688 Tasting Notes
The aroma of this matcha is unbelievable. I am not a huge fan of matcha plain – I tend to doctor it up with my grapefruit agave or some honey. It’s not necessarily the sweetness I’m after, but the flavouring. So, when Red Leaf Tea’s Caramel Matcha was promoted endlessly on Steepster (you guys are the worst influences!) I couldn’t resist. With true teas, I started with flavoured and came to love the pure teas – it seems my matcha journey is destined to follow the same lines. If you too would like to enjoy some primo caramel matcha, see here: http://www.redleaftea.com/matcha-tea/caramel-matcha.html.
I sifted two scoops of the amazingly authentic smelling caramel matcha into my chawan and added some 80 degree water. The matcha is a bit more brown than others I have seen, I’m guessing this is from the added flavouring. My whisking leaves something to be desired, but I did manage to make some serious foam. I’m not sure how much water I added, but I tend to make my matcha a bit thin for my own preferences.
The aroma now reminds me of baked goods, which is unexpected. I am thinking some sort of cookie, but no cookie comes to mind that has caramel. There is an aroma underneath that which I associate with coconut and vanilla, but it isn’t dominant so I don’t mind. If it’s possible, the smell is very rich and warm, I continue to have associates with baking.
First sips are a big shock. I get an immediate sweetness and flavour – but not of caramel. Nope, this tastes exactly like cotton candy to me. What?! I’m going to go ahead and guess that I’ve somehow got the parameters wrong on this somewhere along the line – not enough matcha, too much water, too low temp, who knows. I don’t get any grassiness or bitterness, I seem to have completely drowned out the matcha with my robust flavouring. In fact, I would consider adding a bit of my unflavoured matcha to this if I wanted to tone down the sweet, delicious flavouring. Sometimes. On a side note, this gets the kitty seal of approval – while I didn’t let her drink the matcha, she gave it a serious sniff.
While I definitely need to work on my process to get this back to the caramel I expect from the aroma, this is the best bowl of matcha I’ve ever had. Now, that is admittedly a small number but this is just good stuff. For those of you that were afraid to try flavoured matcha because you didn’t know if you’d like it, I suggest you jump in. With this stuff. (Found here: http://www.redleaftea.com/matcha-tea/caramel-matcha.html). It may seem daunting, but really it’s just delicious! In the meantime, I’ll keep enjoying my caramel candy matcha. Oh man.
As an afterthought for my Canadian friends, the shipping on this was really quite quick. It was 8 business days from the order to my receiving it, and I live in an outlying province (Nova Scotia). There was a holiday in there, but it was still less than two weeks which is relatively unheard of in terms of shipping times. I think I paid around $3 for the shipping as well, so it’s certainly affordable.
Tried this one again today with the rest of my sample. This time it was approximately two full teaspoons of tea and 1/3 teaspoon of sugar to cut the bitterness I tasted last time. I get more depth of flavour this way, but it is unfortunately too sweet for me now. I accidentally put a bit more sugar than I meant to, so it’s my own darn fault, but I’m annoyed nonetheless.
On a different note, I received two surprise samples from Della Terra Teas today in a completely new packaging – the new bags are a thick black plastic with absolutely no smell contamination whatsoever! Big thumbs up for improved packaging – it is more plastic, but keeping tea seperate is essential. One of a pumpkin tea which will be drank by the beau (I’m a rare pumpkin hater) but the other has maple in it which I’m excited to try. Thanks Della Terra!
Finished up this one today. Steeped approximately 3 minutes at 80 degrees (because I remembered there is green tea!) it was quite nice. This is one of those ones that I enjoy, but get annoyed about because DT recommends boiling water on the label, but that makes it bitter and gross because of the green. It is lightly fruity and flowery, with decent black and green teas behind it. If I ever get my tea stash pared down to 1/4 of it’s size, I would consider keeping this as permanent stock. There is nothing else in my collection that is similar. Glad to have a sipdown though!
This is my third sample from The Tea Merchant, one of the two I selected for myself – Thank you TTM! The aroma of this one after opening the bag was powerfully blueberry. I was sold by the scent right away. Underneath the blueberry there is a hint of white tea – crisp and fresh but a supporting aroma. Steeped approximately 3 minutes, I have a surprisingly bold yellow liquor which maintains strong berry aroma, but the white tea is in competition. The steeped aroma isn’t blueberry, per se, but it does remind me of them. Sort of like a (mild) blueberry candle or candy.
