Yamane-en: Sugabou, Gyokuro Karigane Houjicha Green Tea from Yunomi

Yamane-enKariganeHoujichaTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Yunomi

Tea Description:

Stems of high grade tea is called karigane 雁音. By roasting these stems in an iron pot, it becomes Karigane Houjicha. This particular product uses gyokuro tea stems from Uji, Kyoto.

This karigane houjicha is roasted in an iron pot over strong heat. Only the surface of the stems are roasted, retaining the flavor of the tea itself, because the inner part of the stem is not roasted. Both the strong aroma and taste of tea can be enjoyed.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

When I first read the name on the package of tea, I was overwhelmed by the name alone. What did any of that mean? The only word I understood was gyokuro and houjicha. I am always into trying a houjicha green tea from Yunomi.

By doing a little deciphering and careful read through the insightful description was I able to discern with little effort what all it meant. Karigane is a form of kukicha, which is stick tea, basically. But the thing about Karigane is that it is a cut above your average run of the mill kukicha because it is made from high grade teas, such as gyokuro. leave it to the Japanese to make the most out of everything they are given! After a good and strong roasting in an iron pot, the core of the tea is still intact, and the delicate nuanced sticks blending together with the roasted flavor I know and love.

The dry leaves (or should I say sticks?) looks quite unlike any other houjicha that I have ever seen. The leaves are a light straw gold. The roasted and slightly smoky aroma reached my nose and I was hooked. Steeping the leaves in my favorite kyusu revealed a comforting toasted cup of roasty goodness. There were some nice coffee notes hidden there somewhere, and it complimented everything in a way that was unsurprisingly lovely.

I have had plenty of houjicha in my time, everything from yama moto yama teabags and flavored kit kats to freshly fired bancha from a cousin on their latest trip and this really is the best I’ve ever had. I sense that this could be that it is from karigane, and I don’t think I’ve had karigane in roasted form in the past. The aftertaste this leaves is amazing. A mix of refreshing roasted sweetness with a slight smoke note at the end. As it cooled, it became sweeter.

I took this tea in a thermos for my most recent hike, and it was the perfect end note to a nice, quiet hike. I was lucky enough to miss the snowstorm during the hike, and sitting in the car and warming up to a big steaming mug of this tea really just hit the spot.

Yunomi Monthly Mystery Tea Sampler’s Club: Ureshino Gyokucha Ochatama


Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Yunomi

Tea Description:

A very interesting green tea. It looks like Chinese gunpowder tea in that the leaves are rolled up into little balls. This particular one from our supplier Chakoan has a strong savory umami aroma that is similar to gyokuro.

Learn more about this tea here.

Learn more about Yunomi’s Monthly Mystery Tea Sampler’s Club here.

Taster’s Review:

I don’t recall ever trying a Gyokucha tea before tasting this Ureshino Gyokucha Ochatama from my monthly mystery Tea Sampler’s Club from Yunomi.

That’s one of the reasons that I love tea sampler clubs like this … I get the opportunity to try teas that I might not have tried otherwise.  In fact, when I first saw this package, I thought it was Gyokuro, and it wasn’t until I opened the pouch and saw the tiny pellets that resemble Chinese Gunpowder green tea that I realized that this is NOT a Gyokuro!

But even though this looks a lot like a Chinese Gunpowder (in shape, but the color of the leaves here are a much more vivid green) … it doesn’t taste like a Chinese Gunpowder.  It tastes more like a Gyokuro … although it is a bit lighter and crisper on the palate.

The first thing I noticed when I tasted it was a distinct nutty tone.  It starts out sweet, and then transcends to a strong savory note.  The finish is clean and there is a dry astringency.

There is relatively little aftertaste here, just faint notes of a grassy taste that rests upon the tongue.  The taste is very clean … and it’s a very “cleansing” sort of feeling that I get from this tea.

I’m really enjoying this Japanese green tea.  A very interesting tea, indeed!