Monday, April 14, 2014

Yunomi.us and Chakouan: #14 Ureshino Gyokucha-Ochatama, A Tea Review

I am so excited for tonight! Around 2AM (Central Time) a full Lunar Eclipse will be starting, an infamous Blood Moon. It is one of the many things on my 'things I want to photograph' list (it is a huge list), I have my camera and tripod all ready. I also have proper moon viewing tea selected, proper snacks, a large pile of blankets, and cushions ready as well. Sadly the beautiful warm weather decided to wander off and it is going to be practically winter outside tonight, I wonder if I will chicken out and photograph it through a window?

Today's tea is a rather unique offering from Yunomi.us and Chakouan Yamaguchi Seichaen Co. #14 Ureshino Gyokucha-Ochatama, what on earth is this mysterious tea you are probably asking right now. Gyukucha, or round tea (or Japanese Gunpowder) is a byproduct of Sencha production, from Ureshino in the Saga Prefecture. This rare and unusual tea is not only a tea but a tasty snack, well, I certainly like snacks! The aroma of this emerald green tea is sweet fresh grass and seaweed with a sharp vaguely floral aroma. It smells warm and a tiny bit chestnut like, it reminds me of a blend between the aroma of Sencha and Gyouro, very tasty aroma.

Before I steeped the tea in my Kyusu, I wanted to test the snack aspect and popped a few of the tea balls into my mouth. First impression, yum! It tastes like seaweed and grassy green tea, it starts out umami and fades to sweetness with a nutty finish. I love these, I want to get a bunch and toss them in with my much loved rice cracker snacks (the kind that has seaweed and such, not the gluten free cracker substitutes). My only complaint is they are a little too crunchy and hard, a complaint I think most wouldn't have, but I have sensitive chompers.

Snack time concluded and into the Kyusu the Gyokucha goes! The wet leaves are even grassier and seaweed heavier than the dry leaves, a really great blend of umami and springtime. There is still a very tiny hint of chestnut at the finish. The liquid is umami kelp to the max! After the initial aroma of seaweed fades there is a faint sweetness like grass and flowers, very field like.

The taste is hard to accurately put into words, it is a taste that evokes imagery. When I first sipped this tea I was immediately struck by how clean and fresh it tasted, it was like drinking raindrops off a blade of grass. It brings the cleanliness of rain and the sweet grass taste. The mouthfeel is creamy and full, nothing short of exquisite. The taste fades to seaweed and sea air giving it an umami finish.

You all know I had to have another dance with this tea, the aroma of the liquid is much the same with the second steep with a touch more of the chestnut quality. This steep is very sweet with a creamy full mouthfeel,, it does not have any of the umami quality, instead it just retains the freshness from the previous steep.There is also a surprise hint of fruit at the very end, leaving a sweet aftertaste. I really enjoyed this tea, not only was the taste amazing, it had the double feature of being a snack and it was unusual.


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