The leaves on this one were broken up a bit more than I would like to see (much like the darjeeling) but it doesn’t seem to be enough that I think it would impact the taste. The leaves are still at least 1/2 an inch to an inch long but they have clearly been broken. This could be due to shipping or it could have started that way, I’m not sure.
The taste of this one is impresssively bold. The pomegranate/blueberry flavour hits you right off the bat and then subtly transforms into the white tea. There is a bit of sweet hay at the end which is supported by the berry flavours which don’t ever fully disappear. I am impressed at the strength of flavour in this one, I tend to find whites a bit of a let-down. This is what I want from David’s Tea’s White Tiger. As the cup cools I lose a bit of the berry, I think it is best drank quickly but that’s okay. I feel that way about whites and greens in general, before the tea has time to take over the flavouring. This one is very impressing, I must say!
Wow, that’s some vanilla! I received this sample from The Tea Merchant and am steeping it up while at switchboard. Thanks to The Tea Merchant! The dry aroma is in your face vanilla, it reminds me of vanilla pudding in a way. THere is something hiding behind the vanilla that I can’t quite place. Steeped for three minutes, the liquor is a pale yellow and the immediate aroma is of corn. Wait, what? Yep, corn and vanilla. I gotta say, this makes me worry. I don’t like green tea or really green oolongs. We’ll see!
The flavour isn’t as aggressive (yay!) but I do get a bit of that corn I was smelling, and then it’s a smooth vanilla right after that. I enjoy vanilla, but I’m very specific about it. This is yummy, but getting dangerously close to too much vanilla (when it starts reminding me of coconut, which I loathe). I also am getting a weird hint of mint which I want to blame on my mug, but I haven’t had mint in it in ages. Very strange.
As I progress through the cup (and it cools) the flavours are coming together more and a hint of the oolong is peeking through. It’s a bit green for my preferences, BUT it works. Very light and refreshing though there is a creamy aspect from the vanilla. I think the beau might really like this one, I’ll have to get him to try it. Overall, this is a yummy tea but a bit overdone on the vanilla. I might like to see a bit more oolong in the taste OR change the name to Vanilla Explosion or something, hah! : )
This tea tricked and impressed me. I received it yesterday as one of four free samples from The Tea Merchant – thank you! It came wrapped up in brown tissue paper with a golden wax seal. LOVED that. I steeped up a cuppa this darjeeling this afternoon and must admit it’s my first darjeeling. While I love black teas, I have not experienced a darjeeling yet so I didn’t know what I was in for. The aroma was a bit musty and reminded me of barns and animals – not in a negative way, but in a hay-ish sort of way. No poo smell, I swear.
Steeped for three minutes, I have a surprisingly light orangeish liquor which shares the aroma of the dry leaf, but more refined somehow. It’s like the dry aroma was a fuzzy picture and the steeped liquor is it’s sharper cousin. The taste is impressive – again, it’s clearly a black tea but really good quality. It’s smooth and has a hint of astringency underneath the tea. I find it hard to describe, other than black tea. My words are failing me today.. EDIT: After reading other reviews, malty totally fits what I am getting here. It’s very malty – I don’t know what muscatel means, really, so I can’t speak to that but it reminds me of rich beer, almost.
I must say that I thought the leaves were a bit small for a pure tea and I expected that to translate into more bitterness, but it doesn’t seem to have. I expected fuller leaf, but this doesn’t suffer for the breakage that is there. Solid black tea – not my favourite, but certainly would make a good standard black in the cupboard.
This is another sample I received from Della Terra Teas after winning their Facebook giveaway – Thank you to Della Terra Teas! See my note for Caramel Cappuccino Crunch for info on shipping (if interested.) This tisane suffered a lot from the smell contamination, but I think it’s mostly back to normal now. I must say I don’t smell strawberries or kiwi but instead some vague indeterminate berry aroma. I get a hint of cinnamon (which is weird!) and I can smell the hibiscus in the dry leaf. Steeped for approximately 5 minutes, the liquor is a vibrant red/pink from the hibiscus and the aroma still has that hint of something I can’t place.
First sips are surprising. I don’t know if this needed more leaf or more time, but the flavour is very mild and unassuming. What flavour I get is lightly sweet (hibiscus is not nearly as present as I had feared). Again, I don’t get strawberry or kiwi. Just something vaguely fruity – and that strange note I couldn’t place from the aroma is still there in the taste. I am thinking it might be lingering smell contamination from the chocolate puerh, as there is nothing in the ingredient list to suggest this flavour.
