups and Swan Sisters have better flavor to them. The flavor of this one is a bit muddled like it's mixed with a little White Peony. The cost is higher than that of the Seven Cups or the Swan Sisters versions, for something that does not perform or look as appealing.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sencha Ashikubo

Tea: Sencha Ashikubo
Vendor: Davids Tea
Price: $9.38 /25g
Source: Ashikubo Valley, Japan
Vendor Description:If you’re a lover of Japanese sencha, this tea is a must. It comes from the stunning Ashikubo valley in Japan, and is dried the traditional way – using wood fires. As a result, it’s milder and less grassy than regular senchas. Admirers point to its characteristic fruitiness and to the hint of toast that comes from the firing process. Most say they can’t go a day without it.

Leaf: the leaf is either a chumushi or asamushi, it's along the line between the two. The life has a nice glossy appearance to it, there are a few nice long needles and not too much powder.

1st Infusion Parameters: 5g, 5 oz, 185F, 1 min

1st Infusion: The infusion is a clear yellow hue. There is no sedient or murkiness. The color has a brilliant yellow radiance to it. The aroma reminds me of a heavy grassy sencha aroma. Even though it's a thick and heavy aroma it was not very strong. The tea has a certain woodiness to it. It is lightly bitter and has a hint of grassiness. While the tea is very subdued it has some very mild tones.

2nd Infusion Parameters: 185F, 15s

2nd Infusion: This infusion was lightly murky. It has a sweet aroma and a light astringency. The flavor is lightly marine.

Rating: 6/10

Conclusion: This is a very puzzling sencha. It is mild and very much like an asamushi or a chumushi, but it's hard to tell where between the two it lies. The first infusion had an interesting woodiness to the flavor, possibly a result of the wood fires from the description. In a way it reminded me of the Kuradashi Sencha from Hibiki-an. The flavor is light and appropraite and quite good. It's hard to describe, but it was a very solid tating tea. The downside of it is that this tea is very highly priced. At almost 40 dollars for 100g, this is one of the pricier senchas around. While quite tasty, I'm hesitant to say that this tea is worth the cost.

Friday, February 20, 2009


Tea: Hosen
Vendor: Ippodo
Price: 1,500 Yen / 100g
Source: Japan
Vendor Description: A harmonious blend of sweetness, bitterness, richness, astringency and fragrance - this is sencha. It's easy to understand why sencha is such a favorite beverage in Japan, not only for those seeking to quench a thirst, but also for those wanting to sip on something extra special.

In the morning or afternoon, before or after a meal, sencha is the perfect drink to revitalize your mind and refresh your spirit.

For the sencha drinker who appreciates a refined, well-balanced tea, Hosen is an excellent choice. Its subtle sweetness, elegant fragrance and fresh aftertaste are characteristic of Ippodo's premium sencha blends. Though recommended primarily for seasoned tea drinkers, Hosen is also a good choice for newcomers and those seeking a slightly richer and sweeter version of Sho-ikeno-o.

Leaf: The leaf for this is lightly polished. It is a thin dark leaf with a light and uplifting aroma to it. The leaves swirl with an almost fluid motion. There is a little bit of fleck to the leaf, but it consists primarily of larger longer leaves. The aroma feels smooth, almost reminding me of a gyokuro aroma.

1st Infusion Parameters: 5g, 5 oz, 185F, 60s

1st Infusion: The tea has a bright yellow hue. It has a light and crisp sencha aroma. The flavor is smooth and light with a light sense of bitterness. There is no astringency, and the flavor feels very clean. There is a bit of a tang on the sides of the mouth, and it is a very uplifting lightness.

2nd Infusion Parameters: 0s, 185F

2nd Infusion: This infusion has a light and crisp aroma. There are hints of a grassy flavor to it, but the flavor is upflifting and clear still. There is a light sense of astringency paired with a medium bold flavor. It is stronger than the first infusion even with the instantaneous infusion.

3rd Infusion Parameters: 30s, 185F

3rd Infusion: This infusion was a murky yellow hue. The flavor is lighter and sharper. The astringency has developed into a medium strength, and the flavor is much richer. It hints at grassiness, but is much richer still uplifting.

