OTTI 11 2011 Sencha Official Topic

"Official Tea Tasting Initiative" Teas shared & discussed.

Re: OTTI 11 2011 Sencha Official Topic

Postby debunix » Nov 6th, '11, 20:46

Very interesting reviews. I like some of your descriptive terms a lot. Too bad I'm already out of the teas--I'd love to try to pick out the spruce flavor, for example....
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Re: OTTI 11 2011 Sencha Official Topic

Postby sherubtse » Nov 6th, '11, 21:17

Many thanks for the detailed reviews, Firemoss!

Quite interesting to see how one or two of your ratings matched mine, even though we had very different experiences with the teas!

Best wishes,
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Re: OTTI 11 2011 Sencha Official Topic

Postby solitude » Nov 7th, '11, 14:38

Here are my notes for sample no. 1,
first session, I did not read the previous reviews.
Brewed in my Banko houbin
3g – 100ml, water temp – starting at cca 70deg and increasing

Dry leaf – sweat creamy – grassy, on the mild side

1st step – 45sec – the sweet – grassy sencha character is there but are quite silent, some astringency which makes it rather interesting than disturbing, walnut aftertaste

2nd – 10sec liquor is more cloudy, the wet leaves first release some heavy vegetable smell, but not that one I enjoy, later a candy like sweetness is added
Taste is similar like in the first step, the flawour is deeper with some saurness. In the aftertaste still the walnut is dominant plus a bit of fresh minty flavour. The bottom of the cup gives a candy sweet smell with some higher fragrances. The buzz arriving in to my head.

3rd – 1min –, the taste is nutty – grassy – sweet (”sencha like” in other words) but mild, nice kind of astringency Warming qi, calm – alert feeling (I am high)

4th – boiling – 1 min – quite flat, sweet water, though still some sencha flavour remains.

5th- boiling – 5min – like all the other sencha stepped with this parameters at this level :)

Over all: 6/10
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Re: OTTI 11 2011 Sencha Official Topic

Postby Firemoss » Nov 8th, '11, 02:35

Happy to see a couple people read my reviews. I was a little nervous to post them--first time and all. :mrgreen:

So, I was able to finish the last bit of each tea and a couple of them were even more enjoyable: Samples 1 and 4. Yum.

Is there a universal rating system when it comes to tea tasting? :|
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Re: OTTI 11 2011 Sencha Official Topic

Postby Chip » Nov 8th, '11, 02:41

Great reviews everyone. Thanks for posting!

I think for the next OTTI, I will include a rating system that will include a brief description for each increment. That way we can all kind of relate a bit better. It woulf be more fair to the vendors involved I feel?
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Re: OTTI 11 2011 Sencha Official Topic

Postby meatyard » Nov 8th, '11, 09:14

*Sample #1 Takumi from Zencha:
1.1 60 S @158°. Color is medium green with light cloudiness. Starts off with a big umami taste followed by a bit of grassiness. There is no bitterness or astringency. It’s pretty tasty.
1.2 30 S @158°. Color is a much deeper green and has more cloudiness. It’s still holding on to the umami though much lessened and has a slight grassiness. No bitterness or astringency. This is more subtle than cup #1 but still very nice.
1.3 60 S @162°. A deep green and still cloudy. Has very slight umami left, giving way to more grassiness. Still no bitterness or astringency.
1.4 80 S @170°. The flavor is falling off and grassiness takes control while still without bitterness or astringency.

****Sample #2 Kabuse from O-Cha:
*2.1 1:1 75 S @158°. Color is a medium green and mostly clear. Has a full umami flavor with a slight dose of bitterness in the end.
2.2 30 S @163°. Same green color but cloudier. There is some, but less, umami with more bitterness and grassiness.
2.3 60 S @160°. The color is a lighter green and is more clear. Taste is grassy, umami is gone. No Bitterness or astringency.
2.4 75 S @162°. Same pale green as before and is more clear. Taste and smell is grassy with beginnings of astringency.

**Sample #3 Guricha from Den's
3.1 60 S @173°. Color is pale green and slightly cloudy. Taste is vegetal with a slight bitterness. There is a bit of umami in the finish. And at the end of the cup the flavor is more appealing.
3.2 30 S @165°. Color is a deeper green and cloudier. Smell is vegetal and of straw. Taste is smoother with a hint of astringency but no bitterness. The umami is gone and is left with more of a vegetal flavor.
3.3 80 S @170°. Color is a light green with some cloudiness. Flavor is fading with some of the same grassiness as cup #2 but more bitterness.
3.4 90 S @175°. The flavor is quickly fading though it still contains the grassy/straw taste but has more bitterness.

