You all know me well enough by now to know that I love doing side by side comparison tastings and using them to learn more about tea. With that in mind, when I made my last order with Yunomi I purposefully bought teas I could do comparison tasting with. I’ll be covering them all on my blog over time, but first for today’s post I’ll be doing a comparison tasting with two Osada Tea Japan oolong that each come from a different cultivar, with minimal differences between them other than that. With this tasting I was looking at learning more about the differences between different cultivars to see how much of a difference they truly make.
If you haven’t heard of Osada Tea Japan before, they were established in 1948 and they are an award winning producer and wholesaler of Japanese tea, focusing on organic tea production, and working closely with the farmers of the Isagawa Tea Agriculture Cooperative in Haruno Village, Tenryu Region of Shizuoka. 4th generation tea master, Osada Natsumi, holds 8th-dan rank of tea appraisal, is registered as a Japanese Tea Instructor, and was Champion of the 58th National Tea Appraisal competition.
”Made from a Shizuoka-specific tea cultivar called Koushun which is Quite different from the dominant Yabukita cultivar, the flavour of “Koushun” is highly rated, due to its’ strong flavour, pleasant aroma and umami. Popular among the young female generation who enjoy this cultivar for having a refreshing and floral scent. This cultivar is suitable for Shizuoka Prefecture because of its high yield and strong resistance to cold. While rare, today, this cultivar has received recognition among single cultivar lovers of Japanese tea.” – Yunomi Tea
Tasting notes: Remind me mostly of a light bug bitten oolong mixed with the last steeps of a golden monkey black tea. it has notes of muscatel, sweet hay, wet stone and honey. Overall it’s a super-smooth, honeyed brew, almost like the honey note you would find in a bug bitten oolong from Taiwan. There are light stone fruit notes that remind me most a mix of plums and apricots. Medium body with a medium finish.
Definitely a floral element dryness in the mouth, becomes bitter quickly so avoid over steeping or using too much leaf. What I did notice after the first steep is that the wet leaves have an aroma that reminds me of the seaside and the way that the air by the sea smells is so much fresher. Theres also notes of fresh seaweed in the aroma and overall it’s very aquatic and marine like with hints of the way that stone/boulders with moss on smell when wet.
Osada Tea: Organic Oolong Tea From Shizuoka, Single Cultivar Gokou – Surprisingly strong toasty flavour despite the processing and refinement methods (final roasting) being the same as other cultivars. Grown without the use of any pesticides or chemical fertilizers, the tea leaves are carefully grown in a cool, insect-resistant tea plantation in the mountains at an altitude of 300 to 500m. It is harvested during summer in Haruno Village, Tenryu Region, Shizuoka.
The dry leaves, as you can see from the pictures, were initially quite dark, but once the water was added they became much more vibrant, with different shades of green and subtle dark browns. The wet leaves after the first steep smelt like dried seaweed sheets used for sushi, freshly made sticky rice, subtle citrus and a subtle toasted note. The liquor had sweet honey and muscatel notes, but also a distinct toasted note. There were very subtle florals present but only in the lingering after tastes.
Taste wise, I still get the notes of freshly made sticky rice that are present in the aroma of the wet leaves, but also subtle fruitiness that develops and becomes more prominent as the steeps go on. Weirdly, it tastes quite milky and you feel that on the tongue afterwards as well, like I took the oolong after it was steeped and added a bunch of fresh cold milk. I picked up on that note a little in the aroma of the dry leaves but it wasn’t present in the wet leaves at all so I didn’t expect it to present it itself in the taste at all.
For me the comparison is the perfect example of just how much difference cultivars make when it comes to tea. Because these two oolongs are from the same regions in Shizuoka, they were both harvested during summer, both grown without the use of fertilizers or pesticides, their cultivated and grown by the same people and their processing methods have differences but are quite similar. So the only big differences between the two is the different cultivars and as you can tell from my tasting notes that made a HUGE difference.
Tasting these two oolongs side by side was one of the best tea decisions I’ve made so far this year because doing that only further highlighted how unique each one is. I thoroughly enjoyed each one and will continue to do so throughout many sessions going forward, however if I had to pick a favourite currently it would be Gokou.
I’d go with Gokou simply because as I write this post, it is currently summer so it’s warm and sunny out and Gokou’s flavour profile to me just pairs perfectly with the current season. However that will probably change when it comes to autumn and winter because to me the flavour notes of Koshun are way better suited to that season. For me the teas I choose to drink at certain times depends on so many different things because I like to create an all encompassing experience around that.
Should you want to try either of the oolongs in todays post and conduct this experiment yourself, you can find Gokou here and Koshun here. As always if you have any questions about either of the teas in this post or tea in general, be sure to stick them in the comments or send them to me on Instagram or Tik Tok @kimberleyskyusu
Until next time, Happy Steeping – Kimberley