As the title suggests, this Fukamushi isn't as good as the last one I reviewed from Rishi. This fuka is from Hibiki-an, which is a very good supplier, but lacking in this tea. I was attracted to Hibiki-an for many reasons, they not only ship direct from Japan, but they are a tea farm in Japan, shipping out their very own teas, which they can supply at a low price. Also, an enthusiast very well versed in Japanese teas recommended I try some of their teas. In addition to ordering this enthusiasts favorite (Sencha Karigane), I also decided to try one of their fukamushis, Sencha Fukamushi Superior, at $22 for 200 grams, it's quite a bargain.
A positive note for Hibiki-an is their packaging:
That is one purchase of 200g of Sencha Karigane in two seperate bags, and one purchase of 200g of Sencha Fukamushi Superior. Of course I got overly excited about the fukamushi, which turned out to be not as good, letting me down :(
The dry product looked very similar to Rishi's fuka: The smell of the leaf was slightly tart (during my next review will become clear that this "tartness" is a key characteristic of the Karigane), very sweet, with a deep, dark grassiness. The tart smell concerned me because I it could be a sign of contamination of the Karigane into the fuka. But, the tasting went on...
Weapon of Choice: Fukugata
3.5-4 teaspoons for 300ml, the same parameters as for Rishi's fuka, gave me this: Even with it being the first steeping, the wet product was just not that green, not that full.
The wet leaves were fairly good-looking, but they still have some unhealthy-brown leaves placed throughout:
The cool thing is that one of my preferred cups holds the Fukugata's volume exactly:
The aroma of the tea is very sweet, containing more vegetal notes than grassy ones. The tart from the dry leaf smell is still concerningly present (as an undertone).
The taste of the hot tea is predominantly sweet, accompanied by slight vegetal on top of the tongue, and slight grassiness on the sides of the tongue. Once the tea cools down to a warm-hot temperature, it develops a deeper sweetness with more vegetalness on the top, yet still a noticeable grassiness on the sides. By the time the tea has reached a warm-warm temp, I've lost much of my interest. The tea becomes much more "watery," depicting a loss of desirable flavors. I noticed during this drinking, that when the sediment in the bottom of the cup gets mixed back up into the tea, then a deep sweetness again dominates the flavor of the tea. This is a note to always mix the bits back up into the tea, it allows one to become more intimate with the tea, bringing up flavors that may normally be missed. On a good note, the tartness did not come out in the flavor of the tea, meaning that it was just a contamination of aroma, not actual tea. I'm curious as to what has caused this...
The second steeping was much more aesthetically pleasing, holding a greater opaqueness and a sweeter flavor: Much better looking indeed :)
The aroma coming from the second steeping was sweeter, less complex, yet still more vegetal than grass. When the tea is hot, the taste is sweet, yet more noticeably grassy. As the temperature lowers, the grassy taste is overtaken by the vegetal-sweetness.
In conclusion, this tea is not as flavorful as Rishi's Fukamushi, even when steeped to the verge of bitterness. As I unenthusiastically finish the cup, I'm swamped by thoughts of how much better this tea is when combined with a large amount of the Sencha Karigane (which is the best mixture I have devised, and will write a review of soon). This may just be a case of "not my cup of tea," but I truly believe that this is a fukamushi of lesser quality, and at $22 for 7oz, this is easily conceivable.
On a closing note, I have decide to submerse myself into the world of Pu-erh. For what reasons, I am not entirely sure. I have planned to document my coming into the pu-erh world in a blog, yet I am again irresolute. Should I chronicle my pu-erh tastings and reviews in this blog, or shall I create a new one, specialized for my beginnings of pu-erh, which would eventually show my whole journey through the pu-erh, becoming increasingly more sophisticated and complex. I rather admire the theme that a "Newbie Pu-erh" blog would give, yet it would also be simpler to have enerything in one place...
For a long time now I've been experimenting with all different kinds of green teas. From Japanese to Chinese, from Gunpowder to Gyokuro. I have probably tried around 40 different greens. Out of all these different teas, I have found the Fukamushi Sencha from Rishi Teas to be my favorite. Fukamushi can simply be considered a Sencha that has been steamed for twice to three times as long. Fukamushi differs from the average Sencha by producing a more emerald green cup, as well as a more opaque liquid due to high particulate matter. The higher particle count, which causes the virescent cloudiness, is probably a result of the deep steaming process, which is harder on the leaves. I have only tried two different Fukamushis, so my experience and knowledge of what makes a good Fukamushi is very limited. So far, I have come to understand that the more opaque the virescence, and the deeper the sweetness, the more I enjoy the Fukamushi. These two factors are what have connected me with the Fukamushi Sencha from Rishi. As my knowledge of Fukamushi is very limited, this review will be kept very simple.
