Posts Tagged ‘Japanese Tea’

Japanese Shin Cha Cupping Event Results …. Week 2

IMG_4278 croppedThis week the samples included some very special and unique teas. The first sample evaluated was a Temomi (hand rolled) tea. During the Tea Tour of Japan this May, we visited the Sugimoto tea factory. Several Cuppers participated in making this tea. After a small sample for each tea-maker, there was exactly 500 grams left, just enough for this cupping event. It took an entire day to make this tea, processed all by hand. Another special tea is from Kanes tea company. It uses a purple tea bush varietal. Another Sen Cha from Marumatsu Tea rounded out the week’s samples. Following are the notes of the Cuppers who submitted their evaluations. Late arrivals will be added as they are received so visit this page again for further comments.

Sample #004- Temomi
Dry Leaf Appearance: - Long, straight, needle shaped dark gray-green. No brokens. Glossy luster on leaf surface. Deep color.
- deep green, long, uniform, thinly rolled needles
- long 1-1/2-2” twisted needle shape leaf, dark green - very long dark green needles
- Very long (3") dark bluish green needles. No leaf parts. Uniform color & shape.
- Long Straight, cylindrical, green with some gold
- long slender dark green rolled leaves

Dry Leaf Aroma:
- Light but rich. Slight baked notes. Steamed soy beans.
- sweet, seaweedy
- seaweed, light
- herbal, flowery
- Fresh cut grass with fig & straw.  Dissipates quickly.
- grassy, sweet hay, licorice
- light, airy, hint of grass

Wet Leaf Appearance:
- Beautiful pea-green, whole leaves. Long and slender leafs and stems with small whole leaves. Several 2 leaf and 1 bud sets.
- flawless, full leaves, completely intact, healthy plant green
- whole leaf, spring green
- long soft leaves, green/yellow
- Whole leaf with stems attached, some buds, & leaf parts, interspersed.
- slightly open, long narrow leaf, uniform green
- pale green open leaves 

Wet Leaf Aroma:
- Sweet, watery, light some cooked vegetable notes like asparagus but milder.
- vegetal - carrot, seaweed
- green vegetables,
- Burnt straw followed by cut fresh grass.
- some asparagus, wheaty
- subtle grassy

Liquor Color:
- Bright but light yellow. Slightly cloudy but still sparling. Uniform depth.
- light yellow
- straw yellow, a little cloudy
- pale yellow, very clear
- Very light yellowish green
- pale green, very light, clear, smooth
- pale yellow

- Rich, full, juicy, vegetal, like brussel sprouts cooked in soup. Thick. Light astringency but ok. Lingering finish is fairly well balanced but some astringency remains.
- mild vegetal front, no "assault" often associated with green tea, mellows into a sweet pea
- straw yellow, a little cloudy
- green vegetables (warm French beans), sweet
- 1st sensation: vegetal with bitterness. Some umami but astringency is not building body. Light asparagus flavor. Aftertaste 10 min but includes bitterness. Cooled: Bitter.
- greens, asparagus background, light in astringency,
- musty, earthy, very astringent finish

Comments: - Rich aroma. Taste was full and smooth with some character but not as captivating as the aroma. Amazingly beautiful leaves. This is good example of what hand-picked leaves can produce.
- I am fascinated by how quality is just so recognizable even without me having specific training. This is a beautiful tea.
- This is a light and fresh tea - and very special because it is hand-rolled. A tea for special occasions.
-  A typical quality Shizuoka Sencha
- Liquor has a rich aroma very similar to dry leaf.  The dry leaf needles were huge, +3 in, due to long stems left on leaf. I'm wondering why they plucked this way - what they gained by leaving this much stem.
- x
- Build up of pleasant looking uniform leaves, nice aroma but big let down. Initial Musty flavor not too bad, a little reminiscent of a first flush Darjeeling but quite unpleasant bitter finish

Rank: Combined scores for all Cuppers. Cuppers were asked to score the sample based on four criteria. The chart below shows the overall ranking of each attribute. The rank range was 1 to 5 with one indicating most appealing and 5 indicating least appealing. A higher number indicates more Cuppers agreed on the same ranking.

