Premium Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea From TeaVivre

Today, I will reviewing the Premium Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea from TeaVivre. You can purchase 100 grams of this tea for USD $18.90 through the TeaVivre website.

This Long Jing Green Tea was grown and harvested in April of 2017 in the famous district of XiHu (West Lake), Zhejiang province of China. Below is a map showing the general location of XiHu.

Although Long Jing green teas are among the most famous and beloved green teas from China, it is (admittedly) historically not one of my preferred green teas. I decided to request this sample from TeaVivre, and give it another chance since it has been a year or two since I last had a Long Jing green tea. My tastes and preferences do change and evolve, so it is always interesting to circle back to a tea that I did not care for a few years ago, and see how I interpret it now.

Let’s get to the review…

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Premium Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves vary in color from pale light green to pale dark green. There are also some yellow-brown leaves in the mix. The blend consists of medium to large leaf and bud fragments, with a few unbroken leafs and buds. There is also a bare stem or two in the mix. The stems show a two young leaf and bud pluck. The leaves have the standard flattened appearance, with the few fully intact plucks coming to a point where the bud ends. The abundance of medium sized fragments indicates that this is, with all due respect, a fairly standard grade of Long Jing green tea. The aroma has scents of roasted peanuts, chocolate, dry grass, and a touch of dry orchid.

Five grams of dry leaves were placed in an eight ounce (240 mL) bizen-ware kyusu, and infused with 175°F (80°C) water for 30 seconds. Each subsequent infusion had another 30 seconds of time added.

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Premium Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a pale, light green-yellow color. The aroma has scents of fresh grass, boiled peanuts, cooked spinach and chard, and orchids. The body is medium-full, with a rich, velvety smooth texture. There is a pleasant, balanced astringency. The taste has notes of fresh grass, cooked spinach, chard, orchids, a light touch of floral bitterness, like lavender or jasmine, and a light touch of boiled peanuts. The aftertaste strongly carries the floral character, and lingers on the breath.

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Premium Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform fresh forest green color, with a few leaves having a brown spot of two. The blend consists mostly of medium to large leaf and bud fragments. There are a few unbroken leaves, and a few leaves and buds still attached to the shoot. The vast majority of leaves are fragments, though. There is a bare stem or two in the mix. The leaves are young, fairly small, and tender. The buds are also rather young and tender. The aroma carries the scents of fresh grash, spinach, chard, and light orchid.

I have enjoyed this experience with the Premium Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea from TeaVivre more so than I did in the past. Most notably, I really enjoyed the texture of this tea, and the strong and lingering floral aftertaste. This experience is encouraging me to try the higher grades of Long Jing from TeaVivre and other vendors. I can imagine that a much more refined, higher quality of this style of green tea could certainly live up to its reputation as one of the best and most famous styles of Chinese green tea. Not to take anything away from the grade of this sample, which provided an excellent aroma and taste experience. This product is an excellent and affordable option for exploring the Long Jing style of green tea.

Thank you again to TeaVivre for providing this sample of Premium Dragon Well Long Jing Green Tea. Cheers!

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Spring 2017 Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea From TeaVivre

Today, I will be focusing on the Spring 2017 harvest of Huang Shan Green Tea provided by TeaVivre.

The TeaVivre website is among my favorite tea vendor sites because it provides so much interesting content on each of its products, including harvest information, garden information, history, etc. A website with this amount of information on each product is a great credit to the owner of the business, proving that they care about the quality of products they are offering, and actually know and want to teach about the products they are offering. They are not just sourcing cheap teas and selling at retail price to make the most profit. They are proud of where their products are sourced from. Cheers to TeaVivre for their care and efforts!

True Huang Shan Mao Feng green teas are sourced from the Yellow Mountain (HuangShan) in the Anhui province of China. The tea bush used to make this style of tea is of the HuangShan large-leaf type. This type of tea bush is known for the number of buds it produces, and the abundance of downy-like fuzz on those buds. It is also quite cold-tolerant, which is important since it is grown in the mountains.

This particular Huang Shan Mao Feng green tea is sourced from the Dailing Tea Garden, which is owned and operated by Mr. Ke, in Da Guyun Village. Mr. Ke has been working with his family in tea growing since the age of 15.

You can purchase 50 grams of this Spring 2017 Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea for USD $10.90 from the TeaVivre website.

The map below shows the general location of HuangShan.

Let’s get to the review.

