Issaku Green Tea Review!
The leaves appeared dark green, as expected from a Japanese green, and are finely broken.
Right after opening the sample bag, a lovely fresh grassy fragrance was released. I couldn’t wait longer until my cooked water was cooled down to around 80 ºC (175 ºF).
As instructed, I added two tea spoons of the tea into my gaiwan. Instead of following the instructions (60 to 120 seconds) I waited 30 seconds and strained out the tea. Straining wasn’t easy. The small tea leaves easily went through the opening of my gaiwan and congested my tea filter on the fairness pitcher.
If you’re planning to use a gaiwan for this tea, you should get a wider strainer to make sure it lets the liquid through. Also my advise would be to use 1 tea spoon (instead of 2 tea spoons instructed) as the leaves release flavour quite fast.
Since I don’t have a better filter to solve this straining problem, I decided to brew 2 tea spoons of Issaku tea grandpa style. I often do this with Chinese green teas, so let’s see how it works with a steamed Japanese tea.
I love the colour of the first steep. It’s much greener when compared to Chinese teas, which have a more yellowish colour. This is because Chinese greens are roasted, while this Japanese tea is steamed to preserve such colour.
The colour of the soup was green-yellowish and somewhat cloudy. The texture of the tea was smooth and pleasant. Its wonderful thickness is something you won’t find in a Chinese green tea.
This texture and cloudiness is probably because a part of the tea leaves are dissolved in the tea liquor itself, causing the thickness. The viscosity of the tea results in a lasting and lingering aroma in the mouth.
The taste was vegetal and seaweed-like. The aroma was fresh. The flavours are much more outspoken compared to a matcha green tea. When comparing it to Chinese green teas, it kind of reminds me of stronger green teas such as the bi luo chun, xinyang maojian or liu an gua pian. I would say, the pronounced seaweed aroma make the flavour match that of the bi luo chun from Jiangsu the most.
The flavours are released the most in the first steep, so I’m really happy that I didn’t rinse the tea leaves first. The flavour is still pretty strong for the 2nd and 3rd brew. The 4th brew and last is still decent. The colour of the tea becomes lighter and more yellow after the first steep.
Here are my recommendations when brewing this tea using a straight glass.
- Brew in a glass
- Add 2 tea spoons of tea for 4 brews; or 1 tea spoon of tea for 2 rounds.
- Add 80ºC/175ºF water
- Second brew: keep 1/3 of the first brew and refill with 85ºC water.
- Third/fourth brew: keep 1/3 of the previous brew and refill with 90ºC water.
I don’t have recommendations for a traditional brewing session for now, but I’ll update this post when I do!