OTTI 14 Shincha Hakoniwado


"Official Tea Tasting Initiative" Teas shared & discussed.

Re: OTTI 14 Shincha Hakoniwado

Postby debunix » Jul 21st, '12, 22:16

I've been way behind on my OTTIs because of a combination of a travel, several summer colds in a row, and crazy time pressures, but this afternoon finally broke into the OTTI 14 with the 88 Nights:

3 grams 88 nights in Petr Novak Shiboridashi, preheated with water 160 degrees, and drinking the tea from the Eiichi commission 'Mojave' cup, which is so deep that it really holds the scent of the tea well.

Wonderful smell in preheated shibo; then 60 second first infusion, and first impression: oh my goodness this is GOOD! Sweet, rich, deep, green, mmm, mmmm, and I'm struggling here for a word to describe the deep sweetness further: not grassy, or briny, or peas or asparagus; but something very vegetal and green and yet super delicate and sweet without the nuttiness of asparagus or cooked peas. The sweetness is a little like a delicate young summer squash, roasted, but greener than that.

20 second infusion next, water about 165 degrees, and there was a hint of astringency, but not much, and it's already sipped so quickly I can hardly say more than that it was still that lovely sweet delicate green taste, maybe a bit like a sugar snap pea, barely dunked in boiling water. Loving this, such a delicate delight.

40 seconds at 170 degrees, lovely still, with that astringency barely apparent behind the sweet, very nice.

1 minutes at 180 degrees, can't believe how beautifully this one is holding up that deep, rich, delicate sweetness.

90 seconds, 200 degrees (kettle was a bit hotter than expected), the sweetness is a little less intense, flavor a little grassy, but remains delicious.

Now brewing 5 minutes, 190 degrees, a long infusion, which I'll dilute a bit with some cool water (hence the big jump in infusion times), because it's too hot to drink much more hot tea today. It wanted a longer infusion to carry the extra water, but was still delicately sweet and refreshing.

I've never experimented with the 'ice brew' technique for gyokuro, because the briny sweetness of the few gyokuros I've tried has just not been my thing, but this tea seems like it would be a brilliant candicate for very cold brewing--that sweetness might be deep enough to hold up to it--and since I have only used 3g of a 10g sample, I believe I will try brewing a little bit with some ice water, and report back later.

Editing to add rating, D'Oh!: 5 --excellent.
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Re: OTTI 14 Shincha Hakoniwado

Postby minor_glitch » Jul 30th, '12, 07:06

FINALLY got around to taking my first photos for this round. I'll attempt to take a few more before I begin with OTTI 15!

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Re: OTTI 14 Shincha Hakoniwado

Postby JohnnyChai » Jul 30th, '12, 16:26

minor_glitch wrote:FINALLY got around to taking my first photos for this round. I'll attempt to take a few more before I begin with OTTI 15!

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Thank you for those! Lovely...

The Botan and 88 nights Shincha were the favorite of this taster of any of the teas of the past three Sencha OTTI. Zencha's Organic teas were nice. Miyabi and Aoi were a strong rivals but these get the upper mark...Well done Xell and thank you Chip for providing this offering!
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Re: OTTI 14 Shincha Hakoniwado

Postby debunix » Aug 4th, '12, 19:24

I have been all out of order in getting through the several current OTTIs, and today randomly grabbed package "M" from OTTI 14. I opened, sniffed, and quickly checked the key to confirm that the strong toasted chocolate aroma came from a non-sencha tea. I started with water 180 degrees in Petr's kyusu, 3 grams in the 5 oz pot, 30 seconds, without preheating. Lovely toasty-roasty flavor--just like deeply pan-toasted barley. I was too casual with the second infusion, and it overbrewed by several minutes; I was able to dilute it to something pleasantly toasty, but still not as nice as it should have been. The third shorter infusion (about a minute) shows the joy of this type of tea--toasted grain underlying a deeply sweet flavor--grilled corn on the cob, maybe. Mmm.

