The Chinese Tea Shop’s Blooming Green Tea

Blooming Green Tea by The Chinese Tea Shop
Green Tea / Flavoured
$35.95 for 200g

First Impressions

The Chinese Tea Shop’s Blooming Green Tea was a purchase at the most recent Vancouver Tea Festival (and I’m just writing about it now – shame on me!). If you’ve been reading here for a while now, or following me on Instagram (@onemoresteep), you will know that I’m a sucker for a good blooming/flowering tea. The unfortunate thing about blooming teas is that they are just not cheap – it takes skill to make them and they’re just beautiful to watch unfold and bloom in your teapot. I always recommend steeping one of these in a clear glass teapot (or teacup, if that’s more of your style) just so you can watch the magic happen.

So the bag I had bought contains seven different shapes (designs). These tea leaves are tied together, by hand, using silk thread. There’s not even a little hint from the dry tea ball about what colour the flowers are on the inside. The aroma from this little ball is sweet floral, with a light background of the green tea.

Preparation

There weren’t any steeping instructions on the packaging. I filled up a glass teapot with water that was heated to 79°C (175°F) and dropped the ball in. I waited until it had fully bloomed prior to pouring myself a cup – the whole process took about 2 minutes (120 seconds).

First Taste

Blooming Green Tea steeps to a pale orange, with a pleasant floral aroma. There’s a nice sweetness to this tea, which is capitalized by the fact that there is no bitterness or astringency given the length of time I steeped it for. This flowering tea made for a smooth cup of tea and it was very pleasant to drink.

A Second Cup?

I resteeped Blooming Green Tea twice (three times total) and found that the floral flavours stayed present throughout. A few petals and tea leaves were knocked loose each time I filled up the teapot, which wasn’t too much of a hassle for me to pull it out.

The flowers are really quite beautiful. I’m not an expert, but I believe they are globe amaranth, chrysanthemum, and jasmine.

My Overall Impression

I loved The Chinese Tea Shop’s Blooming Green Tea. There is just something really relaxing about watching a ball of tea open up and ‘bloom’. If you’ve never had the opportunity to try one, I definitely recommend it. It’s just a lovely experience to watch – and the fact that the tea is tasty and holds up to resteeping doesn’t hurt either!

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Yunomi’s Yakushima Cedar Wood Smoked Hojicha

Yakushima Cedar Wood Smoked Hojicha by Yunomi
Green Tea / Flavoured
$7.00USD for 20g

Yunomi has provided me with Yakushima Cedar Wood Smoked Hojicha for the purposes of providing an honest review.

First Impressions

Yakushima Cedar Wood Smoked Hojicha came to me in resealable kraft paper bag. This green tea comes from the Kaneroku Matsumoto Tea Garden, one of the things that I realy like about Yunomi is that they list the tea gardens that their products come from – so it’s super easy to figure out the specific tea farms that each tea comes from.

When I opened the bag, I was greeted by the smokey aroma of the tea. There are a lot of short twig pieces that are mixed in with the tea leaves. The smoke aroma isn’t as astringent as a lapsong souchong, if you’re familiar with that smoked tea.

Preparation

Yunomi recommends steeping Yakushima Cedar Wood Smoked Hojicha in 90°C (194°F) water for 1 minute. My initial steep was for 1 minute in 91°C (195˜F) water.

First Taste

Yakushima Cedar Wood Smoked Hojicha steeps to a beautiful golden orange in a very short period of time. There’s a strong smokey aroma to this tea. On first taste, I notice that beyond the smokey flavour is a touch of bitterness and a mild astringency at the end of each sip. The aroma reminds me a lot of liquid smoke – I think it’d be a great tea to use in cooking to add some depth of flavour (e.g. to a barbecue marinade).

A Second Cup?

I resteeped Yakushima Cedar Wood Smoked Hojicha twice, adding an extra 30 seconds for each subsequent steep. I found that the flavour remained consistent throughout. I think it would have held up for a few more steeps.

My Overall Impression

I thought that Yunomi’s Yakushima Cedar Wood Smoked Hojicha was just okay. I think if you love smokey flavours, this would be a great tea for you. I personally prefer more floral notes, which is why it’s just not a favourite for me. I can definitely see myself utilizing the tea in cooking though, to add a bit of liquid smoke flavour to a dish. The smokey flavour is strong, and this tea could probably be steeped for less than 60 seconds if you’re sensitive to bitterness in teas. I think that the aroma and taste of Yakushima Cedar Wood Smoked Hojicha match very well, so if you’re a fan of smokey teas, give this one a try!

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Yunomi’s Gyokuro Phoenix 2016

Gyokuro Phoenix 2016 by Yunomi
Green Tea / Straight
$6.00USD for 10g

Yunomi has provided me with Gyokuro Phoenix 2016 for the purposes of providing an honest review.

First Impressions

Gyokuro Phoenix 2016 comes from the Hattori Tea farm, from Uji, Kyoto. Yunomi describes this tea as a “heritage grade gyokuro”, which is from Akinobu Hattori, who is a tea farmer who has been farming gyokuro for fifty years. The family that runs Hattori Tea Farm has a 400 history as tea farmers (whoa!). Gyokuro Phoenix is a handpicked green tea that was harvested in the spring of 2016. This tea was aged by Yunomi.

Gyokuro Phoenix has these beautiful dark green leaves, there’s some parts of it that almost have an emerald-like shimmer to them. The leaves have a light grassy aroma to it, and they actually look quite small. But given the fact that they were harvested in the spring (and who knows how early in the spring), that seems fairly appropriate.

Preparation

Yunomi recommends a series of steep times for this green tea. An initial steep for 60-80 seconds at 50°C (122°F), with a second steep for 15 seconds at 80°C (176°F) and a third steep for 45 seconds at 80°C (176°F).

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that while I do use a variable temperature kettle, I can’t change the temperature settings. What I did for the initial steep of Gyokuro Phoenix was heat the water at the lowest temperature setting 175°F (79°C) and allow it to cool for about 7 minutes and I steeped the tea leaves for 70 seconds.

First Taste

Gyokuro Phoenix steeps to a pale yellow. The aroma that I get from this green tea is primarily that of sweetness, with a bit of salty air to it. When I tasted it, I noted that it had a bit of sweetness and some grassy notes. There was a pleasant amount of umami with each sip, which added a great mouthfeel to this tea. The grassy flavours made it taste very fresh, and felt very summery.

A Second Cup?

I resteeped Gyokuro Phoenix a total of three times – I did the 2nd and 3rd steep was per the suggested steep times and did the 4th steep at 60 seconds. It did so well with each resteep, the flavours got stronger for the second steep, and started to wane for the third and fourth, but it was still a flavourful cup of tea.

My Overall Impression

I loved Yunomi’s Gyokuro Phoenix 2016. This green tea was flavourful and just steeped well. It’s definitely one that I would say you would need to watch your water temperature and steeping times, especially with such a low recommended temperature and relatively short resteep times. There was happily no bitterness or astringency at the recommended temperature settings, so I think Yunomi was on the ball with this one.

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