Back in August, I decided that I wanted to expand my horizons a bit by learning and trying Japanese teas. Yunomi Teas sent me three of their teas to try out and begin my journey in the Japanese tea world! Here is how it went:
Packaging and Information Provided
The packaging of Yunomi Teas is impeccable. There is information in every tea packet regarding brewing parameters, region, ingredients, durability of tea, and more. In addition, I received a cute postcard and a pamphlet with all the basic information regarding Japanese teas. I won’t give it away but here is what you can expect from it:
- Explanations of the most common (and not so common) Japanese teas.
- Explanation of cultivars.
- Brewing techniques.
Sencha & Gyokuro
In addition to trying new teas, I also tried to inform myself on the types of tea, cultivars, and other relevant information. I relied upon the pamphlet provided by Yunomi Tea and the internet. This is what I learned about Sencha and Gyokuro.
Sencha is a steamed green tea. Its processing involves: picking, rolling, and drying. It is a versatile tea that changes depending on when it was picked. The most common cultivar is the Yabukita cultivar and Sencha is the most commonly produced tea in Japan!
Gyokuro is another green Japanese tea. It has the same processing of Sencha but the tea is shaded weeks before harvest. This allows for a higher concentration of amino acids and creates a strong umami flavor. The shading process also makes the leaves have a dark green color to them.
Here are my thoughts on each tea:
Asamushi Sencha Kunpu
The Asamushi Sencha Kunpu was the first tea I tried but it was also my favorite out of them all. The leaves look thin and long, the color was dark green with some lighter colored leaves as well. As soon as I opened the package and smelled the leaves, my nose was filled with sweet notes, which I was not expecting AT ALL. I was expecting a strong umami taste but it did not come through too much in the leaves- it reminded me of a matcha latte!
I followed the brewing parameters provided by Yunomi, which is as follows:
1st steeping: 1 minute
2nd: 10 seconds
3rd: 60 seconds
This brewing parameter was very different for me, and it felt a bit unnatural to brew in this manner. However, I have heard that Japanese teas are easily over brewed and this tea never tasted too bitter, so I am glad I followed these parameters.
The taste on itself really blew my mind. It was sweet and had strong umami notes but it did not overpower my senses. I am not a huge fan of umami-tasting teas but this tea was gentle and sweet enough that it was not a problem.
As I said before, this was my favorite tea out of the lot and if you are looking to start drinking Sencha but don’t know where to begin, give this one a try!
Imperial Shizuoka Sencha
The second tea I tried was the Imperial Shizuoka Sencha. The leaves were much smaller and thinner than the Asamushi and lighter green. You can see the difference of the leaves in the picture to the right. In all honesty, it was so hard to measure 3g because the tea seemed to stick to my fingers! I am definitely not used to dealing with pickings this fine.
I used the same parameters as the Asamushi Sencha.
Right off the bat, I noticed a huge difference between these teas. The sweetness in this tea was much more subtle than the first tea. In addition, there was much more umami coming through. The body was thinner, and the liquor was a very strong, almost neon green. Throughout the infusions, I started noticing some smokiness, and more umami. I was surprised to also note some spiciness in the tip of my tongue, it felt slightly tingly.
Overall, I enjoyed this tea quite a bit. I would say this is what I was expecting Senchas to taste like overall- stronger and with a lot of umami.
Kuchikiri Gyokuro Saemidori
The final tea I tried was the Kuchikiri Gyokuro. This was very different from all the other teas I had. The leaves were green but had blue tones that I was not expecting- it was a truly beautiful color. The picking size was in between the Asamushi and Shizuoka sencha. Its cultivar was the saemidori cultivar and it was shaded for 3-4 weeks.
As with the other teas, I followed the brewing parameters provided in the package as follows:
1st infusion: 2-3 minutes
2nd infusion: 10 seconds
3rd infusion: 30 seconds
4th infusion: 1 minute
The taste of the tea reminded me a lot of steamed vegetables. It tasted a lot like umami and it had a slight bitterness. Unlike the other teas, I could not perceive any sweetness in the tea, nonetheless it was pleasant to drink.
As a newbie, this was the most intimidating tea out of them all. I was scared I would overbrew it and the tea would become very bitter. I was also confused by the brewing parameters but I trusted them and I am super happy with the taste.
I am so pleased and grateful I got to experience these teas. I was hesitant about diving into the world of Japanese teas, as I was clueless about where to start. However, the care that Yunomi Teas took in choosing these teas and providing the information was extraordinary. I am still a newbie but I am at least familiar with them now. I am superb excited to try more and broaden my tea knowledge- thank you so much Yunomi Teas!