“Tea Ceremony” – A Tea Haiku

It’s been a while since I’ve made A Bit of PoeTea post, but today I’ve got a new tea Haiku (or should I say tea-ku?) for you. This one is inspired by today’s word on Word of the Day Challenge: intricate. I hope you enjoy!

All the cups warmed,

an intricate ceremony.

Tea is prepared.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this tea-infused Haiku, then check out my others: Rush, Deplete and Broken.

If you enjoy my content, and aren’t already, then hit the Follow button or fill out the Follow by E-mail form to get new posts from Blake’s Tea Journal.

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The Taste of Tea :: Gyokuro Karigane from High Garden

Hey there, fellow tea drinkers! I hope things are going well for you and that you’ve been enjoying the start of the new year! Today’s post is another The Taste of Tea entry in which I’ll relay my notes from my tea-tasting journal entry for the Gyokuro Karigane loose leaf tea from High Garden Woodland Tea House and Sipping Apothecary. I got this tea a few months back while visiting High Garden’s shop in Nashville, TN. I’d never seen Karigane at any of the shops I’d visited before or on my typical online shops, so I was quite curious about this tea.

A quick bit about Gyokuro Karigane: Gyokuro Karigane is a type of Japanese green tea that is composed of the leaf veins and stems that are separated out in the production of high-quality Gyokuro tea [1,2]. Gyokuro Karigane can be prepared in the same manner as a normal Gyokuro tea [3]. Interestingly, the name Karigane is a special one given to Kukicha (“twig tea”) when it is derived from Gyokuro or high-quality Sencha teas [4,5,6]. Karigane translates to something like “the sound of geese” [5] or “cry of the wild goose” [6]. This title is meant to evoke an image of migrating geese that rest on pieces of driftwood while crossing the sea [5-7], poetic imagery thought to be derived from the driftwood-esque stems that rise up and float on the surface of the water when brewing the tea. Karigane is actually a region-specific moniker with origins in the Kyoto region of Japan [4,6,7]. Concurrently, the name Shiraore (“white snaps” [4] ) is used in the Kyushu region [7].


Type of Tea: Green Tea, loose leaf

Tasting Notes  The dry tea had a mix of greens. The stems were a lighter, dried grass, green with some yellow character. There were also some dark, almost a shiny onyx, green pieces; presumably, the leaf veins. Overall, the appearance was quite similar to other Kukichas I’ve seen, but I think the components were more uniform with longer stems and veins.

The scent coming off the dry was sweet and grassy (dried grass). After heating up the teapot I added the dry tea to the warmed pot to activate the tea. This made the scent stronger, but I still just got sweet grassy notes from it.

For this tea, I actually did two different preparations.

Preparation 1: In the first, I prepared the tea in the same way I might any other green tea (like a Sencha or normal Kukicha). I first boiled the water and then allowed it to cool for about 3.5-4 minutes. I used 2 tsp in about 160-170 mL of water and infused the tea for about 30-40 seconds.

After brewing the first infusion, the scent coming off of the liquor was still sweet and grassy, but the grassiness was more that of wet grass. There was also maybe a bit of roasted character that in the scent.  

The color of the liquor was a yellow-green, similar to other Japanese green teas, but with a little deeper green hue.

The tea liquor had a warm, grassy, lightly sweet flavor. It had a strong sweet finish that left a lasting sweet tingle on my tongue. The tea was lightly astringent, with no bitterness. There was also some umami character in the tea. Overall, it was a very nice grassy green tea similar to other Japanese green teas when brewed this way.

Preparation 2: In the second preparation, I brewed the tea in a manner suggested for a Gyokuro. I used 3 heaping tsp (~9-10 g) with 160-170 mL of water. In this case, I used the method of pouring the water into different vessels to cool it off; the rule of thumb is that the water cools down approximately 10 degrees C with each pour. I initially did 4 pours to cool the water down from boiling (100 degrees C) to approximately 60 degrees C. I then added the cooled water to the pot for brewing (making it about 50 degrees C). I let the tea infuse for 2 minutes.

The liquor had a deeper and darker green hue. The scent coming off of the liquor was still sweet and grassy, but with more umami character (it made my mouth water).

