Top Leaf from Mellow Monk . . . . . .

Within this past week, I have come down with the slight flu. Resulting in which I couldn’t for the life of me taste anything for my nose was not cooperating in the slightest. So when I became able to taste something that wasn’t my mentholated cough drops I looked to tea for a safe hot beverage to soothe my illness. I turned to Mellow Monk’s Top Leaf tea blend.

This tea is a sort of Sencha (fukamushi, which means deeply steamed in Japanese) and compared to the sencha I have had in the past this tea is a softer variant. It was a nice cup to soothe my stomach and a pleasant change to my taste buds, other than crackers and soup. I would have to agree with the description that is on the Mellow Monk’s site for this blend has a slight earthiness to it but just enough to have a modest sweetness.  Now I don’t seem to catch the grapefruit overtones that is described but that could be because of my previously deadened taste buds.

Now on to the price of this tea. It seems to only come in one size and that is a 100 gram (3.5 oz) bag retailing for $15.95 which is a little over four dollars per ounce. Which I believe that is pretty fair compared that I usually pay $4-7 for an ounce for other loose leaf blends.

In closing, I believe that this is a good blend for any green tea/Sencha lover. It is moderately priced for the amount you get, it is direct from the source, and if this has any leverage with you dear reader Top Leaf won first place in its category in the 2011 North American Tea Competition. As for me, I don’t think I will be picking this up anytime soon but I will definitely keep this blend in mind for the future. I may even explore their other blends from Mellow Monk.

See you for the next cuppa!

Kara


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Green
Where to Buy:  Mellow Monk
Description

This is our top-of-the-linehoncha, or traditional green tea. Top Leaf™ Green Tea, a fukamushi (deeply steamed) sencha, is specially pampered in its own separate corner of the tea orchard. Not only does this tea receive extra fertilizer (organic, of course) during the growing season, but at harvest time, the growers pick only the top layer of young tea leaves. The result is a distinctive, more subtle, gentler flavor. This tea is alwaysfirst flush.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Have a Sweeter Breakfast Blend with Aso Black from Mellow Monk

Aso Black from Mellow Monk is technically a black tea but it is processed a little differently that most black teas.  If I understood their description correctly, Aso Black tea is made from the tea leaves that would normally go into making sencha green tea.  Picked in the mountains of Japan, these leaves are less processed and less fermented than traditional black tea.  Aso Black is also called “kocha” or “crimson tea”, perhaps due to its medium level of oxidation.  But I digress.

The leaves in my sample were small and flat, though very dark in color.  As it brewed, the tea smelled distinctly starchy like oats or bread.  It had none of the citrus brightness I associate with other black teas.

Mellow Monk recommends letting this tea cool slightly before drinking to let the flavors come forward, so I stepped away from my cup to let it cool down.

When I took my first sip of the tea, I was once again hit with the starchiness of the flavors, though this time it also had quite a bit of sweetness.  In an abstract way, the tea reminded me of oatmeal raisin cookies if they could be turned into a breakfast tea.

In the aftertaste there is a vegetal note that I expect more often from green teas.  It reminds me of the sweet and sour fermented green tea note that I often taste in kukicha green.  With all the sweetness and smooth mouthfeel of the rest of the blend, the green tea aftertaste is less grassy and more fruity, complimenting the sweet oat flavors in the overall smell and taste.

This is a unique tea, worth a taste by black tea and green tea lovers alike.  If you are tired of ceylon’s sharpness, or assam’s full fuzziness, try Aso Black for your next breakfast blend and maybe you’ll find it makes for a sweeter morning.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black and Green
Where to Buy: Mellow Monk
Description:

How about a nice change of pace? Aso Black™ is black tea (kocha, or “crimson tea” in Japanese) made from the leaves of green tea varietals grown in the pristine foothills of Mt. Aso. Gently harvested leaves are only lightly fermented compared to conventional black tea, for a sweetness not found in ordinary black teas.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Sencha Green Tea by The Tea Can Company. . . . .

I steeped this tea in one cup of 175° water. It comes in a sweet little tea sachet that I somehow managed to rip a hole in. (Good job, me.) So I’m steeping this for about three minutes and the color of the water is not changing all that much, although it is taking on a greenish yellow tint.

The tea liquid is ever so slightly viscous, with teeny tiny specks dancing in it that I can barely even see. It’s not fragrant from across the room, but I can catch a whiff if I’m bending over the tea itself. I steeped for two minutes but then decided to put the tea sachet back in for another minute or two because it wasn’t strong enough for my taste yet. The thing about green tea is that you can’t see bit too hot or it will turn bitter; however, if you have cooler water it doesn’t steep as fast. (Plus of course steeping too long can induce bitterness as well.) Also I have no recommendations for this tea so I don’t know the best way to steep it and consequently I am just basically making an educated guess. As I’m looking at the tea leaves inside this teabag, I can see that they’re all chopped up, but they’re definitely not crushed into dust. In fact, they are not nearly as quick to jump out the hole in my sachet as I anticipated they would be.

