Review: Mellow Monk Top Leaf Green Tea

Green Tea, Japanese Tea, Mellow Monk, Organic Tea Add comments
Sophie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"Drinking this is a similar experience to eating 80% cocoa chocolate: it's intense and bitter-sweet. This is an offering that fans of Japanese teas will enjoy. Others less familiar with their vegetal, astringent flavour might be put off by such a pungent cup."
Sophie’s Teaview: 8.4/10
Other Teaviews: Geoff gave it 10/10, Vanessa gave it 8.0/10, Jamie gave it 9/10, Erika gave it 8/10, Troy gave it 9/10, Katie gave it 8.5/10, Raven gave it 8.5/10, Samantha gave it 9.0/10
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mellowmonktopleafThis award winning, first flush, organic tea originates from Aso City, Kumamoto, Japan. Only the topmost layer of the young leaves is picked to ensure a gentler, more subtle cup. This traditional green tea, or honsha, is then steamed rather than pan fried. It's described as having a flavour that is “clean, creamy, softly tangy, with grapefruit overtones”. At a glance, the most striking thing about the leaves is their deep forest green hue. Otherwise they are unremarkable, being small and broken into various sized bits. Their aroma is particularly sweet and enticing, smelling all the world like a mix of pineapple and raspberries.

I followed the brewing instructions available on Mellow Monk's website, infusing a teaspoonful of leaves in water heated to 75 degrees Celsius for 2 minutes. The liquor bears a pale apple green colour laden with many floating particles, as well as a cooked spinach aroma. The overall profile is full-flavoured, enlivening and invigorating. Buttery top notes quickly fade into a complex array of strong, astringent but not all out bitter flavours, especially during the lingering grapefruit-like finish. There are also more subtle sweet notes similar to corn sprouts and berries present throughout each sip. The slightly creamy body adds an element of decadence to the experience. All and all, this is a pungent yet intricate green.

I somehow misread the brewing direction for the subsequent infusions and steeped my second and third cups for 2 and a half and 3 minutes respectively. Both were enjoyable, so it seems the tea was not adversely affected by this variation. The second infusion is much smoother and more delicate than the first. Corn and buttered leafy greens dominate the flavour profile. A faint lemony flavour has developed as well. Some grapefruit notes still linger in the finish. This is my favourite of all three infusions for the balance it strikes between fullness of flavour, smoothness and complexity.

After 3 minutes, my final cup is primarily grassy and sweet. There is also a nice amount of savoury buttery notes present, although less so than in the previous steeps. Some astringency is still left to the finish, however the leaves are definitely losing their edge. I can't really think of a better way for a tea to go than to fade into a sweet, buttery oblivion...

This tea is a bit pricey but not outrageously so, given the quality of the leaves. Drinking this is a similar experience to eating 80% cocoa chocolate: it's intense and bitter-sweet. This is an offering that fans of Japanese teas will enjoy. Others less familiar with their vegetal, astringent flavour might be put off by such a pungent cup. I wholeheartedly recommend this tea to those who know what they are getting themselves into, but not as an introduction to the genre.

— To purchase Mellow Monk Top Leaf Green Tea, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.

Teaviews Member: Sophie Sophie
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