A Taste of the Teas of Japan Sampler

A Taste of the Teas of Japan Sampler

Tea. I keep coming back to it. The last time we visited our local mall, I became a Frequent Steeper at David’s Tea. I just know I’m going to get along with this new arrangement. But today’s post is about the last of my Adagio sampler sets, stealth-purchased by my mother-in-law for my birthday. I saved the best for last; this pack is made up entirely of green teas. I’ve probably said this before but I LOVE green teas. They’re my go-to for comfort and relaxation.

I keep a huge box of green tea in the house just because I drink so much of it. It’s not the greatest, but I can buy it in bulk and it tastes great with a scoop of honey. Tazo’s China Green Tips used to be my default tea when I felt under the weather, though more recently I’ve switched to Tazo’s Zen tea because it has just a hint of mint; that barest hint of mint feels SO good when you’ve got a sore throat. I could go on and on. Tazo’s Ginger Green for an upset stomach. Tetley’s Blueberry Green, which I’m sad I can no longer find.

So it’s no surprise Adagio’s green teas caught my attention. They have a pack of Chinese teas that looks interesting (and may be a future purchase), but I started with their Teas of Japan gift sampler. I’ve already talked about the orchard herbals and green rooibos samplers (I’m a huge convert of the green rooibos), but these are the teas I’m most excited to talk about.

Kukicha
Unlike the other samplers, where I had a clear idea of what I wanted to taste first, I tried the green teas at random. Adagio’s site describes Kukicha tea as ‘light and sweet,’ which is fairly accurate. Kukicha tea comes from the leaves and stems of Sencha and Gyokuro plants, as part of an effort to extract extra value from each bush in a nation with limited land to devote to production. From my first sip of Adagio’s Kukicha, I knew I loved it. My first note was ‘great green tea!’ It’s quite similar to the aforementioned China Green Tips. Kukicha has a grassy flavor with a hint of nutty afternote. This tea is so sweet on its own, it doesn’t need anything to sweeten it, but it does also taste great with a dollop of honey. I’ve found that my second steep is always a little sweeter than the first (which is the opposite of what I expected). I can safely say that Kukicha ended up my favorite of the green teas and I’m tempted to make it one of my ‘always have in the house’ staples. (I just need to find out how much tea my husband will let me keep on hand. So far, he hasn’t objected.)

Genmai Cha
The next tea I decided to try was the Genmai Cha (mostly based on my mood at the time). Adagio’s site describes its Genmai Cha as ‘warm and nutty with a savory quality.’ Again, this is pretty accurate. In another attempt to squeeze more out of limited tea supplies, Genmai Cha includes toasted rice with the leaves. Though originally conceived during lean times, apparently Genmai Cha has become an urban chic blend in recent years. As a result of the rice, the tea has a vegetable flavor. Sometimes I can keenly taste the toasted rice, other times it gives the tea a rich, nutty accent. This savory tea tastes better without sweetener and I find that the nutty accent is stronger during the second steeping. While I’m not head over heels for this tea, I do enjoy it and I would go out of my way to seek it from time to time, even if it’s not on my ‘everyday comforts’ list. This tea is a great pick-me-up when you’re feeling low-energy.

Hojicha
Yet another example of Japan’s tea ingenuity, Hojicha is created by roasting Bancha leaves. It was originally invented by a tea merchant with aging leaves he didn’t want to waste. This tea has a strong earthy flavor with a hint of lighter, grassy overtones. It’s a little bitter compared to the previous teas, so I usually drink it with a scoop of honey. This tea is quite rich, but also smooth. Adagio’s site describes it as ‘earthy and warm with a soothing, clean finish’ and that’s pretty much how I feel about it. It makes a great comfort tea for a busy day or a dreary afternoon. It’s probably my second favorite of the bunch.

Sencha Overture
Of the teas in this sampler pack, Sencha Overture seems to be the only one which is produced normally. The Sencha plant is apparently harvested in early summer. Unfortunately, this tea isn’t for me. There was one in every pack, so it isn’t really surprising (and three out of four isn’t a bad ratio). This tea tastes overwhelmingly of seaweed to me. I’m not really a fan of seaweed as a flavor, so it’s possible any amount of seaweed would be too much for me. That said, this tea has a rich, brothy flavor. In some ways it felt more like drinking soup broth than tea, especially since sweetening it made it taste odd to me. If you don’t mind the taste of seaweed, you might enjoy it more than I did.

So there you have it. In all, I discovered nine awesome teas that I hadn’t tasted before and I’m pretty excited about that. I don’t know how viable it will be to keep ordering from Aidago, considering the price of their shipping, but I’ll definitely save my pennies for another go at their stock. If you like tea, they’re worth checking out. There is definite quality in all their products. Not to mention their samplers are large enough that you can get a decent number of cups out of each blend (especially if you re-steep). Now I just have to decide what I want to put in Domerin’s special blend :3

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