1=Most Appealing 1 2 3 4 5
Leaf Appearance


Leaf Aroma


4 2
Liquor Aroma


3 2
Liquor Flavor


3 2 1


Sample #005   Ara Cha – 619-B
Dry Leaf Appearance:
- Dark green, long slender leaves with some yellow stalks and lots of brokens.
- deep green with some lighter green moderate to large thin rolls
- 1/2-1” straight sword-shape, medium to light green, not uniform
- long dark green needles with some yellow pieces
- Dark green needles & very small broken leaf (1mm - 1cm). A few pale green pieces, similar to straw. Non uniform shape & size.
- some chips and stems, long green cylinders, some golden pieces
- Dark green leaves, white stems

Dry Leaf Aroma:
- Rich, baked vegetal notes. Pasty. Some raw soy/lima bean.
- vegetal, mild damp grass
- roasted kale, seaweed
- aromatic plants
- Pine with uncut alfalfa.  Aroma dissipates quickly.
- grassy, sweet, greens
- Mild vegetal, subtle richness

Wet Leaf Appearance:
- Medium green, mostly chopped leaves. Some small whole leaves. A bit mushy but not too soft.
- beautiful bright green, with stems - some that are light greenish yellow stems
- broken leaf and some stem, mid-green, various sizes
- leaves in big pieces, green/yellow
- Whole leaf, leaf parts, buds, & stems. Varying size from 2 - 5cm. Appears chopped.
- some chopped leaves, green, stems throughout
- very dark green 

Wet Leaf Aroma:
- Light but deep. Slightly sweet with hints of green olive and kale. Also noticed some hints of spice like jalapeno. Thick.
- Vegetal
- steamed spinach, kale
- green vegetables, aromatic herbs
- Light roasted pine followed by asparagus, which dominates sensation.
- herbal, asparagus
- buttery, nutty, vegetal kinda like a nice dragonwell

Liquor Color:
- Intense canary yellow. Bright but thick. Very deep. Some sediment.
- yellow with drifting particles
- golden-yellow, cloudy with a chance of green
- pale yellow
- Yellow green, light.  Clear without clouds.
- coppery clear
- pale yellow

- Full, cooked spinach. A bit astringent. Nice complexity with sweet notes on the tongue tip and roof of mouth. Fresh cooked carrot tops. Finish lingers but gets more astringent.
- grassy mild creamy
- sweet and light, vegetable broth umami, slightly metallic finish
- very pleasant liquor aroma despite its bitterness
- Warm: astringency without bitterness bring body, balance, & loads of umami. Leek flavor predominates, but mouthfeel more significant than flavor. Cool: picks up some bitterness but also an interesting cream taste that enhances umami.
- little bite, nice smooth, refreshing, round up front
- brisk not quite astringent

- Really rich liquor color. Flavor was very interesting, especially the hint of spice. Something like jalapeno pepper but not oily or hot. I tasted it on more parts of my palate and mouth.
- I know we are not to be comparing, but I do see this as a higher quality than A.
- sweet and light, vegetable broth umami, slightly metallic finish
- this tea was good, not great, I didn’t enjoy the finish which is important for me.
- Liquor has the aroma of pan seared asparagus with sautéed leek.  This is a very resilient tea - shines from 150 F - 190.  Looking at the leaf, it makes me question how much the quality of the pluck matters in shincha.
- x
- more pleasing flavor than #3 or #4

Rank: Combined scores for all Cuppers. Cuppers were asked to score the sample based on four criteria. The chart below shows the overall ranking of each attribute. The rank range was 1 to 5 with one indicating most appealing and 5 indicating least appealing. A higher number indicates more Cuppers agreed on the same ranking.

