Leaf Type: Green
Where to Buy: Yunomi
Stems of high grade tea is called karigane 雁音. By roasting these stems in an iron pot, it becomes Karigane Houjicha. This particular product uses gyokuro tea stems from Uji, Kyoto.
This karigane houjicha is roasted in an iron pot over strong heat. Only the surface of the stems are roasted, retaining the flavor of the tea itself, because the inner part of the stem is not roasted. Both the strong aroma and taste of tea can be enjoyed.
Learn more about this tea here.
When I first read the name on the package of tea, I was overwhelmed by the name alone. What did any of that mean? The only word I understood was gyokuro and houjicha. I am always into trying a houjicha green tea from Yunomi.
By doing a little deciphering and careful read through the insightful description was I able to discern with little effort what all it meant. Karigane is a form of kukicha, which is stick tea, basically. But the thing about Karigane is that it is a cut above your average run of the mill kukicha because it is made from high grade teas, such as gyokuro. leave it to the Japanese to make the most out of everything they are given! After a good and strong roasting in an iron pot, the core of the tea is still intact, and the delicate nuanced sticks blending together with the roasted flavor I know and love.
The dry leaves (or should I say sticks?) looks quite unlike any other houjicha that I have ever seen. The leaves are a light straw gold. The roasted and slightly smoky aroma reached my nose and I was hooked. Steeping the leaves in my favorite kyusu revealed a comforting toasted cup of roasty goodness. There were some nice coffee notes hidden there somewhere, and it complimented everything in a way that was unsurprisingly lovely.
I have had plenty of houjicha in my time, everything from yama moto yama teabags and flavored kit kats to freshly fired bancha from a cousin on their latest trip and this really is the best I’ve ever had. I sense that this could be that it is from karigane, and I don’t think I’ve had karigane in roasted form in the past. The aftertaste this leaves is amazing. A mix of refreshing roasted sweetness with a slight smoke note at the end. As it cooled, it became sweeter.
I took this tea in a thermos for my most recent hike, and it was the perfect end note to a nice, quiet hike. I was lucky enough to miss the snowstorm during the hike, and sitting in the car and warming up to a big steaming mug of this tea really just hit the spot.
Leaf Type: Green
Where to Buy: Tea Wing
A blend of stems and leaves which are shaded 20 days prior to harvest. This kabuse is naturally sweet and bright with a beautiful aroma. The shaded leaves are a deep green and the steeped liquor yield has an almost “chewy” mouthfeel. Lots of flavor.
Read other Steepster thoughts on this tea here.
This Karigane #22 from Tea Wing represents the third of the five teas that I’m tasting from the inaugural Steepster Select box. (Well, it’s the first after a year plus hiatus, anyway!)
The aroma of the dry leaf is grassy, evocative of freshly cut grass. I noticed a lot of stems and finely cut leaves, looking as though both have been finely shredded, reminding me of a Japanese Sencha. The brewed tea smells very vegetative … and tastes vegetative too.
The flavor tastes of sweet grass and lightly buttered vegetables. It is a strong vegetal taste, so if you’re one who tends to shy away from green teas with that strong leafy taste, this tea might not be the one for you. Me, I like it. It has a very clean and pure kind of flavor, and it’s pleasantly invigorating.
As the tea cools slightly, I am picking up on some creamy notes, and I find that these creamy notes develop as I continue to sip. Maybe slightly buttery, but also … tasting of sweet cream.
The finish is agreeably sweet, and it’s a sweetness that reminds me of agave nectar! At first I thought that maybe, somehow … I had added some agave nectar to the cup, but, since there isn’t any agave nectar in the house at the moment, I don’t know how that would have happened.
A very enjoyable cup of tea with a thick, brothy mouthfeel that complements the vegetal, creamy taste of the tea. Another WIN from Steepster Select! If you haven’t yet signed up for it, why not? You should get yourself here and sign up as soon as possible! You’ll be happy you did!
Leaf Type: Green
Where to Buy: Frontier Co-Op
Enjoy this wonderful Japanese organic karigane (green kukicha stem) tea combined with flash freeze-dried organic blueberries. Fresh fruity vegetal flavors deliver very low caffeine content in a satisfying, healthy tea that also happens to help satisfy sweet-tooth cravings.
This is an interesting tea.
The dry leaf (err… stem?) has a scent that is similar to freshly cut grass and blueberry. It is a very pleasant fragrance. Once brewed, the aroma of the tea is different. It still smells of blueberry, but instead of the grassy scent, I am getting a sort of steamed asparagus essence. These two scents together – blueberry and asparagus – make for a somewhat odd smell. Not off-putting, just … odd.
But the flavor is very enjoyable. It tastes strongly of blueberries (a good thing for a blueberry tea to taste strongly of!), and the Kukicha has a vegetative presence. It is grassy with a light astringency at the tail. Kukicha tends to be a lighter tasting tea than, say a Sencha, so the vegetative tone seems relatively strong for the lightness of the tea. But, since I have grown quite fond of that vegetative taste, I don’t mind that at all.
Overall, I found this to be a tasty cup. It’s good hot or iced, and with it being so hot, I’m inclined at the moment to say that I prefer it iced. Ask me again in the middle of winter, and I might flip-flop on that.
I like Frontier Co-Op’s products. These are good quality, organic teas at reasonable prices. And they’re tasty too!