1129 Tasting Notes


I’d say I’m a beginner with Matchas. I’ve never made a straight up cup of matcha, but I’ve had matcha pre-mixed with genmaicha teas. One of my favourite sushi joints has “iced green tea” which is matcha iced – excellent and refreshing with sushi! However in stores, I found matcha to be quite expensive. My local tea shops sold basic matchas with no fun flavors a little out of my price range to try a new kind of tea that I’m unsure is good, fresh and packaged right. Best prices I could find was in asian super markets. I’ve often purchased pre-measured matcha mixes or little tubs that stated it was for ice cream and baking. These mixes were still on the expensive side, so I used them sparingly to make smoothies or add to vanilla ice cream. The matcha mixes I disliked because they contained creamers and sweeteners thus calories I could do without. The unsweetened ones I found were often bitter and occasionally tasted like dirty grass.

I saw Red Leaf’s matchas reviewed here at Steepster and became interested – so many different flavors! As a crazy tea drinker with a stash of over 100, I love interesting and fun tea blends, especially ones that have chocolate, exotic fruits, or caramel. Red Leaf has a huge selection – cotton candy, cola, pumpkin pie, and pina colada just to name a few unexpected blends. Personally, I never saw flavored matchas until I discovered Red Leaf’s site. Since discovering Red Leaf’s matcha lineup, I stalked their sales for a few weeks for the right flavor to go onsale for me to try.

Caramel Matcha finally appeared as a daily sale and I bought it without blinking an eye. $7.99! A great price compared to the mixes I got from the asian super market.
Also, Red Leaf lets you choose the quality or grade, red/black/white matcha and flavor (delicate to strong to hidden), which is a super cool feature giving you lots of options and control over your order. I decided to go with the cheapest and basic line up because I’m on a budget:

Caramel Matcha
Size: Small
Matcha Quality: Starter (Basic Grade)
Flavor: Delicate

My order was shipped the same day and I recieved my package 2 days later.

I then realized I have no traditional matcha gear, no bamboo whisk, funky spoons or bowl to prepare my matcha. I could of purchased it along with my order, but I had a tea budget to follow. I figured for now I’ll make do with a tiny wire whisk, measuring spoon and a wide tea cup. There is also an option to order a tin with your matcha order, which is probably a good idea unless you have tins at home. Sadly, I didn’t have the right tin for my matcha, so I placed my matcha in a small glass lock container for now.

My package arrived in a flat envelope, the matcha in a non resealable gold bag. My package also had a pamphlet on their various matchas and how to prepare it. Red Leaf’s website also had steeping instructions listed with each matcha before you add to your cart.


Smell of the matcha powder – Strong grassy green tea smell with a spark of sweetness. From sniffing the matcha bag, I got green dust on the tip of my nose!

First Cup – The Matcha Protein Smoothie
Red Leaf has a collection of matcha recipes to get you started. I followed the recipe on Red Leaf’s website for the Matcha Smoothie with Protein Powder https://www.redleaftea.com/index.php?dispatch=pages.view&page_id=36
I used a frozen banana, fat free plain Silk soy milk, ON 100% soy protein vanilla powder and 2tsp of the Caramel Matcha.

The colour of my smoothie is a milky yet dark matcha green. The caramel in the matcha is smooth and perfect strength that I can imagine it being gooey yummy. The banana adds extra depth and sweetness. I did not find the smoothie bitter or in need of additional sweeteners. The matcha and banana hid the protein powder taste. With that said, I figure this large smoothie was around 270 calories and is a great post workout smoothie that has 32g of protein. I’m going to make this smoothie again next time I lift weights.

Second Cup – The Real Deal cup of Matcha
Using the instructions from the website, I carefully sift 1 tsp of the caramel matcha through a fine mesh tea pot strainer – it went surprisingly well and not messy at all.
Annoyingly, my hot water kettle does 185F (not 180F) so I went with 175F. I poured in about 1/3 of a cup of water and whisked away with my tiny wire whisk. It took a couple minutes to get a 1cm of delicious looking matcha froth. I then added a bit more hot water to taste.

My cup was a beautiful deep green.“Delicate” is totally the description I want to use, but Red Leaf already called it that, making my job easy. The Caramel matcha is delicately flavored but with a full bodied green tea taste. Not watery or bitter or nasty grassy. The caramel is a fun present at the end of my sip and lingers as an aftertaste.

Third Cup – The Matcha latte
I followed the same procedure I did for the hot cup of matcha, but added 2 tsp of sugar and topped the frothy matcha with soymilk and ice cubes. The result was very magical as the sugar and cold temperature makes the caramel pop more. I discovered it is possible to drink something and drool over it at the same time! This was better than lattes I’ve got from local coffee joints, much cheaper and less calories (with an additional plus that I can use the soy milk I like).