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Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a bright, fresh forest green color, with the buds having silver downy-like fuzz on them. The stems have a green-yellow color. The pluck is mostly two leaves and a tender bud intact on the shoot, and a few detached leaf fragments. There are no totally bare stems in the mix. There are no obvious signs of oxidation on the leaves, indicating that the leaves were properly processed to stop the oxidation process very shortly after being harvested. The leaves are very lightly rolled, and have a light, fluffy density. The aroma has scents of fresh hay, light brown sugar, light vanilla, and a touch of pecan and dried chrysanthemum. The aroma is gently sweet and very attractive.

Five grams of dry leaves were placed in a 5 ounce (150 mL) porcelain gaiwan, and infused with 175°F (80°C) water for 30 seconds. Each subsequent infusion added another 30 seconds.

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Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a light, green-yellow color. The aroma has scents of chrysanthemums, fresh hay, and lighter scents of steamed asparagus and baby spinach. The body is medium, which is more than I expected, with a very smooth, buttery texture. There is a nice astringency in the earlier infusions, which provides an uplifting energy to the tea. The taste has notes of chrysanthemums, hay, steamed asparagus, and a lighter note of baby spinach. The aftertaste carries the floral notes, and leaves a refreshing, lingering floral essence in the mouth.

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Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform fresh, bright forest green color. There is no reddish tint on any of the leaves, confirming that very minimal oxidation had occurred in the leaves prior to processing, as is expected from a green tea. The leaves, buds, and shoots appear to be rather young and tender. There appears to be signs of bug bites on a few of the leaves, perhaps indicating a lack of chemical pesticides being used on the farm, which is definitely a good thing. The aroma carries the scents of chrysanthemum, hay, grass, and lighter notes of steamed asparagus and baby spinach.

The Spring 2017 Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea from TeaVivre is an excellent example of a classic, world-renowned Chinese green tea. Neither overpowering or underwhelming, this green tea is a perfect way for black tea drinkers to begin their expansion into other styles of tea. The fresh, floral character of this tea provides an uplifting, refreshing experience. The body is fuller than expected, and provides a nice depth of texture that serves as an excellent first impression of the tea liquid as it passes the lips. Tea drinkers who want and prefer that grassy, vegetal punch from a green tea may find this style to be underwhelming and generally unimpressive. But for those who can appreciate the varying styles of green tea, this one will be a highly satisfying experience.

Thank you to TeaVivre for providing this sample of Spring 2017 Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea! I am looking forward to reviewing the other products included with this sample packet. Cheers!

#12 Bai Hao Green Tea From The Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership

What’s in my cup today (as the trendy marketing phrase goes)? Something unique and special from my favorite small tea farm in Thailand, The Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership.  Their website gives some interesting information on the history of this tea farm prior to the cultivation of tea, so check it out! There are also some nice photos in their gallery.

Be sure to check them out on Facebook, also, where they regularly post beautiful photos of their tea fields, and interesting videos of their oolong and green teas being processed.

This #12 Bai Hao Green Tea is a new experimental product for The Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership. While they do also make a green tea called Jade Green, which can be purchased here, the Bai Hao product uses only the first young leaf and young bud pluck. The Jade Green uses the two leaf and bud pluck. I reviewed the Jade Green Tea a few years ago. A photo of the canister that the Jade Green Tea comes in is below. With the difference in plucking standard, I expect this Bai Hao to have a more delicate character than the Jade Green. Both products are made using leaves harvested from TTES#12 (Jin Xuan) cultivar bushes, so again, it will be interesting to see how something as seemingly simple as a one leaf pluck difference contributes to variances in character.

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#12 Jade Green Tea – Retail Package

As for a little refresher on The Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership, it is a small farm consisting of only about five acres (2 hectares) of land, only half of which is under tea cultivation. The farm sits at an altitude about 1,500 meters (4,900 feet) above sea level. The farm cultivates the TTES#17 (Qing Xin) and TTES#12 (Jin Xuan) cultivars. A Google map showing the general location of The Doi Inthanon Partnership farm is below.

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#12 Bai Hao Green Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform dark charcoal gray color, with young silver-gold buds. The color indicates that the leaves were permitted a very slight oxidation, and given a heavy roast during production. The pluck appears to be one tender leaf and a bud still attached to the shoot. There are few broken or detached fragments, and no bare stems. The leaves are hand-rolled, as indicated by the “loose” appearance, and variation in the shape of the finished leaves. The aroma is very attractive, with a dominant scent of chocolate that reminds me of chocolate covered strawberries, and a touch of dry cut grass.

Five grams of dry leaves were placed in a 240 ml (about 8 ounces) bizen-ware kyusu teapot. The leaves were infused in 175°F (80°C) water for 30 seconds on the first infusion, with 15 seconds added to each subsequent infusion.

