Yakushima Cedar Wood Smoked Hojicha Green Tea from Yunomi

Join me for a quick review of the Yakushima Cedar Wood Smoked Hojicha Green Tea from Yunomi, who sourced this tea from the Kaneroku Matsumoto Tea Garden, located in the Shimada City region, Shizuoka, Japan. The Google map below shows the general location of Shimada City.

I will be posting a Company Spotlight on Yunomi in the near future, but wanted to get this review posted while it was fresh in my mind.

This green tea is roasted, then smoked using cedar wood procured from Yakushima Island. Generally speaking, this style of green tea, known as Hojicha, is lower in caffeine due to the roasting process, and sweeter in flavor, with a dominant smoky and roasty character. It makes for an excellent tasting and refreshing iced or cold brewed tea.

You can purchase 60 grams of this Yakushima Cedar Wood Smoked Hojicha Green Tea from Yunomi for USD $18.00 plus shipping.

Let’s get to the review…

The dry leaves have a uniform, pale brown color. The blend consists of small leaf fragments, and bare, woody stems. The leaves and stems are obviously roasted. The aroma is dominated by scents of cedar wood and smoke.

Seven grams of dry leaves were placed in an eighteen ounce (530 mL) cast iron tetsubin teapot, and infused with 190°F (88°C) water for 1:00 minute, per the suggested brewing instructions on the packaging. 30 seconds of time were added to each subsequent infusion.

The liquid had a pale, golden yellow color. The aroma again is dominated by scents of cedar wood and smoke. The body is medium, with a very smooth, velvety texture. There is no bitterness or astringency. The taste is also dominated by notes of cedar wood and smoke, with an overall roasty character. The aftertaste is sweet and woody.

The infused leaves have a uniform dark brown color. The aroma, as expected, is dominated by scents of cedar wood and smoke.

Although the descriptions above may seem two dimensional, being cedar wood and smoke, don’t let these short descriptions lead you to believe that this hojicha is anything other than delicious. That is exactly what it is. There are so many occasions that I can picture immediately that this tea would compliment perfectly. Served hot or cold, this is a satisfying, robust, yet refreshing style of green tea. The leaves can be used multiple times, and still provide that sweet, woody, roasty character. If you have not tried this style of Japanese green tea, now would be the perfect time to put an end to that drought. Trust the Japanese tea expert at Yunomi to source the finest hojicha, and other teas of Japan, that you can experience.

Thank you to Ian Chun at Yunomi for providing this sample of Yakushima Cedar Wood Smoked Hojicha Green Tea! Cheers!

 

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A Look at the Hana No Uta Arita Yaki Teacups from Yuuki-Cha

This quick post will focus on a new pair of Hana No Uta Arita Yaki teacups that I received from Yuuki-Cha. If you have not followed my previous recommendations to check out Yuuki-Cha, both for their amazing (and all organic) Japanese teas and the handmade teawares, then do it now!

These cups were handcrafted in the town of Arita, Saga Prefecture, Japan.

Let’s take a look at the photos first.

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Hana No Uta Arika Yaki Teacup Exterior

 

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Hana No Uta Arita Yaki Teacup Interior

As you can see, the artwork and design are simply beautiful and eye-catching both on the exterior and interior. The feel of the cup is light, yet does not get overwhelmingly hot to the touch, so it is easy to hold even with a freshly poured black tea. The exterior texture is very smooth, and has numerous shallow indents all over it that make holding the cup a little easier. The indents cannot be seen, but are easily felt.  It holds about 4 to 4.5 ounces (120 to 135 ml) of liquid. The lip is slightly curved outward for a clean, drip-free sip.

Sometimes, the occasion calls for more than just the standard solid white tasting cups. The Hana No Uta Arita Yaki teacups are the perfect way to add a little extra beauty to tea tasting experience.

Although currently out of stock, the Hana No Uta Arita Yaki teacups can be purchased for $8.80 USD per cup, plus shipping from Japan. Be sure to take a look at the other amazing teawares on the site. I am sure you will find something interesting to add to your collection.

Have a good weekend, everyone! Cheers!

Organic Miyazaki Kuchinashi Oolong Tea from Yuuki-Cha

Today’s review will focus on the Organic Miyazaki Kuchinashi Oolong Tea from Yuuki-Cha. You may view this product on the Yuuki-Cha website by clicking here.

