KINOBI with Gyokuro & Tencha
“KI NO TEA is a product created in collaboration with tea-grower and blender Hori-Shichimeien, founded in the Meiji era in 1879 and based in the famous Uji region to the south of Kyoto city. A number of super-premium Uji teas have been specially selected to form the heart of KI NO TEA.
Tencha and gyokuro provide intense aromas and depth of flavour with a wonderful sweetness that occurs naturally in the distillation of these superior teas. We use leaves harvested in the Okunoyama tea yard, dating back to the 14th century, and blend carefully with a secret botanical recipe used only in KI NO TEA.”
What does KINOBI mean?
When I first read the description, I couldn’t understand what KINOBI meant. Accroding to Kyoto distillery, it means “The Beauty of the Seasons”.
I met KI NO TEA at The Elysian Whisky Bar, the famous place for whisky lovers in Melbourne. I was there to meet my friend and also to pick up the whisky I ordered for a virtual tasting workshop.
Although I promised myself only to have a glass of whisky due to my exhaustion that day, as a tea lover, I couldn’t resist trying KI NO TEA that was right in front of me. I was intrigued by the description.
“Horii Shichimeien is an old-established Uji Tea company and is among the few stores that own their own tea gardens.
Its tea garden is one of the seven famous gardens called Uji Shichimeien designated by Ashikaga Shogunate in the Muromachi Period.
Today, the store’s garden named “Okunoyama” is located on a small hill near Uji Byōdōin Temple as the only existing garden of the seven.
Over the last 600 years, the store has continued to grow and process teas (such as the well-known high quality tencha “Narino”), engaging in the whole process of tea manufacturing from picking and selecting to drying and grinding of tealeaves using grinding stones.
Now the company also sells at retail and provides genuine Uji Tea directly to their customers.”
I am just getting into Japanese tea, so I wasn’t familiar with Hori-Shichimeien. My friend who is a certified Japanese tea instructor recognised the name right away. Now I know better 😀
Where is Uji region?
Uji is a Japanese city south of Kyoto, known for its shrines and temples. The 10th-century Buddhist Byōdō-in Temple includes Phoenix Hall, named for the phoenix statues crowning it. Ujigami Shrine is said to be Japan’s oldest Shinto shrine. The Tale of Genji Museum displays scenes from the classic novel. Uji is known as a producer of green tea, which can be sampled at a traditional tea ceremony at Taihō-an Teahouse.
What is Gyokuro?
Gyokuro is known as the finest, rarest, and most expensive Japanese loose leaf green tea. Depends on the harvest region, it can be marine or vegetal, but the key characteristic is full of umami followed by sweetness.
What is Tencha?
Tencha is the tea leaves about to become matcha. You can brew tencha as own. The taste characteristic is similar to gyokuro followed by full of umami. However, the appreance of the leaves and tea making process between gyokuro and tencha is different.
The official KI NO TEA tasting note
“A sweet and delicate bouquet on the nose. On the palate, a gentle sweetness like white chocolate spreads slowly, then a distinct juniper flavour comes to the fore. The finish is long and clean with roasted green tea scents.”
How was the KI NO TEA taste?
“A botanical and refreshing bouquet on the nose. A distinct juniper scent and flavour comes to the fore, citrusy and refreshing note melodies, then finish with marine umami tea scents.”
I could smell strong juniper berries, then taste juniper berries -> citrus -> marine in order. I was hoping KI NO TEA to be botanical with a fresh green taste. Instead, it was marine to me. I was happy that I got to try KI NO TEA, but I wasn’t a fan of the taste.
Do you recommend to purchase KI NO TEA?
- Price: Open price ($120~$140)
- Volume: 700ml
- Strength: 45.1% abv
- JAN: 4589633900155
The entire bottle? I am not so sure because of the marine taste I experienced. However, other people seem to enjoy KI NO TEA with an average of 4.6+ out of 5 ratings. If you aren’t sure, check out the nearest bar to taste KI NO TEA.
The Elysian Whisky Bar
By the way if you drink whisky and ever in Melbourne, I highly recommend to visit the Elysian Whisky Bar.
When I visited there was a private whisky tasting event for a company team building. I think I was able to sit at the bar because my friend made a reservation.
If you are planning to try KI NO TEA at the Elysian Whisky Bar. I recommend tasting gin itself. The cocktail I ordered had KI NO TEA, but it was too sweet and not so pretty. The price was also more than tripled from trying gin itself.
The Elysian Whisky Bar is a good place to drink whisky, socialise, and chill.
If you work in the sales, marketing, or hospitality industry, it’s also a good place to shadow. I was impressed by the service style of that night. Two bartenders could make drinks, serve, and do everything for the packed crowd.