Hey, friends!! Recently, Nio Teas reached out to me and asked if I'd be willing to try a few of their teas in exchange for reviews, which I happily agreed to. They sent me their gyokuro cha musume, their sencha Shizuoka Yamaga no Sato, and the most interesting of the bunch: Nadeshiko rose green tea.
Nadeshiko is unique in that it's a fermented tea, hailing from Uji, Japan. You all know I'm a fan of fermented and funky teas, so my interest was immediately piqued. Japanese fermented teas are fairly rare, as Japanese tea is primarily green tea, so when I saw they offered this, I had to try it. They had mentioned it was similar to a puerh, but also completely different- again, something that sounded fascinating.
Nadeshiko rose is produced through Koji fermentation, the same method to create miso, sake, and soy sauce. According to Nio Teas, "the tea is also known as the "rosé of tea" because of its pink color and the slightly acidic, strawberry tasting notes."
So, a fermented, rosé-like tea that could be puerh-like, with notes of strawberry? Sign me up! Without further ado, let's get into this review.
150ml water in a 175ml glass teapot
Dry leaves: The dry leaves look eerily similar to a shou puerh, with those classic darker and grayer colors to them. There are also some stems in the material, making it look almost like a fermented hojicha. As far as aromas go, I'm getting some strong toasted notes, reminiscent of a slight nuttiness, a slight sourness to it with a slight "fermented funk" aroma that can only be described as slightly tangy and pungent, but in a good way. There's also a nice, deep earthiness to it, smelling at times like a nice shou puerh.
Warmed leaves: When put into the glass teapot, I am immediately hit with a strong yeast aroma, reminiscent of a sourdough bread dough or a rising pizza dough-that strong, yeasty aroma. It's also honestly French-cheese-like, with a sort-of enticing pungency that can only be described as similar to a nice, tasty cheese? However, this quickly dissipates into a warm, cooked honey aroma with a deep sweetness, somewhat like a nice dried apricot or plum. There's also a floral depth to it, sort of marigold-like in nature. It's definitely an interesting combo of smells and makes me excited to taste the first steep.
1st steep 1min: Per their recommendations, I brewed this for 1 minute. The color is quite enticing, being a nice, deep, reddish-brown. It is slightly cloudy in the teapot, but when poured, it results in a velvety thick mouthfeel with a nice, deep red color. As far as flavors go, I notice a mild drying astringency on the roof of my mouth. The flavor tastes like a roasted hojicha, and the taste is better than the smell. Flavors I'm noticing here are a strong, dark chocolate flavor followed by honey, strawberry, raisins, dates, and spices(like aniseed or cinnamon, almost). It's a complex tea with delicious, spice-y and fruity nuances to it.
2nd steep 20s: For subsequent steeps, Nio Teas recommends 20 second steeps. Interestingly enough, this steep was a bit darker despite being only 20 seconds, and was also more berry and citric forward.
3rd steep 20s: This steep is very honey-forward. The spice and citric notes are a bit muddled, but still present. The largest noticeable flavor is definitely honey and a bit of earthiness, like a shou puerh in a way.
4th steep 20s: The tea could possibly go a bit more, but I believe it has started to die out here. This steep is reminiscent of honeyed dates, reminding me of ochazuke but with sweetened liquid. It's toasty, nutty, and sweet- definitely a lovely treat.
Interestingly enough, as the steeps cooled, it tasted incredibly creamy and like strawberries- almost like a chocolate strawberry or strawberry milk. Like, no joke, the mouthfeel texturally was thicker and more creamy, and the strawberry and fruity citric notes were more pronounced. If you buy this, I would definitely recommend setting aside a cup or two to compare to the freshly steeped tea, just to notice this difference. It's wild and fun to experience.
The spent leaves (shown above) really show the tea- it is a fermented green tea and this helps you realize that what you are drinking is a truly unique green. These spent leaves smell slightly tangy, with a nice chocolate undertone, complemented with a sort-of toasted hojicha-Ness. There's also a strong strawberry fruit leather smell, and a slightly milky/creamy fermented tasty funk aroma. It's truly difficult to describe, but this is one of the most unique and exciting teas I have tried in recent years.
Final Thoughts and Discount:
This is truly one of the most unique teas I have ever tried. It's fruity, earthy, creamy, tangy, and sweet- it's truly packed with ever evolving flavors. It would be fascinating to revisit this tea in a few months or years and see if it ages, like other fermented teas, or if it has a sort-of prime time for drinking.
Overall, I would recommend this to people who like being adventurous in their teacup. It is unique and unlike any other tea I have ever experienced- I had initially expected something similar to goishicha (another fermented Japanese tea) but this was completely different.
For the price, $44.00 per 100g, or about $0.44 cents a gram, this is a unique and fun tea to experience. I have never seen something offered of a similar nature, as this is completely different from other fermented Japanese teas. Fermented Japanese teas are rarities in themselves, and Nio Teas found a real gem with this one. If anything, I would suggest trying it for that novelty alone- it's unique, tasty, and a fun experience for even the most experienced of tea drinkers. If you would like to try this, or any other tea from Nio Teas, I was given a special discount code to share with my followers: use the code "TEAWITHNELDON15" on any order for a discount.
Happy steeping, friends!