This Kuchinashi Oolong comes from the same JAS certified organic tea farm as the Koubi Shiage Oolong that I reviewed yesterday. There are some distinct differences between the two oolongs. First, the leaves used for the Kuchinashi Oolong are harvested from Takachiho and Minami Sayaka cultivar tea bushes, rather than all Minami Sayaka (100%) like the Koubi Shiage oolong. Second, the Kuchinashi Oolong is oxidized and pan-fired (kamairi) to a lower degree than the Koubi Shiage. The leaves were harvested in June of 2014.

Kuchinashi is Japanese for “gardenia-like”, and this tea is known for the remarkable resemblance in smell and taste to gardenia flowers. The artwork on the packaging is quite interesting also, so I posted a photo below.

Organic Miyazaki Kuchinashi Oolong Tea Package
Organic Miyazaki Kuchinashi Oolong Tea Package

The sample packet has been opened, and the Kuchinashi description is quite accurate. Let the journey begin…

Organic Miyazaki Kuchinashi Oolong Tea Dry Leaves
Organic Miyazaki Kuchinashi Oolong Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a fairly uniform dull forest green leaves, with some reddish-brown spots. The leaves appear to be large fragments and whole leaves, with a few bare stems in the mix. The pluck ranges from individual leaves to what appears to be a one leaf and bud pluck. The leaves are curled, and very lightly rolled. The leaves are quite dry, light, and fluffy. Some of the leaves display heavier oxidation, but the majority are on the lower end of the oxidation scale. The dull color effect is evidence of the pan-firing. The smell has incredible scents of gardenia, fresh forest floor, brown sugar, light hay, and a touch of dry plum or prune.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 205°F (95°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 195°F (90°C). Steep the leaves for 2:00 minutes. Expect four quality infusions out of the same serving of leaves, decreasing the steep time by 30 seconds on the second infusion, then increasing by 30 seconds on each subsequent infusion.

Organic Miyazaki Kuchinashi Oolong Tea Liquor
Organic Miyazaki Kuchinashi Oolong Tea Liquor

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright, full golden-yellow color, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of gardenia, hyacinth, butter, and plum. The body is light-medium, with a velvety smooth texture, and an uplifting, revitalizing energy. There is no astringency whatsoever, and no signs of over-firing. The taste has notes of gardenia, hyacinth, honeysuckle, butter, light plum, and very light mineral (salt). The aftertaste is phenomenal, as the floral notes of gardenia, hyacinth, and honeysuckle dominate the tongue, and leave a lingering essence on the breath that is nothing short of unforgettable.

Organic Miyazaki Kuchinashi Oolong Tea Infused Leaves
Organic Miyazaki Kuchinashi Oolong Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a fairly uniform color of dark forest green. Many of the leaves have slightly reddish edges, while other leaves have undergone more oxidation, thus having the reddish hints extending further into the leaf. The leaves are all large fragments, with a nice amount of unbroken leaves. The pluck ranges from individual leaves to one leaf bud. There were about four buds in the three gram sample used for this review, and that to me was amazing since I have never seen whole, unbroken buds in a Japanese tea. The largest whole leaf measured about 1.75 inches (38 mm). There is definitely a noticeable difference between the leaves of the two different cultivars used to make this product, as one type of leaf is much broader, and the other is more long and narrow. The leaves have a smooth, soft, conditioned leather texture. The smell carries the scents, although softer, of gardenia, honeysuckle, and plum.

I challenge the high grade TieGuanYin oolong lovers reading this to purchase a packet of this Organic Miyazaki Kuchinashi Oolong Tea and compare the incredible quality of the floral character to the best TieGuanYin products that you can find. This tea is truly phenomenal. The floral character is so dominant that I would venture to say that this would be overwhelming to those who do not like floral teas. For those who like floral, sweet, aromatic teas, this product belongs on your top shelf of teas. I keep asking myself why Japanese oolong teas are not more widely known and popular, because this product could have a very strong following if it were more widely available. The descriptions above do not give due justice to the beauty of this tea. Add this to my list of products at Yuuki-Cha that I will be reordering the moment that the 2015 version is available.

Thanks to Yuuki-Cha for not only sourcing these incredible, high quality, hard to find Japanese teas, but being able to ship them all over the world without having to charge ridiculously high shipping charges. If you have not done so yet, go to Yuuki-Cha right now and begin exploring some truly incredible organic Japanese teas. Cheers!

Organic Miyazaki Koubi Shiage Oolong Tea From Yuuki-Cha

Today’s review will focus on the Organic Miyazaki Koubi Shiage Oolong Tea from Yuuki-Cha. You may view this product at the Yuuki-Cha website by clicking here.

