Yunomi’s Echigo Boucha

Echigo Boucha by Yunomi
Green Tea / Straight
$8.00USD for 20g

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Yunomi has provided me with Echigo Boucha for the purposes of providing an honest review.

First Impressions

Yunomi was very kind to send me some Echigo Boucha, which is an interesting Japanese green tea blend that I haven’t experienced before. Echigo Boucha consists of toasted brown rice and roasted tea leaf stems that are aged in a building that’s kept at lower temperatures with snow. Say what? At first sniff when I opened up the resealable bag, I thought it smelled a lot like a genmaicha (which is roasted rice with green tea leaves), but Echigo Boucha has a much deeper aroma than genmaicha, with a light smokey quality to it to the aroma of the dry leaf that highlights the toasted rice smells.

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From Yunomi, I learned that toasted rice is genmai and the Japanese for the roasted tea leaf stems is kuki hojicha. One thing I love about exploring different teas is the exposure to different cultures and languages.

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Preparation

Yunomi recommends steeping Echigo Boucha in 90°C (194°F) water for 60 seconds (1 minute).

TEA TIP If you’re finding it difficult to keep track of time when you’re steeping your tea, you can always set a timer on your phone! I use my phone constantly to keep track of my tea so I don’t oversteep it. This is particularly handy if you’re doing a longer steep (5+ minutes) in case you’re easily distracted.

First Taste

Echigo Boucha steeps to a deeper colour that I’m used to from a green tea, it’s a golden colour that’s almost brown. I would describe the aroma from this tea as being a mix of nutty, rice cakes, and just a touch of smokiness. The flavour of this tea is initially a touch astringent, which gives way to a pleasant sweetness. There are some nutty qualities in the flavour profile of Echigo Boucha that plays nicely with the flavour of rice cakes. Surprisingly, the smokiness in the aroma of the tea isn’t that present in the flavour of the tea – for me this is a plus as I tend to not enjoy smoked teas as much so I was happy that it faded to the background.

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A Second Cup?

Yunomi suggests that Echigo Boucha can be resteeped three times, which of course meant that I had to push the envelope and resteep it four times. I added an additional 30 seconds per resteep, and found that the tea got sweeter as I resteeped it. The flavours of nuttiness and rice cakes became stronger in the first and second resteeps, while the astringency took a backseat as the tea became sweeter. I found that the third resteep was quite a bit weak, while the fourth was barely palatable. Yunomi knew what they were doing when they suggested three resteeps.

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My Overall Impression

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I loved Yunomi’s Echigo Boucha. It was a great experience to try this green tea made up of tea leaf stems! The toasted brown rice added to the flavours of nuttiness and rice cakes, which was quite pleasant. I really enjoyed how this tea resteeped and how the astringency faded into the background as the tea got sweeter. I think it’d be a great tea to be paired with a dessert, given the light sweetness of this green tea. If you like genmaicha, I think you might also like this toasted rice tea as well since it has many of the same qualities (and the smokiness doesn’t transfer over in the flavour).

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Yunomi’s Premium Shimane Sencha 2016

Premium Shimane Sencha 2016 by Yunomi
Green Tea / Straight
$8.50USD for 20g

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Yunomi has provided me with Premium Shimane Sencha 2016 for the purposes of providing an honest review.

First Impressions

Premium Shimane Sencha 2016 is a beautiful dark green, the dry leaf has small flat pieces. There’s a slight vegetal smell to this sencha that reminds me a lot of edamame and spinach smell to it. The sample package came with plenty of tea leaves, probably enough for 4-5 servings (in a 20g packet).

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As per the Yunomi website, this is a “premium unshaded first flush sencha” that comes from the Takarabako Tea Farm. First flush means that it’s the earliest harvested leaves from the tea plant, harvested in the early spring. These leaves are often lighter in colour and more delicate, and often need cooler water to be steeped in and for a shorter duration.

