69 Tasting Notes
I’m excited to dive into the world of Red Leaf’s flavored matchas! I sort of chose vanilla at random because there were so many that sounded good, and I’d never tried a flavored matcha before so I wasn’t sure what would go well with the pure green tea flavor of standard matchas. That seems like it would be a beast to try and flavor! But Red Leaf does it well, from what I hear.
I love a good vanilla flavoring, but this one is more subtle than most – more of a hint in the background than a loud presence. It adds a smooth sweetness compared to other unflavored matchas I have. As for the matcha itself, it’s quite delicious. A great example of matcha in general, without the astringency that’s put me off matcha before. You can tell they’ve used high quality green tea for this.
As for the whole presentation: the shipping is quick (and free if you order a 60g pack), and the tea comes in a foil bag that isn’t resealable, so have a small tin at the ready to transfer it over. Once I emptied mine into a tin I shook a bit of water into the packet just to make sure I got all the matcha-y goodness available to me.
I’m glad to have this in my cupboard and excited to try their other flavors! Maybe chocolate next?
I have no idea why Bird Pick is trying to front that this is a green tea when judging from the taste, shape, and brewing parameters it’s obviously an oolong. I picked some of this up in store because someone I follow mentioned it and I loved the idea of a buttery green…but yo, this is a milk oolong. It’s not a super high grade one, but it’s a milk oolong if I’ve ever tasted one. It’s a green oolong, yes, in that it’s not roasted (or whatever they do to oolong sometimes to make me dislike it – oxidize it? pan-fry it? overdry it?), so maybe that’s what it meant. Bird Pick can be weird with their naming, as with their Beauty Slim tea, which they sell as a green and which you would think means weight-loss, when in fact it’s a ku ding and slim refers to the needle-like shape of the leaves.
That said: I am not mad at this! It’s a tasty tea, and a sick deal for the price. As mentioned above, this is clearly a milk oolong (or silk oolong), referring in this case to the way the leaves are processed as I don’t think there’s any flavoring added. This tastes a lot like David’s Tea Quangzhou Milk Oolong except not quite as creamy – a few rungs lower in quality, but still a totally epic deal since milk oolong can be ridiculously pricey. If you have a Bird Pick shop near you I’d suggest a visit, their prices are reasonable and there’s none of the two ounce minimum nonsense that Teavana forces down your throat.
Anyway, here was my actual experience with this tea: I brewed it at first at 170 degrees for two minutes, still thinking it was a green, and that did pretty much nothing for it, the leaves barely unfurled and I didn’t get a lot of flavor out of it. Upon realizing it was not in fact a green tea, I did a second steep with water a minute or so off boil, and gave her three minutes. This let the leaves really start to open up and I got a delicious cup off of it. A nice, creamy mouth feel, rich buttery flavor, just a quality milk oolong through and through. I did two more steeps after that, again both near boiling, three and a half minutes and then four, and these cups were great as well. The fifth steep was pretty weak, but still gave me a little something. Not exciting enough to drink on its own but I stirred a teaspoon of matcha into it and it was great, gave the matcha some added interest.
Anyway, I really recommend this tea! Tastes great, resteeps well, marvelous value for the price, sucks that Bird Pick have trolled us all by calling it a green!
I was hoping to find this in loose leaf, but for some reason Bird Pick only carries this flavor in bagged form. The scent is what got me – dry it’s a sweet, milky caramel, no green at all in there. The bags are odd little things, silky pyramid pouches with strings too short for all but the smallest cups, so you have to clip the string to the cup or it gets dragged in by the weight of the bag. The tea within looks like ground spinach, a very lovely green color. No visible caramel bits, so I think this one is just infused.
I’m still learning my way around sencha, so I was pretty conservative with the steeping parameters on this one. The first time I made it I definitely gave it my standard three minutes for a green and boy did I end up with a cup of sweet spinach water. Blech. Cut the steep down this time and it’s better.
A whiff of caramel on the nose when I raise up the cup, but mostly this one’s all sencha. The first hot sips give me sencha all the way. As it cools down the caramel starts to come out, but only a hint of it, an extra sweetness that lingers in the mouth. Cooler still and the caramel finally begins to dominate, which is good since I don’t think sweet caramel and spinach-y sencha are the most natural pairing. Still, not a bad cup!
I just can’t get into this tea. I tend to like greener oolongs, but this one isn’t bad for a darker type, the flowery flavor definitely sets it apart. Unfortunately it’s not a flowery flavor I particularly like. Extra points added for the fact that I managed to get through an entire tin of this, including multiple steeps for each serving – so it can’t be that bad. It reminds me a bit of the teas you get at Chinese restaurants, and I think this flavor does better suit Chinese food, at least the fried/not-spicy kind you get at American buffets. Unfortunately I don’t eat like that very often, so I can’t say this tea was ever a great fit for my kitchen.