*****Sample #4 Yame Fukamushi Gokujo from Xell
4.1 45 S #160°. 1:1 Starts with a great dose of umami, is sweetish with no astringency. This is a delicious cup of tea.
4.2 30 S @160°. Cloudy and deep green in color. Taste is very similar to cup #1 with a beginning of astringency. A more mellow cup but still fine.
4.3 45 S @165°. Still a deep green & cloudy. Taste remains consistent to previous cups with lighter umami flavor and vegetal tones appearing. Still a nice cup.
4.4 80 S @170°. Color is a paler green & less cloudy. Taste is losing it’s mojo but still holds on with slight astringency.

***Sample #5 Hachiju-hachiya from Maiko
5.1 90 S @160°. 1:1. Taste starts with lots of umami and very slight astringency. At first the umami is powerful but yields to mild grassiness.
5.2 30 S @165°. Much less umami than cup #1 with slightly more astringency. Has a milder more subtle taste too.
5.3 60 S @170° A bit more umami returns as well as more astringency and bitterness. Still, a rather mild taste.
5.4 90 S @170°. Seems to be running out of steam leaving more bitterness and astringency. Probably should have shortened the 1st steep by half.
The first cup of this was my favorite of this sample.

Overall: My favorite in order were samples #4, #2, #5, #3, #1. I enjoyed the umami taste in many of the cups.
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Re: OTTI 11 2011 Sencha Official Topic

Postby Nenugal » Nov 9th, '11, 04:49

Sample 5
Pre-heated kyusu, high leaf ratio. Time as recommended.
70 C

1st infusion: Very full and strong, grass, astringency, hint of fruit? brothy!
2nd, 3rd: good too!
4th: a bit weak but still good!

Second best so far after 4 (still haven't tried 1).
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Re: OTTI 11 2011 Sencha Official Topic

Postby Drax » Nov 9th, '11, 07:49

meatyard wrote:.

So much for the blind key!

I hope everybody was able to try all the teas before now or at least quickly avert their eyes...

Meanwhile, thanks everybody for posting reviews! I've gotten side-tracked by a backlog of pu'erh that I've been trying, but I am still looking forward to comparing to all the things you've written and experienced when I do my next run-through of these samples.
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Re: OTTI 11 2011 Sencha Official Topic

Postby Nenugal » Nov 13th, '11, 04:30

My testing of sample 1 was a bit interrupted by students running in and out of my office asking advice for an upcoming exam, but here are my impressions anyway.

70 C, recommended leaf ratio,

1st inf - 60 sec.
Beautiful deep cloudy green fukamushi-colour
Grass and umami, a bit astringency. Very good.

2nd: forgot the time, still drinkable after two minutes.
3rd: also a bit overbrewed, but still full of goodness

I like this one quite a lot, and it was handling my overbrewing surprisingly well.
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Re: OTTI 11 2011 Sencha Official Topic

Postby David R. » Nov 20th, '11, 07:24

I have now finished the sencha of this OTTI.

The Yame Gokujo from Xell and the Takumi from Zencha were my two favourites. The guricha from Den's was also a nice surprise.

Thanks once again to all people involved.
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Re: OTTI 11 2011 Sencha Official Topic

Postby solitude » Nov 20th, '11, 08:29

I tried sample 1 another time and I think I underrated it so the overall rating is 7-8/10

And now sample 3

3.5g / 100ml

Dry leaves – deliciously sweet and creamy with some fruits
1st – 70°C, 40sec
sweet, nutty – grassy with a bit of veggie and fruity, smooth. The taste is active and clearly present with no bitterness or astringency. The liquor is full with oily character. Nice

2nd – 80°C, 10 sec
cloudy, yellow – green liquor, wet leaves – “higher” sweet aroma with vegetal base but silent overall. Taste is similar to the previous infusion but more intense; the liquor is fuller and crispy. The after taste is nutty, and pleasant

3rd – 80°C, 40sec
cloudiness remains. The sweetness is starting to be replaced by grassiness, but still full and active. Some astringency. A bit different to the previous one but still very good. Nutty aftertaste, later cooling.