Japan is not yet known for the oolong styles of tea produced there, but that may change in the coming years. I ordered two organic oolong teas from Yuuki-Cha, one on the lighter side of oxidation and roasting, and the other on the heavier side of oxidation and roasting. This Koubi Shiage Oolong tea is the latter, having gone through a more intense oxidation and pan-firing stage. Similar to the popular kamairicha (pan-fired) green teas of Japan, this Koubi Shiage Oolong is also pan-fired. The leaves for this oolong are quite large and mature when they are harvested from organically grown Minami Sayaka cultivar tea bushes. 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.

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

Organic Miyazaki Koubi Shiage Oolong Tea Dry Leaves
Organic Miyazaki Koubi Shiage Oolong Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves range in color from dull greenish-brown to dull dark forest green. The leaves are mostly large fragments of mature leaves, and I expect to find some unbroken, fairly large leaves in the mix. There are a few stems and thin twigs in the mix, but the majority of leaves appear to be individually plucked with no stem attached. The leaves are lightly rolled and curled, quite fluffy, and very dry, breaking easily into coarse crumbs. The leaves have a thin, dry leathery texture. The smell has scents of raw cacao, toasted rice, cassia bark, brown sugar, and baked apple.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Spring water was heated to 205°F (95°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 195°F (90°C). Steep the leaves for 2:00 minutes. Expect four quality infusions out of the same serving of leaves, decreasing the steep time by 30 seconds on the second infusion, then increasing by 30 seconds on each subsequent infusion.

Organic Miyazaki Koubi Shiage Oolong Tea Dry Liquor
Organic Miyazaki Koubi Shiage Oolong Tea Dry Liquor

The first infusion produced a liquor with a beautiful golden-orange color, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of raw cacao, toasted rice, cassia bark, and baked apples. The body is medium-full, with a clean, crisp, juicy texture. There is no obvious astringency. The taste has notes of raw cacao, toasted rice, baked apple, cassia bark, mineral (salt), and a touch of brown sugar. The aftertaste carries the cassia bark, mineral, and toasted rice notes, and a sweet essence is left on the breath.

Organic Miyazaki Koubi Shiage Oolong Tea Dry Infused Leaves
Organic Miyazaki Koubi Shiage Oolong Tea Dry Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform dark forest green color with reddish tints throughout the leaves. The leaves are mostly large fragments of mature leaves, with a few unbroken leaves in the mix. The longest unbroken leaf measures three inches (76 mm) long by one inch wide (25 mm). There are a few bare thin twigs in the mix. The majority of the leaves are individually plucked with no stems attached. The leaves have a smooth, leathery feel, and are certainly thicker and larger than most Japanese teas. The smell has scents of sweet wild flowers, apples, raw cacao, and cassia bark.

The Organic Miyazaki Koubi Shiage Oolong Tea is an interesting style of oolong comparable to the Chinese Da Hong Pao, Rou Gui, or Yancha styles of tea, and yet quite different. The heavier oxidation and pan-firing give the liquor a darker color, and a sweeter taste throughout the experience. The mineral taste starts out lighter, then evolves over subsequent infusions, similar to the Chinese Da Hong Pao or Yancha. There is a cassia bark character that is similar to the Chinese Rou Gui. Yet the obvious toasted rice characteristics make this Koubi Shiage Oolong a perfect Japanese tea. This tea has a very nice balance, and can hold the aroma and flavor through four or more infusions. Given the characteristics, I plan to try a cold brew, assuming that this will create a sweet and refreshing beverage for the coming spring and summer heat.

Tomorrow, or at the next possible review time, I will contrast this review by focusing on the lighter oxidized and pan-fired Japanese oolong tea, the Kuchinashi. Then, a very unique bancha unlike any other teas that I have seen. As you can see, I am loving the organic Japanese teas lately.

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!

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!

Hime Fuki Organic Makurazaki Black Tea from Yuuki-Cha

Today’s review will focus on the Hime Fuki Organic Makurazaki Black Tea, purchased from Yuuki-Cha. You may view this product at the Yuuki-Cha Shop by clicking here.

First, I would like to say a few words about Yuuki-Cha. Ever since my interest in Japanese tea began while attending a Japanese Tea Ceremony, I have become a rather frequent visitor of the Yuuki-Cha website. At first, I went there to see all of the beautiful kyusu and other earthenware teapots, cups, and other authentic Japanese tea utensils. I have since purchased two kyusus from Yuuki-Cha, and if I did not have at least the minimal self control that I do, then I would have purchased dozens of the earthenware pots and cups. They are simply beautiful, and the prices are quite reasonable compared to some other shops I have visited. The shipping from Japan to the U.S. is inexpensive and surprisingly quick, and the products always arrive nicely packed and secured.