1=Most Appealing 1 2 3 4 5
Leaf Appearance 3 3 1
Leaf Aroma 4 3
Liquor Aroma 2 4 1
Liquor Flavor 4 1 2


Sample #006 Sun Drop
Dry Leaf Appearance:
- Very dark green needle-shaped leaves. Some lighter green stalks. Very few brokens. Well graded. Hand Made?
- moderate length deep green thin rolls
- needles of various sizes, some stem
- long flat dark green needles
- Very dark, bluish green needles of varying size (5mm - 2cm) with a couple of brown thick stems. Lighter green needles interspersed.
- dark gray/green, needles
- darkest green so far

Dry Leaf Aroma:
- Strong, cooked red wine and mushrooms (beef Bourguignon). Rich with very light sweetness.
- savory apple
- fresh, pine
- herbal
- Light aroma of steamed kale with very slight nutmeg in the background.
- earthy, some sweetness
- very fresh, newly mowed lawn

Wet Leaf Appearance:
- Large, gray-green dark leaves. Most are large but chopped. Some small hole leaves. Still sturdy (not mushy).
- even deep green color, large pieces some tips, some stems
- forest green broken leaf of various sizes and shapes
- dark green almost black
- Whole & broken leaf, lots of stems, & a few buds -- all of varying size. Wide leaf (up to 2cm). Dark green throughout. Attached stems are very long.
- some stems, slightly open and broken, dark grey
- even darker green 

Wet Leaf Aroma:
- Very light, hint of sweetness. Strong squash notes. Juicy. Green but deep. Cooked seaweed (in soup).
- mild sweet apply boiled potato
- cooked vegetable, collard greens
- green vegetables
- Typical sencha infused leaf aroma, but lighter - pan seared kale with pine.
- sweet, vegetative
- same as dry leaf surprised aroma did not change much from dry leaf

Liquor Color:
- Dark brown/green (like the dry leaf). Some brightness but a bit murky. Some color depth. - how fun is this - started as a lovely green, but it turned murky water brown. I'm guessing when brewed at lower temperature it will not turn this brown.  After lemon added it turned a pleasant moderate saturated pink.
- strange magenta tint when infused!
- brown/black with some blue glint
- Warm: reddish smoke. Cool: just smoke (loses the red). Cloudy & dull.
- clear, coppery
- purple!

- Strong but with some layers. Astringent but some sweetness in the mix. Over cooked greens like kale. Thick. Finish evens out but astringency remains.
- started as typical astringent green. I should have spent more time tasting "plain" but I wanted to add the lemon to see what would happen. Is this what is referred to a "umami"? That is my best guess for my inexperience taste buds. With the lemon this is "lemon umami happiness."
- Astringent, metallic taste, really unpleasant
- green vegetable more or less astringent, salty?
- 1st sensation: nothing followed by bitterness. Cool: bitterness becomes oppressive. Minimal body & no umami - warm or cool. Aftertaste lingers with bitterness.
- very sweet up front, fresh, some acidity in finish
- moved from a very flat through slightly brisk then astringent

- Quite an unusual tea. Leaf color was darker and not as green. Very long, slender leaf shape with some glossy sheen. Taste of cooked greens and acorn squash.
- How fun is this!  Surely this will turn into a staple for bridal/baby showers. I certainly want to "play" more with this.
- I really didn’t enjoy anything about this tea. The magenta tint was different, but confusing. Really did not like the taste
- Very different from usual Sencha, especially for the liquor color and flavor, the introduction of some drops of lemon is very amazing, tastes better with lemon.
- The liquor appearance is identical to a steamed purple tea from Kenya and the taste profile is very similar - both must have been pulled from the same ancestors. There's a variance in taste but I think that both the Japanese & the Kenyans haven’t figured the tea out - which makes both a lot of fun. The liquor has a very interesting fruity aroma (melon & fig). My low flavor rating is based on 180 temp/2 min, but this tea changes dramatically at 165. I don’t think this tea should be judged with a sencha - this is a special category but kudos for providing it.
- x
- x

Rank: Combined scores for all Cuppers. Cuppers were asked to score the sample based on four criteria. The chart below shows the overall ranking of each attribute. The rank range was 1 to 5 with one indicating most appealing and 5 indicating least appealing. A higher number indicates more Cuppers agreed on the same ranking.