The flavor was quite different than in the first preparation. Although it still had a sweet grassyness, the tea had much more umami flavor with savory notes more reminiscent of spinach or seaweed. The tea was only a little astrigent, and it left a lingering sweetness in my mouth and on my tongue.

Quick Summary

  • Tea: Gyokuro Karigane, loose, green tea
  • Pick and Processing: stems and veins from Gyokuro, steamed
  • Season: Summer (2018)
  • Origin: Japan
  • Retailer: High Garden
  • Current Price: $9.50/1 oz
  • Texture: mildly astrigent
  • Flavor Notes: sweet, grassy, seaweed, umami
  • Finish: sweet

Final Thoughts I very much enjoyed this tea, under both sets of brewing parameters. The first way I prepared it had a lighter, more sweet and grassy character; the flavor was similar to a Sencha or normal Kukicha when brewed with similar parameters. Preparing the tea as Gyokuro lead to a much more savory, umami, character on top of the backdrop of sweet grassy flavor notes. In both cases, the tea left a pleasant, lingering, sweetness in the mouth.

Thanks for reading! Have you ever tried this tea before, or a similar one from another retailer/provider? If so, please comment and share your thoughts. If you enjoyed this post or found it useful, then please like and share.

If you enjoy my content, and aren’t already, then hit the Follow button or fill out the Follow by E-mail form to get new posts from Blake’s Tea Journal.

References

  1. “Shop Online – Gyokuro Karigane {Loose Leaf Tea}.” High Garden. Accessed January 13, 2019. https://highgardentea.com/shop/loose-leaf-teas/gyokuro-karigane-loose-leaf/.
  2. “Gyokuro Karigane Premium.” HIBIKI-AN. Accessed January 13, 2019. https://www.hibiki-an.com/product_info.php/products_id/409.
  3. “Asagiri Karigane Gyokuro.” O-Cha.com Japanese Green Tea & Matcha. Accessed January 13, 2019. https://www.o-cha.com/karigane-gyokuro.html.
  4. “Introduction to Japanese Tea.” Dobashien Tea. Accessed January 13, 2019. http://dobashientea.com/guide/.
  5. “Karigane.” YUNOMI. Accessed January 13, 2019. https://yunomius.staging.wpengine.com/glossary/karigane/.
  6. Obubu Interns. “What’s in a Name? Part II: Gyokuro & Kukicha.” Kyoto Obubu Tea Farms. March 24, 2017. Accessed January 13, 2019. https://obubutea.com/tea-names-part-2/.
  7. Sanson, Alexander. “Shiraore or Karigane?” T Ching. January 01, 2018. Accessed January 13, 2019. http://www.tching.com/2018/01/shiraore-or-karigane/.

The Taste of Tea :: White Christmas Tea from Harney & Sons

Seasons Greetings and Happy Holidays fellow tea drinkers! I hope you’re having a splendid week and enjoying the holiday season. With the Christmas holiday just around the corner, I thought the White Christmas Tea from Harney and Sons would be a good choice for today’s The Taste of Tea entry. The version I purchased is actually the bagged version, making this my first post with a bagged tea. I picked up a tin of 30 sachets of this tea a few weeks ago at my local Barnes and Noble; they had these tins on sale for 2 for $15 (US dollars) at the time so I picked up this tea and one other to try.

This tea came in an attractive tin.

Ingredients: handpicked white tea, cardamom, natural almond, vanilla and cardamom flavors, white chamomiles (accents)

Dry Tea: The scent of the tea wafted out of the tin when I opened it and was quite strong. It was kind of sweet and definitely had a wintery spice character, mostly from the cardamom I think. However, some of the vanilla came through as well.

The tea bag was one of the nicer pyramid tea bags.

I went ahead cracked one open to have a better look at the contents.

There was a mix of material, including the leaves and what looked stems and some other accents. The blend had a visually interesting variety of greens and browns. Most of the leaves were smaller bits, but overall it looked like it could have been a loose leaf tea; indeed, as far as I could tell from the Harney and Sons site, the tea in this bagged version is more or less the same as what you would get in the loose leaf version.

Preparation: For this tea I more or less followed the directions on the tin: infuse in less than boiling water (I boiled it and let it cool for a few minutes) for 4 mins.

