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mellow monk top leaf green tea

February 3, 2010

Mellow Monk is a company based in Livermore, California and is owned by Paul Kotta, who is dedicated to introducing green tea lovers to “the wonderful single-estate teas made the old-fashioned way on honest-to-goodness family farms in Japan”. Mellow Monk acquires its teas from small Japanese tea estates who produce their teas with an eco-friendly philosophy. Their Top Leaf tea is a “top-of-the-line Honcha” (a type of Sencha). This tea is made by Japanese “grower-artisans” by harvesting the topmost layer of the young tea leaves.

From the package:

“This tea was grown in the mineral-rich volcanic soil of the Mt. Aso foothills, bathed in clean air and nourished with organic fertilizers. Our grower-artisans picked the choicest leaves and carefully crafted them into this exquisite tea. You will taste the tradition in every tantalizing sip.”

The dry leaf is dark green and very fresh. The leaves are very small, curled and twisted, and much smaller than Sencha or Bancha. The aroma is deeply vegetal and grassy, but rich, earthy and sweet, with a tiny oceanic note.

The tea is a color I can only describe as extreme yellow with a tinge of green. The aroma is clean, reminiscent of steamed asparagus or brussels sprouts. There is a buttery scent coming through, which reminds me a little of creamed spinach, or bitter greens sauteed in butter.

The tea has great body and the flavor is soothing and silky smooth. All the typical green tea flavors are there, but there is an outstanding balance and harmony to the flavors. . .  It’s brothy, like a comforting winter soup with a lightly creamy, buttery, sweet finish. Top Leaf has a crisp seaside essence that teases the tastebuds and an earthy undertone pulls it all together. A meditative, soothing liquor, worthy of daily ritual.

This tea is wonderfully composed and produced with environmentally sound practices. This is a fresh, truly artisan product with lots of complexity and an amazing flavor. Mellow? Yes. But exciting too.

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