With regard to the Japanese teas offered by Yuuki-Cha, every single one of them is organically certified by the JAS, or Japanese Agricultural Standard. The prices of the teas can seem a bit high, as evidenced by the fact that this is the first tea I have reviewed from Yuuki-Cha, but if you are looking for what I believe are some of the best Japanese teas offered outside of the country, then the prices are reasonable and the quality is outstanding. Although I am reviewing this Hime Fuki Organic Makurazaki Black Tea first, I did have a taste of the Organic Uji Gyokuro Gokou Green Tea last evening, and it seriously and honestly took me to another level of existence. More on that experience will come when I review that product. I have been on a Japanese and Korean tea craze recently, and my first stop was Yuuki-Cha.

Now, about the Hime Fuki Organic Makurazaki Black Tea, this is a hand-picked (Tezumi) spring tea organically grown and manufactured in Makurazaki, Kagoshima Prefecture, in the deep south of Japan (see Google map below). Harvested in May (Ichibancha), the leaves are only plucked from tea bushes of the Benifuki cultivar. This particular black tea has been awarded multiple times, and appears to have a rather solid reputation among Japanese black tea producers and connoisseurs. As mentioned above, the Benifuki tea leaves are harvested by hand, not by machine, unlike the vast majority of Japanese teas. This fact, and the organic cultivation, results in comparably low annual production of this tea, thus the higher price tag.

The sample packet has been opened, and a rich, woody and sweet scent is escaping the packet. Let the journey begin…

Hime Fuki Organic Makurazaki Black Tea Dry Leaves
Hime Fuki Organic Makurazaki Black Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform dark brown to black color, with a few small golden tips. The leaves and buds are all small to medium sized fragments, and are machine rolled. There appears to be no bare stems in the mix. The pluck cannot be determined by the dry leaves. The leaves have a very dry, hard, rigid texture. The smell has scents of malt, fresh baked bread, toasted grains, dry pine wood, and a touch of dry kelp.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Spring water was heated to 205°F (96°C). The leaves were infused for 4:00 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 205°F (96°C). Steep the leaves for 3:00 minutes. Expect two worthy infusions out of the same serving of leaves. Increase steep time on the second infusion by 45 seconds to 1:00 minute.

Hime Fuki Organic Makurazaki Black Tea Liquor
Hime Fuki Organic Makurazaki Black Tea Liquor

The first infusion produced a liquor with a very deep, dark ruby red color which is translucent, but dark enough to not be transparent. The aroma has rich scents of roses, pine wood, fresh baked bread, grapefruit, malt, and toasted grains. The body is full, with a velvety, smooth texture, and a calming yet energizing spirit. The taste has strong notes of roses, pine wood, and grapefruit, with less dominant notes of malt, fresh baked bread, toasted grains, and sea mist. The piney, rosey, grapefruit notes carry through the persistent aftertaste, and slowly evolves into a citrusy, floral essence.

Hime Fuki Organic Makurazaki Black Tea Infused Leaves
Hime Fuki Organic Makurazaki Black Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform copper brown color. The leaves and small buds are all small to medium sized fragments. There are a few bare stems in the mix. The pluck cannot be determined by the infused leaves. The leaves have a thin, soft, somewhat paper-like texture. The smell has scents of roses, grapefruit, and light pine wood.

The Hime Fuki Organic Makurazaki Black Tea from Yuuki-Cha is an incredibly interesting, unique, and beautiful black tea. Although not so interesting to observe the dry and infused leaves, all of the interest comes in the liquor. With a deep, dark ruby red color, full body, and somehow calming, uplifting energy, this black tea could be compared to a high quality Keemun black tea with a Japanese twist. The dominant aromas and tastes of roses and pine wood are very reminiscent of Keemun, but there is certainly a touch of sea mist in the Hime Fuki that you will never find in a Keemun. The Hime Fuki Organic Makurazaki Black Tea is an aromatic, flavorful, and delectable tea that you need to experience. With this type of high quality black tea coming out of Japan, it is somewhat of a wonder to me that more people are not familiar with it. Without a doubt, this is the best Japanese black tea that I have experienced.

Thank you to the team at Yuuki-Cha for procuring and offering such interesting, high quality, and organic Japanese tea products! Cheers!