When I was a child gum balls were my greatest passion.
You couldn't drag me out of the supermarket without first handing me a quarter and letting me stick a giant gum ball in my mouth. Hell, it wasn't that unusual that I'd binge on them and stick several in my mouth at once; you might as well have forced a tangerine up my mouth!
But as I outgrew the gum ball machine I started to realize there was a void in my life--nothing else could replicate the joy I had from upon exiting the supermarket getting a random ball of joy.
OTTI helped me realize there was indeed a way to fill in that sorely missed childhood memory, to once again experience the exuberance of sticking a quarter in a machine and getting a few moments of pleasure in return.
What I realized is that what OTTI really is... is the gum ball machine for grown ups!
How wonderful would it be if in every office building, grocery store and park there was a machine that you could stick a few quarters in and get 5 grams of tea in return for? How blissful would it be that after a long day of work, on your way home, instead of picking up a 48 ounce Slurpee from the 7/11, you simply stuck a few quarters in a machine and got a baggy of Yamakai shincha from Honyama.
I'm still holding out on a sencha machine... I mean Japan has vending machines for EVERYTHING imaginable, when will we get sencha machines too?
Until that day comes OTTI is as close as you'll get to the coveted sencha machine.... The beauty of the sencha machine is you just get a small amount of amazing teas from various prefectures : ) Save your quarters!
Enough about my chlidhood... onto my favorite teas from otti 18:
1. Takumi from Zencha: Vibrant, complex, smooth Chumushi.
2. Kirameki from O-Cha: As elegant tasting as a tea can be and very grassy which is a flavor profile that I have not found from any other vendor but O-Cha.
3. Yamakai from Thes Du Japon. Just a great asamushi that's unique, resteeps really well, and is simply super delicious. It does have some oolong notes but not as much as the Kondo-wase.
I'll comment on the remaining teas but the above are my three favorite out of all contestants.
Sugimoto Hashiri: Not too shabby but I preferred their other shincha.
O-Cha YM: If you like sencha with a thick body, this is your tea. This stuff is syrupy and thick. Very good. However, for some reason, I've sorta lost interest in Yutaka-Midori and don't seek it out anymore. Though I'd like to try an organic version at some point.
Den's Houryoku: Very good Fuka. It's not plain, it's pretty elegant.
Sugimoto Hachiju Hachiya: Good solid fukamushi. Nothing crazy... not the most complex tea, but tasty, straight forward and enjoyable. Packs a good punch like I like my fuka's to do.
Sencha Kagoshima Sencha Super Premium from Zencha: Good. Less thick than the O-cha Yutaka Midori. They both have a great deal of merit.
Maiko Karigani: This stuff was pretty awesome. What a wonderful taste.
Kondo-wase: This sencha tasted a lot like gao shan. I really liked this one, but it's far from a typical sencha and has many oolong notes. The fact that you could steep this asamushi with such hot water was a definite plus. An unusual and meritorious tea indeed.
Den's Kunpu: Good, very well balanced asamushi.
Maiko Kinari: Very solid, traditional tasting asamushi. I liked this one a lot. And I actually have a bag of it in my fridge as I type.
Last edited by bambooforest
on Jun 17th, '13, 21:49, edited 1 time in total.