98 Tasting Notes
I did not participate in the matcha madness taste test, but I read lots of results, so don’t read on if you’re still trying not to be spoiled.
Between their name your price opportunity, and their blind matcha taste test, Red Leaf has been successful in making me their customer. After everyone’s thorough taste test reviews, I had to give their Deluxe Matcha a try. It has been on sale for a while now, at $20 a pound! I’d love to take advantage of that deal but, I worry that I just won’t drink that much matcha before it starts to go stale. (Or maybe I would, but who knows, I like to have variety in my my matcha). So far, the package sizing is my one complaint; I wish there was a medium size (say 40g or 3oz) The sample size can’t be resealed and the full pound bag is too much for me at the moment.
Other than that, this is a fantastic matcha, especially for the price. I have been drinking it iced, without milk. It is smooth, vibrant, fragrant. I haven’t had any problems mixing it together or frothing it up. This is the first matcha I’ve had in recent memory that tastes so specifically different from other matchas, rather than varying tones of green grass flavors (though Red Leaf’s Emperor Matcha is out of this world and distinct in a different, more delicate way).
This matcha is stunningly floral, almost as if it were a jasmine-flavored matcha. It is sweet in a natural-tasting way and gently vegetal, with no bitterness or savory/seaweed flavors. The mouthfeel is full and present, even made with water it does not feel thin or plain. If you have ever been skeptical of matcha or want to like it but have always ended up with something too sour or bitter, I highly encourage you to try this one. The smell and taste is like a spring day, not too girly or perfumey, but amazingly fresh and delicious. A powerful iced tea for this summer season and an amazing all-around matcha.
Flavors: Floral, Flowers, Grass, Green, Honey, Jasmine, Vegetal
Thank you Red Leaf for giving me a chance to name my own price and try an amazing matcha. Due to my matcha novice nature and the price of high quality matchas, I have only tried some of the more “smoothie grade” level of matchas. This was a stunning departure from those teas. First, right out of the pouch, I noticed the Emperor’s Matcha was much finer, smoother, velvety in texture than other matchas I had tried. It was also a much richer color. I used my usual proportions of tea and water, knowing it might be too strong, but though I would try it anyway. I drank this hot after being whisked in a bowl. It frothed up nicely and despite my lack of sifter, it blended in generally smoothly. The flavor of this tea is the usual distinctly vegetal matcha green flavors; this was not too overpowering nor was it sour or bitter. The matchas I had been trying lately were too sweet with flavoring, or just sort of generally green in flavor, sort of forward and vegetable-sour. Emperor’s Matcha was exceedingly smooth in look, feel, and taste. This isn’t “creamy” in a dessert way, but it is gently, naturally sweet and mellow, sort of like vanilla grass in the best way possible. No need for milk or sweetener, this is my new favorite pure matcha. Certainly an inspiration. Thanks again Red Leaf Tea!
Flavors: Creamy, Grass, Green, Smooth, Vanilla, Vegetal
I got this tea as a free sample from a Davids Tea order, which is great, because I would never order it on my own. The dry leaf and hot tea smell strongly of sweet lime, very much like lime yogurt or key lime pie. Drinking it without sugar or milk gives more focus to the tart lime flavors, rather than the creaminess, though it it very sweet on its own. I don’t taste much of the sencha or the vegetal grassiness would I expect. Sweet lime and a touch of cream. I bet it’s great iced or as an iced popsicle. Not my style of tea, but fun to get a taste.
Flavors: Citrus, Cream, Frosting, Lime, Sweet, Yogurt
This matcha is a sellout on the Davids Tea store, the only way you can get it right now is through a sampler pack; so lots of people must be liking it! I tried this both cold with water and cold as an almond milk late. Mixing this cold with just water, was okay; it was sweet green matcha with a hint of vanilla, which did help mellow the grassier parts of the flavor. But made with water, this tea is lacking something, some kind of body or flavor or something. I don’t know that almond milk is the key, though. I also made this as a cold late with vanilla almond milk. In that method, it was hardly green and very mild in taste, the vanilla milk taking most of the flavor. Overall this tea is good, it’s sweet, it’s vanilla, it’s smooth. But it’s sort of just barely matcha. I’ve tried all the teas in the matcha mix pack at Davids and liked the mint the best, as it made the most sense as a partner for the green tea flavor. The mocha matcha was odd and my least favorite of the bunch. So this vanilla matcha is okay, all things considered. If you’re looking for an economical dessert matcha, this is probably a great deal. I think I am going to do some more exploring on non-flavored matchas and see how that goes.
Flavors: Cream, Sugar, Sweet, Vanilla
I tried this tea with cold water, mixed in a bowl with a whisk. This is pre-sweetened and was plenty flavorful without sugar or milk. This was minty, creamy, and green like a sweet smoothie version of Moroccan mint tea. I’m of the opinion that green tea and mint have a long, successful relationship together and are a great iced tea choice on a hot day. I tried this tea from the sampler set from Davids Tea, and the pouches are a little problematic. The amount of tea in each pouch is meant for their 16oz matcha shaker, so there’s a little bit too much tea for mixing in a matcha bowl. I tried compensate by adding a bit more water, but then it’s harder to whisk. Of the flavored matchas I have tried so far, this was a pretty good choice and a logical flavor to combine with the grassy green matcha.