Upon inspection, the leaves are very broken up, due in part to this being from the end of the bag, and also due to the deep steaming process. (Me trying to hold it still with shaky hands)
The dry leaves have a very nice smell, they smell very fresh, very "green." They are also quite minty, a nice "grassy mint."
I steeped 3.5 tsp of leaves in my Fukugata at 175° for about 45 seconds.
As you can see, the body of the tea is very opaque, a dark emerald green, which is my favorite in tea. The aroma from the cup is quite sweet, very vegetal and a light-sweet-grassy smell. The sweetness in the aroma is not all that different from candy, save the sweetness is bolder.
The wet leaves do not appear that different from the dry:
The taste of the tea is very pleasing. At high temperatures, the taste is fairly grassy, yet still quite sweet. As the temperature goes down to more favorable conditions, the sweetness really comes out, but the sweetness comes right along with the vegetal taste. The sides of the toungue pick up the grassiness, which is also accompanied with the sweetness. At even lower temperatures, the tea is simply a very deep, vegetal-sweet. After the tea is all drunk, a light sweetness rests on the toungue. This tea is definately my favorite.
The second steeping is done in the Fukugata at 175° for 30 seconds. Less time is needed because the leaves have now been rejuvenated after their long dry period. The second steeping is even better, letting out a much darker color:
Would you look at how dark that is? It's like magic, this is very definately my favorite tea. The taste of the second steeping is very similar, but lacking some of the grassy notes, and having an even deeper vegetal-sweetness, even sweeter! The third and fourth steeping were very similar in all respects, but logically they carried a lighter flavor, yet magically, the color of the tea seemed only to get darker.
This tea has helped me discover my love for fukamushi, with respect to that, this blog will see much more Fukamushi in the future.
Rishi Teas has really been an awesome dealer. If I didn't have a half-pound of Fukamushi to drink from Hibiki-an, I'd be making another order this very minute.
I just recieved my first package from "Kasora Specialty Reserve Teas." From them, I ordered their green tea sampler pack which is made up of four different samples, each less than 1/2 oz. What came was their Ringo Kukicha, Stone Blossom Biluochun, Gyokuro Hoshino, and a Yun-Wu Meilan Chun. I decided to try the Yun-Wu Meilan Chun first because it had an individual earthy, stone-like aroma, while reminiscent of a spice.
The name is quite confusing, "Yun-Wu" means "clouds and mist" indicating that it may have been grown at a high elevation where clouds create mist in the growing environment. "Meilan" could mean many different things, however "Mei Tsan" is the name of the tea plant this tea comes from, which is a slow-growing variety, often grown at a high-elevation, in a misty environment. After finding multiple different teas with the name Mei Lan to also be made up of tea from this Mei-Tsan plant, I believe this to be the defining connection. "Chun" means either springtime or precious, and with tea, springtime harvests often produce the best teas, so this tea is probably a spring harvest. In retrospect, this Yun-Wu Meilan Chun is from a slow-growing tea plant, grown in a high-elevation misty environment, and harvested in springtime.
As stated previously, the leaves have a particularly individual aroma for a green tea, smelling stone-earthy, while also relating to a stale, old cinnamon.
Loosely following the directions on the back of the tin, I steeped the tea in 175° water with a steep time of 3.5 minutes.
As the leaves became hydrated, it was clear that this tea was typically chinese in the sense that it was made up entirely of small, young leaves. From my experience I've found that the younger the leaves a tea is made up of, the less flavorful it becomes. This said, I was surprised when this tea was done.
The steeped leaves, while looking healthy, were all very young leaves, typical of a Chinese tea.
A pale yellow/green color:
While still having a more pale yellow/green liquor (typical of the less flavorful, young-leaved teas), the aroma that came from the tea was quite different from most greens I have experienced. This tea had a dominantly spice-like aroma, similar to cinnamon, maybe more of a roasted cinnamon. This part of the smell was quite pleasing, but also present was an undertone of a sweet lemon, almost peach-like in it's slight fruitiness. When tasting the tea, it is sweet and elegant, another light chinese green. The spice is not as present in the taste of the tea as it is in the smell. The taste of spice is much lighter than it's smell, being lightly sweet with an almost mint taste to it. Investigating further, the sides of the tongue pick up a floral note that is slightly bitter at lower temperaturess. The floralness is similar to a dried out, sun-bleached weed-flower, not entirely pleasant.
The second steeping was identical in all aspects except taste.
The taste during the second steeping contained more of the spice, while having less of the fruity undertone. The spice flavor was accompanied by a very stray undertone of wheat.
In conlusion, the Yun-Wu Meilan Chun from Kasora Teas is a fairly good quality tea, being allowed to steep over three minutes without gaining any bitter taste. At over $15/oz I can say that it is a tea that is quite good, yet not one that I will be paying such a high price for. If offered, I would gladly accept a cup of such a tea, and I believe this sample will extinguish fairly quickly.