"Official Tea Tasting Initiative" Teas shared & discussed.

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Aug 15th, '11, 17:49
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Re: OTTI 10: SHINCHA 2011

by bob » Aug 15th, '11, 17:49

Interesting way to brew, JRS22, I must try that!

Fortunately, I did get quite good results using Chip's basic instructions. So, here is my attempt at a tea review:

I brewed all 4 teas in a preheated Tokoname teapot with round metal strainer. I used on average 3.2 g of leaves and 100 mL of water, making it approx. 1 g per ounce. This way I got 3 sessions out of each packet. I brewed 2 sessions, I'm still saving one. I don't have much experience brewing the Japanese greens, so I weighed the tea and checked the water temperature with a thermometer.

All 4 teas smell wonderful in the bag. I was very surprised by the floral/fruity notes, it reminded me of peaches. All the senchas I tried before were only grassy/vegetable, but they were not directly from Japan...

Number 1:
First brew: 160 F, 60 sec. Fantastic taste, vegetal, grassy, buttery, a bit floral and peachy, a bit of chestnuts, umami, a hint of sweetness... It's not too strong, it's very smooth to drink, great balance of flavors/tastes. This was the first sample that I tried and it was much better than expected.
Second brew: 165 F, 25 sec. A bit darker and more cloudy than before. More vegetables and less floral/chestnuts, still nicely buttery, with a bit of bitterness/astringency.
Third brew: 170 F, 60 sec. Still nice, smooth taste, vegetal, chestnuts, umami, grassy, ...

Number 2:
First brew: 160 F, 60 sec. Very strong vegetal/eggwhite taste, no sweetness, a bit buttery, some umami. For me this was almost unpleasant to drink, the taste was too bold and too vegetal/green, with only a hint of something floral in the aftertaste.
Second brew: 160 - 165 F, 25 sec. Less intensive taste than before, nicer to drink, still very vegetal, grassy, buttery taste, a bit floral and sweet, but also a bit bitter.
Third brew: 170 F, 60 sec. Mellow, buttery/floral/vegetal taste, very nice, gets a bit bitter/astringent at the end of the cup, I enjoyed it.
Last edited by bob on Aug 15th, '11, 19:22, edited 1 time in total.

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Aug 15th, '11, 18:03
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Re: OTTI 10: SHINCHA 2011

by entropyembrace » Aug 15th, '11, 18:03

If you still have some of #2 try brewing it for 30s for the first infusion I found it was much better with a short 1st infusion last year.

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Aug 15th, '11, 19:19
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Re: OTTI 10: SHINCHA 2011

by bob » Aug 15th, '11, 19:19

Number 3:
First brew: 160 F, 60 - 70 sec. A nice combination of tastes, vegetal, green, a bit peachy and sweet, umami, ... Smells great, like dry leaves!
Second brew: 165 F, 25 sec. Similar as before, very nice.
Third brew: 170 F, 60 sec. Less intensive, but still very nice combination of tastes.

Number 4:
First brew: 160 F. I first tried 90 sec, but then I reduced first brew time to 70 sec which gave me better results. Very vegetal, green, algae, umami taste, a bit bitter, there is a hint of something more floral underneath. I don't like this taste very much, but it is bearable and somehow intriguing... Doesn't smell as nice as #3.
Second brew: 165 F, 25 sec. Very nice combination of tastes, vegetal and grassy, this is what I associate with "typical sencha taste", a bit sweet, a bit bitter and astringent, great!
Third brew: 170 F, 60 sec. Less intensive, a bit more bitter, but otherwise similar to second brew.

As a newbie in the world of green tea I was pleasantly surprised by the tastes and the differences between them. I tried using roughly the same brewing parameters for all teas, but I know that I could further improve the results by adapting them for each tea. But all tested teas were much better than the occasional sencha I bought previously in local shops.
I like #1 the most, it was really enjoyable. Unfortunately, I couldn't really enjoy the #2, somehow I don't like the flavor profile and I should probably brew it differently. I'll try it again after I get more used to Japanese tea...
The second best (for me) would probably be #4, although #3 came very close. I preferred the first brew of #3, but the second and third brews were better with #4. And I like how the taste changes with #4, it seems more complex. But, #1 was a step better...

So, now I know I like sencha and approximately what I need to look for taste-wise. Hmmm, so much testing ahead of me... :lol:

Thanks again to Chip and the participating suppliers of tea!

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Aug 15th, '11, 19:27
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Re: OTTI 10: SHINCHA 2011

by bob » Aug 15th, '11, 19:27

entropyembrace wrote:If you still have some of #2 try brewing it for 30s for the first infusion I found it was much better with a short 1st infusion last year.

