Finished the last of Tsuen's Taiko-San matcha, the highest priced matcha they have on O-cha. It took me a while to get used to this tea, to dial it in so to speak -- with koicha, or any tea really, I notice that I am more receptive of the flavor if I'm drinking it alone in complete silence, concentrating on the intricacies of the flavor, if you will.
It's quite a good matcha, which is nothing less than I expected for the price -- but was it worth the price? which is quite expensive for 30g, considering there are much cheaper options out there for koicha, and for 40g at that. I don't know. I really did enjoy it, though. Very full flavor, and it lasted quite long too. However, I still don't think the tea was at its peak. Usually I've found that matcha, even more so than some senchas, benefits from storage, longer than the six or so months they give it before release.
But if you're a connoisseur of koicha, or matcha in general, then, yes, I'd say give it a shot.
Noonie wrote:I ordered a handful of Sencha from Thes Du Japon recently; I'm on my first tea - Sencha from Mimasaka: Ryôfû cultivar. At a very modest price I was blown away by the intense flavour of this tea. Most senchas have that really fresh scent, as this one does, but the initial sips took that fresh grassy smell and transferred it flawlessly into the liquor. The first steeping was excellent (70c for 1:20), one of this years best cups. The 2nd, much shorter steep (:20) was not as good but still highly enjoyable. The third steep was like a fading memory of the first as the flavour started to fade. Next session I will brew shorter on the first two to see if I can leave more goodness in the cup for the third.
This was one of my favorite teas this year. Quite a surprise, given the price, and easily the best I've ever had in that range. I'm looking at my notes for brewing it now, and the first thing I remember that is written is that a part of the tea's flavor is somewhat subtle. This could indicate a bad tea, or a bad year for a tea, but for this one I think it was just right. It was sweet and delicate, with thick feeling in the mouth, like a broth consistency almost. The thickness (umami?) disappears with the second brew, but the sweetness remained.
Anyway, for how I brewed it, I went quite long on the first two brews, 176f for 66, and 186f for 50 on the second. This also left me with some trouble for the third, but I think I went hotter (205f at 4:30) and was able to get a good third brew without much if any astringency. I usually don't go for a 4th steep, which is why my times for the first three are usually so long.
My palate is not nearly sophisticated enough to suggest shading vs not shading, but it is a marvelous sencha, and sadly, I am again out of it until the next order.Sigh....
My palate probably isn't either, though all the gyokuros I've had have had a unique taste and smell that's hard to mistake for sencha. The scent, much different from sencha, is more vegetal to me, reminiscent of something like spinach (the Japanese compare it to seaweed), and while sencha can get dark, gyokorus are a noticeable shade darker than sencha, a very dark green.
Also, Florent, the tea master who selects the teas for Thes-du-japon, has suggested many times in his blog that most teas from Uji go through a shading process regardless of whether they're listed as having done so or not. I'm a big fan of Uji-cha, and I was honestly somewhat surprised by the assertion, since as far as I could tell I had never had a tea that tasted any different than a 'normal' sencha (I did try one he said was shaded for only four days, and I couldn't tell any difference). These are the first two teas (the watsuka and the Aoi) I've had that made me think there's something behind that claim, since they both were noticeably more gyokuro like then any sencha I've ever had (the watsuka much more than Aoi). I've never had a kabusecha before, and I'm wondering if that's sort of how that's supposed to taste, though I guess it all depends on the tea.