Kuma Green 1228™ Sencha Green Tea from Mellow Monk

KumaGreen1228Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Mellow Monk

Tea Description:

A brightly herbaceous guricha-style sencha, with a gentle sweetness with fruity highlights — apples, melon, and white wine grapes — as well as citrus notes and a hint of jasmine. [Note that this is not jasmine green tea; the hint of jasmine is naturally present in the tea.] Made from yabukita tea plants grown in the rolling hills of Kuma County, tended and crafted into tea by artisan Kazuo Watanabe.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

The dry leaf of this tea looks and smells like a Japanese Sencha.  Deep, dark forest green leaves that look a bit more like bits of freshly cut grass than leaves (only these leaves are much darker than any grass I’ve ever seen!)  The aroma is grassy with notes of fruit.

Oh wow!  This is a remarkable Japanese Sencha!  Sweet!  The fruity notes as suggested in the above notes are there!  I’m tasting notes of apple, melon and grape!  A faint note of citrus toward the tail – faint but it really brightens the cup.  This is not as “buttery” as many Sencha teas I’ve tried, instead, this is more of a crisp, sweet tea with fruit notes that are interwoven with notes of vegetation.

Often with Japanese Sencha teas, I notice a bittersweet type of note and there is a gentle balance between the sweetness and that savory bitterness.  I’m not getting that here though.  There are some savory qualities to this, particulary with the vegetal notes, but there is absolutely no bitterness.  Just sweet flavors with a slight hint of tartness from that citrus note at the tail.

As I continue to sip, I pick up on the hints of sweet jasmine too.  They are much more delicate than the fruit notes and I think that my palate needed to become acclimated to the fruit flavors I was experiencing before it would let me explore some of the other layers of this tea.

Even though this tea focuses strongly on the sweet flavors and not so much on it’s savory elements, I’m finding this tea to be very satisfying and well-rounded.  It’s very smooth from start to finish.  As the citrus notes approach the palate, I notice a slight astringency.

Subsequent infusions proved to be a little more vegetal than fruit-like, but, I could still taste those fruit notes.  The floral notes emerged a little more.  The second and third infusions are definitely worth the effort with this tea!  I found these cups to be more soothing and rejuvenating.

A really enjoyable tea!  If you’re looking for top-notch Japanese teas, Mellow Monk is a great source, I highly recommend checking them out.

Tiger Monk Roasted Oolong Tea from Temple Road

tiger_leavesTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Temple Road

Tea Description:

Inspired from the power, strength, and courage of the Tiger Warrior Monk in the great and millennial tradition of Chinese martial arts, the distinct woody and smoky aromas of this triple roast, medium fermentation, high mountain oolong tea combine with exquisite balance to create this strong, rugged yet smooth taste. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Toast!  That’s the first word that came to my mind when I took my first sip of this Tiger Monk Roasted Oolong Tea from Temple Road.  The triple roasting of this Oolong resulted in a really delightful, roasty-toasty flavor that reminds me of toast … but not just any toast that would pop out of the standard kitchen toaster.  This toast reminds me of something that you might have while out camping.  The kind of toast that you would brown over a campfire.

I used a slightly smaller gaiwan when I brewed this tea today, so, I was able to fit three infusions in my cup.  The combination of the first three infusions (following a 15 second rinse) created my first cup of this tea.  I noticed a sweet woodsy tone that contrasted with the slight char/mineral notes that the roasting imparted.  The flavor is very smooth, and there is not a lot of astringency to this cup.

There is a creaminess to this tea as well and I like the way the cream plays with the roasty-toasty nutty flavors.  It reminds me of flavors you’d taste at breakfast.  Very rustic but also sweet.

The second cup (infusions 4, 5 and 6) offered more of those delicious roasty-toasty-nutty notes, and I discovered some fruit notes that began to emerge … peach?  Yes, I think it is a little peach-like, but that doesn’t quite nail it.  The wood notes meld with these peach-y flavors and create a new “sweet” kind of flavor that I don’t recall encountering in an Oolong tea before.  It’s really unique and captivating.

The aforementioned “char” notes (like charcoal) are still there too, as are the mineral-ish type notes.  Still rustic, still sweet … but this cup is definitely different from the first.  I don’t think I could pick a favorite though, because both are lovely.

I decided to see what kind of flavors a third cup would produce, so I went ahead and infused this tea three more times!  This cup was considerably smoother and more mellow.  It has become sort of “expected” with my third cup of Oolong that the flavors become melded and seamless, and that has happened here.  I still get some of those smoked notes, and some of the charcoal-y/mineral-y notes that were in the previous two cups.  The peach notes are clearer here.

This is a really excellent Oolong!  If you like roasted Oolong teas – this tea should be at the top of your Must Try list!

Lime Blossom from Jade Monk

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Jade Monk

Tea Description:

Some Japanese believe a fox can live for 100 years or more, acquiring additional tails the longer he roams the countryside. The faithful also say foxes can assume the shape of humans, playing tricks on friends and family. These mythic spirits-the Kitsune-possess supernatural powers, but luckily for you the Jade Monk® matcha Kitsune are only interested in seducing your taste buds with the unexpected tang of lime and aroma of spring flowers, fortifying your body with enhanced matcha polyphenol potency, and calming your mind with clarifying effects of our shade-cultivated Jade Monk® matcha green tea. Phew!

Learn more about this product here.

Taster’s Review:

When it came time for me to sample this packet of Jade Monk, I was very thirsty and feeling a little too warm.  Outside it’s 95°F and while that may not seem very hot to some of you … it’s hot for me.  And it’s humid.  Maybe not as humid as it is in Minnesota (my husband is from Minnesota, and when I complain about the humidity he says “It’s not humid!”) but for this girl who grew up in Northern Nevada where there was next to no rainfall and even when it was raining the humidity was still zero… It’s uncomfortably humid to me.  I wanted something to quench my thirst and hopefully re-energize me a little, while cooling me off.

So, I decided to get a little adventurous.  I put a small amount of freshly drawn and filtered water in the pitcher of my blender, along with several ice cubes and the contents of this packet, and I blended it until I could no longer hear the rattling of the ice particles inside the pitcher.  Then I poured it into a glass to enjoy some ice cold, lime flavored Matcha.

And I am enjoying it!  It is really good like this.  It ended up being a bit like a slush … the ice part did, anyway.  There is still a good amount of green colored liquid to this too, kind of like when you get a slush and it starts to melt a bit … the liquid that forms at the bottom … that’s what I have in front of me.

Of the three Jade Monk offerings that I’ve tried thus far, this one is my favorite.  I don’t know if it’s because I prepared it in the blender, or if it’s just that I like this flavor better.  But this is cool and refreshing.  The lime tastes tart and sweet … but not too extreme on either end.  It isn’t too tart or too sweet.  It’s a bit like a limeade, but with a hint of Matcha in it.

The Matcha is not real distinct, just as it has not been in the other Jade Monk flavors, and I’ve come to expect that.  This is definitely a drink mix that has been designed with a broader customer base in mind, appealing to those who might find green tea to be a little too vegetative or not quite to their liking.  This one is also sweetened with stevia, like the other two were, but I’m finding that the colder the beverage, the less funky the stevia tastes.  In fact, with the first few sips … I didn’t really notice the stevia at all.  I notice it now that I’m nearly finished with the glass, but, it does not interfere with my enjoyment of this cool, refreshing homemade slush … in fact, I think I’d take this over a slush from the convenience store, any time!