1=Most Appealing 1 2 3 4 5
Leaf Appearance 1 4 1 1
Leaf Aroma 5 1
Liquor Aroma 1 2 4
Liquor Flavor 1 1 2 2 1



10 2015

Japanese Shin Cha Cupping Event Results …. Week 1

IMG_4930Focusing on the prized first teas of the season, the next ITCC Cupping Event is investigating 8 teas from different regions of Japan and of different processing styles. Cuppers from several countries are simultaneously preparing these teas using standardized procedures used by professional tea tasters in Japan. Infusions were made using 3 grams, steeped in 180 degree water for 2 minutes. The cupping equipment for this event is different than others; notably the leaves were infused in a tasting bowl and then removed with a special strainer which was also used to judge the aroma of the infused leafs. Here are the Cuppers’ comments for the Week 1 teas. Seven out of sixteen Cuppers sent in their evaluations. Additions will be updated as they are received.

Cupper                        Water pH        Source             Leaf     Temp   Time
1                                       7           Filtered Well          3g    180F    2 min
2                                       7.5        Bottled Spring       3g    180F    2 min
3                                       7           Spring                     3g    180F    2 min
4                                       7           Spring                     3g     85C     2 min
5                                       7.5        Bottled Spring       3g    180F    2 min
6                                       7.1        Tap                           3g    180F    2 min
7                                       7           Double Filter Tap   3g    180F    2 min

Sample #001- Ara Cha 619-A Dry Leaf Appearance:
- Dark green leaves with some yellow stalk. Some 1 inch long needly shaped leaves but mostly small broken pieces.
- deep green with some lighter green ranging in size from pieces to long thin rolls
- sword-shape flat leaf, mostly dark green, some light green, assorted sizes
- big needles some dark green some yellow, silky
- Dark green with some pale green interspersed, needles of varing size. Some very small unrolled leaf parts. - fresh, green cylindrical, pieces, some light, vegatative, needles
- long dark green leaf with short pale and white components good  uniformity

Dry Leaf Aroma:
- Light, green, pasty, rich, sappy. Vegetal with stronger low notes.
- sugary sweet, vegetal dry hay
- vegetal, light aroma
- hay containing dried flowers
- Fresh mown alfalfa with mimosa in background. Intense aroma dissipates after 10min open.
- fresh hay, grassy, dry
- mature deep grassy/vegetal aroma

Wet Leaf Appearance: - Deep but bright green. Fresh, vital. Choppy and a bit mushy.
- bright green mostly even color - broken leaves, different sizes, bright green
- dark greeen, crushed, some yellow pieces (stalk)
- Full leaf, leaf parts, an occasional bud, & stems of varing size. Sea green color. Typical aracha pluck, with a little bit of everything.
- Dark Green, chopped spinach, shredded
- very rich green 

Wet Leaf Aroma:
- Light, fresh, sweet, floral but vegetal. Fresh, young and tender leaves with blanched spinachy notes. Perfumey and juicy.
- vegetal, mild damp grass
- cooked spinach, cooked artichoke
- spinach, white flower (syringa)
- Wet grass with very slight nutmeg in background.
- Herbaceous, spinach/asparagus, fresh and pleasant
- deep grass, watered lawn, creamy

Liquor Color:
- Rich yellow with slight green tint. Cloudy but deep. Some sediment.
- clear light yellow
- clear yellow-green
- golden yellow
- Light green with aroma of baled hay. Brightness - medium.
- Pale, light green with yellow undertones, clear - pale yellow

- Thick, juicy, vegetal with mild astringency. Kale and carrot tops. Some hint of sweetness which quickly give way to astringent, vegetal notes. Smooth finish.
- vegetal front, asparagus middle, with mild bodied, pleasant astringency
- slight astringency, sweet grass, bitter finish
- astringent then sweet, green vegetables (spinach) - 1st sensation - seaweed, followed by Chinese broccoli, Overall sensation is of a winter salad. Bitterness builds as cools. Medium balance. After taste hangs about 4 min.
- Herbaceous, light spinach, light flavor, some astringency
- gently brisk to astringent. Especially tip of tongue later numbness on lips. Lingering pleasant finish