Thank you for advice! I guess I really should brew it differently, it came out the strongest of the bunch, it was a bit overwhelming for me... Luckily, I still have one portion left!

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Aug 18th, '11, 07:00
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Re: OTTI 10: SHINCHA 2011

by David R. » Aug 18th, '11, 07:00

Final personal ranking : #4, #1, #3, #2.

Wonderful OTTI with 4 excellent yet different shincha.

Many thanks once again.

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Aug 18th, '11, 14:57
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Re: OTTI 10: SHINCHA 2011

by teaisme » Aug 18th, '11, 14:57

David R. wrote:Final personal ranking : #4, #1, #3, #2.

We have similar taste!
haven't tried the #4, but #1 really was fantastic, both hot and cooled to room temp were great.
I wish I had done one brew banko one brew porcelain though. Instead I went all porclelain this otti. Perhaps I missed something from 3 and 2 (which didn't really strike me as yum-wow like #1 did).

Aug 19th, '11, 11:31
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Re: OTTI 10: SHINCHA 2011

by Chasm » Aug 19th, '11, 11:31

My package arrived just before an extended period of travel within my extended period of travel, so this is my first chance to try these.

I started with #2:

Water: Cub Foods spring water from the Lafayette Spring source. Plastic electric kettle.

2.5g leaf/ Den's pot ~5 ounces. I saw Chip's suggestion of a gram per ounce of water and thought, "Are you trying to kill me?" I'd normally go with about 2g for this pot, but decided to try pushing to 2.5.


1. 160F in pre-heated pot, 45 sec. Clear, light green, rich and vegetal, minimal aroma. Ahh, fukamushi -- it's been at least a month since I've had some.

2. 140F, 15 sec. Cloudy bright green. As is often the case with fukamushi, I have to dilute the second infusion to make it palatable, whereupon it becomes clear and paler. Too much of the dark bitter-vegetal notes for my taste.

3. 160F, 25 sec. Cloudy yellow-green. As with the others, this is vegetal without sweetness. Stray but a little way from brewing for light palates, and the darker side of vegetal becomes strong. It's always lurking there in the background.

4. 150F, 25 sec. Clear green. Everything milder this time, both lighter and the darker vegetal notes.

5. 155F, 60 sec. Slightly cloudy light yellow-green. This one doesn't so much have flavor as a sense of the flavor having passed through the back of the mouth. This would probably annoy lovers of tea-by-four fukamushi, but I like it.

6. 180F, 25 sec. The problem with infusions this hot is I can't drink them until they cool, which isn't a big hairy deal for oolongs, but a green tea is oxidizing by the second in the cup while I wait. I don't think I gained anything over staying with a drinkable temperature and letting it infuse longer. Clear light green, similar in taste to infusion 5.

7. 167F, 125 sec. Clear pale yellow-green. Ah, there it is, the first hint of sweetness. There's a lot that can lurk in those late infusions.

The photo is of my travel kit and infusion 6. My camera phone always makes the tea look more yellow than it is in reality.
content___media_external_images_media_189 (1).jpg
Infusion 6
content___media_external_images_media_189 (1).jpg (33.39 KiB) Viewed 2089 times

Aug 21st, '11, 09:30
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Re: OTTI 10: SHINCHA 2011

by Chasm » Aug 21st, '11, 09:30

I'm currently drinking my third steep of #2. It seems to me that the flavor profile is simpler than that of the 2010 sencha version of this tea -- concentrated on vegetal without sweetness, which can easily turn bitter. I like it well enough, but I've always preferred O-cha's milder offerings over this one. It seems ideal, though, for someone who wants this particular flavor profile delivered in concentrated form.

Aug 23rd, '11, 17:00
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Re: OTTI 10: SHINCHA 2011

by Chasm » Aug 23rd, '11, 17:00

I brewed #1 3 times. In the first two brewings, I went a bit cool in the first infusion. Overall, the flavor was nice, but didn't make any particular impression, just a good drinkable sencha. I realized it might need a higher temp in the first infusion to open it up, so I tried a third time:

Water: Cub Foods spring water from the Lafayette Spring source. Plastic electric kettle.

3g leaf/ Den's pot ~5 ounces.


