Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Nio Teas: Three Japanese Green Teas: Bancha, Gyokuro, and Fukamushicha, A Tea Review

Today I am writing about Japanese teas, I am also watching a YouTube series about a British dude who lives in Japan and goes around eating and showing off different things. I try to never idolize other cultures (because let us be honest, all of them have some problems and nothing is perfect) but I do wish the US would incorporate into our culture. Like being able to leave things around and not have them be stolen, or bathhouses, or most importantly not randomly touching people (I hate handshakes) and wearing face-masks not getting your shunned during allergy season. I have had several friends that lived and schooled in Japan and all of them said I would love the all the social etiquette and general politeness of Japan and I hope one day I get to visit and see for myself! Until then I drink Japanese tea and eat a lot of Japanese food! The teas I am looking at today are from Nio Teas (also check out their Instagram, it is full of informative videos about the organic tea they are sourcing) so onto the teas!

Sasa Hime Gyokuro

This Gyokuro comes from Kagoshima, and I know the name means Princess....something, I failed at finding out what Sasa meant. What I do know is this tea is so beautifully dark green, and it smells really good. Notes of fresh grass, rice, edamame, and finish of vegetal spinach and sprouts and a distant floral undertone that reminds me a bit of lemon flowers. So the taste....holy moly the taste, this tea manages to be immensely umami and also immensely sweet. I kinda went all cosmic mind when drinking it since the taste was so unique, usually when I drink Gyokuro  I get a steep that is light and sweet and one that is an umami bomb, I have never had one that had both in the same steep! I think I am in love. The taste blends notes of creamy sweet cashew butter, lettuce, edamame, spinach, bean sprouts, tofu, and a lingering aftertaste of delicate fruitiness and zucchini. A ways after another aftertaste shows up of lemons which caught me off guard but in a very pleasant way! It also pairs really well with Hello Panda chocolate cookies.

Fukamushicha Yamaga

So this tea and the next is not in their store yet, but I am sure if you ping them on IG they can get you some. Oh Fukamushicha, you deep steamed deliciousness! I often times say it might be my favorite style of Japanese Green (though that Gyokuro is giving it a run for its money) being a bit of a midway point between Sencha and Gyokuro with an extra thickness I find the steaming gives the tea. The aroma of this tea is a bit on the sweet side with a delicate fresh hay and cherry blossom note with intense pine needle, sesame seeds, and fresh seaweed. As expected, this tea is thick, having a very dense mouthfeel with a wonderfully alpine clean pine taste, along with notes of green beans, alfalfa sprouts, cherry blossoms, and a finish of edamame that lingers for quite a while. Really loved the pine notes of this tea, usually Fukamushicha reminds me of summer, but this one reminded me of summer high in the mountains!

Bancha

Ah, the tea that started this adventure! I commented on Nio Teas' IG post on this Bancha and they sent me it (and the others) to sample and review. Bancha is great as an evening tea if you are caffeine sensitive, since the larger older Bancha leaves have less caffeine. I am a big fan of it because it has a distinct 'country' taste, not having the super refined taste you get with Sencha and such, it tastes more raw and outdoorsy, like something I want to drink while off-trail hiking or after gardening. Not many teas can impart that sensation while drinking it and I appreciate it. The aroma is very much so a summer day out in the grass, with undertones of starchy rice, broken leaves, and fresh vegetation. Not so much vegetal, but very green! The taste is wonderfully refreshing with notes of fresh snap peas, bamboo leaves, fresh hay, and a finish of sweet red bean paste and mochi (yes it tastes like a dessert at the finish) and it lingers. All three of these teas impressed me, they showed a real dedication to finding excellent organic teas and I look forward to seeing what other unique teas they find, maybe if I am lucky they will find some yummy Japanese oolongs!

Tea sent for review

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