- A nice drinking tea though a bit more astringency than I like. Nice hint of sweetness. Uniformity was not very consistent but ok given ara cha.
-  I am fascinated by how bright and green the infused leaves are. Beautiful. I also like the sugary smell of the dry leaves. My inexperience may be causing me to reserve the highest score as I "like" them but I'm not sure I'm ready to commit to "love." :)
- not a well-balanced tea - nothing really stood out for me.
- x
- x
- x
- favorite of first three

Rank: Combined scores for all Cuppers. Cuppers were asked to score the sample based on four criteria. The chart below shows the overall ranking of each attribute. The rank range was 1 to 5 with one indicating most appealing and 5 indicating least appealing. A higher number indicates more Cuppers agreed on the same ranking.

1=Most Appealing 1 2 3 4 5
Leaf Appearance 1 2 3 1  
Leaf Aroma   5 2    
Liquor Aroma   4 2 1  
Liquor Flavor   3 3 1  

#002   Sencha of the Earth Dry Leaf Appearance:
- Light yellow-green leaves and a lot of stalk. Some very long pieces but some very small pieces too. Big leaves/stalks have flat shape.
- moderate green short to long thin rolls sprinkled with lighter greenish yellow rolls
- different sizes, shapes, and color from dark green to straw
- very leaves green and pale yellow
- Dark green long rolled needles with large number of pale green needles interspersed. Also, contains what looks to be straw.
- some twigs/stems, long dark green, various sizes and shapes, mixed chopped
- dark green intermixed with some lighter green leaves

Dry Leaf Aroma:
- Rich, light toasty, baked with light sweetness. Fresh cooked (fried) leafy vegetables.
- vegetal dry grass
- fresh, sweet grass, mushroom
- flowery (white flowers) meadow
- Alfalfa & butter with slight vanilla. Intense aroma dissipates quickly.
- grassy, sweet, woody, some hay
- subtle vegetal reminds one of matcha aroma

Wet Leaf Appearance:
- Yellow-green leaves. Chunky. More stems. Not so mushy.
- moderate green leaves and many stems
- broken leaf of various shapes and sizes
- very long leaves with pieces of stalk, pale green
- Army green broken leaf with stems (1mm - 2cm). Pale stems remain & are very thick. Leaf parts on some stems. Fairly uniform pluck.
- twigs/stems, chopped leaves, green leaves and yellow twigs, twisted
- darker green lighter stems 

Wet Leaf Aroma:
- Some steamed fishy note (ok). Medium rich. Not so complex. Not so sweet but ok. - cooked spinach
- rich vegetable stew, artichoke, carrot
- flowery, flowering meadow
- Grassy with pine & very slight olive.
- Some brussel sprouts, mushroom backnotes, citrus undertones
- less intense than dry leaves

Liquor Color:
- Thick, yellow with some green, tint. A bit cloudy and not as bright.
- moderate yellow with "dust" particles
- a little cloudy, yellow-green
- pale yellow lightly brownish
- Very light green. Aroma fairly close to dry leaf.
- Light green, clear, bright
- pale yellow

Flavor: - Good body but not as complex. More cooked grass taste with light fishy note (nice). Faint floral. Some (darker) juicy stem sappiness. Raw peas.
- grassy front leading to buttery notes ending with a balanced slightly bitter character
- sweet & savory, vegetal and fresh, with a round satisfying finish
- flowering meadow, hay, astringent then sweeter
- Mimosa. Slightly phenoloic. Good balance between shibumi & umami. Cold: Shibumi predominates but retains mouthfeel. Minimal legs warm, but improves slightly cold.
- slight mushroom, little hay background, fresh, smooth finish, some sweetness
- overwhelmed by astringency little to no throat feel

- Toasty notes made the flavor and mouth feel more smooth but the trade-off was less fresh, green character. Fishy notes were ok but not expected.
- I most appreciated the green variation in the color of the leaves and their length. Beautiful dry leaf.
- The leaf appearance was all over the place, but the taste and aroma made up for the primitive appearance of the leaf.
- x
- x
- x
- unpleasant. nothing enjoyable about this tea

Rank: Combined scores for all Cuppers. Cuppers were asked to score the sample based on four criteria. The chart below shows the overall ranking of each attribute. The rank range was 1 to 5 with one indicating most appealing and 5 indicating least appealing. A higher number indicates more Cuppers agreed on the same ranking.