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#12 Bai Hao Green Tea – 1st Infusion Liquid

The liquid has a pale yellow-gold color, which deepens significantly between infusions two through four. The aroma has scents of lotus flower, wet stones, cooked celery and cooked collard greens. The body is medium, with a creamy, smooth texture. The texture evolves into a more broth-like character with subsequent infusions. There is a mild astringency. The taste has notes that perfectly reflect the aroma, consisting of lotus flower, wet stones, cooked celery and collard greens, and a touch of fresh grass. The aftertaste carries the mineral and grassy notes, and evolves into a lingering floral essence in the mouth.

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#12 Bai Hao Green Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a mostly uniform forest green color, with a slight oxidation showing through on many of the leaves. The pluck consists mostly of one tender leaf and bud, but there are few with a second leaf attached. Almost all of the leaves are fully intact, unbroken, and attached to the shoot along with the bud. There are very few detached, broken leaves in the mix, indicating a high level of care being taken while handling the leaves during the harvesting and processing stages. There are no bare stems. The tender young leaves are rather long and narrow for the TTES#12 cultivar, although the age may explain the lack of broad width. The leaves are quite thin and delicate, again an indication of the young age. The aroma carries the scents of cooked celery and vegetables, wet stones, and lotus flowers.

Below is another photo I took of some individual plucks.

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#12 Bai Hao Green Tea – Infused Individual Leaves

As I have come to expect from the teas produced by The Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership, the #12 Bai Hao Green Tea gave me much to appreciate in every stage of the analysis. The incredible aroma of the dry leaves was the first impression, and a very positive first impression it was. The evolution of the aroma, texture, and taste of the tea liquid from infusion to infusion offered generally the same notes with varying levels of strength. Some infusions highlighting the lotus flower notes, others highlighting the mineral notes, and others offering more of the cooked vegetables and greens. The texture evolving from a smooth, creamy texture at first to a more broth-like, savory character from the second infusion on. And, my favorite part of this review, was observing the infused leaves. These leaves truly reflected the hard work and high level of care shown to the leaves at every stage from the bush to the final product. Quality is definitely the focus of The Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership.

Thanks again to The Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership for sending this sample of #12 Bai Hao Green Tea! Cheers!

Pan Roasted Premium Green Tea From Arakai Estate

Today, I will be focusing on an experimental product from the Arakai Estate in Bellthorpe, Australia. This is the Pan Roasted Premium Green Tea. This product is not currently being sold by Arakai Estate. I introduced the Arakai Estate in detail in my earlier review of their Spring Flush 2016 Premium Black Tea. Check out that review or their website to learn more about this young, yet ambitious and successful estate.

Considering that Arakai Estate grows Japanese cultivars of tea bushes, I am expecting this pan roasted green tea to be comparable to Kamairicha green teas of Japan. That is good news to me, as a good Kamairicha makes for one of my favorite styles of green tea.

Let’s get to the review…

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Pan Roasted Premium Green Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform dark charcoal color with a green tint. The leaves are rolled, and fairly uniform in size. There are no apparent buds, and a few bare stems in the mix. Based on the size of the dry leaves, I expect them to unfurl into unbroken, individual leaves and large leaf fragments. The appearance gives me the impression that there was much care and attention put into the production processes. The aroma is sweet and inviting, with scents of brown sugar, sweet cream, vanilla, toasted oats, and  a light touch of orchid.

Nine grams of dry leaves were placed in an 18 ounce (530 ml) cast-iron tetsubin teapot, and infused with 175°F water for 2:00 minutes.

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Pan Roasted Premium Green Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a green-yellow color. The aroma has scents of steamed spinach, with lighter scents of sweet cream and orchid. The body is medium, with a velvety texture. There is a very unique, creamy astringency. That description sounds strange, but I do not know how else to describe this characteristic. It almost reminds me of plain kefir. The taste has notes of steamed spinach, complimented by undertones of brown sugar, vanilla, and orchid. The floral character carries into the aftertaste, finishing with the familiar quality of Japanese Kamairicha green teas.

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Pan Roasted Premium Green Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a pale forest green color, with touches of reddish-brown, indicating that the leaves had some oxidation occur during production. As expected, the mix consists of mostly unbroken, individual leaves and large fragments. There are no buds in the mix, and a few bare stems. This is another fun tea to play with since there are plenty of unbroken leaves to observe the sizes and shapes of. The leaves have a smooth, yet durable feel. The aroma has scents of steamed spinach, wet autumn leaves, orchid, and a light touch of vanilla.

The Pan Roasted Premium Green Tea from Arakai Estate has an interesting combination of characteristics, touching on aspects of floral oolong teas and Japanese Kamairicha style green teas. The texture of this tea is very unique, to say the least. There were several moments during this review where I had a hard time describing what I was experiencing, notably the type of floral description to give and the unique astringency.