4th – 90°C, 1 min
The liquor is clearer without cloudiness, but the character from the previous infusions are still present in the aroma. In the taste the grassiness is starting to be dominant, the sweetness is still in the back. The liquor is thinner but thick enough to enjoy.

5th - boiling, 3min
grassy, thin body but nice to finish the session.

Overall: I found this tea very impressive. This is a kind of sencha I can enjoy through all the infusions, 9-10/10
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Re: OTTI 11 2011 Sencha Official Topic

Postby teaisme » Nov 21st, '11, 18:56

Ok much slower start then expected on this otti, bah the circumstances of life

This time around I am just going to read everything and look at the blind key to start. Started with #5.

Brewed first time 4oz water 5g tea. small kyusu. Split into 4 infusions.
Interesting berry smell on the second infusion. Third and fourth had a slightly odd taste I can not put my finger on...I had this tea last year, strange I did not detect this oddness that time

Then I tried 5g/9oz water. Broke this into 3 infusions. Roughly 2m, 50s, 4-5 min. Temp gradually increasing. Constantly, very gently swirled the kyusu while brewing (It seems like for this tea you really want to get as much of the water out of the pot in between infusions). Even though I really enjoyed the intensity of infusion 1 and 2 of the more concentrated brews my overall enjoyment by both methods was roughly the same since I found method two to be more relaxing and less hectic while brewing at work. :shock:

Good start to this otti!

Few days later Guricha. Brewed this...nice, straigtforward...I think my tastes are starting to stray away from this tea though, every time I try it I am slightly less drawn to it (this is one of the first sencha I ever tried a couple years back). Enjoyed but not too memorable to me.

And today at work, Kabusencha. Brewed stronger and more (7-8oz).
First: extremely smooth but with that great slight hint of astringency, very sweet, balanced, and very savoury. Roughly 1:1.25ratio. 1 min 10s. Yes!
Second:roughly 20s good stuff
Third: about 1 min. Starting to shift towards tea water. But I see another good infusion in there, maybe 2 mins hotter water. But I am feeling pretty done with this tea since my stomach is relatively empty and I feel enough caffeine is in me from first 3 steeps. One more would be excessive for me without a couple hrs break. Nice kabu!
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Re: OTTI 11 2011 Sencha Official Topic

Postby Running for Tea » Nov 23rd, '11, 10:48

It has been ages since I finished these samples. When I said I was going to be a ghost around here due to the heavy workload, I wasn't kidding. Anywho, from what I can remember I really enjoyed 2, 3, and 4. The Guricha was really interesting to me. It was unlike any sencha I had tasted before. It is no surprise that I enjoyed #4, I am finding out more and more that my palate draws me toward the fukamushi end of the spectrum. #2 I brewed with a pretty heavy leaf to water ratio and it was a very brothy, tasty brew. #1 and #5 were good, but they are not standing out in my memory :oops:
I ordered 2 x 50 g packs of guricha and I am on the verge of ordering some kabusecha :mrgreen:
I am looking forward to the next OTTI where hopefully I can have more time available to participate.
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Re: OTTI 11 2011 Sencha Official Topic

Postby Chip » Nov 23rd, '11, 14:37

Thanks, everyone, for the great reviews, comments! :mrgreen:

I will be working on a rating/grading system that I will ask that we use in future OTTIs so at least that aspect will be more meaningful. I will be posting a topic for your comments as I have several different ideas currently.

This will not change anything else, just the ratings ...
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Re: OTTI 11 2011 Sencha Official Topic

Postby Drax » Feb 26th, '12, 19:13

I spent the weekend re-visiting this OTTI (I still had one round of samples left) and using my Seigan oribe cup to admire the sencha.

All in all, I made it three rounds with each tea. I brewed them all in my Petr Novak shiboridashi.

The shiboridashi that I have holds about 90mL of water when empty. From Chip's recommendations, I used 3-4g of tea each time. Because we got 10g total of each tea, that meant I really had 1x4g session and 2x3g sessions.

The 4g sessions tended to be spectacular. I ran one round with 3g sessions, but still filled up the shibo. These rounds were okay. But the final recent round, I went with 3g and a not-completely-filled shibo... I seem to have recaptured some of that greatness.

I find myself often unable to describe the differences between the teas, even though I can taste the differences. I'll be reviewing this thread over the next day to compare my notes w/ everybody else.... always great to see how people grapple w/ describing the tastes! :D
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