Yunomi Tea Discoveries Club, Volume 17 (Part 2)

yunomi2For this – part 2 of my review of Yunomi’s Tea Discoveries Club, Volume 17 – I will be reviewing the remaining three tisanes that I received in this month’s package.

The three teas that I’ll be examining a little closer in this article are Hatomugi Tea, Mulberry Leaf Tea and Roasted Barley Tea.

daichilogoThe first tea that I’ll be tasting is the Hatomugi Tea – or Job’s Tears Tea – from Kanazawa Daichi.  This tisane was processed in tea bags and when I first opened the pouch, it smelled remarkably like Roasted Barley – that I had to do a double take and make sure I was opening the correct package!

Then I looked closer at the Yunomi website and learned that this is a type of barley.  It’s organic and it’s roasted – hence the familiar aroma.

hatomugiThe flavor is very much like I expected after experiencing the fragrance – that is to say that this tastes like roasted barley tea.  And it’s YUMMY!  Roasty-toasty, nutty and sweet.  There is a slight ‘grain’ taste, like … well, like barley.  It reminds me of wheat, like Wheat-Hearts cereal.

The second tea that I’m going to review for this article is the Mulberry Leaf Tea from Kesennuma Kuwacha.  I’ve actually reviewed this tisane previously, but I don’t mind revisiting it!

I believe I may have brewed this tisane differently this time than I did previously, because when I brewed it before, I think I might have been under the misconception that it was a blend of mulberry leaf and Japanese Sencha because if you look at these leaves – they look like Japanese Sencha leaves!

MulberryLeafTeaSo, I’m guessing that I went with a lower temperature and a 1 -2 minute steep previously.  This time, I’m more ‘in the know’ so I went ahead and increased the temperature to 185°F and the steep time for 3 1/2 minutes.

While the dry leaf looks very much like a Japanese Sencha, the brewed liquid does not!  The color is darker, like a forest-y green.  But the Japanese Sencha flavor that I expected was there.  This tastes very much like a Japanese Sencha and would make an ideal substitute for someone who loves their Japanese green teas but needs to cut back a little on caffeine.  It’s a little sweeter than a typical Japanese Sencha – this doesn’t have as much of the savory quality that I’d taste with a Japanese Sencha.  This is more fruity and sweet, but it still is very similar to a Sencha to me.  Very nice!

OrganicRoastedBarleyMy final tea journey with Yunomi this month is with the tisane that I figured would be my favorite from this Tea Discoveries Club package:  Roasted Barley tea, which like the Job’s Tears, is also produced by Kanazawa Daichi.

And I was right – this is my favorite.  I enjoyed almost all of the tisanes from this month’s package, the only one that I wasn’t all that crazy about was the Japanese Mugwort tea that I reviewed in part one of this series.

But this … ahhh!  This is my favorite.  I could drink this every day.

This Roasted Barley Tea also came in a tea bag – and yeah, if I’m going to offer any kind of criticism about this tisane at all, it would be that it’s a bagged ‘tea.’  I’d certainly rather it not be bagged.

But other than that, this is so yummy.  It’s deliciously roasty-toasty, nutty, sweet and so comforting.  It is sweet enough that it could even serve as a dessert substitute.  It has a very coffee-ish sort of flavor to it – but without the bitterness of the coffee.  If someone were looking for an ideal substitution for coffee – this would be it.  It tastes more like coffee to me than chicory (which is an herb often used as a coffee substitute).

So my journey with Yunomi’s Tea Discoveries this month ends on a very high note!  A very high – and delicious! – note, indeed.

Yunomi Tea Discoveries Club, Volume 17 (Part 1)

yunomi2I received my Yunomi Tea Discoveries Club package the other day and I was excited to get started!  This month, the teas are focused on ’tisanes’ – herbal blends from various Japanese tea companies.

Since this is a tisanes package and not Camellia Sinensis, I won’t be featuring part two of this series tomorrow night.  This is because I don’t usually drink more than 1 tisane per day, so I need time to consume these teas and write about them!