Flavors: Cream, Grass, Green, Mint, Spearmint
This is the first flavored matcha I’ve tried, I got it in a mix pack of matchas from Davids Tea. I was definitely the most skeptical of this flavor, but thought I’d jump right in. I made it in a more traditional way, in a bowl, warm, and whisked. The dry leaf smelled like earthy hot chocolate mix. This didn’t froth as well as the other matcha I made, but I think this might be because I overfilled the bowl a bit. This tea is okay, in this method. It tastes good, but a little odd; sort of like a fruity smoothy that was a bit heavy handed on the undertone of kale. This is warm, sweetened with coconut nectar, and flavored with a coffee/chocolate profile. It is sweet and chocolatey, but the green grass smell and undertone is still present. it’s an accurate mix of matcha and chocolate, but maybe not the way I’d pick to drink it all the time. I bet this would be better suited to a cold late with some almond milk for extra sweetness. Definitely still drinkable and a fun experiment.
Flavors: Chocolate, Cocoa, Coffee, Grass, Green
Today I made my first cup of matcha. I’ve had the lates, iced and hot, and even got a cup from the David’s Tea matcha shaker at their store. But I hadn’t tried it on my own.
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I like the history and tradition of matcha and I like the idea of building my own little ceremony. In my everyday life, I tend to be anxious and impatient, and thought a process with some focus and contemplation could be a nice new part of my tea routine.
After doing some looking around on the internet, I was tempted by the beautiful world of matcha bowls and high quality tools and tea. I even bookmarked a set or two worth a few hundred dollars. But for all the tools and quality, the David’s Tea matcha essentials set really struck me as a good beginner deal. I ordered it up with some matcha matsu and some flavored matcha and thought I’d give it a go.
First impressions of the David’s Tea matcha essentials set were positive: the bowl was cute and well-made, the measuring spoon convenient, and the whisk pretty standard compared to the others I had seen around.
The one problem is the lack of instruction. They give you the temperature of the water on the tea pack, but no water to tea ratio, and while they set includes a whisk, there’s no directions or diagrams on how it might best be used. So out of the box, without the internet, this might be a baffling process.
Luckily I’m a tea nerd and had been looking into matcha tips and tricks beforehand anyway. Of the teas I ordered, tried the matcha matsu hot first. I used the spoon to measure the scoop, and put in as much water as I felt comfortable mixing in the bowl. After a few dabbing figure-eight motions with the whisk to break the tea up and stir it in, I went in for the froth. I mixed vigorously for about 15 to 20 seconds, moving back and forth across the bowl (not in circles, like you would in a mixing bowl).
And I got to say, the tea foamed right up and looked as perfect as the picture on the box!
As to the taste, it started off a little plain, green and warm, but the more time I spent sipping, the deeper the flavor developed. I know there’s a world of high quality matchas out there, so this probably isn’t too remarkable for you experts out there. It was grassy and smooth and gentle.
As I drank the bowl, I sat at my desk and looked out the window, watching the sky and the sun, listening to the birds and the sounds of my neighborhood. Cheesy as it sounds, it was nice to not have anything to do but sit for a while and drink a bowl of matcha.
Flavors: Grass, Plants
Got a free sample of this in my latest order, which was a nice surprise. I’ve been wondering what this tea is all about, but didn’t want to invest in a whole pack. I tried it both hot and iced, and iced is definitely better. The bulk of this tea is honeybush chocolate and huge coconut chips; hot, the coconut is a bit greasy but buttery and rich, while the honeybush takes a bit of a backseat. This tea makes more sense cold, as the low temps go better with the tropical vibe and the honeybush chocolate makes it sweet without sugar. I don’t go for teas with milk and sugar, but I bet this would be an absolute killer late.
Flavors: Butter, Cocoa, Coconut, Cream, Honey, Nutty, Tropical
I tried this from Takeya’s iced tea variety pack. This was definitely one of the better teas in the pack. It is very sweet and fruity, with the citrus lime as a primary flavor. The coconut is also prominent, smooth and creamy. At first taste, this blend the flavors of a sweet, tropical rum cocktail (but with no rum). I admit the flavors are a bit artificial tasting, but they are sweet and bright enough to not taste like medicine, which happens with some artificial flavors. This is a green rooibos base, so the smooth, nutty rooibos is mellow and caffeine free. I wouldn’t drink this tea on a regular basis, and can’t recommend it hot, but as an iced treat it can be really delicious. Drink it without milk or sugar (it’s plenty sweet already) and pour it on ice. Maybe add some rum and serve it out of a coconut for the full effect.
Flavors: Coconut, Lemon, Lime, Sweet, Tropical
A comparison of David’s Tea pure chai and their vanilla chai. I love spiced teas and thought I would compare a couple of samples.
Pure chai: First impressions from the dry leaf and cinnamon smells much stronger and spicier than the vanilla chai. The black tea is bold and full, not bitter nor sour and serves as a well balanced for the heavy cinnamon. There is a buzzy feel on my tongue, maybe it’s the powerful cinnamon or maybe that’s the kiss of the cloves in the mix. Generally a bit one-note, all cinnamon all the time, but it is warming in temperature and flavor and could easily become a go-to comfort tea.
Vanilla chai: in comparison to the sharp cinnamon of the pure chai, this flavor smells more medicinal and sweet. It could be the anise or maybe the herbal vanilla bean that gives it these tones. I’m a fan of licorice, so this isn’t really a problem for me. This chai is significantly sweeter and creamier than pure chai; the vanilla bean is very forward and the touch of anise at the back of each sip plays well with the sweet flavors. This feels more like a dessert than a pick me up, but I’m glad they carry this blend as there are fewer teas with anise than with cinnamon. Definitely a great choice for a creamy reward after a long day.
I steeped both of them on the long side, and drank them without milk or sugar. I know chais are traditionally drank with milk, but due to dietary needs and preference, I didn’t choose to brew them that way.
I was skeptical that these teas would be very different from each other, but they are absolutely distinct in smell and taste and a great choice for any chai tea fanatic!
Flavors: Cinnamon, Cloves, Spices, Spicy, Tannin