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Preparation

Yunomi recommends steeping Premium Shimane Sencha 2016 in 70°C (158°F) for 1 minute. I use my Breville IQ Kettle all the time when making tea, and it doesn’t have a 158°F setting (lowest is 175°F). What I did was heat water to the lowest setting, and once that was reached I allowed the water to cool in the kettle (with the top open) for about 5 minutes.

First Taste

After the quick 1 minute steep, I poured a cup of Premium Shimane Sencha 2016. The tea itself has a very light yellow-green colour, and the aroma that comes up from the tea is very much like the dry leaf – the tea still has an edamame and spinach aroma to it, with a slight salty smell to it. It tastes the way that it smells, with a nice vegetal taste to it. The saltiness adds to the umami flavour of the tea. There’s a slight astringency at the end of each sip, despite only having steeped it for exactly a minute. I think it could stand to be steeped for even a shorter length of time.

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A Second Cup?

I resteeped Premium Shimane Sencha 2016 four times (a total of five times), and started the first resteep at 60 seconds (and then increased the steep times by 30 seconds per subsequent steep). I found for the first two resteeps, the sencha had a strong vegetal aroma, with a heavier salty flavour. The third and fourth resteeps were a bit milder, the umami flavour was overall more muted, with less astringency of all the steeps.

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My Overall Impression

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I loved Yunomi’s Premium Shimane Sencha 2016. This green tea has remarkably tasty with a good umami flavour profile. I found it resteeped well, despite the slight astringency (although it isn’t overwhelming). This sencha resteeps well, and maintains its flavour. I would recommend being very light on the steeping time, especially if you’re a bit sensitive to astringent teas.

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Yunomi’s Shimane Aged Black Tea 2016 Vintage

Shimane Aged Black Tea 2016 Vintage by Yunomi
Black Tea / Straight
$7.00USD for 20g

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Yunomi has provided me with Shimane Aged Black Tea 2016 Vintage for the purposes of providing an honest review.

First Impressions

Remember when I shared my thoughts on Yunomi’s Shimane Aged Black Tea 2015 Vintage? Today’s review is the 2016 Vintage. A year younger and hopefully also tasty? The dry leaf of this one is small pieces, there were a few broken pieces of twigs here and there. No giant leaves to unfurl like in a good oolong, but this black tea has a beautiful smell to it. When I inhaled the aroma from the dry leaf, I got the fragrances of plums and blackberries.

Shimane Aged Black Tea 2016 Vintage is a straight organic black tea from the Takarabako Tea Farm.

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Preparation

Yunomi recommends steeping Shimane Aged Black Tea 2016 Vintage in 90°C (194°F) for 3 to 5 minutes. I did my initial steep for 4 minutes.

First Taste

Shimane Aged Black Tea 2016 Vintage steeps to a beautiful golden orange. The aroma that comes from this tea is quite fruity, I can smell plums and a mixture of berries. The taste of aged black tea also has plums and berries, and a light astringency to the tea. Shimane Aged Black Tea 2016 Vintage is smooth with a light floral taste that mingles well with the plums and berries.

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A Second Cup?

I resteeped Shimane Aged Black Tea 2016 Vintage a total of five times. The first resteep was sweeter than the rest, and the flavours became more plum over berry as the steeps continued. As per usual, I added 30 seconds to each subsequent length of steeping time.

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My Overall Impression

I loved Yunomi’s Shimane Aged Black Tea 2016 Vintage. The development of the flavour profile of this black tea was a delight for the senses. The mix of plums and berries is delicious, and the light astringency isn’t bad. I think it comes off ‘lighter’ as other black teas, and I wouldn’t say this one would replace any standard breakfast tea, but the flavour is really nice and it does an excellent job resteeping over and over again.

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Yunomi’s Shimane Benifuuki Sencha

Shimane Benifuuki Sencha by Yunomi
Green Tea / Straight
$10.00USD for 20g

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Yunomi has provided me with Shimane Benifuuki Sencha for the purposes of providing an honest review.