Tea liquor: The scent off of the liquor was sweet with some roasted and nutty notes. Hints of the vanilla and almond flavoring also came through. Overall, it was a pleasant scent. The color of the liquor was quite dark for a white tea and was a kind of golden honey or caramel color; the color did seem to fit with spice and flavorings in the tea.

The flavor of the liquor was warm and spicy, presumably stemming mostly from the cardamom. I couldn’t really pin down the vanilla and almond flavors in the flavor. However, the tea had a sweet aftertaste. There was also a bit of bitterness as well. As for texture, the tea was rather astringent, but not unpleasantly so. I think the tea might benefit from a little shorter steeping time than the reccomended 4 minutes, but further testing will be required to test this suggestion.

Quick summary:

  • Tea: Gyokuro Karigane, loose, green tea
  • Pick and Processing: stems and veins from Gyokuro, steamed
  • Season: Summer (2018)
  • Origin: Japan
  • Retailer: High Garden
  • Current Price: $9.50/1 oz
  • Texture: mildly astrigent
  • Flavor Notes: sweet, grassy, seaweed, umami
  • Finish: sweet

Overall, I thought this was a nice blend for the winter holidays. The tea had a nice strong spicy flavor from the cardamom, and the added natural flavors (presumably extracts) were not overbearing but added a pleasant touch sweetness and nuttiness to the scent and flavor of the infusion.

Thanks for reading! Have you ever tried this tea before, or a similar one from another retailer/provider? If so, please comment and share your thoughts. If you enjoyed this post or found it useful, then please like and share.

If you enjoy my content, and aren’t already, then hit the Follow button or fill out the Follow by E-mail form to get new posts from Blake’s Tea Journal.

The Taste of Tea :: Genmai Cha from Adagio Teas

Hey there, fellow tea enthusiasts! I hope you’re having a fantabulous week. Today’s post is another The Taste of Tea entry in which I’ll relay my notes from my tea-tasting journal entry for the Genmai Cha loose leaf tea from Adagio Teas. I got this tea as a part of Adagio’s Teas Of Japan sampler set; this is the fourth and final of the teas I’ve posted about from the set, so once you’re done here be sure to check out my previous posts on the other three teas in the sampler: Hojicha, Kukicha, and Sencha Overture.


Type of Tea: Green Tea, loose leaf

Ingredients: handpicked white tea, cardamom, natural almond, vanilla and cardamom flavors, white chamomiles (accents)

Tasting Notes  The dry leaves were a dark forest green with a predominantly needle-like shape. There was a large proportion of the roasted rice (caramel colored) in the blend. There were also a few bits of popped rice (white, similar appearance to popcorn) in there as well.

The scent off of the dry tea was a little light, but lightly sweet with a touch of a popcorn-like smell.  After heating the teapot I added the tea to the warm pot and to further activate the scent. This really brought out the notes of popcorn.

To prepare the tea I first boiled the water and then allowed it to cool for three minutes before infusing the tea for about 35-40 seconds.

Tea during the Infusion

After brewing the first infusion, the scent off the liquor had a much lower roasted character, but also still smelled like popcorn to me. Amusingly, it made me hungry for popcorn.  

The color of the liquor was a pale yellow-green, similar to other Japanese green teas.

The tea liquor had a warm taste that was sweet on the tongue; however, the biggest flavor element was still that of popcorn. The texture of the liquid was a little thick and it coated my mouth. Interestingly, the mouth coating had a feeling that seemed quite similar to that left in the mouth after eating a handful of popcorn. Although the liquid had a thick texture, it was still relatively smooth with only a mild astringency. There also seemed to be a touch of saltiness in the flavor of the tea. 

Hydrated tea blend after infusing.

Quick Summary

  • Tea: Gyokuro Karigane, loose, green tea
  • Pick and Processing: stems and veins from Gyokuro, steamed
  • Season: Summer (2018)
  • Origin: Japan
  • Retailer: High Garden
  • Current Price: $9.50/1 oz
  • Texture: mildly astrigent
  • Flavor Notes: sweet, grassy, seaweed, umami
  • Finish: sweet

Final Thoughts  Popcorn! To me, this tea smelled and tasted primarily like popcorn. Drinking it was an interesting experience that I would liken to drinking liquid popcorn. The warm nuttiness of the of the popcorn flavor was heightened by a mild sweetness on the tongue and a touch of popcorny saltiness. Overall, I found this to be a very interesting and enjoyable tea experience. If you like popcorn or popped rice, then this type of tea is definitely worth a try. On your next movie night make a cup of Genmai Cha before popping on the movie (pun intended). 