Rating: 9/10

Conclusion: This is quite an impressive asamushi sencha. The flavor is light and clean feeling without being to harsh and strong. It's priced rather cheaply, but like all Ippodo tea you have to pay a high shipping cost. Even with the high shipping costs this tea is still a good bargain. The flavor is comparable to some of the much more expensive senchas that I have tried. This is probably going to be in quite a few of my Ippodo orders in the future.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Pumpkin Rooibos

Tea: Pumpkin Rooibos
Vendor: Dragonwater Tea
Price: $6.45 / 4 oz
Source: South Africa
Vendor Description: Rooibos Pumpkin Tea. Rooibos with a fruity pumpkin and cream taste. A must try.

Leaf: The leaf for this tea is very sweet smelling. There are quite a bit of additions to this mix, including blossoms, leaves, and dried pieces of fruit. Nothing really resembling pumpkin though. There is some very interesting green leaf in this mix of red rooibos and brownish hued fruits. It adds a nice color contrast.

1st Infusion Parameters: 1 tsp (2.3g), 5 oz, 6 min, 208F

1st Infusion: Like most rooibos this tea has a rich red color. A red that is somewhat unique to rooibos. The aroma is sweet and fruity, it reminds me of the aroma of a strawberry rhubarb pie. The flavor is very smooth and very sweet. The flavor is light, but is well bodied. It is fruity and sweet, and really does not taste like pumpkin at all.

Rating: 7/10

Conclusion: This tea is somewhat well known. I have heard about it from a few people saying how wonderful it is and it is almost like a guilty pleasure. It is a non-tea, flavored, and mixed. It defies traditional tea. That said, it is enjoyable. It is sweet with no astringency, caffeine, or bitterness. However it's name is deceiving. Nothing in this tea's flavor, appearance, or apparently composition is pumpkin. I really don't know why you would call it pumpkin when it doesn't contain or taste like it. More appropriately named this may have gotten a higher rating, but a lot of a tea is in the name. Thank you to Jessica over at Authoritea for the sample of this.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Kenilworth OP

Tea: Kenilworth OP
Vendor: Plucker's Pick
Price: $6.00 / oz
Source: Ceylon (aka Sri Lanka)
Vendor Description: A rich, hearty aroma that brews golden-brown. This mid-grown tea is full-bodied and strong with complex overtones.

Leaf: The leaf for this tea is slightly a brown hue, but mostly black in color. There is not much aroma to it, and it feels very much like most other Ceylon teas.

1st Infusion Parameters: 3g, 5oz, 208F, 3 min

1st Infusion: This tea produces a rich red hued tea. It has a very smooth characteristic Ceylon araoma to it. The tea is very full bodied and has a nice light sense of astringency. There is a light tang to the tea which pairs with many Ceylon teas. It doesn't feel very unique though.

Rating: 3/10

Conclusion: This tea is a very solid and characteristic Ceylon tea. That said, it doesn't really stand out in any way, and feels like just another Ceylon. There doesn't seem to be much difference in taste between this and the Homadola for example. It is a bit pricey for just another Ceylon.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Wuyi Oolong

Tea: Wuyi Oolong
Vendor: Mighty Leaf
Price: $12.95 / 4 oz
Vendor Description: Wuyi Oolong tea made in China's Northern Fujian Wuyi mountains is well known for its smooth and rich body and taste. Long, beautiful twisted leaves impart a roasty aroma and produce a sweet, nuanced cup. L:ike other oolongs our Wuyi oolong can be infused multiple times.

Leaf: This tea is rather small and broken for a Wuyi Oolong. There are more small pieces and powder than I have seen in most Wuyi Oolongs. This could have been from shipping, but the leaf did appear more broken than normal. The leaf itself is characteristic dark brown almost black leaf.

1st Infusion Parameters: 5g, 5 oz, 208F, 5s rinse, 45s

1st Infusion: The tea has a dark caramel chocolate color. It is lightly murky which is surprising for a Wuyi, in my experience most are clear, but rich in color. The aroma is thick and sweet. The flavor is very sweet and quite strong. It is both rich and bold with a light tanginess. The tanginess feels like it's due to the strength of the tea itself. The flavor is smooth and leaves with a light sense of astringency.

2nd Infusion Parameters: 1 min, 208F

2nd Infusion: This infusion has the same rich color. The aroma is not quite as sweet as the first, but shows through more like a the traditional aroma I'm used to. The fflavor is again, rich and bold. It feels more like a traditional Wuyi oolong now. There is a medium sense of astringency following this one, and a hint of something that reminds me of the roasting of a hojicha. Not really directly, but it brings the thought to mind.

