OTTI 2010 Round 1 ShinCHAAA ... and Reviews!


"Official Tea Tasting Initiative" Teas shared & discussed.

Re: OTTI 2010 Round 1 ShinCHAAA ... and Reviews!

Postby myemmie » Jun 22nd, '10, 08:36

I am officially sad that OTTI made it to Scotland before Tennessee...*harumphs*
I'm loving all the reviews though! :D
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Re: OTTI 2010 Round 1 ShinCHAAA ... and Reviews!

Postby Chip » Jun 22nd, '10, 08:52

Proinsias wrote:Arrived in Scotland this morning, yay.

... and in France. 5 days, weekend included, not bad.

myemmie wrote:I am officially sad that OTTI made it to Scotland before Tennessee...*harumphs*
I'm loving all the reviews though! :D

5 days, not good!!! Not good at all! Please let me know when you get it. Thanks.
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Re: OTTI 2010 Round 1 ShinCHAAA ... and Reviews!

Postby Proinsias » Jun 22nd, '10, 09:23

First up Den's Houryoku.

It's been months since I've had any Japanese green tea so this is just an initial impression, I'll taste it again once I've gotten through a few of the others. First off, not as thick as I was expecting. Is this fukamushi? seems a little lighter. First few sips and wow, my body woke up. Almost instant feel good factor, again I don't know if it's just this tea or as I've not had this type of tea for a bit, but even with first ever tastes of sencha I don't recall this. Smooth and sweet so far but still fairly light, not as intense as I've had but lovely stuff.
By the third infusion I'm drinking it alongside a lunch of olives, red onion, chorizo and mature cheddar. It's holding up well and not fighting with the flavours of the food as stronger Japanese green often do.
Brewed in a 4oz kyusu by Gyokko, about half the leaf used. Water boiled and left till I reckon it looks about right.
Cameraphone pic is the best I can do currently:
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I've recently converted one of my friends to the wonders of tea and he's coming over on saturday, and possibly another tea head visiting from up north on the same day so I'm gonna try and keep a little of each for then, I do stress 'try'.
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Re: OTTI 2010 Round 1 ShinCHAAA ... and Reviews!

Postby brian » Jun 22nd, '10, 09:51

Started my OTTI brewing with the Den's Kunpu. This is the light steamed shincha offering from Den's. I'm still pretty new to tea, so take this for what it's worth ...

4 g. leaf, 5 oz. (150 ml) water, unglazed kyusu

Dry leaf is attractive medium forest green color, a noticeable quantity of long green needles but more small pieces -- i.e., it won't look as needle-y as the picture on the Den's site.

1st steep, 160F, 60 sec. Light green color, clear liquor, some particles made it through the obi-ami screen. Flavor is rich green vegetables (think asparagus or artichoke), a very slight bitterness, and little to no grassy flavor. I was pretty happy with the result, just enough bitterness to give it some additional character, but if you like a more "in your face" tea, it can probably stand up to a longer steep without becoming too bitter.

2nd, 165F, 15 sec. Very similar color, more sediment coming through. After the particles settle it is quite clear. The light color for a second infusion had me thinking I had underbrewed, but I don't think so. Flavor was similar to first infusion, the rich green veggies are still there, but the tea has a brighter flavor -- I'm guessing this character is what I've seen referred to as "high notes". Everything is quite a bit bigger, better balanced, and a bit more complex, although still coming across to me as a pretty mellow tea.

3rd, 180F, 30 sec. Continuing in the direction of the second, the focus is moving away from the richness and more towards the bright flavors, with additional bitterness. This tea doesn't seem to be changing as much as I've seen with some other senchas. I think it peaked with the second infusion.

4th, boiling 60 sec. Still making a drinkable cup of tea, so maybe I did underbrew some of those early infusions. It has faded quite a bit, and I've had a lot of tea by now, so I'm just getting the impression of "green tea". But not bad at all, and I wouldn't hesitate to do 4 infusions with this tea. In fact, I may do another.