After sitting for another minute, the tea liquid does look slightly yellower. It does not have a much stronger fragrance, however. But the flavor is quite nice now, with some astringency and quite strong vegetal overtones. I may have pushed it over the edge with my slightly longer steeping though because it is almost verging on bitterness at the end of the sip now. It’s still not what I really call bitter though. It has mostly bright flavors, seaweed and vegetal, with only a hint of buttery flavor. It’s very green flavored and I’m not catching many floral notes either, although perhaps a hint here and there.

I enjoyed this tea, and although I probably wouldn’t drink it on a daily basis, I would definitely consider it for a great travel option because of the convenience of the prepackaged sachet.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Green
Where to Buy:  The Tea Can Company
Description

This pan-fired Green Tea is simply the best. Savor this clean and robust flavor while you enjoy the many health benefits. High in antioxidants. Serve hot or cold.
Ingredients: Pan-Fired Green Tea, Contains Caffeine

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Superior Sencha – Compass Teas. . . . .

Hello tea friends,

It’s always nice to drink something with the word superior in it’s title. From what I understand; superior Sencha is one of the highest grades of Sencha. It is also more refined and elegant in general, from those that I have tried anyway.

This tea is no longer sold by Compass Tea but it may be something they restock in the future, or have something similar to.

The leaf is dark green with a high shine and a sweet, floral scent with a touch of grass. The leaves are of medium size with some broken pieces present, overall it looks as expected ie no discolouration or holes.

Steeping this at a lower temperature around 65C for one minute to try and draw out some of the umami and sweetness.

A golden brown/green liquid is produced (again typical of Superior Sencha) and it bares a toasted grass and seaweed scent, also slightly vegetal.

Flavour is medium strength with sweet grass highs and toasted peony lows, with a salty seaweed and kale type mineral after taste that lingers and becomes dry.Only a touch of astringency but some umami is present. Half way down my yunomi and it becomes so sweet and floral it’s picked up a perfumed quality has real mouth feel to it. Also slightly bitty at the bottom of my bowl.

A second steep of the same parameters reveals: less sweetness but more umami, mimicking soup broth in this steep. More mouth feel and dryness in the after taste and less perfume. Still it bares little astringency as such and it remains vegetal. It reminds me of Matcha, has a similar sort of flavour and feel about it in this steep. Just a very watery and non foamy Matcha.

Overall I was impressed. The quality was expected (average for a Superior Sencha) but it steeped well and had wonderful characteristics and flavours. A nice example of Sencha and pleasing to drink. I recommend low temperatures if your an umami fan though, at least to start with, I’m an umami fan at heart.

A nice introduction to Compass Teas for me and while this is no longer sold I will certainly keep my eyes open to see what line of Sencha it has in the future.

Happy Steeping!

 

 


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Green Tea
Where to Buy: Compass Teas
Description: This tea is no longer available for sale but they have many other teas for sale.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Dragonfruit Green Tea +C from Sen Cha Naturals- Pump Up The Vitamin C!

I’m not sick but it seems like everyone else around me is lately. I figured it was time for a BOOST. Enter DRAGONFRUIT GREEN TEA +C from Sen Cha Naturals.

The ingredients include: Organic Matcha & Organic Sencha Green Tea, Acerola Cherry, Citric Acid, Natural Sodium Bicarbonate, Dragonfruit Extract, Natural Malic Acid, Ginger Root, Coconut Water Powder, Organic Orange Peel, Turmeric Root, Stevia. It’s Vegan, Gluten Free, and Non-GMO. Excellent! I have had one of Sen Cha Naturals +C’s before and I remember it being a fizzy-fun experience! This one followed suit!

The differences being…the flavor, of course! This time around I could certainly taste the Dragonfruit, Acerola Cherry, and Citrus flavors. They were VERY potent and impressive. If you LOVE fully flavored fizzy drinks you will have to give this one a try! Yes – it has Stevia in it and YES you can taste it but it goes hand-in-hand with the over-all flavor profile.

This was an eye-opening flavor experience and another tasty taste-taste of Sen Cha Naturals offerings! I’m a fan – that’s for sure!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Green Tea
Where to Buy: Sen Cha
Description

We believe that nutrition should come from whole food ingredients, not synthetic vitamins. Whole leaf green tea, acerola cherry, coconut water, and supporting herbs to help you stay well. Exotic dragonfruit has a tangy, yet slightly sweet flavor profile we think tastes extra amazing over ice.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!