3rd Infusion Parameters: 1:30, 208F

3rd Infusion: There is not much aroma left at this point. It still has the same brown hue to it. The flavor is smooth and still flavorful, but there are definite signs of the flavor waning in this cup. The thickness and strength that were present in the first two infusions are lightening up and shows signs of wateriness now. There is also a medium sense of astringency following this tea.

Rating: 8/10

Conclusion: For an introduction into Wuyi Oolongs this tea is probably a good way to start. At $12.95 / 4 oz, it is not a terribly expensive Wuyi. In general Wuyi oolongs deliver great value. Normally one of the more attractive points in brewing a Wuyi oolong is seeing the large full leaf shape once you are done, but in this case, due to damage in shipping or at some point along the way, the leaf was much smaller and broken up. It is a bit disappointing, but it may just be how the sample packets were mailed to me. This tea had some amazing color to it, a richer brown than I am used to seeing in most teas.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Jade Oolong

Tea: Jade Oolong
Vendor: Mighty Leaf
Price: $28.95 / 4oz.
Vendor Description: Jade Oolong tea, made in China's Anxi province on a small co-op farm, is a competition grade, lightly oxided oolong tea with a complex, orchid-like taste. This oolong tea has a distinctive silk mouth feel and a medium body. The perfect loose tea for multiple infusion as the flavor will become more nuanced with each steeping.

Leaf: The leaf for this tea consists of large balls down to small fleck. This is probably the first oolong that I have seen with this degree of size variance. The leaf is a spectrum of light green to a dark green.

1st Infusion Parameters: 5g, 5 oz, 208F, 45s, 5s rinse

1st Infusion: There was quite a bit of sediment in this cup. The tea is a pale clear green color. The tea has a very light green oolong aroma. The tea flavor matches the aroma in being a typical green oolong. It has the normal green oolong tanginess, and it finishes with a light sense of astringnecy.

2nd Infusion Parameters: 208F, 1:00

2nd Infusion: This infusion has a clear yellow-green color to it. The aroma is richter and more full bodied in flavor. Again it has alight sense of astringency. The flavor is still quite distinctively green oolong. It's hard to describe the flavor more than this. It seems to have the same bitterness and tanginess as before.

3rd Infusion Parameters: 208F, 1:45

3rd Infusion: The color is still a strong yellow green hue. It has a very ful bodied and bold flavor. The flavor is starting to show signs of emptiness. The strength is a bit sharp for an oolong.

4th Infusion Parameters: 208F, 2:30

4th Infusion: The color switched to a darker yellow hue thi time. The aroma was all but gone and the flavor started to lighten up. It felt full bodied, but empty. The flavor was very light and still characteristic green oolong.

Used Leaf: The spent leaf was rather small leaf for an oolong. The leaves themselves were very thin and had a lot of tearing around the edges. This was probably the source for the significant amount of dust / sediment.

Rating: 6/10

Conclusion: This tea is a very generic tasting green oolong. It feels hard to distinguish it from other green oolongs. The price seems a bit steep, but as with most oolongs it turns into a rather nice price per cup. The leaf seems to have been handled a bit roughly, and the sorting seems a bit lax. The tea was flavorful and enjoyable, despite being a bit mundane.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Four Seasons Mengjian Winter Tea

Tea: Four Seasons Mengjian Winter Tea - 6339
Vendor: Lupicia USA
Source: Nantou, Taiwan

Leaf: The leaf for this tea consisted of rather small leaf balls. They had a characteristic light green oolong aroma to them.
1st Infusion Parameters: 5g, 5oz, 208F, 5s rinse, 45s infusion

1st Infusion: The first infusion greeted me with a light crisp green oolong aroma. It almost reminded me of a menthol aroma, but not in a bad way. It was the crispness associated with it. The flavor was very smooth and ended with an almost fruity aftertaste. The initial onset of the flavor was very light and snappy, somewhat characteristic I'm finding of a green oolong.

2nd Infusion Parameters: 45s, 208F

2nd Infusion: This infusion was yellower in color and had an aroma more akin to a TKY. The flavor was light, and it didn't seem as much like a green oolong. The flavor was very long lasting, but something started to give me a headache while drinking this tea.

3rd Infusion Parameters: 1:30, 208F

3rd Infusion: This time the aroma was very light and the flavor had lightened up even more. This oolong didn't really hold up to more infusions very well. The headache continued with this infusion.