This month’s package included Yomogi herbal tea which is a Japanese Mugwort tea, Longevity herbal blend which is a blend of 18 Japanese herbs, Mulberry leaf tea which has been prepared Sencha style, Organic hatomugicha which is also called “Job’s Tears” and finally, Organic mugicha which is a barley tea.  Of the five, the Mugicha is what I look forward to most, as I’m quite fond of barley tea.

Also in this month’s package was another cute origami Crane … I’m getting a little collection of these!  The usual booklet which offers some information about each of the teas was not included but we received an email from Yunomi explaining that the booklet would arrive separately a little later.

The first tea that I’m going to try is the Longevity Herbal Blend from Nakazen.  I was happy to see that this tea included Camellia Sinensis in the form of Oolong tea.  Here is a list of the ingredients:

Barley tea, job’s tears, sicklepod seeds, cat’s whiskers (herb), dokudami (herb), oolong tea, tumeric, guava leaves, biwa (loquat) leaves, mikan (Japanese mandarin) peels, brown rice, pine leaves, ohbako, benibana, persimmon leaves, amachazuru, sarunokoshikake (fungi), cinnamon

18 Herbs for Longevity from Nakazen

The aroma of the dry leaf is very herb-y.  It sort of reminds me of walking into one of those apothecary shops.  The brewed tea has more of a ‘medicinal’ type of fragrance, still smelling very apothecary-ish but the herbal notes are medicinal smelling.

The taste is actually quite enjoyable.  It has a roasted flavor to it.  It’s toasty and warm.  Very nice on a chilly night!

The roasted flavor I attribute to the barley in the tea.  I also taste the brown rice, it lends a warm and nutty flavor to the cup.  I taste the resinous notes of pine leaves and I taste the warm spiced notes of cinnamon.  I taste hints of tumeric and I don’t know if I actually taste the Oolong, but I can feel it’s contribution – the texture of the tea has that wonderful, thick Oolong-ish mouthfeel.

The other herbs of this tea, I’m not sure what flavor profile to fit with which herb because they are herbs that I am – for the most part – quite unfamiliar with.  I would like to say, though, that even though the aroma strongly suggests an herbaceous, medicinal flavor, I smell more of that herb-y medicine-y flavor than I taste.  For the most part, what I taste is the barley’s contribution to this tea – I taste that warm, roasty-toasty flavor and that’s quite fine with me – I’m really enjoying this!

SONY DSCThe second tisane that I’ll be sampling – and the last for this, part 1 of the Yunomi Discoveries Club, Volume 17 review – is the Japanese Mugwort Tea from Yomogi-Cha.  The word “Mugwort” makes me think of Harry Potter and Nightmare before Christmas.  It sounds like something that Professor Snape would put in a potion or something that Sally would put in Doctor Finklestein’s soup.

This particular herbal doesn’t appear to be available on Yunomi’s site at the moment.

The dry leaf looks a lot like a dried salad.  The leaves are large and fluffy and there are some stems in there too.  The steeping parameters suggest using 1 tablespoon to 2 cups of water.  I brewed this in my Kati tumbler which holds 12 ounces (so 1 1/2 cups of water) so I figured, close enough.  Because these leaves are so fluffy and large, I eyeballed what looked like a tablespoon of leaf and put that in the basket of my tumbler and poured in 12 ounces of water heated to 195°F and let it steep for 4 minutes.  (The suggested parameters are 3 – 5 minutes.)

Having never tried Mugwort tea (at least, not to my recollection), I was not sure what to expect.  The aroma of the brewed tea is very grassy/leafy, evoking thoughts of what it might smell like if I were to steep some fresh lawn clippings.

The taste is very much like what the aroma suggests.  It’s an interesting combination of bitter and sweet.  It’s very herbaceous but not so much in an herbal sort of way, it’s more a grassy sort of herbaceous.  There is a light buttery note which is kind of nice.  There is some sweetness.  Overall, it’s not an unpleasant tasting drink, it’s just quite different from what I’m used to tasting and I’m not finding myself really enjoying it.