Unfortunately, this is another one that I am glad to have sampled but would not keep in my cupboard. Strawberries are my favourite berry and I am continually looking out for a tea that can accurately replicate their flavour. This one doesn’t even come close so it’s a bit of a letdown. I think this might stand a better rating under a different name (berry melange or something like that). Expecting strawberries and/or kiwi just leaves me a bit disappointed. Sorry!
EDIT: After reading Sil’s tasting note, I’m thinking I might cold brew the other half of my sample and see if that has a better flavour. It can make a huge difference in the taste of fruity teas, so I’ll try to get to that. : )
I received this and a Strawberry Kiwi Fusion sample from Della Terra Teas on Friday after winning their Facebook giveaway recently. Amazingly, the tea arrived in Nova Scotia only a week after they sent it, which is a Canada Post miracle. Unfortunately there was some serious smell contamination from a bonus sample of Chocolate Chai Puerh they threw in, so I left the three teas to air out over the weekend. All that aside, Thank you to Della Terra teas for the samples! Winning things is always exciting!
I wanted a cup of hot chocolate today as it is sub-Arctic at work, but I couldn’t find any anywhere. Drat! So, I turned to this one as a good substitute, with less calories. Win! I gave it about 8 minutes to steep, which yielded a dark amber liquor, with the aroma of a rooibos based cappuccino. It does smell like cappuccino (coffee, sweet, cream) but the rooibos aroma is very present too. There is a bit of a bitter note at the end that is more reminiscent of coffee, but I’m hoping that isn’t included in the flavour (I hate coffee but tend to enjoy sweet frou frou cappuccinos the odd time I get them).
The first sips are a bit thin and a bit bitter. Not bitter in the way that tea can be, but more a hint of roasted coffee. I am a little surprised at the flavour, though I don’t know why because it tasted like it smells. Maybe I somehow anticipated the taste of a cappuccino, which would be hard to do without adding all the fat and sugar! :) I wish this had a touch more caramel flavour as that is the real selling point for me. There were a couple little squares in there which I can’t seem to find now so I assume they melted in? Either that or they disappeared!
Cumulatively, I enjoyed this, but it didn’t present the depth of flavour I was hoping for. Maybe if I doubled up on ‘leaf’ it would be a different story, but I’m worried about emphasising the dark bitter note too much. I’m such a wuss. Anyway, brilliant in theory but not quite for me in practice. Thanks again, Della Terra Teas!
So, I gave in and splurged on matcha. We got 50 grams of this at Davids, and also picked up their matcha starter set so we have an adorable bowl and whisk. I am not a green tea fan so I was very hesitant, but wanted to know if I like matcha before committing to a Red Leaf Tea order for flavoured matcha, which I am strongly considering. The dry smell of this is very green, but not offensive. I was pleasantly surprised that though it didn’t smell appealing, it wasn’t off-putting. Once I sifted it, added some water and started mixing the smell took on stronger vegetal tones, and a hint of seaweedy earthiness. That was less appealing, but still worth giving it a shot. We did a thinner matcha to avoid and strong bitterness and it was actually pretty decent on it’s own. The beau and I agreed we preferred some sweetening, so we added one of my new grapefruit agave sticks. With that, it was perfect. The slight grapefruit taste masked the vegetal nature of the green tea and added enough sweetness to cut the bitterness but also left the matcha flavour very present. I would call this a matcha success – though I would prefer flavoured matchas to plain. The beau likes it quite a bit and is very excited. I was very impressed at how easy it was to whisk, though that was partially due to the sifting, I assume. I had no clumps and it stayed integrated very well. We only did about 1/3 of the bowl to share between us, but this isn’t the sort of thing I would like to have a lot of at once, I get the impression it has the potential to give me an upset tummy.
This one surprised me. I had been wanting to try it (Hello – kiwi?!?!) but was hesitant as it’s a green tea. We grabbed it to go as the iced tea of the day yesterday and I must say it was good. It was quite weak, which was only hampered by the additional ice they added (anyone else notice how little tea volume you get with the TotD?) but I really enjoyed it. The green tea was not present at all, but there was the taste of something definitely kiwi. Worth playing around with to try to increase the strength but I managed to resist the urge. For now. : )