First Impressions

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Shimane Benifuuki Sencha came to me in a non-resealable packet with the necessary information on the printed label. The dry leaf consists of flat, thin, small tea leaves that are mostly dark green in colour. The dry leaf smells like a mix of grass and hay, with a bit of salty seaweed aroma from the tea. Shimane Benifuuki Sencha is an organic straight green tea.

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Preparation

Yunomi recommends steeping Shimane Benifuuki Sencha in 70°C (158°F) water for 1 minute. I followed the recommended steeping temperature and time.

First Taste

This beautiful green tea steeps to a bright light greeny yellow. There’s a slight grassy aroma that comes from the tea itself, which is a bit welcoming. When I took my first sip, I was pleasantly surprised by the complex flavour of the tea. There’s some salty notes that are mixed with grassy and vegetal flavours. The saltiness adds to the complexity, as umami flavour often does. I found that the saltiness reminded me a lot of seaweed. There’s just a hint of astringency at the tail end of each sip, but it doesn’t distract too much from the experience of drinking Shimane Benifuuki Sencha.

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A Second Cup?

I resteeped Shimane Benifuuki Sencha twice. I found that the flavour held up well for both resteeps and I could have probably done a third or maybe even a fourth resteep. I found that the first resteep had the most vibrant flavour – the level of saltiness was highest, and so was the vegetal flavours I found in the initial steep.

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My Overall Impression

I liked Yunomi’s Shimane Benifuuki Sencha. I found that the flavour was a delight on the tongue, and that I really enjoyed the resteep better than the initial steep. There was just something more brighter and stronger with the second steep than with the first. I wasn’t a big fan of the slight astringency I found at the end of each sip, and I do wonder if it’s possible that I should have steeped it even shorter than the recommended steeping time.

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Yunomi’s Shimane Aged Black Tea 2015 Vintage

Shimane Aged Black Tea 2015 Vintage by Yunomi
Black Tea / Straight
$8.00USD for 20g

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Yunomi has provided me with Shimane Aged Black Tea 2015 Vintage for the purposes of providing an honest review.

First Impressions

I was a little it surprised by how big this sample was, especially in comparison to the other 20g samples I received from Yunomi from the Takarabako Tea Farm (Shimane Oolong and Shimane Sencha Ou Midori). This black tea is aged at low temperatures and it’s a straight tea, so the only ingredient is black tea.

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The pieces are surprisingly small, with some tiny sticks mixed in with the leaves. There’s a slightly sweet aroma from the dry leaves that reminds me a bit of dried apricots.

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Preparation

Yunomi recommends steeping Shimane Aged Black Tea 2015 Vintage at 90°C (194°F) for 3-5 minutes. My initial steep of this tea was at 4 minutes.

First Taste

Shimane Aged Black Tea 2015 Vintage steeps to a deep orange. There’s a malty aroma that comes up from the tea when I poured it from my teapot to my cup. I found this tea to have a smooth mouthfeel to it when drinking it, and the malty aroma transfers into a malty flavour. There’s a touch of sweetness in the steeped tea that manages to make itself known with the malty flavours. I found that there’s a bit of a sour aftertaste with this tea, which reminds me a lot of Assam with the maltiness and sourness in that tea’s flavour profile.

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A Second Cup?

I resteeped Shimane Aged Black Tea 2015 Vintage twice – I found that the colour was a lot lighter with the first resteep, and even lighter still for the second. The malty flavour of this aged black tea is robust enough to hold strong for each resteep, and the slightly sour aftertaste eases up after the initial steep, making the subsequent steeps more ideal (in my mind).

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My Overall Impression

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I liked Yunomi’s Shimane Aged Black Tea 2015 Vintage. This aged black tea has a strong flavour profile of maltiness that would do well to replace any breakfast tea if you needed a tea that’s even stronger in the morning. Because of the Assam-like qualities, I think it could handle being doctored up with some sweetener or cream. I was more fond of the second steep than I was of the first, because the sour aftertaste was more subdued. I enjoyed this one and think it has its place at an afternoon tea party if you wanted to branch away from the standard Earl Grey.

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