Overall, I thought this was a good tea. Maybe a bit simple and mellow, but very pleasant and easy drinking. I'll be interested to hear the opinions of those who favor a more intense, "full-throttle" sencha.
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Re: OTTI 2010 Round 1 ShinCHAAA ... and Reviews!

Postby the_skua » Jun 22nd, '10, 10:56

My thoughts on the 2010 O-Cha Yutaka Midori Kaoru Supreme LE.

Okay, I admit it. There’s some expectation behind this tea. While offering my thoughts of the last tea over on the TeaChat forums, I may have seen a few threads that would lead me to suspect that this tea is something to get excited about. Regardless, that did not stop me from finding this tea a little bit less enjoyable than the O-Cha Sae Midori. I brewed two sessions of this tea this morning.

An inspection of the dry leaf appeared to contain a higher proportion of relatively large “needles”. A later inspection of the steeped leaves proves these to be a large number of stems and veins, something which I would predict to lessen the quality of a tea’s flavor. Continuing to compare this tea to my last experience, I found the first steep of the Yutaka Midori (YM) still sweet, but not as viscous or deep as the Sae Midori (SM). The flavor profile was different, with an array of tropical fruits, pineapple, lychee, and rambutan, all of which were quite enjoyable! Brininess really picks up in the back of the throat with some clam liquor, seawater, and dried kelp. Some green melon rind peeks in. Overall, this flavor profile didn’t seem particularly deep or thorough.

The second and third steeps were markedly different, with noticeable coarse bitterness that accompanied a sulfurous or tidal flat mud character, clashing with the tea’s sweetness. It made me suspect harsh chemical use in the growth of this tea. The second steep was not my favorite. The third showed more resilience, but was not enough to warrant a fourth. I know that this is a very lauded tea, but I must admit that I found it less enamoring than other examples from this year’s harvest.

Images and Full Post at tea.theskua.com
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Re: OTTI 2010 Round 1 ShinCHAAA ... and Reviews!

Postby Chip » Jun 22nd, '10, 11:41

Thanks for sharing your thoughts Proinsias, Brian, and the_skua. I am glad to see these teas provoking some interesting comments! Some unexpected.
The YM Supreme has been my fave of the season, also interesting ... but not unexpected by anyone. :mrgreen: I have always favored the somewhat briny character of the YM varietal leaf that is used in the making of this tea. It can be a "holy cow, I gotta sit down" type of thing if you like it. It is so different from other varietals.

But if we all loved the same tea, the producers in Japan would just grow Yabukita and call it a day. Innovation is what will drive the tea industry beyond the teas of yesteryear ... and present day. And the traditional teas will still here.

It will be an exciting ride for sure.
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Re: OTTI 2010 Round 1 ShinCHAAA ... and Reviews!

Postby iannon » Jun 22nd, '10, 13:07

brian wrote:Started my OTTI brewing with the Den's Kunpu. This is the light steamed shincha offering from Den's. I'm still pretty new to tea, so take this for what it's worth ...


2nd, 165F, 15 sec. Very similar color, more sediment coming through. After the particles settle it is quite clear. The light color for a second infusion had me thinking I had underbrewed, but I don't think so.

3rd, 180F, 30 sec. Continuing in the direction of the second, the focus is moving away from the richness and more towards the bright flavors, with additional bitterness. This tea doesn't seem to be changing as much as I've seen with some other senchas. I think it peaked with the second infusion.

4th, boiling 60 sec. Still making a drinkable cup of tea, so maybe I did underbrew some of those early infusions. It has faded quite a bit, and I've had a lot of tea by now, so I'm just getting the impression of "green tea".

chopped up your post a bit to save some space..But..If I may..You might want to try a bit longer on the 2nd and subsequent infusions on the light steamed stuff. usually for Asamushi i go at least 30 seconds on the 2nd maybe even 45-60 sec on the 3rd and up to 90 sec to 2 min on the 4th while gently raising temps. I just about follow O-Cha's times that they have listed on their Warashina supreme package which lists close to what I do. they ahve it at 1.5 min 1st, 30sec 2nd, 2 min 3rd. Seems to work well for that Asa anyway.
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Re: OTTI 2010 Round 1 ShinCHAAA ... and Reviews!