From my first experience of steeping up my own real matcha, I found I have a new favorite tea. Red Leaf Tea’s Caramel Matcha is tasty, better than anything I had from a mix or made from a coffee shop. I had more control over the amount of sweetener and milk – and also the option with Red Leaf to easily upgrade my matcha to a higher quality and stronger flavor.

Red Leaf was very clear in their instructions on how to prepare matcha so a newbie like me could make a perfect cup.
With that said, I’m totally going to try more matchas from Red Leaf Teas. First, I think having a frother/hand mixer or bamboo whisk would of made the matcha frothing process go faster – especially for impatient “I need tea now!” types like me.
For future purchases I would like to try a different level of flavor or explore white, red or black matcha options. I preferred the smoothie and latte versions I made, but having the caramel flavor stronger for a hot cup of matcha would be fabulous.


This sounds wonderful! I have yet to try matcha and several of you have been waxing so poetic about it I’m having trouble restraining myself from ordering stuff I don’t need (yet :)

Will Work For Tea

I know what you mean, gmathis – I succumbed to peer pressure already… Shhh, don’t tell my husband! ;)


I have never had matcha. The terrible thing is that if I try it, I will want all the toys….the sifter, the scoop, the bowls, the whisk…

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I’m at the in-laws working on wedding invites at 7am. I’m not sure why so early. Technically, I’m already married, but it was one of those immigration “you need to get married in 90 days” things, so wasn’t any time to plan anything – so a party 6 months later, wooot!

I needed a mate to keep me going, and scooping tea at 6am I knew I’d make some accidents, I did knock over my canister of mate, uggg. I put this in my libre tea glass (that I think I got to stop leaking) and just left the leaves in.

Overall, pretty good tea that held up flavor for an hour and a half of roasted, raspberry yummyness. I just hit the 2 hour mark on the dredges and it’s now on the bitter, dirty grassy side.

Lesson learned: drink up tea in less than 2 hours. Or remove tea leaves.

185 °F / 85 °C 8 min or more

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A new guayusa blend? Yes please! IMO, we need more guayusa blends, it’s quickly becoming my favorite type of tea for it being earthy, creamy and amazing! (and loads of caffeine)

I got lots to do today, so I figure I need to get a caffeine hit of awesome! I have to make curry (yum!), work on some jiu jitsu blogging and get my weight lifting done.

DRY: Slightly creamy smell with a kick to it – lavender and mint? Very interesting smell that was hard to piece together.

STEEPED: Steeps up a dark earthy brown. Smells again like lavender.

TASTE: Smooth, calming – creamyness and vanilla, earthy, a gentle kick of lavender with an aftertaste of mint.

Sweetened with rock sugar KV changes to a stronger creamy and vanilla tea with lavender and mint gently relaxing together in the background. Personally, sweetened is the way to go with this tea.

WHO’D LOVE THIS TEA: Those peeps who drink “calming” teas, but in need of a wakeup caffeine hit.

COMMENTS: Slightly addictive tea. I just kept sipping away experiencing the rocking out of lavender and vanilla.

A similar flavored tea would be DavidsTea’s “Jessie’s Tea” – which has rooibos, coconut and much more lavender. KV’s is much more full bodied with the earthy guayusa, smoother and more creamy. The lavender and mint dance perfectly together.

Overall, best use of lavender in a tea I’ve tried so far. Now I’m all feeling mellow yet alert and sloshy full. Man, I love guayusa!

KV, I think, would be a great tea to have before an exam – keep you calm but energy sparked awake!

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Will Work For Tea

I really can’t wait to try this one – should be getting it tomorrow. YES! We do need more guayusa blends! :)

Butiki Teas

I too am a big fan of guayusas. I think GMS is my personal favorite, since there is something about lemon and waking up that I love. You are so right, this one is addictive. Before you know it, the cup is finished.

Awkward Soul / Oolong Owl

I got GMS in my stash to try, can’t wait!

Butiki Teas

^Nice. Since you’ve tried a fair amount of our guayusas, I would definitely be interested in hearing your opinion on which you enjoy the most.

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The last of my sample of Green and Fruity, prepared iced with rock sugar.

Very nice, more of a brighter fruit taste and the papaya comes out really nicely. Iced, the rooibos takes the background (yay!).

IMO, better iced. Pretty nice tea, but I’m not going to order more of it as its not wow’n me – but I will put myself on lookout for other good papaya teas.


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ZOMG watermelon tea! I had to order this tea, WMX, despite breaking my 2 week no buy (among other teas from Butiki I wanted to try).