Rating: 3/10

Conclusion: I'm not sure what it is about this tea, but it reminded me very much of a TKY. Probably the headaches that it generated. The first infusion was quite good, but past that it started look a bit worse. The flavor is quite characteristic green oolong, and enjoyable on the first infusion.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Tea: Hojicha
Vendor: Ippodo
Price: 500 Yen / 100g
Vendor Description: When you drink hojicha for the first time, you might be surprised that it is one of the Japanese green teas. Dark amber in color, this roasted bancha releases an amazingly rich aroma that completely permeates the room. The savory flavor is very distinct; it is rich but light-bodied, without much astringency.

Leaf: The leaf for this tea is lightly twisted and rolled. The color is somewhat uneven, there is a spectrum of lighter to almost black shades of brown. The aroma is rich and smooth with the characteristic roasted sweetness.

1st Infusion Parameters: 5g, 5oz, 208F, 90s

1st Infusion: The tea produced a rich caramel color. It has a strong smoky aroma to it. It is stronger of an aroma than most hojicha that I have tried, the roasted is pushed toward being a smokiness. There is a little bit of sediment in the bottom of the cup creating a small black dot in the center of the caramel. The flavor almost feels burnt. There is a long lasting aftertaste. The flavor starts with a sharp bitterness on the tip of the tongue, and this leads into a thick flavor of the hojicha which leans into a different bitterness. There are hints of astringency that pair with heavier roasted sensation that fades away.

2nd Infusion Parameters: 2 min, 208F

2nd Infusion: This infusion was very solidly brown. The aroma is not the characteristic roasted aroma of tea, but a lightly stingy aroma. The flavor feels much lighter in this infusion and has a much cleaner feeling. The flavor feels a bit empty though, where the central strength of the flavor is gone, but the more delicate aspects remain. There is a medium sense of astringency in this infusion.

Rating: 7/10

Conclusion: This is a very bold hojicha. It produces an enjoyable cup, but it is a bit too heavily roasted for my taste. The flavor borders the roasting on burnt. Because of this though there is a different and unique flavor to the tea. At it's price though, it's a very good price, but again the shipping. Always the shipping when it comes to Ippodo.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Uji Shimizu

Tea: Uji Shimizu
Vendor: Ippodo
Price: 300 Yen / 150g
Vendor Description: An original Ippodo creation, Uji-Shimizu is a matcha-based beverage developed in 1924. It combines matcha powder and sugar to provide an easy to prepare, easy to drink tea for those who prefer their matcha a bit sweeter.

Leaf: This is a very lightly colored powder. It is very light and fluffy with a pale shade of green. There is a light sweet aroma to it. The color is light enough that it was very difficult to photograph well. (Hence the lack of photo for this tea)

Infusion Parameters: 3 Tbs (37g), 12oz water, Refrigerator temp

Infusion: Despite the very light color of the powder the infused tea is actually very dark in color. It is a deep shade of green (which happens to blend quite well with my tablecloth, again no good picture). It is very sweet, although it is in a good combination with the matcha powder creating a good mix for a matcha latte type beverage. The flavor is very smooth, which is not unexpected considering no steeping involved.

Rating: 6/10

Conclusion: This is a pretty good tea beverage mix. It doesn't feign to be anything grander or anything less. The price is appropriate for what it is, although the price of shipping from Ippodo is a bit steep. If you like things like matcha lattes order a lot in one shipment, it'll be cheaper. This won't be replacing a nice warm bowl of matcha, but it's a nice quick drink to have when you're in a hurry.

Friday, February 6, 2009


Tea: Ryokucha
Vendor: Samovar Tea
Price: $16.00 / 4.5 oz
Vendor Description:

Origin: Organic Sencha, Matcha powder, and Toasted Brown Rice from Japan. Blended in San Francisco.

Flavor Profile: Forward notes of toasted brown rice crisps met with sweet green flavors that suggest grass and kelp. This tea is roasty delicious, full bodied, milky, and slightly malty.

Tea Story:Our version of the classic Japanese Genmaicha. This tea is a converter. It converts non-tea drinkers into devoted followers. Check out this infusion and you will be mesmerized and delighted. A stunning green color, this brew is like a meal in itself, a quintessential breakfast green tea.

House blended, we make this grassy, milky, roasty, malty, sweet, and smooth tea by blending organic matcha powder, organic toasted brown rice, and organic asamushi sencha.