Postby Seeker » Jun 22nd, '10, 13:59

Next up for me in the OTTI lineup - Den's Houryoku.
Infused in a Novak houhin (minijapon). Used 3oz (about 1/2 of the leaf) and 3.5oz water @ 160* for 1min.
Infusion is light, but nice. Vegetal, but more on the subtle end of these flavors. Also some subtle sweetness, and on the back end a teeny bit of astringency, and a hint of stemminess, wood, and a hint at bitterness without actual bitterness. Overall I give it a B.
(I didn't grade the YM supreme LE - so I'll do so now, A+).
Cheers.
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Re: OTTI 2010 Round 1 ShinCHAAA ... and Reviews!

Postby brian » Jun 22nd, '10, 14:58

Thanks iannon, very helpful suggestions! I just recently finished off a bag of O-Cha Sae Midori, so I guess I carried over my brewing habits from that deep steamed tea. Looking at Den's website, they also recommend longer brewing times than I was using, and longer for the Kunpu (light steamed) than for their Houryoku deep steamed shincha. Something that I'll be more aware of now for the next tea.
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Re: OTTI 2010 Round 1 ShinCHAAA ... and Reviews!

Postby Chip » Jun 22nd, '10, 15:04

I tend to brew Asa twice as long for the first steep compared to fuka.

But not too much different for successive steeps however ... up to 30 for the second, 60ish for the third, but third steeps are not picky for good sencha.
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Re: OTTI 2010 Round 1 ShinCHAAA ... and Reviews!

Postby Dreamer » Jun 22nd, '10, 23:48

I reached randomly into the sincha pile and selected
my first OTTI tea for review...

Maiko Shincha Sencha - Leaf bits are bigger than I expected and
very dark green. I did preheat my kyusu,
First steep - 90 seconds; water was cooler than it should have
been. Flavor is sweet and green; not at all intense, just
pleasant. I've been without Japanese green tea for a bit so
it is very pleasing right now! Not a lot of aroma, but
I have just eaten a great home cooked meal and the kitchen
is still full of wonderful cooking smells. Color is nice
pale green and clear.

2nd steep - 20 seconds. Very much like the first steep. Both this steep
and the first have a nice "finish" taste on the back of the
tongue. I don't have the experience to describe it, but
it is enjoyable. Usually I find the 2nd steep of sencha to be
the most intense, but this steep was very similar to the first.

3rd steep - Took a break to go to a friend's daughter's softball
game...so I'm freshly approaching this steep. I caught a whiff
of an aroma this time and this steep is has a similar flavor
to the 2nd steep.

I'd love to try a 4th steep, but it isn't gonna happen tonight.
I'm gonna guess the flavor just taper off.

Overall, I think this would be a great tea for someone just
getting started in Japanese green tea, and because of the
price ($10.50 USD/100g), I think this would make a nice
"everyday" sencha.

I'm glad I got to try it.

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Re: OTTI 2010 Round 1 ShinCHAAA ... and Reviews!

Postby Chip » Jun 23rd, '10, 00:57

Thank you Seeker and Dreamer!

Rough job, I have to try 'em all! OK, here is my progress so far. I am keeping my comments rather light since I am the "host" and don't want to deter anyone from posting.

Good idea, Seeker ... giving them a grade. I was going to rate them on a scale of 1-5 ... pretty much the same thing.

Den's Houryoku. This is different from every Fuka shincha I taste each year. Interesting balance of sweet and bitter. Try brewing lighter if you think the bitterness might bother you. Maybe a .8:1 ratio. So 4 grams per 5 ounces water. B

Den's Kunpu ... nicely veggie, sweet and bitter asamushi ... yet fairly light. I again am now recommending .8-1 ratio. Came out realllly nice! A-

GTL's Kagoshima Shincha. Nice, but a bit light for my personal tastes. I would like to know the varietals in this one. It is not Yabukita. Not YM either. Possibly some YM in the mix, but I would bet Asatsuya maybe. B-

Maeda-en Gold. Yet to be tasted.
Maeda-en 88th Night. Yet to be tasted.