It is apparent that the people at Arakai Estate truly made their best efforts to carefully handle, roll, and roast this tea during production. I have a sample of the Pan Roasted Premium Black Tea also waiting for me here. If it is half as interesting to review as the Pan Roasted Premium Green Tea, then I better choose a day where my senses are prepared for the challenge. As always, I am looking forward to it!

Thanks again to the Collins family at Arakai Estate for giving me the opportunity to try this experimental product. Keep up the excellent work!

Gamnong Green Tea 2017 Harvest from Hankook Tea

Sometimes it can be a challenge to hold off on reviewing certain samples, but I do try to cycle through samples from different vendors for several reasons. This sample of Gamnong Jaksul Cha from Hankook Tea was definitely one of the samples that I had to practice some discipline in not tearing into as soon as I received it, and every day since.

According to the Hankook Tea website, this Gamnong Jaksul Cha (Green Tea) was harvested by hand in mid to late April of 2017 from the Honam Tea Estate in South Korea. The harvesting takes place immediately before and after the Gokwoo season, which is the “rainfall of seeding”, and is the 6th of 24 seasonal divisions according to the lunar calendar.

You can purchase a 100 gram canister of the Gamnong Green Tea 2017 Harvest from the Hankook Tea website for USD $68.00 plus shipping fees.

Let’s get to the review…

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Gamnong Green Tea 2017 Harvest – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have an almost perfectly uniform fresh dark forest green color with a slight shimmer. The leaves consist of medium sized fragments, and there are some fresh buds in the mix, as well as a few young, bare stems or shoots. There may be some unbroken, small, young leaves in the mix. The leaves are machine rolled. The aroma is fresh and warming, with scents of caramel, dried grass, toasted rice, and dried wild flowers.

Dry leaves were placed in a bizen ware kyusu teapot, and infused in 175°F water for 2:00 minutes.

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Gamnong Green Tea 2017 Harvest – Liquid

The liquid has a bright, green color with a slight haze. The aroma has fresh scents of steamed spinach, fresh cut grass, wildflowers, and rice milk. The body is medium, with a slightly brothy texture, and a lively, clean energy. There is a nice balance of light umami and astringency. The taste has notes of steamed spinach, swiss chard, wildflowers, dandelion, rice, and a touch of bitterness that reminds me of walnuts. The aftertaste carries the grassy and floral notes, and lingers on the breath.

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Gamnong Green Tea 2017 Harvest – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform fresh forest green color. The leaves are tender, young, and small. They are very soft and delicate to the touch, and tear apart quite easily after 3 infusions. The mix consists mostly of leaf fragments, but there are a few unbroken leaves, bud fragments, and a few young, bare shoots. The aroma continues the scents of fresh grass, steamed spinach, wildflowers, dandelion, and rice milk. Altogether, I took six infusions from these leaves, and although the last infusion or two were quite light on taste, they were still refreshing and enjoyable.

The Gamnong Green Tea could easily be a daily drinker for me (and I have not even tried it cold-brewed yet). As I have mentioned in earlier posts about the green teas from Hankook Tea, these products seem to be a perfect blend of Japanese style and Chinese style greens teas, with the light umami, grassiness of Japanese, and the nutty, floral characters of the Chinese. Overall, it just seems to hit all parts of the tongue with excellent balance. It is clean, refreshing, uplifting, and truly satisfying. If you have not given South Korean green teas a chance yet, now is the time!

Thanks again to Hankook Tea for providing this sample of Gamnong Green Tea! As usual, it was another great experience. Cheers!

Ujeon Gamro 2017 Green Tea from Hankook Tea and Honam Tea Estate

Last week, I saw a social media post from Hankook Tea that sparked my excitement. Hankook Tea was the first brand of South Korean tea that I had ever experienced, and I have not had many others since (maybe one or two). I never quite forgot the experiences with the teas from this brand back in 2014. Here is a map showing the general location of Honam Tea Estate.

Anyway, the social media post was announcing the arrival of their 2017 Ujeon Sejak harvest. This is basically a special harvest completed before the full first flush harvest from the Honam Tea Estate in South Korea. Ujeon (pronounced “woo-jeon”) translates into English as “before rain”. So, the delicate buds and young leaves in this tea were hand harvested before the first rain (Gokwoo) of the spring harvest. I suppose that only an experienced tea lover can get excited over this description.