Leaf: This tea is best described as a genmaicha blended with matcha. The color of the matcha powder is a bit offputting. It has a very pale yellow-green color to it. There is quite a bit of lightly toasted rice to it, but the dry leaf has a very unusual aroma. It has a very dry and powdery aroma to it, almost dusty. There is also a very vegetal aroma, almost pumpkin like.

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

1st Infusion: The tea produced a murky green brown infusion. There is al ight rice aroma. The rice aroma is mixed with a dry dusty aroma still. The flaavor is full bodied, but there is not much intensity behind it. It is smooth with a medium sense of astringency, but the flavor feels muddled and clouded.

2nd Infusion Parameters: 185F, 30s

2nd Infusion: This infusion was still murky with a yellow-brown hue to it. The flavor was again light, but there was a stronger sencha flavor in it. There was a medium sense of astringnecy, but it felt like a very unimpressive sencha

Rating: 2/10

Conclusion: This was the first tea that I have tried from Samovar, and I had expected something a bit more impressive from them. This may have been partly due to my expectations from them, but this tea was in a word; disappointing. The matcha did not seem fresh, it was downright a hindrance to the tea. The underlying tea itslef was not terribly impressive when it showed thorugh in the second infusion. Still, my thanks to Jessica over at Authoritea for providing me this sample.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Tea: Genmaicha
Vendor: Ippodo
Price: 400 Yen / 100g
Vendor Description: One of the more popular banchas, genmaicha is a mixture of yanagi and roasted genmai (a variety of brown rice). The genmai is roasted at two different levels: lightly roasted and deeply roasted until the rice grains puff. The result is a unique savory flavor and a strong popcorn-like aroma. The quantity of genmai is purposely kept to a minimum while there is an ample amount of leaves with a light bitterness. This provides a perfect balance between the roasted aroma of the genmai and the refreshing aftertaste of the yanagi.

Leaf: The leaf consists of large uneven leaves. The rice is very lightly toasted and in a relatively low concentration. Most genmaicha that I have seen recently have been much more rice:tea.

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

1st Infusion: There is a heavy bancha aroma to this tea, it is a very distinctive bancha sharpness. The infusion has a light murkiness with a light yellow color. The flavor is best described as empty upfront with a certain sense of smoothness. There is a bit of bitterness on the backend. Due to the low concentration of rice, the rice flavor isn't very prominent. There is a smoothness ot the flavor of the tea, it seems like that's about all that the rice component could add. The elaves are mostly expanded on the first infusion, having opened rather rapidly for this tea. Considering the 1g:1oz ratio, this is a rather light / weak flavor.

2nd Infusion Parameters: 185F, 2 min

2nd Infusion: This infusion had a mucher darker yellow color. The aroma was more distinctively bancha in nature. The flavor had a much more rounded front end, but there wasn't a very disticntive flavor in it. There was a light sense of bitterness, but it feels like the tea only added color and texture to the tea rather than a disticntive flavor.

Rating: 2/10

Conclusion: This is definitely not one of the better genmaicha that I have had, but there is one thing that is going for it, at its price it is a very price conscious tea. Unfortunately ordering from Ippodo involves expensive shipping from Japan. The tea itself is ok, you would probably enjoy it if you like bancha.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Pumpkin Chai

Tea: Pumpkin Chai
Vendor: Tea Chai Te
Price: $2.50 / oz
Vendor Description: All the spices in your typical pumpkin pie are called upon here to recreate the same effect in liquid form. This chai has cinnamon, ginger, vanilla, clove, nutmeg and black tea.

Leaf: The leaf consists of small orthodox looking black leaf. There is a noticeable amount of clove in the mix. There are lots of small other bits added in that I couldn't as easily identify.

Infusion Mix: 6 oz milk, 6 oz water, 6g chai, 2tsp honey, 3 minute boil

Infusion: The chai has a very sweet chai aroma to it. The cloves are very prominent and the flavor is very sweet and milky. There is not much of a pumpkin flavor, but there is a light amount of pumpkin in the aroma

Rating: 4/10

Conclusion: This doesn't show the pumpkin side of the chai very well. Aside from that it feels like a clove dominated chai. Most of the flavoring feels like the milk and the honey, as opposed to the chai spices and the tea. Personally I would prefer a bolder chai that is less dominated by chai.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Houji Fruits

Tea: Houji Fruits - 8505
Vendor: Lupicia USA
Price: $7.00 /50g
Vendor Description: Aromatic Houjicha is blended with Muscat and apple flavors. This simple and refreshing tasting tea is very popular. Enjoy as iced tea in summer.