Maiko Shincha Sencha. Yet to be tasted.

Maiko Kinari is a great asamushi combining veggie and sweet magnificintly ... and lots of mouth feel with umami. Definitly go 1:1 and throw in a few extra leaves as a bonus. Only downside, this one is a LE. A+

The O-C SM has lots of flavor, brew it cooler in order to max the sweetness factor that makes this one shine on. I think newbies would like this quite a bit. But I like it too. A-

The O-C YM LE Supreme. This is the most in yoe face suckah of the bunch. Briny, soupy, "salty," sweet, and umami abound. Very full mouth feel. Love this one! A+++
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Re: OTTI 2010 Round 1 ShinCHAAA ... and Reviews!

Postby nickE » Jun 23rd, '10, 00:58

I'm gonna refrain from posting a real review because I'm pretty new to Japanese greens and frankly don't know what I'm talking about.

So far I've tried the Yutaka Midori Classic from O-Cha which I thought was excellent. Also the Adagio Master's Shincha which was alright. I don't think I really figured out the brewing for this one.

Next up is Kinari from Maiko!
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Re: OTTI 2010 Round 1 ShinCHAAA ... and Reviews!

Postby brian » Jun 23rd, '10, 08:35

Maiko Kinari this morning.

Dry leaf is beautiful deep forest green, heavy on the long needles. When I opened the package last evening the aroma seemed on the grassy side, but when the dry needle hit my pre-heated kyusu this morning there was a lot more green veg aroma.

4 g. leaf, just a little over 4 oz. water

1st infusion, 158F, 90 sec. color is nice clear green, very few particles made it to the cup (obi-ami and long needles tend to stay in the pot). Flavor is vegetal, maybe an occasional hint of grass and maybe some brine. This one is really playing with me, each sip seems a little different than the last and it's difficult to put my finger on it. A very pleasant first cup.

2nd, 164F, 30 sec. wow! Big flavor, it's really veg and savory now. Less subtle than the first cup, there's nothing grassy here, just veg, savory (umami?), and I'm getting a slight astringency that rounds out the flavor and keeps it from being one-dimensional. Absolutely no bitterness. This is an awesome cup of tea.

(thanks again for the suggestions yesterday about how to brew asamushi!)

3rd, 170F, 60 sec. Similar flavor to infusion 2, with the veg character faded a bit, allowing me to notice a bit of sweetness, and a little bitterness is coming through this time. Very nice, balanced cup.

4th, boil, 120 sec. Fading, more bitterness from the long infusion. It's hard to say goodbye, but this tea is finished. 4th infusion is easily drinkable, but I wouldn't have been missing anything if I had stopped after 3.

I don't know how much credit to give to the tea and how much to give to better brewing thanks to the help I received here, but I loved this tea. The Den's Kunpu yesterday was very good, but this tea today was great. I just checked Maiko's web site -- $15.75/100 g. Stock up on this one!
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Re: OTTI 2010 Round 1 ShinCHAAA ... and Reviews!

Postby brian » Jun 23rd, '10, 08:48

nickE wrote:I'm gonna refrain from posting a real review because I'm pretty new to Japanese greens and frankly don't know what I'm talking about.

That's not stopping me! :oops: Seriously, I'm very new to this as well. There's not going to be a lot of depth to my reviews. Maybe a lot of words, but not a lot of insight. I'm just writing my general impressions, and by doing so, hoping that the more experienced tasters can help me by pointing out what I may be missing or mis-interpreting. It already paid of hugely for me, when iannon and chip helped me with suggestions on how to better handle asa.

Certainly post as much as you're comfortable, but I'd like to encourage you (and everybody) to just go for it. It's a pretty cool opportunity to be drinking the same teas at the same time as a bunch of other folks. I'm hoping to figure out how to brew better (already happening), and learn to identify what it is that I may like and dislike in the different teas, so in the future when I'm reading descriptions of potential purchases I'll have a better chance of picking ones that I'll like.
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