Review: Mellow Monk Top Leaf Green Tea

Green Tea, Japanese Tea, Sencha Tea Add comments
Geoff’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"This is what every green tea aspires to be. It was silky, fruity, slightly sweet, and with a bit of a buttery sensation on aftertaste. Floored? Nay. I was flattened."
Geoff’s Teaview: 10/10
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mellowmonktopleafI found out about the existence of tamaryokucha (or "curly green tea") styled sencha by accident on a random Wikipedia perusal. I was researching different types of Japanese green teas, and this kind really caught my fancy; mainly for the description of having "citrus, grass, and berry notes". What I didn't realize was how exceptionally rare it was. This unrefined sencha could only be found by a few top-of-the-line distributors.

Luckily, one of the review samples I had - a couple of years back - was a tamaryokucha from TeaGschwendner. However, it was the pan-fried variety - very good, mildly berry-ish, but not perfect. What I really wanted to hunt down was the steamed variety. Of the many online distributors out there, only one advertised having a tamaryokucha that was steamed, first flush, and imported from a privately-owned tea farm. At the time, alas, it was out of my budget. As tea luck would have it, though, it came up in review circulation.

Mellow Monk's Top Leaf™ is exactly what I've been looking for. On their site they give detailed explanations of how great care is taken in tea cultivation. All of their teas are guricha-style (tamaryokucha) green teas. All come direct from a private farm in the Aso region of Japan. And, of course, my favorite description...all of their leaves are steamed, not pan-fried. One of my biggest complaints of most Japanese green teas is the pan-fried taste.

The appearance of these sampled leaves was majestic. They were vibrant and (boldly!) dark green. To the nose, the batch met the Wiki description perfectly; hints of mandarin oranges, a freshly-mowed lawn, and a grape-like aura. Not muscatel, however, more like Riesling.

Brewing instructions on the Mellow Monk page were favorably detailed. They recommended 1 heaping teaspoon per 8oz cup of 167F (75C) water for three minutes. The added minute was a surprise to me. Most of the time, folks recommend only two minutes for high quality Japanese greens. I went with two minutes, thirty seconds instead.

The liquor brewed bright green, the way I've seen refined sencha infuse. The aroma was fresh, grassy, but with a dash of mint and citrus. On the flavor front, there is no gentle way to put it other than it made my fingers curl as I typed this. It was perfect. Absolutely perfect. This is what every green tea aspires to be. It was silky, fruity, slightly sweet, and with a bit of a buttery sensation on aftertaste. Floored? Nay. I was flattened. It even surpassed good matcha.

Mellow Monk also noted that this could be infused two more times, but recommended not doing so for more than a minute each. The water I used had cooled to 145F, so I risked another full two-minute-thirty infusion. After that time, it brewed to a foggy, matcha-like green. It retained a grassy nose and its fresh fruit taste. While a crisper, lighter brew, it still lived up to its perfect first.

— 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: Geoff Geoff Reviewer
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2 Responses to “Review: Mellow Monk Top Leaf Green Tea”

  1. Ananna Says:

    I read this review and bought some Top Leaf at Mellow Monk. I am monked out by the mellow green of this tea, scrumptious. Keep writing your reviews and I’ll keep drinking.

  2. Geoff Says:

    Excellent! Glad you found it useful. 🙂

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