Fishy Taste?

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Fishy Taste?

Postby joydivisi0n » May 1st, '14, 15:28

I'm new to the tea world, and particularly to Japanese teas! I had my first one this afternoon, Ippodo's Nodoka special matcha. Based on forum opinion, this is a quality matcha. So why do I detect a fishy (or seaweed) palate? If this is normal, perhaps matcha isn't for me.

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Re: Fishy Taste?

Postby Poseidon » May 1st, '14, 15:33

Hello! I'm not a big matcha guy but what you are describing is referred to as umami. Its a savory flavor that (usually) high quality green tea has. ie. gyokuro

If your not a fan of the umami maybe try a lower quality of matcha?

EDIT: What are you looking for in your tea? Are you set on finding a matcha only?

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Re: Fishy Taste?

Postby joydivisi0n » May 1st, '14, 15:55

Hm, if this is typical then that is troubling. I have a chasen that now won't see much use.

I had been introduced to Chinese teas last year by a foreign student in my department. My first was a TGY, and I quite liked it so for my first tea order I purchased, among others, a medium roast TGY and an aged TGY. I haven't gone through all the samples I have received from that order (Jing Tea Shop) because I want to dial in my brewing methods for each one and develop a reasonable opinion. So far, I have tried their 2013 Spring Xi Ping TGY, Milan Dan Cong AA, and their Fu Ding Bai Mu Dan. The TGY tasted rather bland no matter how I brewed it. I liked the slightly smoky taste, but beyond that I detected very little flavor. The Bai Mu Dan on the other hand was full of flavor and wonderful. The Dan Cong was delightfully sweet. For reference, I am using a gaiwan and have been using Tea Guardian's gongfu tea infusion chart as a starting point for all of my teas.

So where does this leave me? I am not sure. After several attempts, I suspect that the TGY is the problem, and not a result of my inexperience. Do other Japanese teas also have this umami flavor? If so, perhaps I should stick with Chinese teas for now.

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Re: Fishy Taste?

Postby gunbuster363 » May 2nd, '14, 02:26


the seaweed taste you described is what we called umami. It is usually found in high quality Gyokuro (Japanese: 玉露?, "jade dew") AND Matcha (抹茶?, pronounced [mat.tɕa][1]) , which is finely milled Gyokuro .

Basically all Gyokuro have a taste of umami and the amount is directly proportional to the quality ( a.k.a price ).

On the other hand, Sencha usually does not have umami taste, so I suggest you may give sencha a try.

If you like TGY, maybe you can try some Asamushi Sencha, which also mean Lightly-steamed Sencha. It has a clear, vegetal taste. One of the sencha I tried was quite like a high quality TGY which I've tried.

If you would like to try some Asamushi Sencha, you could try Ippodo ( a online Japanese Tea shop which specialize Asamushi Sencha ) or O-Cha ( which also have some great Asamushi Sencha ).

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Fishy Taste?

Postby Pig Hog » May 2nd, '14, 02:51

It's my understanding that tencha is used to make matcha, not gyokuro. While the shading process is the same for both, gyokuro is rolled before drying, whereas the leaves are laid flat to dry in order to make tencha.

I'm under the impression that matcha can only be made with tencha leaves, otherwise it's not matcha. 'Matcha' made with gyokuro is simply ground gyokuro...

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Re: Fishy Taste?

Postby William » May 2nd, '14, 06:06

gunbuster363 wrote:which is finely milled Gyokuro .

Usually Tencha, is used to produce Matcha.

gunbuster363 wrote:Basically all Gyokuro have a taste of umami and the amount is directly proportional to the quality ( a.k.a price ).

This is, IMO, not correct. I think the quality as the right ratio (or balance if you prefer) between sourness, bitterness and sweetness.

What is the opinion of the TeaChatters?

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Fishy Taste?

Postby Pig Hog » May 2nd, '14, 07:18

I know what he means but, to me, the umami character in gyokuro or sencha is not the same as the seaweed like flavour found in some matcha.

Personally, I enjoy that flavour but it seems to come in degrees and you can find matcha out there where it's not so prominent. I would suggest that it's more a feature of higher quality matcha, especially koicha grade.

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Re: Fishy Taste?

Postby Alex » May 2nd, '14, 08:30

I agree that unami to me is not the same as a fishy element in Japanese green teas.

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Re: Fishy Taste?

Postby chingwa » May 2nd, '14, 09:57

umami is a lie. :D

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Fishy Taste?

Postby blairswhitaker » May 2nd, '14, 21:00

Nodoka is quality matcha, and most people who like matcha like the "seaweed" taste. If it tastes like fish something is off though.
Umami seems to be a subject of much debate, it is not a "seaweed" taste, it is created by naturally occurring glutamic acid. This is an amino acid found in many natural things and many types of seaweed such as kombu are high in its content. A modified form of it is known as mono sodium glutamate or MSG, often seen as an additive to Asian food.

Chingwa- if umami is a lie I don't want to know the truth.

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Re: Fishy Taste?

Postby joydivisi0n » May 2nd, '14, 21:45

Thanks everyone. I'll have to give sencha a try at some point!

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