Yunomi Tea Discoveries Club, Volume 17 (Part 1)

yunomi2I received my Yunomi Tea Discoveries Club package the other day and I was excited to get started!  This month, the teas are focused on ’tisanes’ – herbal blends from various Japanese tea companies.

Since this is a tisanes package and not Camellia Sinensis, I won’t be featuring part two of this series tomorrow night.  This is because I don’t usually drink more than 1 tisane per day, so I need time to consume these teas and write about them!

This month’s package included Yomogi herbal tea which is a Japanese Mugwort tea, Longevity herbal blend which is a blend of 18 Japanese herbs, Mulberry leaf tea which has been prepared Sencha style, Organic hatomugicha which is also called “Job’s Tears” and finally, Organic mugicha which is a barley tea.  Of the five, the Mugicha is what I look forward to most, as I’m quite fond of barley tea.

Also in this month’s package was another cute origami Crane … I’m getting a little collection of these!  The usual booklet which offers some information about each of the teas was not included but we received an email from Yunomi explaining that the booklet would arrive separately a little later.

The first tea that I’m going to try is the Longevity Herbal Blend from Nakazen.  I was happy to see that this tea included Camellia Sinensis in the form of Oolong tea.  Here is a list of the ingredients:

Barley tea, job’s tears, sicklepod seeds, cat’s whiskers (herb), dokudami (herb), oolong tea, tumeric, guava leaves, biwa (loquat) leaves, mikan (Japanese mandarin) peels, brown rice, pine leaves, ohbako, benibana, persimmon leaves, amachazuru, sarunokoshikake (fungi), cinnamon

18 Herbs for Longevity from Nakazen

The aroma of the dry leaf is very herb-y.  It sort of reminds me of walking into one of those apothecary shops.  The brewed tea has more of a ‘medicinal’ type of fragrance, still smelling very apothecary-ish but the herbal notes are medicinal smelling.

The taste is actually quite enjoyable.  It has a roasted flavor to it.  It’s toasty and warm.  Very nice on a chilly night!

The roasted flavor I attribute to the barley in the tea.  I also taste the brown rice, it lends a warm and nutty flavor to the cup.  I taste the resinous notes of pine leaves and I taste the warm spiced notes of cinnamon.  I taste hints of tumeric and I don’t know if I actually taste the Oolong, but I can feel it’s contribution – the texture of the tea has that wonderful, thick Oolong-ish mouthfeel.

The other herbs of this tea, I’m not sure what flavor profile to fit with which herb because they are herbs that I am – for the most part – quite unfamiliar with.  I would like to say, though, that even though the aroma strongly suggests an herbaceous, medicinal flavor, I smell more of that herb-y medicine-y flavor than I taste.  For the most part, what I taste is the barley’s contribution to this tea – I taste that warm, roasty-toasty flavor and that’s quite fine with me – I’m really enjoying this!

SONY DSCThe second tisane that I’ll be sampling – and the last for this, part 1 of the Yunomi Discoveries Club, Volume 17 review – is the Japanese Mugwort Tea from Yomogi-Cha.  The word “Mugwort” makes me think of Harry Potter and Nightmare before Christmas.  It sounds like something that Professor Snape would put in a potion or something that Sally would put in Doctor Finklestein’s soup.

This particular herbal doesn’t appear to be available on Yunomi’s site at the moment.

The dry leaf looks a lot like a dried salad.  The leaves are large and fluffy and there are some stems in there too.  The steeping parameters suggest using 1 tablespoon to 2 cups of water.  I brewed this in my Kati tumbler which holds 12 ounces (so 1 1/2 cups of water) so I figured, close enough.  Because these leaves are so fluffy and large, I eyeballed what looked like a tablespoon of leaf and put that in the basket of my tumbler and poured in 12 ounces of water heated to 195°F and let it steep for 4 minutes.  (The suggested parameters are 3 – 5 minutes.)

Having never tried Mugwort tea (at least, not to my recollection), I was not sure what to expect.  The aroma of the brewed tea is very grassy/leafy, evoking thoughts of what it might smell like if I were to steep some fresh lawn clippings.

The taste is very much like what the aroma suggests.  It’s an interesting combination of bitter and sweet.  It’s very herbaceous but not so much in an herbal sort of way, it’s more a grassy sort of herbaceous.  There is a light buttery note which is kind of nice.  There is some sweetness.  Overall, it’s not an unpleasant tasting drink, it’s just quite different from what I’m used to tasting and I’m not finding myself really enjoying it.

In other words, I don’t hate it but I don’t really like it either.

From what I understand, Japanese Mugwort tea is useful for detox and weight loss.  I don’t know if that’s true or not because I’m just drinking one cup of the stuff and that’s hardly enough to gauge whether or not it will work in this capacity.  I am noticing a warming sort of effect though.