The Ujeon Gamro 2017 Green Tea is currently being offered from Hankook Tea in the 70 gram canister for USD $120.00 plus shipping, or a 10 gram sample pack for USD $18.00 plus shipping. Just a warning, 10 grams is not going to be enough, and you will be stuck wanting more until next year.

I will get more detailed about my love for South Korean teas in a future post. I still have reviews planned for the Jaksul Gamnong 2017 Green Tea and the Hwang Cha Gold 2016.

Let’s get to the review…

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Ujeon Gamro 2017 Green Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform fresh dark forest green color. The mixture consists of medium leaf fragments to unbroken young leaves and buds. The leaves and buds appear to be machine rolled. The leaves are thin and delicate, and crack easily into small crumbs. The aroma has fresh scents of brown sugar, sweet butter, dried kelp, fresh spinach, and wild spring flowers.

The dry leaves were placed in a porcelain gaiwan, and infused with 175°F water for 2:00 minutes.

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Ujeon Gamro 2017 Green Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a pale light greenish-yellow color. The aroma has scents of fresh grass, lightly cooked spinach, butter, wild flowers, kelp, and a touch of brown sugar and toasted nuts. The body is medium, with a velvety, rich texture, with a savory character not quite like the umami of a good Japanese gyokuro, but remarkable in its own rite. The taste has notes of spinach, grass, wild flowers, kelp, light butter and toasted nuts. The aftertaste has a clean, grassy, and floral character that lingers on the tongue.

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Ujeon Gamro 2017 Green Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform fresh forest green color. The blend consists of mostly leaf and young bud fragments, with a small percentage of unbroken leaves and buds. The leaves are very thin and delicate, and have the common serrated edges. The unbroken leaves are very small and young. All but one leaf show no signs of oxidation (you can see the one leaf with a reddish tint just to the right of the center of the photo). The aroma has scents of lightly cooked spinach, fresh grass, wild flowers, and kelp.

After years of reminiscing on the tasteful experiences of Hankook Tea products, this Ujeon Gamro 2017 Green Tea quickly brought me back to those previous tastings. Literally within one second of breaking the seal on the packet, an explosion of fresh, sweet scents filled my office. The savory character and rich texture of the tea, combined with a jab of astringency, and the clean, fresh grass and flowery taste, truly brings together an experience that hits every bud of the tongue. I probably infused these leaves about ten times altogether, simply because I did not want to stop drinking this tea. The taste was quite light after the sixth infusion, but I did not care. I just wanted more.

Thank you to Hankook Tea and Honam Tea Estate for providing this sample of Ujeon Gamro 2017 Green Tea! This was an excellent reminder of the quality and pleasure I have come to expect from this brand of products. And thank you, as always, to my readers. Cheers!

Organic Kagoshima Sencha Saemidori Green Tea from Yuuki-Cha

The first harvest of the spring season is not only an exciting time for tea lovers because of the famous Darjeeling first flush teas that hit the markets. Tea growers in Japan also have some highly prized first flush teas, which they refer to as “Shincha”, which translates in to English as “new tea”. This first flush of Japanese grown tea is transformed in to some bright, tasteful, umami-rich versions of sencha, gyokuro, kamairicha, and matcha. Spring time is an awesome time of year to be a tea connoisseur.

The tea I am reviewing today, the Organic Kagoshima Sencha Saemidori from Yuuki-Cha, is grown in the area of Makurazaki, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan. You can see it’s location in the south of the Japan archipelago in the Google map below.

As the name suggests, this shincha uses ichibancha (first harvest) leaves from Saemidori cultivar tea bushes. The Saemidori cultivar was developed by cross pollination of the more well known Yabukita and Asatsuyu cultivars. This tea is processed in the “fukamushi” (deep) steaming method. This deep steaming gives the finished leaves their dark green color, and helps accentuate the rich umami character of the tea. The tea is certified organic by JAS, as are all of the teas offered on the Yuuki-Cha website.

I always enjoy the packaging that the teas from Yuuki-Cha come in. A good, airtight seal on the packages keeps the contents as fresh as possible. Opening the package releases an explosion of fresh green tea scent. It’s an exciting moment for me!

Let’s get to the review.

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Organic Kagoshima Sencha Saemidori Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have two uniform colors, dark forest green and fresh, lighter green. The leaves are machine rolled, giving the standard long, tight roll appearance. There are a few stems in the mix, and no obvious tips, as expected. The leaves range in size from small crumbs to medium size fragments. I do not expect to find any full leaves in this mix. The aroma is incredible, with strong, sweet scents of brown sugar, sweet butter, grass, and cherry blossom. This tea defines freshness to me.

The dry tea leaves were infused in 160ºF water for 2:00 minutes on the first infusion, and 175ºF for 30 seconds on the second infusion.