1=Most Appealing 1 2 3 4 5
Leaf Appearance 1 3 2 1  
Leaf Aroma 2 2 3    
Liquor Aroma 1 1 5    
Liquor Flavor 1 3 2   1


Sample #003 Ureshino Kamairi Cha

Dry Leaf Appearance:
- Medium grey-green leaves. Rolled and some curly shape. Smaller and more uniform grade. Some small broken pieces.
- deep green short to moderate length thin rolls
- delicate small arch-shaped leaves, very consistent
- small pieces dark green with clearer pieces
- Dark green short curled needles with very small uncurled leaf parts -- needles 2mm - 2cm
- fine chop, green, looks like green sawdust, particles
- short hard leaves nonuniform size color and length

Dry Leaf Aroma: - Very rich, sweet, strong, full, baked but not high fired. Fresh cooked lettuce (fried).
- toasted wicker with light rain on grass
- sugar cookie, sweet bread
- ocean air, iodine, grilled grass
- Baled hay dried in the field - vegetal but with underlying straw (not quite wood). Aroma still strong at 10 min open.
- bright, grassy with some corn flower
- roasty

Wet Leaf Appearance: - Deep green with some yellow tints. More uniform leave shape.
- moderate green, uniform
- small leaf of uniform size and green color
- small pieces pale and dark green - Bright green leaf parts, a few buds, with a large number of 1 - 2 cm stems.
- green, freshly chopped parsley, some gold
- dark green became richer green 

Wet Leaf Aroma:
- Strong, full baked aroma but with vegetal and sweet notes. Grainy quality like cooked or popped rice.
- toast green vegetal
- spinach pie, freshly baked
- grilled grass, warm hay
- Pan seered bok choi - medium intensity.
- Spinach, asparagus
- mild vegetal some butter

Liquor Color:
- Light yellow with green tint. Bright, clear and lively.
- moderate yellow
- clear bright straw yellow with green hints
- pale yellow
- Pale green with yellowish tint. Not cloudy, but not totally clear. Brightness OK. - light green, clear
- pale yellow

- Roasted, sweet, medium body. Some thickness and light astringency (ok). Definitely tasted the fire but not at all burnt. Finish lasts and remains pleasant.
- vegetal front develops to slightly complex with nuance of umami
- sweet and umami vegetal broth, well-structured with long balanced finish
- thick, sweet, mostly grass
- Predominantly asparagus with grass, followed by some bitterness. Astringency gives thin body. Minimal umami. Bitterness builds as cools, but vegetal subsides. Acts like a Chinese tea. Little after taste.  Balance: disjointed.
- Bitter up front with some asparagus following, collard green undertones, long finish
- more depth but very astringent finish

Comments: - Very aromatic. Made my mouth water. Really enjoyed this tea. The firing was just enough to give a fried depth but without any burnt taste. Second infusion was still sweet. Also brewed this in cold water for 10 minutes. No astringency and quite sweet but with nice depth.
- This was the most familiar in taste. I suppose that is because it is roasted. I enjoy the toasted aroma.
- There wasn't anything I didn't like about the Ureshino Kamairi cha. Balanced, structured, delicious. Bravo!
- x
- I am a huge fan of kamiricha, but I've never had it vegetal before and this is biasing my review.
- x
- not as astringent as #2 but not pleasant. Would not try drinking for enjoyment or serving others

Rank: Combined scores for all Cuppers. Cuppers were asked to score the sample based on four criteria. The chart below shows the overall ranking of each attribute. The rank range was 1 to 5 with one indicating most appealing and 5 indicating least appealing. A higher number indicates more Cuppers agreed on the same ranking.

1=Most Appealing 1 2 3 4 5
Leaf Appearance 1 5 1    
Leaf Aroma 2 4   1  
Liquor Aroma 1 3 3    
Liquor Flavor 2 3   1 1



10 2015