Monday, July 11, 2016

Yunomi:Chakouan Ureshino Black Tea Leaf Stems, a Tea Review

Curse my phone to the bowels of the abyss! I want to join the party and play Pokemon Go! but the blasted phone won't let me, I am so sad. Granted I don't leave my house much, but it would have been nice if I could have had fun with it when I did go out and about. I am, of course, being entertained by the internet explosion that it has unleashed, so at least I get the vicarious joy.

Today's tea is a fun one! Recently a bunch of samples arrived from Japan via my pretty much one stop shop for all things Japanese, Yunomi! Many samples of Shincha, but also some of the more unusual stuff like dark tea and some black teas, like Chakouan: Ureshino Black Tea Leaf Stems. From the Chakouan Tea Shop in Ureshino, this is similar to the green tea Kukicha (as in it being a pile of stems) but is processed as a black tea (or Wakoucha) making for a uniquely pretty tea. What can I say, I am a sucker for teas that use the stems, it seems very efficient. The aroma is light and brisk with a surprising crispness, notes of sandalwood, malt, gentle  raw peanuts, and a touch of tomato leaf. It is not a very potent aroma, but what is there is distinct and a little odd, but pleasant.

Into my shiboridashi the stems went, ah I do love this shibo, but I have a new one on the way that is more perfectly suited for Japanese teas and I am so excited. The stems float on top of the water, which looked really quite pretty. The aroma is malty and a bit tomato, usually I find a black tea with tomato notes smells like sun dried or leaf, but this is fresh tomato note. Alongside these notes are sandalwood and a bit of potato starch. The liquid smells very light, crisp and refreshing (not something I associate with black teas usually) with gentle notes of malt and sandalwood with a touch of starch.

The first steep is immensely light, it has the crisp refreshing quality of a green but with none of the green notes. It starts with a gentle woody notes, sandalwood and tea wood, with a touch of fruit wood. There are notes of black pepper and malt with a slightly savory finish. This might be the most refreshing black tea I have ever tasted. I went for another steep, because how could I not? This one was still light but had a bit more complexity of flavor, taking the previous notes and and adding a starchy rice milk note along with a subtle sweetness in the middle. This tea is in a whole different ballpark than the usual hong cha or western style black teas I have had, it is wonderfully light and refreshing, I find myself wondering what it would be like iced.

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

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