For the teas we tasted in the morning, go here.
After a morning of tasting many interesting teas, they fed us a nice lunch. As a bonus, I got to have an extended and very interesting conversation with my new tea guru crush, Jane Pettigrew. Once we were fed, we returned to the tasting rooms.
Rona Tison of ITO EN. When we got to our table, there was the additional little gift of a can of Sencha Shot. It is a little can of ready to drink green tea. I did not drink it at the time. In fact, I only got around to trying it yesterday, with my breakfast. Now, I am probably not the target audience for the product, but, in my opinion, it was awful. It had a decent front flavor of green tea, but it had a terrible way over brewed aftertaste. It was incredibly bitter. Anyway, Japan is all about the green tea. They don't make any oxidized teas at all, apparently. The first tea we sampled was a Megami Sencha. I found it to be a pale green gold in color, with a strong asparagus nose, a light clean attack, a moderately herbaceous middle with a hint of honey, and a clean, lightly tannic finish. The spouse found it to have a vegetable nose rich in umami, gentle and fresh on the tongue. The second tea was a Genmaicha. This tea blends green tea with roasted rice. I found it to be a very pale green gold color, with a nose reminiscent of popcorn, a mildly nutty attack, and a mildly lingering finish. The spouse found it to have a toasted scent and taste. The third tea was a Hojicha.
This is a green tea that has been roasted. I found it to be a bright orange color, with a mildly smoky nose, and a smoky attack, with a strong taste of umami in the middle. The spouse found it to have a mildly vegetable and woodsy nose, with some astringency on the attack, and a sense of umami on the tongue. The last tea we tasted was the quintessential Japanese tea, Matcha. Matcha is the finely powdered green tea used in the tea ceremony. It produces a cloudy, dark green tea. I found it to have a strong vegetable nose and attack, with a bitter finish. The spouse found it to have a strong green vegetable/grassy nose, and an astringent attack with a bitter finish.
The next to last country of the day was Nepal. The presenters were Chandra Bhushan and Rob Burnett of Nepali Tea Traders. Similar to Ajiri Tea, a significant part of the profits for Nepali Tea Traders are used to improve conditions for the children of Nepal. The first tea we tasted was a Dhulagiri Spring White Tea. This was a first flush tea, meaning it was made from the earliest new shoots of spring. It was a pale gold tinged green. I found it to have a strong nose of steamed edemame, with a mildly floral attack, a mildly edemame middle, and a clean, slightly lingering finish. The spouse found it to have a light edemame nose, with an edemame flavor and a mildly astringent finish. The second tea was a Half Moon Pearl Green Tea. It was a bright gold color, and I found it to have a cooked green bean nose, with a clean attack and slightly tannic finish. The spouse noted that it had a light vegetable nose, and that it was more astringent and tannic than the white tea. The third and final tea from Nepal was a Wild Yeti oolong. It was a red brown amber color. I found it to have a mildly caramel nose, with a lightly caramel attack and a clean finish with some lightly lingering tannins. I noted that it would match well with a crème brulee. The spouse found it to have a nose with a bit of burned caramel or molasses, and found the finish a bit faint. She felt a little sweetener might bring out this tea's best qualities.
Our last country was Taiwan. The presenter was Thomas Shu of ABC Tea. The focus of this presentation was on oolong teas. Mr. Shu's wife got things going with a rousing cheerleader style chant about Taiwan oolong tea. At that point, we probably needed the infusion of energy. The first tea we tasted was a Taiwan Pouchong. This was a lightly oxidized oolong. It was a bright green gold color. It had a strongly floral nose with notes of yeast, a clean attack, subtle middle, and a lingering jasmine finish. The spouse found it to have a floral nose, with a floral attack and a clean, slightly astringent, finish. She notes it would pair well with a light dessert, or dim sum. The second tea was a Taiwan Jade oolong. This too was a lightly oxidized oolong, with a bright green gold color. I found that it had a roasted green pepper nose, with a crisp attack, a strong taste of edemame in the middle, and a clean, slightly tannic lingering finish, with notes of kalamata olive. I thought it would pair well with a tapenade. The spouse found it a little smoky, with a light edemame taste, and found it to leave a little astringency in the back of her throat. Our penultimate tea of the day was an Amber oolong. This was a more heavily oxidized oolong, and produce an orange brown amber liquor. I found it to have roasted nut and grass notes on the nose, with a light attack, a malty middle, and a strongly tannic lingering finish. The spouse found it to have roasted nose and attack, with a malty middle and a lightly astringent finish. She suggests it would be good brewed strong and poured over ice. With the last tea of the day, we definitely finished on a high note. The final tea was an Oriental Beauty Formosa Oolong. We were told it went at auction in Hong Kong for 100,000 Hong Kong dollars for 600 g. That translates to just under $700 an ounce. This was a more heavily oxidized oolong, and produced a bright orange amber liquor. I found citrus and orange blossom on the nose, with a strong attack, notes of citrus, honey, and leather in the middle, and a mildly tannic floral lingering finish. The spouse found it to be lightly floral, with a light astringency on the finish.
After the tea, we were treated to dinner, and they had certificates of completion waiting for us. It was
a last chance to bond and chat, and they had us all sign a big poster destined for their office. It was a great, if full, day.