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Organic Kagoshima Sencha Saemidori Tea Liquid

The tea liquid has a beautiful, bright jade green color. The aroma has scents of sweet grass, butter, cherry blossom, cooked spinach, and light touch of fresh kelp. The body is medium, with a rich, buttery feel, and perfectly balanced umami character. The taste has notes of sweet grass, cherry blossom, cooked spinach, kelp, and a slight mineral touch. The aftertaste holds an amazing floral and mineral character, which lingers in the mouth for an extended period.

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Organic Kagoshima Sencha Saemidori Wet Leaves

The wet leaves has a uniform fresh forest green color. The leaves have a very soft, delicate, silky texture. The leaves consist of small to medium size fragments, with a few stems and even a few buds in the mix. The aroma has scents of sweet butter, grass, cherry blossom, and a light touch of kelp.

The Organic Kagoshima Sencha Saemidori is exactly what I was looking for in this year’s line of shincha green teas. An amazingly fresh and sensational green tea from start to finish, from the aroma of the dry leaves to the taste of the last drop of the third infusion. The rich, buttery feel and the perfect amount of umami keeps the experience interesting all the way through. The fact that this is an organic product just makes it all the more worthy of my full respect and appreciation. Well done!

You can purchase 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of the Organic Kagoshima Sencha Saemidori from Yuuki-Cha for USD $20.93 plus shipping (which is reasonable, about $4 to Pittsburgh). Believe me, this tea is worth every penny!

Thank you for taking your time to read my review of the Organic Kagoshima Sencha Saemidori. Have a great weekend!

Organic Uji Gyokuro Gokou Green Tea from Yuuki-Cha

Here is a tea that I have been excited to review since receiving the package. Today, I have the time to give this high quality, beautiful tea the careful attention that it demands. This review will focus on the Organic Uji Gyokuro Gokou Green Tea from Yuuki-Cha. To view this tea at the Yuuki-Cha website, please click here.

Yuuki-Cha sourced this gyokuro green tea from a JAS certified organic garden in Ujitawara, in the Kyoto Prefecture of Japan. The leaves used in this gyokuro are harvested entirely from the Gokou tea bush cultivar, typically in the month of May. This particular garden shades the tea bushes, reducing the exposure to direct sunlight, for thirty days before harvesting. This particular product being from the May, 2014 harvest, which is considered the first harvest (Ichibancha) of 2014. The leaves are steamed at a medium level (Chumushi).

The gardens approach to creating a more natural product does not end in the organic methods used in cultivating the bushes. After a light processing, the leaves are not sorted or graded, and are sold as is. In the Japanese tea industry, unsorted or ungraded tea leaves are referred to as “aracha”. The end result is a truly unique, natural, and authentic gyokuro green tea.

The sample packet has been opened, and there is a high level of freshness in the smell that I have never experienced before (and this product is 10 months old!). Let the journey begin…

Organic Uji Gyokuro Gokou Green Tea Dry Leaves
Organic Uji Gyokuro Gokou Green Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves range in color from fresh, bright forest green to fresh, dark forest green, with a light glossy effect. The leaves are obviously unsorted, with fragments ranging in size from small crumbs to medium leaf fragments, with a few small pieces of bare stem in the mix. The leaves are lightly rolled, with a somewhat soft (yet dry), fresh feel. For a tea that is nearly a year old, these leaves have an incredibly fresh character. The smell has scents of fresh dewy grass, brown sugar, sea mist, light dry kelp, and fresh wet forest floor.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 160°F (70°C). The leaves were infused for 2:00 minutes.

My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 140°F (60°C) to 150°F (65°C). Steep the leaves for 2:00 minutes. Expect at least three quality infusions out of the same serving of leaves, decreasing the steep time by 60 seconds on the second infusion, and increasing by 30 seconds on the third infusion and so on. Also, increase water temperature by 10°F (5°C) on each subsequent infusion starting with the second.

Organic Uji Gyokuro Gokou Green Tea Liquor
Organic Uji Gyokuro Gokou Green Tea Liquor

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright jade green color, and a slightly cloudy appearance (as expected and typical). The aroma has scents of fresh kelp, butter, fresh cut grass, brown sugar, sea mist, and steamed asparagus. The body is medium-full, with a buttery, smooth texture. There is a very fresh, high quality umami character, even considering the higher than recommended water temperature used. There is also a modest astringency that can be attributed to the higher water temperature. The taste has notes of fresh cut sweet grass, kelp, butter, steamed asparagus, steamed spinach, sea mist, mineral (salt), and light brown sugar. The aftertaste carries the notes of sweet grass and buttered asparagus, with a light touch of brown sugar. A pleasing flowery essence evolves as a few seconds pass, and lingers on the breath.

