1610 Tasting Notes
This is a very traditional chai in terms of taste and character with cinnamon and cardamom being the primary notes. It never goes over the line of being too spicy, instead it’s a nice, soothing drink with a bit of a bite – just enough to warm me up on a cold winter morning.
I’ve had this random single-serving packet of matcha that I got in some trade or other kicking around in my cupboard for awhile. I eventually figured out, based on the pictures, that this came from Rishi so I followed their hot matcha preparation recipe on their website which called for using 4-5 oz of 75°C water per packet of tea.
Let me say right away that this makes for a very concentrated cup of matcha. It was so bitter and grassy that I added a bunch of water after the fact. So in the end it was probably more like 6+ oz of water. Even with the extra water the tea in my bowl still looked murky and thick – I did manage to get it to froth up nicely even with my dinky little metal wisk, which thrilled me. But it kept its harsh, grassy flavour which made drinking it feel more like eating broccoli or something else that you know is ‘good for you’ but that you’re not really thrilled to be eating. Despite all my wisking it also left quite a lot of gritty residue at the bottom of the bowl which made the last few sips kind of nasty.
I find I’m not really impressed with Rishi’s take on this classic Japanese tea – I’ve cerainly had much better plain matcha prepared for me when I was in Vancouver. This matcha is better off used to make lattes or mixed into smoothies, in my opinion, rather than prepared the traditional way.
You know? It’s been awhile and I have to say that I don’t like this tea as much as when I first tried it. The flavouring tastes a bit harsh and artifical, even with judicious amounts of milk and agave nectar. It not horrible – but now I can’t help thinking “I’ve had better” as I sip it.
The first thing I noticed was that the dry leaves smelled like a bag of fresh peat moss – earthy and tannic – which as a gardener isn’t something I find unpleasent. I gave the leaves the standard 30 second rinse to hopefully get rid of any dust or debris and then I brewed it for three mins – the lower end of Adagio’s steeping reccs but I know how dark pu’erhs brew up so I wasn’t worried that it would turn out weak. Unfortunately the brewing tea took on less of a peaty scent and more of fishy scent, which didn’t exactly thrill me.
Thankfully it didn’t taste like fish but it was very earthy, almost like a mouthful of dirt. At first I couldn’t decide whether to gag or enjoy it but as I drank more I found that the flavour became smoother and less jarring to my tastebuds.
I’m still not entirely sure if I like pu’erh or not – it definiatly falls in the category of being an aquired taste but it’s interesting and I enjoy having variety in my teas.
I’ve been eyeing this tea with some degree of trepidation since I got in a trade. Anyone who knows me knows I hate hibiscus, but when everyone started raving about RoT’s hibiscus-based flavoured teas I was curious enough to give it a shot – benefit of the doubt and all that.
The tea of course turned the usual bright red colour when I poured the water into my mug. Initally the steeping tea smelled like pineapple but after it had a few minutes in the water it started to smell more like lychee.
The tea itself…wasn’t half-bad, somewhat to my surprise. Yes, the hibiscus is readily apparent but it’s not as horribly tart as it could have been. It’s paired with a slight sweetness and the fruity flavours of pineapple and lychee are both easy to pick out and they distract my tongue from the evil red stuff. :D
I’m glad I cut back the steeping time a bit because I like this cup better than the last one. It’s still grassy in flavour but not as overwhelmingly as it was before and the sourness isn’t as pronounced either. The sweetness is a bit clearer, and I actually can taste a bit of fruitiness that could be interpreted as the plum flavour people talk about with this type of tea.
I had another go at the whole matcha-making thing. This time I used less water – 6 oz as oppose to 8 oz (it amounts to about 3/4 of a cup) along with 1/4 tsp of matcha. The result is less watery than before although I’m still not getting that frothy matcha texture I’m used to seeing with ‘real’ matcha tea. Maybe this particular kind just isn’t suited to that sort of thing or (more likely) I’m just doing it wrong – oh well.
I’m finding that the tea tastes mostly like plain matcha – clean and grassy with that faint trace of bitterness, the strawberry manages to sneak onto the end but it’s not as strong as the (wonderful) odor of the tea suggests that it should be.
One thing I’ve noticed with making matcha in an ordinary bowl like I’m doing is that it cools off very quickly. I’m surprised the Japanese monks had time to meditate over anything while they were busy chugging their tea before it got cold! XD