In other words, I don’t hate it but I don’t really like it either.

From what I understand, Japanese Mugwort tea is useful for detox and weight loss.  I don’t know if that’s true or not because I’m just drinking one cup of the stuff and that’s hardly enough to gauge whether or not it will work in this capacity.  I am noticing a warming sort of effect though.

Overall, it’s alright.  If I were going to drink this on a regular basis, I think I’d want to add something to it, perhaps a thin slice of lemon or some mint – something to perk up the flavor a little bit so that I’m tasting less of that strong grassy sort of flavor.  Not my favorite.

Yunomi Tea Discoveries Club, February Review (Part 2)

yunomi2As I mentioned in yesterday’s article – I’m back with “Part 2” of the Yunomi Tea Discoveries Club review of February’s shipment!  Today’s article will highlight my experiences with two more Hojicha teas as well as another Japanese Oolong – I’m excited to get started, so let’s not dilly-dally!  Let’s jump right in!

autumnhojichaThe first tea that I’ll be discussing is Autumn Hojicha Roasted Green Tea from Takeo Tea Farm.  The first thing I noticed about this tea is that it starts out delicately.  My first few sips were very softly flavored.  I could taste light notes of sweet, toasty nut flavor, but they were quite subtle.  It wasn’t until the third or fourth sip that the flavors started to become more focused.  Now that I’m about halfway through the cup, the flavors are sweet, roasty-toasty, and nutty … and very well defined!

With those initial first couple of sips, I was starting to think that this tea was much more delicate than the Hojicha I had tasted for yesterday’s article, but now, I’m thinking twice about that.  These two Hojicha are very similar though, but I think that this one might taste a little more ‘roasted.’  Both are spectacular varieties of Hojicha, though, and I’d heartily recommend either, but this is the one I’d point you toward if you were looking for a stronger roasted flavor.

SONY DSCThe next tea that I’m tasting from Yunomi’s Tea Discoveries February package is #03 Black Oolong Tea from Kaneban Higuchi Tea Factory.  I found myself wondering as I brewed this tea in my gaiwan how much different it would be from last night’s experience with the Oolong tea from Takeo.

And there are some distinct differences in the two.  This has more of a sweet potato flavor to it!  I love that I’m tasting sweet potato!  There are hints of smoke to the flavor.  This reminds me more of a black tea than an Oolong.  It doesn’t have the same texture as I experienced with the Oolong from Takeo.

If I were to attempt to describe this tea in one sentence, it might go something like this:  this tea is what I’d imagine the love child of a Japanese black tea and Formosa Oolong tea would taste like.  I’m getting that rich flavor that I remember from the few Japanese black teas that I’ve tried, and I’m tasting notes of peach that I’d taste in a Formosa Oolong.  Along with the softest hint of smoke.

Quite lovely!

premium-houjicha1The final tea in this month’s Tea Discoveries package is Superior Hojicha Roasted Green Tea from NaturaliTea.  When I opened this pouch, the roasty-toasty aroma filled the air.  This tea seems to have more roasty-toasty-ness to it.

And that’s evident in the flavor too.  The flavor here is much stronger, right from the very first sip.  The roasted flavors are intense.  I can almost taste the charred wood notes of the wood that was used to roast this tea.   Most Hojicha – including the previous two teas that I tasted from this month’s Tea Discoveries Club – tend to have a delicate flavor.  This tea is more in your face.  Very roasty.  Very toasty!  Very nutty and sweet.  I’m getting mineral notes and a distinct charcoal-y flavor from it too.

And smoke!  I don’t usually taste smoke from a Hojicha.  I taste the roasty-toasty, nutty flavors, but the smoke?  No, not always.  I might have noticed smoke on an occasion or two, but here, the smoke is evident, particularly in the aftertaste.  Nice!

This is the tea for those who liked Hojicha but wanted a stronger flavor to it.  This tea delivers that!  It’s warm and cozy and comforting, but it’s also offers a bold flavor that is not common in your average Hojicha.