1. 165F/45sec. Rich buttery aroma. Flavor has grassy and rich notes, with too much bitterness for my taste, but not bitter enough to be undrinkable. I diluted it slightly with cooler water, and this made it more drinkable, but the bitterness is still pretty dominant. After letting it sit a moment, the flavor profile was attractive though it still contained more bitterness than I usually care for.
2. 143f/15sec. Cloudy, bitter. Drinkable after dilution -- but I generally have to dilute the second infusion of most fukamushi. I'm thinking if you like some good sencha with a defining bitter component, you've got to love this one.
3. 150F/30sec. Still getting bitter as the dominant flavor. Perhaps I used too much leaf.
4. 153F/20sec. I removed about a third of the leaf before this infusion. It is more green and less yellow than the earlier infusions. Very nice. This tea does have a definite richness to it if you can wake it up properly without bringing out the bitterness.
5. 160F/20sec. Better again -- I definitely had too much leaf. The liquid has a slightly iridescent quality I've seen before associated with the sense of richness in the flavor.
6. 160F/20sec. Huh. There's that citrus note I saw others mention. I wasn't expecting that. I don't think I've tasted that in a sencha before.
7. 160F/40sec. Light and pleasant, that citrus note again.

This wouldn't be the first time it would take me quite a few brewings of a particular tea to find the sweet spot in the brewing parameters. I haven't quite got this one yet, but it's worth noting as one to consider buying more of in the future.

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Aug 23rd, '11, 19:01
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Re: OTTI 10: SHINCHA 2011

by meatyard » Aug 23rd, '11, 19:01

I am still new to reviewing tea so I am hoping this makes sense. I tend to rely a bit on my, more developed, beer reviewing background. Many thanks to Chip for making this available; I'm waiting for your reviews and picks.
Pouch 1 Fukamushi 5g. leaf/5 oz. H2O. Preheated kyusu.
1) 50 sec. @160 degrees. Light green color & slightly cloudy. The smell is nutty & vegetal. The taste is very vegetal and borders on intense. This is very tasty with no astringency.
2) 30 sec. @ 165 degrees. The color is a much deeper green and is more cloudy. Smell is less vegetal with less nuttiness. Taste is a bit sweeter but without astringency.
3) 60 sec. @ 172 degrees. Slightly less deep green and the aroma is milder. Taste is still nice but milder.
4) 2 min. @ 185 degrees. 4 oz. water instead of 5. Color is less green and nearly clear. The aroma is just mildly grassy as is the taste though it still doesn’t feel spent.
5) 3 min. @ 200 degrees with 4 oz. water. Color is much paler. The aroma still has a mild buttery smell. While the taste is still reasonably pleasant, most of the early flavors are nearly spent. I prefer steep #2 just slightly over #1.

Pouch #2 Fukamushi 3 g. leaf with 3 oz. water. Preheated kyusu.
1) 60 sec. @ 160 degrees. The aroma in the preheated kyusu is very familiar. The color is clear, yellowish/green. The aroma is the well-known? (let those who don’t know stay unaware). The flavor is balanced with a vegetal-ness and delightful amount of umami-it's so good.
2) 30 sec. @ 165 degrees. Color is a bright green and cloudy. The aroma is nutty and vegetal. The taste is similar to cup one though I prefer it even with the slightest bit of added astringency.
3) 60 sec. @ 170 degrees. Color is still bright green but less cloudy. The aroma is still nutty and vegetal. The taste is very much like cup 2 but with a slight increase in astringency.
4) 1:45 at 184 degrees. Color is fluorescent green and clear. Aroma is mild by now. The taste has jumped up a notch in astringency but still fairly flavorful.

Pouch #3 Asamushi. 3 g leaf with 3 oz water in a preheated shiboridashi.
1) 60 sec. @ 160 degrees. The preheated smell of the leaf is very pleasant. The color is yellow/green and mostly clear. The smell is a soft vegetal and nutty aroma. The taste is a mildly sweet, vegetal and buttery flavor with a very mild astringency at the end.
2) 30 sec. @ 165 degrees . Color is greener and cloudier. Aroma is the same at cup 1. The taste is the same as 1 but with more astringency.
3) 60 sec. @ 170 degrees. More clear and greener. Aroma is grassy though mild. Taste is little different though more astringent.
4) 1:30 @ 182 degrees. A clear, yellow/green. The smell still has the nutty aroma. The taste is milder with increased astringency.

Pouch #4 Asamushi. 3 g. leaf/3 oz water. Preheated kyusu.
1) 90 sec @ 160 degrees. The color is a clear yellow. The aroma is nutty. The taste is very butter/umami with just a hint of astringency-a nice mellow, balanced flavor.
2) 30 sec @165 degrees. Still a clear, very yellow color. The aroma is much the same but stronger. The taste is still buttery though not as strong with the same astringency.
3) 60 sec @ 170 degrees. Again, the same clear, bright yellow color. The aroma is grassy. The taste has a slight astringency but the taste is mild yet flavorful and balanced with umamai and vegetal flavors.