I'll be doing more infusions later, but now must leave the tea setup behind for a while.
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Re: OTTI 14 Shincha Hakoniwado

Postby SilentChaos » Aug 6th, '12, 19:01

Mare sure took me by surprise. Brewed many different ways using different parameters and obtained good results all around. Previous houjicha's I had were either too roasty or lacking in body and mouthfeel, Mare for me at least steered clear of these pitfalls. The roasty flavours seem to give off an almost caramel-like aroma and taste when swallowing the sip? Anyone finding something similar?

laura99 wrote:I used to drink quite a bit of hojicha, but of the roasted bancha style. ... It has the roasted flavour, but still a bit of green to it. Very smooth.

:mrgreen: Something tells me this ain't no roasted bancha. :D
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Re: OTTI 14 Shincha Hakoniwado

Postby hopeofdawn » Aug 6th, '12, 22:53

So I'm finally able to sit down and do some proper tastings--for the last few evenings I've been drinking the Tsubaki, and it definitely has been growing on me.

The dry leaf is a deep, vivid green--some whole needles, though overall my sample was pretty broken; given the steps it had to take to get to me, though, I'm not surprised. Dry leaf aroma is very full-bodied, though not as strong as some of the other samples. But once in a preheated pot, it becomes amazing--full, not briny at all, a lovely combination of fresh vegetal and buttery scents, with almost a radish-ey tang at the edges.

I brewed three grams to 100 ml, in a porcelain pot. Liquor was a pale to deep green. 1st brew: 160 degrees, for about 45 seconds--a lovely pale liquor, crisp and clean and smooth on the tongue.

2nd brew: 150-160 degrees, about a 10 sec flash brew--much thicker, even on such a fast brew. Almost soupy--this brew was always tricky to get just right. When I did, it was amazing--when I didn't, the astringency tended to overpower everything.

3rd brew--160+ degrees, back to about 20-30 secs--a lovely balance, with more of the clarity of the first brew, and the thicker taste of the second. Still a very deep green, with lots of floating particles; very savory, with enough of an edge to keep me on my toes.

3-5th brews--like most sencha, this one weakened proportionally after the 3rd brews, but it still held on well. With hotter water and longer steeps, it offered up several nice clean steeps--I think I'm definitely liking shade grown sencha/gyokuro more than the standard full-sun varieties!

Overall rating: I'd give this a strong 4. And as a side note: I've been using my Hong Seong-il teapot for all of my tastings (except the houjicha) for this OTTI so far--it has performed beautifully (and developing a deep umami-scent as well!). Usually I'm drinking tea while doing something else--working, reading, watching TV--but tasting this way really allows to admire how beautifully this little pot handles and pours, and the lovely mottling and fine crackling of the glaze over its surface. I have to admit, I was a bit unsure that paying for an artist-crafted pot would be worth the money--but both my Korean pots have proved themselves admirably!
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Re: OTTI 14 Shincha Hakoniwado

Postby sriracha » Aug 7th, '12, 04:58

SilentChaos wrote:The roasty flavours seem to give off an almost caramel-like aroma and taste when swallowing the sip? Anyone finding something similar?


Yes! Almost fell off my chair when smelling the leaves in the pot before pouring water over them for the first time. Very complex for a tea of this type. =)

I can also report that the 88 nights was a big hit in this household, so many little things to discover yet so balanced. Will eagerly await next year's harvest!
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Re: OTTI 14 Shincha Hakoniwado

Postby SilentChaos » Aug 8th, '12, 10:53

sriracha wrote:I can also report that the 88 nights was a big hit in this household, so many little things to discover yet so balanced. Will eagerly await next year's harvest!


The 88nights was a big hit with me too, until Kikyou blew it out of the water. I've never come across as balanced a shincha/sencha as Kikyou.
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Re: OTTI 14 Shincha Hakoniwado

Postby debunix » Aug 18th, '12, 14:04

Botan today, my first time with it. Because it's a fuka, and the deep greens are finely broken up, with a deep chocolatey scent--suggests it might be a bit overwhelming if I'm not careful--I'm starting a bit timid: 3.5 grams in the 5 oz Petr Novak kyusu, water 150 degrees, first infusion 20 seconds. Result? delicate, sweet, a little fruity & floral, even. I didn't see that result coming. It's terrific. Love it!

