Probably the most common Japanese bottled Green tea in the West is Itoen’s Oi Ocha. Their distribution is easily the most robust in the States, and their sister product Tea’s Tea (which you can find organically produced), was designed to be sold here. I drink Oi Ocha a lot and it’s always satisfying (but the health conscious among you may want to steer clear as it’s definitely not organic, although they swear up and down it’s “healthy” and “safe” ^^). So when i spotted it being sold in loose leaf form at a nearby Japanese market (with the highly amusing Hayashiya Shizuru character-sounding name “Oi Ocha Wakame Wakakuki-iri”), I decided to check it out. After all, the bottled variety is produced in a very different way than one would ordinarily brew tea.
The most striking thing about Oi Ocha with Wakame Wakakuki おーいお茶：若芽若茎入り(“HEY! Green tea with young buds and stems. Wow, so Japanese.) is easily the makeup of the loose leaf. Incorporating unroasted stems definitely makes for a beautiful and unique product.
As spotted on fellow tea blogger‘s site, “This ad for Itoen again portrays a young woman standing in lush tea fields. “Ooo—-i!” she calls, completely at peace with nature. “Jika no chaen”, the lettering reads. “Your own tea garden.” If only real plantatins [sic] were this idyllic…”
In aroma, Oi Ocha with Wakame Wakakuki is just fabulous. An enticing deep lush chlorophyll that inspires the image of a bamboo grove in a monsoon. The loose leaf actually has its own sweeter aroma, and the spent tea has a deeper, rounder Green scent. Just in case I wasn’t 100% sure, the purity of scent is telling–Oi Ocha W3 is far from being organic. In flavor, Oi Ocha W3 is quite a bit harsher with a strong gyokuro palate. It’s liquor, a brown-tinged pea green does look a great deal like the bottled variety. In texture, Oi Ocha W3 is very grassy and woody, similar but subtly distinguishable from a Kukicha. Nice!
As such things Oi Ocha W3 cannot be purchased from Itoen’s site. *rolls eyes* They’d much rather sell you monstrously expensive rare teas instead. Though i did find it very reasonably priced elsewhere online with no trouble. However, I do want to hand it to Itoen for their environmental commitment. Some of things they recycle tea into are frankly a little crazy. ;) As with most Japanese tea companies, it’s not organic, but they do everything else you could ask them to (they even have a Haiku contest). In fact despite its size (headquartered in Shibuya no less 0.0;;), Itoen is probably one of the most environmentally sustainable tea companies in Japan! Which raises the question, why aren’t all their products organic?
- Aroma – 93
- Taste – 93
- Texture – 94
- Spunk – 94
- Rarity – 95
- Availability – 91
- Appearance – 96
- Organic/Fair trade – 89
Mean score – 93% Acceptable, with the cavet that if you look hard enough, you can find organic Japanese Green tea, even from within the same company… *sigh*
And this photo isn’t at all disturbing… >.>
I was able to locate my crappier macro lens! The good one is still buried for now.