For me, I love fresh watermelon. I discovered from my brazilian jiu jitsu school that it is very easy to make watermelon juice. They sell a special bag that you pour blendered watermelon into to get the juice out (much easier than a strainer). Watermelon juice is the most refreshing drink ever! Best ever was over this summer, my local bulk grocery store was selling watermelons 8lbs for a $1! After buying so much watermelon, I’m still not tired of it, but worried when the season is over.

So far, the only watermelon teas I’ve had, DavidsTea’s Lucious Watermelon, I wasn’t a big fan of for it being tart and being mostly apple chunks.

DRY: Strong watermelonly fruity. Very interesting fuzzy tea leaves and bits of pretty pink (amaranth?)

STEEPED: Steeps up to a light gold colour. Smells just like watermelon juice, freshly extracted. This tea would look very pretty presented in a glass pot or travel mug. It is noted on the packaging of WMX to add sweetener, so I poured half my tea steeped into a small pot with rock sugar so I could try it both ways.

TASTE: Unsweetened, tastes like crisp watermelon (like even that fresh scent of watermelon and all) with a bit of mystery floral in it. The white tea is delicately soft and works well with the watermelon. No bitterness or tartness.

Sweetened with white rock sugar, WMX tastes just like watermelon juice with an amazing honey like sweetness. Much more watermelony sweetened, it’s crazy!

WHO’D LOVE THIS TEA: watermelon lovers – or someone who loves fruit teas. Iced tea peeps should snag this tea too!

COMMENTS: WHOA, whooooa! WMX kinda blew off my pants, um skirt, when it was sweetened. I extracted every drop I could from my little tea pot, WMX is so delicious!

WMX would be killer sweetened and iced. I think my tea hating husband would like this iced. However, I’m not sure if I’d share it or if it would survive long in the fridge for him to get at it.

Very well done Butiki Teas! I have a tea that I will buy again and will be a complete spaz about!

185 °F / 85 °C 4 min, 30 sec

A two week no buy? I put myself on a three month no buy and broke it within the week, sigh.

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Shout out to LefTea for a sample of this tea!

This afternoon I’m craving fruity. This looks fruity!

DRY: Very sweet smelling fruity citrus. Lots of huge chunks in this tea, almost looks like fruity trail mix. This blend has the german rock sugar in it.

STEEPED: Sweet and fruity and steeps up to a peachy pink. I ate the huge chunks of fruit and they were candied tasty!

TASTE: Sugary sweet with a fruity flavor – pineapple, orange and other mystery fruit tastes. Unable to pick out the white tea. No bitterness or tartness.
I threw in some ice cubes when I got my cup to 50% and it was transformed to be more of juice than a tea.

WHO’D LIKE THIS TEA: Tea noobs that don’t like tea (my husband would like this, he dislikes tea) and fruity iced tea drinkers.

COMMENTS: Toooooo sweet! Too much german sugar in this for a hot tea!
The use of hibiscus was good in YBWOB as I didn’t pick up any tart – however it could of been the sugar covering it. I do rock sugar up my tea sometimes and drink some teas that have sweetener in it (ie, DavidsTea use of stevia or sugared pumpkins/lips/whatever) but YBWOB is sweeter than I’d make it myself.

Iced, it tastes close to weak juice but I know I could make it better steeping it the right strength for iced tea – and I think YBWOB is made for pitchers of iced tea. I got a slight pet peeve on huge chunky tea with lots of different bits in it as I worry I’m not getting the same cup each time, it feels asif I should be making full pots of tea.

Overall, not bad. I’m probably going to end up either picking out all the rock sugar or turning this bag into a pitcher of iced tea and not tell the husband it’s tea until it’s too late.

175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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I received this tea from a Della Terra’s Facebook contest! I selected this tea as it sounded interesting to try a cappuccino rooibos, even though I’m not big into rooibos.

Last night I barely slept. I got a gi burn on my elbow and hurt my back in brazilian jiu jitsu so it was hard to sleep. Waking up, my back feels much better, but I’m very tired. I should of reached for a mate or black tea, but the coffee smells of this tea called out to me. I probably need to follow this up with something with caffeine, but whatever, more tea!

DRY: Sweet, coffee and caramel – yum! A good amount of those cute caramel squares in this tea.

STEEPED: Smells creamy and coffee like. Brown colour.
Annoyingly, the sample pack I got cites a 3 minute steep time, which I did. I get onto Steepster and Della Terra’s website and it cites a steep time of 5 minutes. DOH

TASTE: Light slight rooibos taste with a background of cappuccino. Aftertaste of sweetness.

COMMENTS: This is really light tea, I think the 5 minute steep time would be more accurate. I’d steep up more but I should really have something with caffeine before I fall over or end up going back to sleep. Actually, crawling back into bed sounds like a good idea.

However, the rooibos and coffee combo is pretty good. The sweetness of the tea blends in with that weird rooibos flavor. Very yum! This might make an interesting iced latte…

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Will Work For Tea

This sounds good!