Order of favorites is 2, 1, 3 and 4. Clearly, I am a fukumushi kind of guy though I did enjoy the asamushi, particularly #3.

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Aug 23rd, '11, 23:28
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Re: OTTI 10: SHINCHA 2011

by BioHorn » Aug 23rd, '11, 23:28

#2 (edit-add---Fukamushi)
6 grams in pre-heated Kyusu with 4 oz water (Evian)
1) with 6 oz water 50 sec @ 160 F too weak.
2) with 4 oz water 30 sec @ 160 F. Perfect. Gobs of savory umami.
3) with 4 oz water 50 sec @ 165 F. A bit strong for my taste. Lacked balance of brew #2.
4) with 50 sec @ 165 F. A bit weak, but flavor was more balanced than #3.

A very nice tea!
This tea seems to do well with lower temps and shorter brew times. It brewed well to brew #5 and has been a nice change from all the sheng pu I have been drinking recently. I liked this better than #1. To my coarse japanese green tastebuds seemed more gyo-like than other senchas.
(edit---I have purposely avoiding reading this thread. Good thing. Seems like quite a bit of negativity towards this tea. I would say it requires quite a bit of precision. The up side is it has great potential for tweaking to one's taste. Anyone else really like their sencha/gyo with Evian?) Thanks again Chip for creating a lively tea environment.
Last edited by BioHorn on Aug 24th, '11, 00:19, edited 1 time in total.

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Aug 23rd, '11, 23:33
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Re: OTTI 10: SHINCHA 2011

by Chip » Aug 23rd, '11, 23:33

OK, the missing OTTI package came back today ... sorry Bob. :cry:

I would say that we can now name the tea along with the number in future posts. :mrgreen:

Aug 25th, '11, 09:09
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Re: OTTI 10: SHINCHA 2011

by Chasm » Aug 25th, '11, 09:09

#3 Tamaryokucha/guricha:

My first brewing of this wasn't spectacular -- I decided I had the water just a fraction too hot and the leaf/water ratio just a bit too low. The second round went much better:

Water: Cub Foods spring water from the Lafayette Spring source. Plastic electric kettle.

2.6g leaf/ Den's pot holding it down to 4 ounces of water per infusion.


1. 152F/60sec: Lovely aroma, very pale green, clear. It does have grassiness on one part of the tongue and asparagus on another, with some umami to the flavor and richness to the aroma overall.
2. 157F/15sec: Medium-dark green, slightly cloudy. I should have held it cooler -- it's a bit too strong and tastes a bit of the water being too hot. Still asparagus and umami. Very interesting after diluting it slightly.
3. 153F/15sec: Medium-dark green, clear. Umami and asparagus hanging out in the aftertaste.
4. 150F/23sec: Medium clear green. Flavors have smoothed out. Umami in the aftertaste.
5. 151F/40sec: Light clear green. Still that umami hint in there. I'm starting to feel like I've already had breakfast.
6. 155F/60sec: Light clear green. Late infusion flavors arriving: Sweetness, a hint of astringency. Very nice.
7. 150F/2 min: Light clear green. Sweet and mild, reminding me of late infusions of a few very good Chinese greens I've had -- something of a clear mountain water taste.
8. 145F/6 min: Pale clear green. Clear sweet mountain water in taste. Hint of umami in the aftertaste.

This one is really something!

Aug 29th, '11, 11:58
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Re: OTTI 10: SHINCHA 2011

by Chasm » Aug 29th, '11, 11:58

I had high hopes of the Aoi, #4, but either my brewing parameters are a mess or it's just not the tea for me. The descriptions says it has a grassy aroma, but no matter what I do, the aroma and flavor come out floral. It's quite a lovely delicate floral tea, but I really don't like floral tea, sadly.

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Aug 31st, '11, 18:27
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Re: OTTI 10: SHINCHA 2011

by rhondabee » Aug 31st, '11, 18:27

I am now trying #3 again (Ureshino tamaryokucha), this time with more water (5 oz water to 1/2 the package) and I think it tastes a lot better than the way I brewed it the first time (much less water). It is still very rich and slightly buttery tasting but it lost the seaweedy taste with more water. I don't have a digital thermometer so I just pour water slightly under boiling into a fair cup and then pour the water into the teapot. My kyusu is also glass and I use a very fine strainer to strain the tea into the my teacup. Second steep is stronger tasting, but still very good. I'm learning :)

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