Thanks for reading! Have you ever tried this tea before, or a similar one from another retailer/provider? If so, please comment and share your thoughts. If you enjoyed this post or found it useful, then please like and share.

If you enjoy my content, and aren’t already, then hit the Follow button or fill out the Follow by E-mail form to get new posts from Blake’s Tea Journal.

Teaware ~ Kyusu from Rishi Tea and Botanicals

Hello, fellow tea enthusiasts! I hope you had a great week. In today’s post, I’m talking the next best thing to tea: teaware! More precisely, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the Kyusu teapot that I purchased from Rishi Tea and Botanicals. I enjoy Japanese teas and have wanted try out a side handled Japanese (or Japanese style) teapot, or Kyusu, for a while now; I’ve always found the design to be fun and interesting. At some point in my browsing of the interwebs I had come across the little Kysusu sold by Rishi and had since been eyeing it as a potential purchase; I was drawn to the somewhat spartan design of this particular “Traditional Japanese Teapot.” I finally broke down and ordered one of these little teapots somewhere around mid-October, and I’ve been meaning write up and fit in a post about it since I recieved the package about a week or so later. Before rambling on, let me list some of the details for this item:

  • Type of teaware: Teapot-kyusu – “Traditional Japanese Teapot.”
  • Retailer: Rishi Tea and Botanicals
  • Material: clay
  • Color: black
  • Origin: Japan
  • Capacity: 6 oz, 177 mL
  • Current Price: $30 (US dollars)

The Kyusu came in a cute little box.

I popped it open to have a look. The teapot was nicely packaged in the box and seemed to be secure enough. My first impression of the teapot was that it was quite small. I knew from the description that it was supposed to be a smaller pot (6 oz or 177 mL), but I guess I needed to see it in person to really appreciate the size. 

For a rough size reference, the sticker on the lid of the teapot is approximately the size of a US dime coin.

I was also somewhat surprised to discover that I found the teapot to be much more charming in person even than my original impression based just on the image on the Rishi site. I think the smaller size of the teapot contributed to upping its cuteness factor: so kawaii! Overall, the teapot had a nice feel and the clay had a nice sound to it. The teapot has a front steel mesh strainer that covers the area around the spout; I like this design because the tea can be added directly to the teapot without the need of separate straining basket.

The straining mesh works well to keep all the large bits back, but of course allows some smaller particles through; allowing some smaller particles, or tea dust, through actually helps with getting more umami flavor from Japanese teas. The lid fits well onto the teapot and so far I haven’t had any major issues with leaking from the lid during pouring. I also think this teapot pours pretty well.

 And it turned out that the volume (listed as 6 oz or 177 mL) of this Kyusu matches perfectly with that of my double walled glass cup, making it great for my solo brews. However, it is just big enough that you could share smaller cups (2-3 oz) of brew with a friend or two.

Overall, I very much like this little Kyusu. It has a simple yet charming design. The pot itself seems to be well-made and it works great. I find the side handle fun to use, and the size of the pot makes it easy to hold and pour with one hand. I think it was well worth the purchase. If you want to see some more of this teapot in action you can check out any of my three most recent The Taste of Tea posts, for all of which I made use of this teapot.

Thanks for reading! Do you have your own kyusu teapot? If so, please comment and tell me about it. If you enjoyed this post or found it useful, then please like and share.

If you enjoy my content, and aren’t already, then hit the Follow button or fill out the Follow by E-mail form to get new posts from Blake’s Tea Journal.


The Taste Of Tea ~ White Tip Jasmine from Art of Tea

Hello, fellow tea enthusiasts! I hope you had a great week. Today’s post is another The Taste of Tea entry in which I’ll relay my notes from my tea-tasting journal entry for the White Tip Jasmine loose leaf tea from Art of Tea.

Continue reading “The Taste Of Tea ~ White Tip Jasmine from Art of Tea”