Today was the perfect day for tea, the real epitome of autumns in the Appalachian mountains (ok, valley between the Blue Mountain and South Mountain Ridges.) It has been chilly with alternating rounds fog and rain, the sky has been dark, and I definitely broke out my fuzzy coral colored sweater. It clashes pretty badly with my teal hair, which of course makes me love it all the more. The only thing that would have made it better would have been having my cats around to snuggle with, but exposing my mom to new and exciting teas was equally enjoyable.
Since today was the epitome of autumn, I decided to review a tea that makes me think of autumn every time I drink it, and not just because it looks like a pile of leaves I pulled out of the backyard! M&K's Tea Company presents Organic Kyobancha, from the Nakai Seichajo Tea Farm, Wazuko, Kyoto, Japan. This bancha is a favorite of mine, named for its place of production (or Harubancha for spring time) it is created by leaving the tea leaves on the plant all winter and then plucking them in spring and giving them a good roasted. It is low in caffeine, meaning I love drinking it before I got to sleep or on days I feel really icky, it is a feel good tea. The aroma is so perfect for this time of year, it is roasted and sweet, there is a hint of smoke, a bit of leaf loam and autumn leaf pile, and possibly my favorite note; marshmallows. Yeah, this tea smells like roasting marshmallows, making it the sweetest of the two Kyobancha I have experienced so far. My sweet-tooth is excited.
I could have brewed this in my new (vintage) Kyusu, but I really wanted to try out the gaiwan I got for my birthday because it looked like it would make a perfect Houhin! The brewed leaves are quite rich and nicely roasted, it reminds me of the aroma of distant bonfires on an autumn evening, there is also a bit of loam and marshmallow sweetness. The liquid, oh wow, it is super sweet! It smells just like toasted marshmallow and toasted bread, maybe even a marshmallow on toast!
So, my plan of using this gaiwan as a Houhin works perfectly, so yay! The taste is WONDERFUL! It is quite different from the other Kyobancha I have had, that one had mild sweetness but it was much more roasted almost to the point of savory. This one however is delightfully sweet, it tastes just like a fire roasted marshmallow, with a rich note of toasted tea and dried autumn leaves (not the wet taste of loam.) The mouthfeel is very smooth and well rounded, it goes down so easily...I find I need to make a whole pot of this tea because I enjoy it that much.
The second steep is much milder, both in taste and aroma, even though it is milder it is still quite enjoyable. The smoke notes are entirely gone, replaced with toasted tea and marshmallow. The taste is pretty much identical to the smell, which is always entertaining! I really enjoy the sweetness in this tea, naturally sweet teas are delightful, plus it being so evocative of autumn makes me happy, especially on those days when I am longing for autumn.