Organic Uji Gyokuro Gokou Green Tea Infused Leaves
Organic Uji Gyokuro Gokou Green Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform fresh, dark forest green color, with the stem fragments being light forest green. The leaves range in size from crumbs to medium leaf fragments, with some stem fragments in the mix. The leaves have a very soft, delicate character, and have the consistency that would make for a tasteful snack with a splash or two of soy sauce. The smell is dominated by scents of fresh cut dewy grass and fresh kelp.

Although admittedly this is only my fourth or fifth gyokuro green tea, I can say with absolute certainty that it is levels above the others that I have tried. As you can understand by reading the descriptions above, the word fresh is the most accurate descriptive word for this product, and I have to state again that this product is nearly a year old! I will keeping a close on the Yuuki-Cha website this coming May, with intense excitement of the fresh harvests of 2015. This Organic Uji Gyokuro Gokou Green Tea embodies the best of what the Japanese tea industry offers to the world. The taste evolves beautifully through multiple infusions, and provides a positive experience from the very second the packet is opened through the consumption of the infused leaves. There is absolutely nothing to waste in this product! Whether you are new to gyokuro green tea or a veteran drinker of this type, give this product a try. If you are disappointed for any reason, please send it to me, and I will gladly enjoy it!

Thank you to Yuuki-Cha for sourcing this excellent Organic Uji Gyokuro Gokou Green Tea. Happy St. Patrick’s Day to my fellow Irishmen and Irishwomen, and to all those who celebrate today! Cheers!

Azores Encosta De Bruma Premium Green Tea from What-Cha

Today’s review will focus on the Azores Encosta De Bruma Premium Green Tea from What-Cha, sourced from the Gorreana Tea Estate. You may view this product at the What-Cha website by clicking here.

The Azores are a group of islands located in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Portugal. The Azores are considered an autonomous region consisting of nine islands. These islands have a subtropical climate, and are situated near the junction of three tectonic plates, the North American, Eurasian, and African, giving the islands a heavy dose of volcanic influence.

The Azores Encosta De Bruma Premium Green Tea is grown and manufactured at the Gorreana Tea Estate, on the island of Sao Miguel, which is a part of the eastern group of The Azores Islands (see Google map below). Gorreana Tea Estate was founded in 1883, and is thus considered the oldest tea estate in Europe. Gorreana prides itself on not using pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides on the tea bushes, and claims to be located hundreds of miles from any industrial pollution. With mineral rich soils and fresh oceanic air, Gorreana Tea Estate produces high quality green and black teas.

The sample packet has been opened, let the journey begin…

Azores Encosta De Bruma Premium Green Tea Dry Leaves
Azores Encosta De Bruma Premium Green Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves range in color from dark green to greenish-brown. The leaves are all small to medium sized fragments. There are some bare stems in the mix. There are no obvious buds. The leaves are machine rolled. There is a wide variation of fragment sizes and rolling consistency. The stems show a two leaf pluck. Some of the leaves appear to have had some considerable oxidation occur before the kill green process was conducted. The leaves have a light, dry feel, and crack easily into coarse crumbs. The smell has scents of dried apricot (dominant), hay, forest floor, and light dandelion.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Spring water was heated to 185°F (85°C). The leaves were infused for 3:00 minutes.

My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 175°F (80°C). Steep the leaves for 2:00 minutes. Expect two to three quality infusions out of the same serving of leaves, increasing the steep time by 30 seconds on each subsequent infusion.

Azores Encosta De Bruma Premium Green Tea Liquor
Azores Encosta De Bruma Premium Green Tea Liquor

The first infusion produced a liquor with a golden-orange color, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of apricot, dandelion, forest floor, and sweet hay. The body is medium, with a clean, gentle texture. There is a unique acidity to this tea. The taste has notes of apricot, dandelion, sweet hay, and mineral rich soil. The apricot and hay notes carry into the aftertaste, and a slightly sweet, light floral essence is left on the breath.

Azores Encosta De Bruma Premium Green Tea Infused Leaves
Azores Encosta De Bruma Premium Green Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves range in color from fresh forest green to copper brown. The leaves are all medium to large fragments. The large fragments are of smaller, younger leaves, and there are a few that are nearly whole. There are quite a few bare stems and twigs in the mix, and also a few buds, some of which are nearly whole. Most of the stems show a two leaf pluck. Many of the leaves definitely had some oxidation occur during processing. The leaves have a soft, smooth, delicate texture. The smell has scents of dandelion, hay, forest floor, and apricot.