Overall, it’s alright.  If I were going to drink this on a regular basis, I think I’d want to add something to it, perhaps a thin slice of lemon or some mint – something to perk up the flavor a little bit so that I’m tasting less of that strong grassy sort of flavor.  Not my favorite.

Hempmaicha Green Tea Blend from Handmade Tea

hempmaichaTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Handmade Tea

Tea Description:

Hempmaicha is a Handmade Tea variation on the popular Genmaicha-style tea. Hempmaicha begins with a smooth Chinese green tea base. The blend then introduces roasted hemp seeds for a nutty, sweet flavor. Lastly for Genmaicha authenticity natural popcorn (no oil, no butter, and no salt) is added to the blend. Originally blended for the month of June. ’14.

Learn more about this blend here.

Learn more about Handmade Tea’s blend of the month subscription here.

Taster’s Review:

I have been a fan of Handmade Teas for quite some time.  So every once in a while I check out their website to see what they’ve been up to.  The last time I went to the website, I noticed that Hempmaicha was their June 2014 blend, and I decided that I just HAD to try that!

I have been a big fan of hemp for many years now.  In my college years, I was a very vocal advocate for the legalization of hemp because I feel that it would be very useful.  Hemp fibers can be used to make fabric that is soft, breathable and durable, paper that requires no bleaching and is therefore better for the environment and the seeds are very nutritious.  Some of the first automobiles were built to run on fuel made of hemp.

So when I saw that this blend from Handmade Tea was created Genmaicha style, but instead of using toasted and popped rice kernels, roasted hemp seeds and popcorn was added to the blend.  Interesting and very cool, indeed!

I’ve tried several of Handmade Tea’s blends in the past, but this was the first time that I tried their “mini” size.  The full size of Handmade Tea’s blends included a large tin of the blend, plus three small (sample size) tins of the components in the blend.

For example, with the Balché blend that I reviewed previously, I received a 3-ounce tin of the blended tea and three smaller tins with the individual components:  a tin of Yunnan Black Tea base, a tin of Guajillo Peppers, and a tin of Cacao Nibs and Cinnamon blended together.  (Click here for part one of that review, and click here for part two.)

But for this purchase, I decided to try their mini size and see what that was like.  The mini size is a mylar-lined, kraft stand-up pouch that holds 1.5 ounces of the blend.  You also get the nifty little envelope that’s been wax sealed and includes information about your blend.  This size is really ideal for me, because as much as I do love the full size and all the tasting components of the blend, I’m a “taster” and 3 ounces is more tea than I need.  I would love to see the “mini” incorporate a small sampling of each of the components as well (like the full-size does), maybe in smaller pouches, because I do like that feature, but for a taster like me, the 1.5 ounces of tea is much more agreeable to me and my overflowing pantry of tea.

So the first thing that stands out about this blend for me – other than the name and the “hemp” factor – is that the tea used is a Chinese green tea rather than a Japanese green tea.  Genmaicha is a Japanese tea, so I was a little surprised that this was crafted using a Chinese green.  But that’s OK, this tea is more about the hemp, I think – at least for me it is – than it is the type of green tea used for the blend.

The blend looks exactly like the photo above because, well, I took that photo.  Yeah, I’m no photographer.  But it did manage to capture the green tea, the popped kernels of popcorn and if you look closely, you can see the toasted hemp seeds too.  I was happy to see that there were quite a few hemp seeds in this.  The blend has a very strong nutty aroma.  It smells sweet, nutty and warm.

And it is really good.  It’s a bit nuttier in flavor than a typical Japanese Genmaicha.  It is sweet and toasty in flavor.  It’s perfect for this afternoon, because we’re just now starting to experience some autumnal type weather.  It’s not unbearably hot outside although it is still quite warm as I type this, but it’s not so uncomfortably hot and humid.  And with the slightly cooler temperature, I find myself wanting that warm and cozy sort of experience from a tea and this tea delivers that.

The green tea base is sweet and lightly grassy.  It has a slightly creamy element to it – not quite ‘buttery’ but maybe a little bit – and this melds nicely with the nutty hemp notes.  The hemp adds a sweet nuttiness to the cup, and it tastes roasty-toasty which I like.  I don’t know how much of the popcorn I’m actually tasting here.

It’s really tasty.  It’s sweet with a certain savory element, warm, and toasty.  I am really glad I decided to grab this blend while it was still available.  As I write this, there are still “nine” of this tea in stock (I’m not sure how many of the 1.5 ounce mini packs are available versus the 3 ounce full-size packs.)  So if the idea of a re-imagined, re-interpreted version of the classic Genmaicha using a Chinese tea base and hemp seeds instead of rice appeals to you – you should try this!  I think that it’s close enough to the original idea of Genmaicha that those who love Genmaicha would also enjoy this, and those that are looking for something just a little different would also like it!

It gets a peace sign of approval from me!