This month’s Tea Discoveries Club just reaffirms to me that YOU should be joining me on these discoveries!  The teas are remarkable and it’s really interesting for me to see how teas – like Hojicha – can differ from producer to producer.  You should never judge your like/dislike of a particular tea type based only on one sampling.  You should give yourself a chance to explore the teas – even those you may not have enjoyed from other tea companies – because you never know what you might be missing.

The Tea Discoveries Club gives you the unique opportunity to really explore Japanese Teas!

Yunomi Tea Discoveries Club, February Review (Part 1)

As with last month’s review of the Yunomi Tea Discoveries Club  (You can check out part 1 of that review here), I’ll be doing the review of this month’s package in two parts.  This first article will feature the review of two teas and the second article, published tomorrow at the same time, will feature three teas.  

yunomi2This month, we received five teas featuring Hojicha Roasted Green teas as well as Japanese-made Oolong teas.  Exciting!  I haven’t tried a lot of Japanese Oolong teas – most of my Oolong experiences have been with Taiwanese Oolongs and to a slightly lesser extent, Chinese Oolongs.  Japanese Oolong teas aren’t as common a tea to find – another reason that this Tea Discoveries Club from Yunomi is a GREAT deal!

The teas featured in this month’s package are:  three Hojicha teas (Hojicha Roasted Green Tea, Autumn Hojicha Roasted Green Tea and Superior Hojicha Roasted Green Tea) and two Japanese Oolong teas (Oolong Tea and Black Oolong Tea).  I’m so excited to try these!  I love Hojicha and I love Oolong and am especially excited to try something rare like Japanese Oolong!

Also included in this month’s package is a pamphlet that offers steeping and tasting notes as well as some other interesting information including tea-related Japanese phrases and terms and the cutest little origami Crane!

HojichaRoastedGreenSo let’s jump right in and get started with the Hojicha Roasted Green Tea from NaturaliTea.

This Hojicha delivers all the flavors that you’d expect from a Hojicha.  It’s got that wonderfully cozy, roasty-toasty flavor.  It’s lightly sweet and nutty.  It’s a very autumnal type of flavor – it evokes thoughts of autumn for me.  I think of the cooler weather, the crispness in the air and the smell of smoke from the neighborhood chimneys.  It’s the kind of flavor that you want to curl up to.

I like that this particular Hojicha is light.  It doesn’t have a heavy flavor to it.  It’s the kind of drink that you want after you’ve had a heavy meal.  It’s soothing and gentle.

SONY DSCThe second tea that I’ll be examining in this article is Organic Oolong Tea from Takeo Tea Farm.  This is a tea that I explored previously in another review (read that review here).

Dry, this tea looks a lot like a black tea.  It reminds me of a black tea with its dark, slender leaves.  If I were given the dry leaves ‘blindly’ (without knowing that it was an Oolong) I would not have guessed it was an Oolong by the appearance of the dry leaf.

The tea brews up dark too.  The only real “Oolong-like” indication I started to recognize is after the rinse and first infusion, I noticed how much the leaves had expanded and it was very “Oolong-esque.”  (Oolong teas tend to expand quite a bit during the brewing process!)

Now the flavor … this does taste like an Oolong.  It reminds me a lot of a darker Oolong, like perhaps a Formosa Oolong or a Oriental Beauty Oolong.  It has that deep, fruity flavor and the really lovely, full texture of an Oolong.  It’s sweet and really quite pleasant.

It has an almost ‘wine-like’ quality to it too, much more so than teas that I often call ‘wine-like.’  I can really taste a fermented grape flavor here.  The tea has a very rich, full and satisfying flavor.  This is truly a unique Oolong tea – one that should be experienced to be understood fully.  (In other words – try this tea as soon as you can!)