The Azores Encosta De Bruma Premium Green Tea is a unique, dominantly fruity green tea with a specific acidity. The tea is quite accurately described on the What-Cha website as having apricot aromas and tastes. I felt apricot the second I opened the packet. That apricot character carried through the entire experience. Arguments aside on whether this is truly a green tea or an oolong tea, this tea would be an excellent product for someone who is looking for a sweeter, less vegetal aroma and taste. The leaves provided two quality infusions, and a third that was acceptable, but considerably lighter in overall character. I can imagine that this tea would make an excellent chilled tea, or a kombucha base.

Thanks to the management at What-Cha for providing this sample of Azores Encosta De Bruma Premium Green Tea for the Gorreana Tea Estate. Cheers!

Organic Tezumi Teira Kamairicha Kanayamidori Green Tea from Yuuki-Cha

Today’s review will focus on the Organic Tezumi Teira Kamairicha Kanayamidori Green Tea from Yuuki-Cha. You may view this product at the Yuuki-Cha website by clicking here.

One of the few remaining artisan Kamairicha green teas produced in Japan, this product is processed completely by hand. The leaves of the Kanayamidori cultivar tea bushes are hand-picked (Tezumi), and hand roasted (Teira), unlike the majority of Japanese Kamairicha green teas which are now plucked and roasted/processed with the help of machines. The tea garden is located in the mountains of Gokase Town, at an altitude of about 600 meters (1,970 feet) above sea level. Gokase Town is in the Miyazaki Prefecture, Japan.

Kamairicha is a unique style of green tea in Japan. While other types of better known Japanese green teas such as sencha, gyokuro, and kabusecha are steamed in order to halt the enzymatic activity that causes oxidation, kamairicha teas are pan-fired, more similar to Chinese green teas. However, Kamairicha certainly holds it Japanese green tea qualities quite well, as we will see in the review below.

The sample packet has been opened, and the pan-firing gives this tea a completely different smell than other Japanese green teas. Let the journey begin…

Organic Tezumi Teira Kamairicha Kanayamidori Green Tea Dry Leaves
Organic Tezumi Teira Kamairicha Kanayamidori Green Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform dark, slightly faded forest green color. The leaves are mostly large fragments, and I expect to find a few unbroken leaves in the mix. There are no bare stems in the mix. There appears to be some young, fresh buds in the mix. The leaves are neatly hand-rolled, giving them a high quality appearance. The leaves appear to be quite young, as they are quite small. The leaves have a dry, rigid texture. The smell has scents of dry sweet grass, brown sugar, cherry blossom, and roses.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Spring water was heated to 185°F (85°C). The leaves were infused for 3:00 minutes.

My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 175°F (80°C). Steep the leaves for 2:00 minutes. Expect three quality infusions out of the same serving of leaves, increasing the steep time by 30 seconds on each subsequent infusion.

Organic Tezumi Teira Kamairicha Kanayamidori Green Tea Liquor
Organic Tezumi Teira Kamairicha Kanayamidori Green Tea Liquor

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright, welcoming greenish-yellow color, perfectly clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of steamed asparagus, cherry blossom, roses, grass, light cherry, very light brown sugar, and light sweet corn. The body is light-medium, with a pleasing umami quality, and a smooth, buttery, brothy texture. There is a considerable level of astringency. The taste has notes of fresh grass, steamed and buttered asparagus, cherry blossoms, roses, sweet corn, and lighter notes of cherries and nuts. The grassy, cherry blossom notes carry into the aftertaste, and leave a refreshingly sweet essence in the mouth.

Organic Tezumi Teira Kamairicha Kanayamidori Green Tea Infused Leaves
Organic Tezumi Teira Kamairicha Kanayamidori Green Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform fresh bright forest green color. The leaves are mostly large fragments, with some unbroken leaves in the mix. There are no completely bare stems, and a few young buds in the mix. The leaves are quite small, with the largest unbroken leaf measuring just slightly over one inch (25 mm). The leaves have a soft, tender texture. The smell has scents of fresh cut grass, steamed asparagus, and lighter scents of roses and cherry blossoms.

The Organic Tezumi Terei Kamairicha Kanayamidori Green Tea from Yuuki-Cha is a perfect counterpart to the steamed green teas of Japan. If you overindulge in one type, the other type is there to provide the desired character. This artisan Japanese green tea has a refreshing character, with vegetal and floral aromas and tastes, and complete with a satisfying umami touch. The leaves provide consistent quality of aroma and taste through at least three to four infusions. Throw in the fact that this green tea is organically certified by the JAS (Japanese Agricultural Standard), and I consider this product to be a keeper.

Cheers!