2020 Cai Cong Anxi Oolong/Verdant Tea -skysamurai-

This is one of the more difficult oolongs I’ve tried to decipher.

Some are your basic sudokus while others are kenkens. This one is a different puzzle. A kendoku!

It has mineral quality the twists along with a unique vegetal feel. They say cucumber as a descriptor and I can definitely taste a bit of that fresh vine picked taste but there is also a hint of green bean, freshly chopped. Feel like I am making a salad.

The flavor becomes a bit charcoal heavy as the steepings progress.

One of my nostrils is being difficult so I am having a bit of trouble evaluating what it is that is in my nose.

Citrus maybe? This is very different for one of Master Zhang’s oolongs but it just goes to show his breath of knowledge and tea making prowess.

 


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Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Verdant Tea

Description

This tea originally premiered in the Sept. 2020 Tea of the Month Club box! Master Zhang cultivates this rare Cai Cong (菜聪) varietal to encourage biodiversity on his high elevation plot in Daping, Anxi. His careful processing has brought out a surprisingly floral-fruit flavor in this tea along with deep osmanthus florals and a sweet, long aftertaste. The light oxidation of this tea’s traditional finish complements the dessert-like flavors of Cai Cong with a buttery, creamy finish.

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Notes on Beyond Blueberry/Akova -skysamurai-

I’m taking a leap out of my purist comfort zone to taste some cuppas by a new tea company.

The smell immediately pulsates up your nose when you open the bag. The blueberry aroma is like a club playing EDM.

Makes me wonder if we’ll ever see clubbing again…

This wonderful smell prepares you for something amazing in the flavor. Which unfortunately isn’t there.

It is tepid blueberry in flavor. To be honest, the flavor is very bland. Even the black leaf uninspiring.

My suggestion would be to add real blueberries to the blend (freeze dried if possible). Out of curiosity I’ve also steeped it cold to see if that would reveal better flavors. At five minutes it is still bland but something seems to be trying to peek out.

After 10 minutes there is a bit of cream and a bit more fruity. Which makes me wonder if this would be a good overnight iced tea. .


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Leaf Type: Black

Where to Buy: Akova Teas

Description

Intoxicating black tea with the aroma of wild blueberries.

Ingredients: Black tea*, Elderberry* + Currant pieces*, Hibiscus petals*, Natural flavors (organic compliant)

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Notes on Gyokuro Superior/Sorate -skysamurai-

Lush, deep green.

These leaves are a fantastic color. If you are going to call it superior it better be a green like this.

The liquid is a clear, light amber. The mouthfeel is very smooth. Barely any astringency. Wet leaf smells of umami.

Not sure of how to explain that smell besides umami. It is warming and reminds me of soft Japanese udon. The flavor is slight grassy with vegetal notes. Garden veggies.

 


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Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Sorate

Description

Gyokuro was developed in Uji, Kyoto, home of our beloved farm.

The deep ties to Gyokuro’s homeland and production, making it the finest grade of Japanese Tea. It contains an elegant aroma and taste with soft tones presented in a light green color.

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Notes on Matcha Super Premium Ceremonial Grade/Sorate

If you really want to test your matcha mettle you should try to drink a single cultivar for a few days and then switch it up to a different one.

I have been drinking okumidori the last few days which is more nori forward or at least I thought it was until I tried this samidori. The marine flavor is not just forward, it is in your face. Bits of nori mixed with umami sea notes. It starts very smooth and ends up a bit silty but the bits aren’t unpleasant.

The overall mouthfeel is very smooth. The matcha coloring is just a very slight shade off of the highest grade I have in my fridge but it still is nice jade green.

The powder is smooth to the touch.


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Leaf Type: Green

Where to Buy: Sorate

Description

Exclusively grown from the rolling hills of Uji, Japan, this Matcha is known for its savory and full taste. The exquisite flavor is a result of the leaves being produced from this rich soil.

Since 17th century, the tradition has been passed down from generation to generation.

Samidori breed.

 

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Tasting Notes on Shirakawa Gokou/kettl -Skysamurai-

Never again will I be able to even look at a ‘premium’ or ‘culinary’ grade without a bit of disdain. Without even tasting it I get a perfect sense of how amazing this experience will be simply from the color. Then we bring in the aroma and suddenly I have been transported away. An ethereal encounter. It’s sweet. The sweetest vegetation possible, mixed with soft vegetal notes. Even the sensation of touch is exquisite. Unequivocally soft. The dry matcha flavor is mind-blowing. I honestly thought I had tried good matcha before. And I haven’t even begun to make it. The liquid froths up nicely. Though I admit my frothing skills are less than stellar. A gorgeous emerald color. There is a very interesting yin-yang situation going on in my mouth every time I sip. Calming yet activating. Smooth yet moderately bitter but not in a bad way. Grassy and vegetal. I might just have to lick the bowl when I’m through. . . .


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy: kettl

Description: A single cultivar 100% Gokou matcha from Shirakawa, Uji. This is a wonderful chance to try unblended Gokou Matcha – made from one of Uji’s most celebrated local culitvars. Gokou has an intoxicating aroma with a balanced, full bodied finish. Made by a true living legend.

What is so special about this tea? This matcha hails from unarguably the most revered tencha garden in all of Uji – The gardens of Mr. Kiyoharu Tsuji. Gokou is one of the more uniquely fragranced Matcha from Tsuji san with a notable Gyokuro like “shaded aroma” quality. Tsuji san has mastered the production of a handful of cultivars – Gokou among them. With more #1 showings at Japan’s all national tea fair, it is safe to say his name is etched in the history of Uji tea production. His teas exude a notable power from intensive garden management and fertilization as well as the deep red clay soil of Shirakawa. The L-Theanine and amino acid levels of his teas are some of the highest recorded – and this comes through on the palate. We recommend using slightly cooler water to bring out that umami.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!