My first cup (infusions 1 and 2) was probably the most intensely flavored cup of the three that I enjoyed.  I found that with my second cup, the flavors were beginning to mellow slightly.  The tea was still very strongly flavored and I still got a very distinct fermented grape-like flavor to the cup.  But the flavors in the cups that would follow were a little less focused.  (Still quite enjoyable though – it’s well worth the effort to keep on steeping!)

With the third cup, I started to notice that the fruit notes were becoming sweeter.  It wasn’t as ‘fermented’ a taste as I noticed in the first two cups.  Floral notes began to emerge as did a sweet note that evoked thoughts of honey.  A really lovely cup!

I can’t wait to explore the other three teas!  Read about them in tomorrow’s article!

Yunomi Tea Discoveries Club, January Review (Part 2)

yunomi2As promised, this is part 2 of my review of January’s Tea Discoveries Club package from Yunomi.

OnochaBanchaWe’re going to start off where we left off last night, moving on to the third tea I tried from January’s collection of teas:  Bancha Green Tea from Onocha Tea Factory & Shop.  Similarly to the other teas in this collection, this tea is not available for purchase from Yunomi.  That’s part of what makes the Discovery Club a MUST for tea lovers.  It will expose you to teas that you might never have tried!  What a unique and wonderful opportunity!

Bancha Green Tea

This is a really pleasant Bancha.  It has a crisp, uplifting flavor:  fresh, vegetative and clean.  There is a nice contrast between sweet and savory.  It has a nice, brothy sort of texture and taste.  Nutty, sweet, hints of bitter to offset the sweetness.  Nicely smooth.

It’s a soothing tea that reminds me a bit of sipping broth.  That warm, nourishing sort of feeling that I get when I sip broth, that’s what I get when I sip this Bancha.  It’s not too sweet, not too bitter – just really pleasant.

This is the kind of green tea that I like to have on hand for “every day” sort of drinking.  It is a great tea to drink with meals because it’s not an aggressive tasting tea – it’s really smooth and satisfying.SenchaSuiho

The next tea that I tried was the Sencha Suiho.  Immediately, I found myself curious as to how it would differ from the other Sencha I enjoyed from this month’s Discovery Club package:  Sencha Suiren.

Upon first sip, I got my answer!  These are really two very different Sencha teas!  This Sencha Suiho is sweet, buttery and smooth.  Very little bitterness.  Very little astringency.  I noticed more bitterness and astringency with the Suiren – and that wasn’t even a really strongly bitter or aggressively astringent tea!

Sencha Suiho

This is beautifully buttery and pleasantly mellow.  Nice!  The resteep is almost as nice as the first cup – still really beautifully creamy and sweet!

I saved the Hojicha for last as Hojicha is one of my favorite types of Japanese green teas!  Hojicha Soybean Blend to be exact.  I think of all the teas that I received this month, this was the one I was the most excited about, mostly because I found myself curious about the ‘soybean.’

Unfortunately, I’m not able to provide a picture of the tea itself because the battery in my camera thought it was the right time to die.  So, I just have a picture of the package.  HojichaSoybean

The dry leaf looks a lot like … well, it looks like dried, chopped up leaves and stems.  The first thought that went through my head when I saw it was “mulch.”  I’m hoping it tastes better than I can only imagine mulch tasting.  Since I’m not planning on brewing mulch and drinking it any time soon, I’ll have to imagine what it would taste like.

Ah … yeah!  Yum!  There’s that lovely sweet, nutty flavor that I’ve come to love when it comes to Hojicha.  That delicious roasty-toasty flavor that evokes thoughts of autumn.

It has a smooth texture to it and it’s not an astringent tea.  It’s not bitter.  It’s sweet and a very soothing, calming sort of drink.  Really lovely.  However, I don’t know that I taste any ‘soybean’ in this tea, I just taste sweet, nutty flavor, very much like I’d experience with a top-quality Hojicha.

Overall, I found this adventure with the Discoveries Club from Yunomi to be really enjoyable.  Spectacular teas – I love that these teas are exclusive to the Discovery Club.  It’s certainly well worth it to take part in this adventure and discover some amazing Japanese Teas!