20 second again for 2nd infusion--getting a little of a deeper, richer flavor, but still the short infusion is emphasizing the more delicate flavors I crave more. 3rd, also 20 seconds, still delicious. 4th, heated to 170 degrees this time, again 20-30 seconds, a little less sweet, still lovely. My beloved little kyusu is not so happy with the fuka mix--slow pour, lots of tiny leaf getting through--but that's ok, because the tea is lovely. Unfortunately the day is heating up fast, so I'm going to have to stop with the hot infusions after this one. But I will definitely pour in some cool water in a bit, when the pot has cooled off, and get in one or two 'refrigerator' brews.

I think I'll take some more of this to set up a direct 'cold brew' in my glass infuser cups, because it seems like it will be just delicious that way.
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Re: OTTI 14 Shincha Hakoniwado

Postby debunix » Aug 19th, '12, 10:23

Enjoying the 88 nights again, not really under the best circumstances....trying to avoid too much heat in the kitchen at the start of what promises to be another very hot day. It's a tribute to the quality of the tea that it is still quite tasty despite the short infusions, cool temps, and dilution with cool water (I brewed it up more concentrated than usual to allow for this).
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Re: OTTI 14 Shincha Hakoniwado

Postby shinobicha » Aug 24th, '12, 15:52

So far, just had the 88nights. I think it was obviously not at peak like it would have been in May/June, especially being fukamushi.

Nonetheless, I found it enjoyable, and it had a nice lingering sweetness, Even the 3rd infusion was pretty good.

Overall, it didn't stand out to me as something memorable, but again, I think it's because it had come down from its peak freshness.
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Re: OTTI 14 Shincha Hakoniwado

Postby SilentChaos » Aug 26th, '12, 04:44

shinobicha wrote:So far, just had the 88nights. I think it was obviously not at peak like it would have been in May/June, especially being fukamushi.


As far as I know, 88 nights is chum and not fuka. But I stand to be corrected.
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Re: OTTI 14 Shincha Hakoniwado

Postby Chip » Sep 13th, '12, 12:05

FYI ... if you did this OTTI, you could rack up a pretty nice discount :idea: :!: :arrow:

Xell wrote:Recently I started a small promo action to encourage reviews, 5% discount coupon for each review on forum. More info here http://hakoniwado.com/forum/index.php/board,2.0.html
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Re: OTTI 14 Shincha Hakoniwado

Postby teaisme » Sep 13th, '12, 17:00

Chip wrote:FYI ... if you did this OTTI, you could rack up a pretty nice discount :idea: :!: :arrow:

Xell wrote:Recently I started a small promo action to encourage reviews, 5% discount coupon for each review on forum. More info here http://hakoniwado.com/forum/index.php/board,2.0.html


Smart way to promote sales xell kudos to you :mrgreen:
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Re: OTTI 14 Shincha Hakoniwado

Postby shinobicha » Sep 19th, '12, 16:15

I've now tried all of the selections from Hakoniwado except the hojicha Mare.

I should have taken notes for the Botan, as I honestly don't remember much, except that it was a solid fukamushi.
The Tsubaki was pleasant, but didn't have a lot of staying power, being a nice cup the first and second steeps only, and being essentially sweet 'tea water' after that.

However, the Kikyou was quite impressive. Most interesting was the color of the liquor (1st steep especially, but even a bit in the 2nd) - it was amber colored, like a lightly-roasted oolong!
I brewed it in my kyusu, which I have only used for Japanese greens, and I double checked that my filtered water was clear.
I used the suggested brewing parameters of 5g leaf to 2-3oz water, and both pots of tea the 10g sample made produced the same almost roasted-colored tea! It was very unique.

The flavor was a mix of pleasant umami, sweetness of shaded tea, and maybe slightly hika. There was a very nice, long aftertaste, especially for the first two steeps. It's no wonder the Kikyou is labeled "premium" grade. But whatever the label, I was glad to enjoy it!
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