We'll wait to go in-depth on the matcha kit and matcha in general for now. If you want to read a few informative posts about matcha, then check out Tea Nerd's Matcha Madness (1 2 3).
Today is a day for Sencha.
Along with the matcha kit, I also ordered a 100 gram bag of Sencha Hosen from Ippodo teas. Described as being well-balanced, with "subtle sweetness, elegant fragrance and fresh aftertaste" this tea seemed to be a good choice, and was recommended by a couple of seasoned sencha drinkers.
The dry leaf smells fresh and sweet, with a hint of tang. A deep dark green with a bit of shine.
While the wet leaves are
a bright, healthy green.
a bright, healthy green.
Using the testing parameters:
175° for 1.5 minutes
We get a cup that is more yellow than green:
Despite the unfavorable color, the tea permeated the air with a sweet fragrance of honey with a floral note. Perhaps a honeysuckle smell. The sweetness of Hosen is very different from the sweetness of fukamushi. While fukamushi is more of a grassy-vegetal sweet, the hosen is a floral-honey sweet.
I was at first taken aback by it's similarity to my mothers teabags. The taste is plainly sweet, with only a loose and light addition of floralness. I am reminded of sucking on a honey-straw with a light, fresh breeze in the air. At lower temperatures, the sweetness tends to take on a more fruity-honeydew quality. This honeydew sweetness is more enjoyable than the honey-sweetness as it adds a rounded fruitiness, and a floral-fruity aftertaste.
A confusing drink, at times I am reminded of honey-sticks, at times I am reminded of dead grass. I would not recommend this tea to a seasoned sencha drinker, but perhaps to a new convert who still needs to be driven into the tea-world by a sweet tea.
The 2nd steeping creates a more cloudy brew. But not the cloudiness we enjoy from fukamushi, a more yellow cloudiness that for some reason is a lot less appetizing. The smell, however, is back to the floral-honey, while the taste has lessened greatly. Still honey-sweet, but much less so. During this steeping the Hosen tastes primarily like hot water. Mixing up the tea bits from the bottom adds a bit more of the honeydew sweetness. Perhaps my honey-sweet taste buds have simply been overloaded, nonetheless, this second-steeping is not so pleasant.
In summary, Sencha Hosen lacks complexity, donating a simple floral-honey-sweetness to the cup, which gains favor as it turns to a fruity-honeydew sweetness at a lower temperature in the first infusion. The second infusion becomes slightly cloudy, with less sweetness and even less complexion. I would give this tea as recommendation to those people who are new converts to loose green tea, and those who enjoy a simple, sweet tea. For those who enjoy a grassy, green sencha, this is definately not the tea for you.
4/10 - Good for someone who doesn't drink tea regularly, yet still enjoys something better than a teabag full of fannings.