The thought of tea with “crunch” in the name makes me smile for some odd reason!

Della Terra Teas

Thanks! OOPS! I just realized my error on the steep time. It’s been fixed! The tea is amazing in iced latte form, very delicious. It also makes a most amazing frozen latte!

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Tamarind Tea? Ohhhh yeah! I got really excited when I saw this tea on Steepster! I needed to have it and try it!

Tamarind, if you never had it, has an interesting sour taste but also sweet. As a kid, I’ve eaten it as tamarind candies – that are sticky balls rolled in sugar (or salt) with the pod seeds in the middle. Also, I’ve had tamarind often as a soup base for Sinigang (a filipino soup or stew). When I starting cooking Sinigang myself, I would go crazy and make the soup base super strong for ultra sour soup!

DRY: Tangy sweet? This tea dry has an unusual smell that was hard to identify.

STEEPED: As I had my steeper pour the tea into my cup, there was huge wafts of tamarind and black tea smells – very awesome! Steeps up to a dark amber brown tea.

TASTE: Is addictive a taste? It’s earthy, sweet, creamy, non-sour tamarind pop (ha!) to it. Great black tea taste in there too. I’m picking up a teeny bit of astringency, however does not take away from the tea.
I didn’t add sugar because I was lazy.

WHO SHOULD TRY THIS TEA: Tamarind pop sounds adventurous (especially if you never had tamarind and just read I make sour soup with it) but has a lot of flavors going on and isn’t weird crazy. Black tea drinkers would like this tea for sure.

COMMENTS: Very addictive tea! I drank Tamarind Pop so fast as if it was a cold soda and now I’m craving more. Maybe iced or cold steeped, oh yeah!

Very expertly blended tea! All these teas I got from Butiki are amazing, I think I might have to break my “no buy” to get some more!

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Will Work For Tea

It’s really good cold too! I’ve brewed a double-strength portion of this mixed with simple syrup and diluted with soda water! Better than the pre made tamarind sodas from the store! :)

Awkward Soul / Oolong Owl

ooh, I’m totally trying that! I just need to secure some soda water! HEHEHEH!!!


A local Thai restaurant makes tamarind chicken that beats conventional sweet and sour, hands down.

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I decided to try out my husband’s fuzzy logic expensive rice cooker to make congee, which turned out amazing! I remember eating congee with my Grandma for early lunches (with hours at the stove making it) and sometimes during our weekly trip to china town in Vancouver. I got that comfort food drooly fuzzy high feeling that I thought I should follow up with a good oolong or green.

DRY: soft floral and fruity – a pear kinda fruity.

STEEPED: strong floral smell! Steeps up a yellow tea.

TASTE: floral and sweet – a delicate fruity sweet zing overtop earthy light oolong. The more I drink this cup of tea and as it cools, the earthyness comes out more and becomes slightly astringent.

WHO’D LIKE THIS TEA: floral tea lovers!

COMMENTS: First sip I was like “WHOA” drinkable perfume, light, delicious! I was in total tea love until the last cooler sips of tea. The astringent dryness at the end of my cup was kinda odd since I didn’t get that with the tea very hot. This tea was perfect until I hit that.

Overall, pretty amazing. I might tweak the steep time shorter or cooler water to avoid that astringent zone, but I could see this tea being a part of my permanent stash, but I have a few more oolongs to try from Persimmon Tree first.

190 °F / 87 °C 4 min, 0 sec

I loooove congee! with preserved egg! so good

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I’m a tea blogger – The Oolong Owl
www.OolongOwl.com – I do tea reviews, obsessively photograph teas with mischievous crocheted Owls and get tea drunk. I am also a crochet / knitting designer at Awkward Soul Designs.

I was raised on floral oolongs and green teas, mostly “beauty” teas. Early on as a kid, I can guzzle an entire pot of tea (or two) at a Chinese or Japanese restaurant.
These days I like adventurous and interesting tea blends. I’m fearless in trying new teas! I’m into oolong, pu’erh, white, green, black, guayusa, mate and herbals. I’m not into red rooibos but I keep buying it anyway.

The tea brand that got me started into loose leaf teas was DAVIDsTea. I used to live in Vancouver Canada and had access to their shop, however that is now limited since I moved to southern California.

However, the perks of living in the US is ultra cheap, fast shipping! Since then, my tea stash insanely expanded.

Other stuff I’m into that sneaks into my tea notes: Brazilian jiu-jitsu, metal music, drawing, painting, cooking, photography and nail polish.

BTW, my Steepster cupboard is not even close to accurate and I track my teas on a spreadsheet. Last update 512 Teas May 2015.

To contact me for reviews, check out my blog and email me at [email protected]


Long Beach, CA



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