Leaf: This leaf has a nice hoji brown color to it. There are bits of black leaf mixed in as well as small pieces of fruit. The leaf gives off a very nice and sweet fruity aroma.

1st Infusion Parameters: 5g, 5oz, 1min, 208F

1st Infusion: The produced tea is a very dark deep brown. It is dark even for a hojicha. The tea has a very sweet and fruity aroma though. The fruit aroma seems well paired with the hojicha aroma. The hojicha aroma is noticeable and identifiable, but blends well. The flavor of the tea is dominated by a smooth and subdued hojicha flavor with a light clean feeling. There is no astringency and a light sense of sweetness.

2nd Infusion Parameters: 3min, 5oz, 208F

2nd Infusion: This infusion was even darker brown than the first one. It still has hints of the fruity aroma of the first infusion, but it is weaker than before. The aroma of the hojicha is stronger than the first. It seems more like a roasted flavor. There is a sweetness up front in this one which leads into the richness of the hojicha flavor.

Rating: 7/10

Conclusion: This tea makes for a wonderful hojicha. The price is it's downfall though. At $7/50g it's pricing well above many other hojichas, and the fruit flavoring isn't adding enough of an allure to the tea to warrant the price difference between this and a pure hojicha from another vendor. The tea itself is quite wonderful though.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Lu'an Guapian

Tea: Lu'an Guapian
Vendor: Swan Sisters
Price: $10.00/oz
Source: Anhui, China
Vendor Description:
Luan melon seed, English for the Chinese "Luan Guapian" is named for its tightly rolled seed-like shaped leaves. This emerald green tea made in Luan county of Southern China's Anhui province is one of the great bargains of the green tea world. This is because Luan Guapian is largely ignored in the Chinese tea market, though only prime spring leaves are used with a painstaking hand made process. Melon seed is roasted longer than most green teas which gives it the longest shelf life. Try this tea in winter when other green teas are losing their luster.
Harvest Date: 04/ 2008

Leaf: The leaf has a very uniform shape to it. The leaves are twisted and curled and have a dry, dull, and matte appearance to them.

1st Infusion Parameters: 5oz, 5g, 185F, 45s

1st Infusion: The tea has a yellow hue to it. The aroma is quite sweet, it is quite light and subdued though. The flavor is quite bold and shows some bitterness and a medium sense of astringency. Some of this flavor reminds me of a dragonwell.

2nd Infusion Parameters: 20s, 185F, 5oz

2nd Infusion: This infusion was yellow in color again. The flavor was lighter and crisper than the first infusion. It reminds me of a dragonwell yet again. It has what seems like a light woody taste as well. There was the bitterness once again.

Rating: 4/10

Conclusion: There wasn't anything particularly outstanding about this tea, and at $10/oz it doesn't seem to compare well to teas in the same price range. This is possibly influenced still by my general distaste of Chinese green teas, I have yet to find some that compare in flavor to a Japanese green tea. While the two are different entities, I don't see any appeal on the Chinese side over the Japanese.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Teabag - Mecha

Tea: Mecha
Vendor: Zencha

About This Tea: This was a teabag that was a sample included with my latest Zencha order. I did my best to translate the packaging, and the title of it was Mecha, so I'm assuming that this is mecha.

Teabag: This teabag consisted of a satchel style teabag that had a very loose drawstring / tag line at the top and was sewn shut at the top. Unlike pyramidals this was not designed for expansion, just knowing that it had space in the bag to puff out though. The leaf is very small bits of stem and leaf, which correlated with my previous Mecha assumption. There is a like sweet Yutakamidori aroma to it.

1st Infusion Parameters: 185F, 5oz, 45s

1st Infusion: The infusion was lightly murky with a yellow green hue. There wasn't much aroma to the leaf, the aroma that was present with the dry leaf appears to be gone. The flavor is light and sweet. There is a bitterness at the tip of the tongue. The flavor is quite bold and strong and exhibits traces of a gyokuro like grassiness.

2nd Infusion Parameters: 185F, 1:15, 5oz

2nd Infusion: This infusion was much murkier in color. It however didn't have much aroma and not much flavor. It really seems like this tea was only good for one infusion:

Rating: 6/10

Conlcusion: While it's hard to give this tea a rating because I don't know the pricing for this tea. It's not particularly interesting as a tea, but it's not bad. It's a rather good teabag, and at around $6/10 this would be a good teabag to get. Good flavor, just not much of it after the first.