In a happy coincidence, this is my 200th tasting note! Whoo, I got here so fast! I think it’s quite fitting for this to be my 200th note, since it’s a very special tea. I didn’t even plan it this way but I really wanted something I loved for 200, and here we are, with my new tea crush.
I’m not exactly a matcha virgin, but this is my first order from Red Leaf Tea. I’ve never actually had flavored matcha, but I use it to cook a lot (green tea mochi cake with red bean swirl is food of the gods!) and make lattes with it. However, my usual matcha is only an okay grade and is a bit bitter—I don’t have money for a really nice grade, sadly. So Red Leaf to the rescue! They have amazing flavors for low prices, and lots of upgrade options. I was waiting for the right time to order my first one, and then like magic a flavor I had my eye on was 50% off! So for my first order I got the caramel matcha, which you can find here:
I went with the minimal options, my matcha has the following:
no accessories or storage options since I have tins at home!
You know, I was a bit worried about getting the delicate flavoring option. I’ve seen a lot of reviews that prefer distinctive or robust, so maybe the delicate would be, well, too delicate? I wanted a strong caramel flavor but still a distinct matcha taste, but I also wanted to know the “base line” for their flavoring for when I place my inevitable second (and third and fourth and fifth…) order. But when I snipped open the bag, I was hit with a huge whiff of the most delicious smell. Caramel, pure caramel! And not from a bag of candy caramel, fresh off the stove hot creamy caramel. I do a lot of candy making and this reminds me so strongly of that. I wonder what distinctive and robust smell like?! I might get a stronger flavor when I order the cheesecake, just so the smell will knock me out. Okay, seriously, I keep sniffing the bag. Ahh, that flavor is so good! I think I’m tea high.
Continuing the theme of “I’m nervous about matcha” I was nervous about preparing it! Thankfully Red Leaf Tea gives you this really hands little pamphlet with instructions on how to properly prepare it. So I sifted about 1 teaspoon of matcha into a mug (not a bowl, I know, I’m a bad matcha maker! but it was a really cute mug so it’s okay), then boiled my water and let it cool to 180. I made matcha once with boiling water, it was absolutely disgusting. Bitter and gross and… urgh, not good. So 180 it is! I almost did lower but the pamphlet said 180, so I guess it’s not as delicate as it looks.
Then I added 2 oz of hot water (yes, I measured exactly, I was a bit anal since this was my first time with the brand and I did NOT want to mess it up!) and whisked furiously. It got so frothy! I don’t have one of those fancy bamboo whisks so I just used my normal metal one and it worked out perfectly fine, no clumping or chunks left in the bottom. I also made sure to sift it REALLY well which as it turns out is quite important. I actually didn’t now about this step before and my previous matcha attempts have ended in big bitter clumps at the bottom. This way, though, no delicious flavor is wasted! I tried it at this stage and it was REALLY strong, too strong for me—I’m not brave enough to drink “straight” matcha like that yet so I added a pinch of sugar and filled my tiny mug up with some cold milk. I whisked some more, and voila, matcha latte! Well, kind of a bootleg matcha latte, but it works for me.
Oh. My. God. This stuff is AMAZING! Heaven, tea heaven. I felt like I was in nirvana at the first sip, it was so creamy and sweet and grassy and pure pure caramel. I can’t believe I went this long without ordering any before! It’s amazing how well the flavors balance, the caramel and matcha blend together to perfection. It’s sweet but not too sweet, creamy but not overly creamy, deliciously fresh from the matcha. I know I only got the basic grade but the quality is just so high! It’s better than any restaurant or coffee shop/tea shop matcha latte I’ve ever had, and it took almost no effort! So fast, so easy, I can never go back to pre-made. But given the prices, it’s not hard for me to make one myself every day!
I’m so excited to try some of their other flavors (or uhh all, I want them all!), but for now me and this caramel matcha are going to run away together to a cabin in the countryside. Seriously, I want to marry this stuff. It is SO good! Here’s the link again, I can’t recommend this enough! http://www.redleaftea.com/matcha-tea/caramel-matcha.html