If you like more roasted/oxidized oolongs or floral flavors this will be right up your alley!
This might be my favorite black tea ever! I first tried it with a friend of mine, and cup after cup I just kept being like “I don’t even usually like black tea…but this is amazing!!” all enthused about it. I’ve had the worst trouble finding flavored black teas I like since I generally don’t have much of a taste for black tea as a base (or on its own, really), and this has been the first tea to give me hope that it’s not impossible to find good ones.
It really does have that buttery flavor, like a buttered rum Lifesaver only less artificial. There’s a creamy sweet scent as you raise the cup up to drink, and surprisingly it’s almost as strong in the actual taste as it is in the smell. Just all-around delicious, like a morning (or evening!) cup of candy. Yes!
I purchased this vanilla sencha, as well as Bird Pick’s caramel and honeydew senchas, and then 52Teas Banana Peach green, which has a sencha base…then I found out I’m pretty sure I don’t like sencha. Ack. This was the first I tried, and I’ve been fiddling with it since, trying to understand this particular green and make it work for me instead of against me.
The trouble is, no matter which variety I make, the sencha always pushes through and tastes, whether subtly or intensely, like I’m drinking ground-up spinach. Eurgh. I mean, I love spinach! But like, in salads, or on sandwiches. Not in a cup overlaid with a dessert-y taste.
The best I’ve managed to do with this one in particular is keep the steep super-short. So far the lowest I’ve gone is about a minute and a half, but I might reduce that further. This is also a pretty weird vanilla, I think, which doesn’t help – it’s a particularly creamy sort of vanilla flavoring, which normally I’d be over the moon about but I just don’t think it suits this variety of green. I’m going to keep fiddling with it, but any tips on how to best brew sencha would be appreciated!
I’m ridiculously susceptible to suggestion, so honestly just looking at this bright yellow tin with its cheerful exhortation puts a smile on my face. Luckily on top of that it has a really pleasant flavor! It’s lemony without being at all overbearing about it – I think even without the name I’d probably describe the flavor as bright and cheerful. I don’t get much of the peach flavor, but it’s a nice cup even without, so I can’t complain.
I just put this one through a ridiculous steep time – as in I set two bags into a portable cup about forty-eight hours ago in anticipation of taking it out with me, and ended up leaving it steeping in my intermittently very warm car for two days straight. I just took it out now and it’s quite tasty. God bless rooibos, it can really take so much abuse.
Making my way through the last of this, I just put two teaspoons of it straight into my two serving teapot, leaving the strainer out entirely so the leaves could properly get their steep on. This was a good call! I think this is one of the best cups I’ve gotten out of this, the leaves had plenty of room to fully unfurl and bump up against each other. It’s very pretty in the pot and rather pleasant to watch it steep, kind of like watching goldfish swim. Calming, you know?
I don’t think I’ll be repurchasing this one as I’ve since discovered other oolongs I find more spectacular, but I’ve enjoyed having this one in my cupboard and in my cup.
Just got this and Naivetea’s Wen Shan Bao Zhong in the mail, thanks to the SororiTEA Sisters for the heads-up (and promo code) on this deal! Today would have been even better since my David’s Tea order apparently arrived…except that for some reason they required me to sign for it, and the postal worker couldn’t be bothered to ring my doorbell or even knock on my door before leaving the “Sorry we missed you!” note and bailing. (Is it really missing me if you failed to ascertain whether I was there or not?) You’d think I lived in Mordor rather than down one dinky flight of stairs for all the laziness my location engenders in delivery people, geez.
Anyway, at least I have tonight to enjoy my new oolongs before I go pick up my DT order tomorrow and bury myself in a mountain of maple rooibos. The dry leaf of this one is very fragrant, with an intense lychee scent that made me realize my only contact with anything lychee in the past several years has been in the form of martinis. The leaves are very tightly curled and a beautiful shade of green. The directions recommended a tablespoon of leaves for six ounces of water, but I don’t have any measuring spoons so I just hazarded a teaspoon plus a bit extra.
The first steep was the strongest and best, I think, it had the full force of lychee behind it, almost completely disguising the flavor of the base oolong, which was fine with me – if you’re going to flavor your tea, then flavor your damn tea. By the fifth steep that flavor is mostly gone, leaving behind a subtle hint of oolong, like a particularly delicate white tea. The instructions said I could steep up to seven times, but by the sixth the leaves were completely unfurled and the cup had only the slightest suggestion of flavor. The steeps in between were quite pleasant though. This feels like a nice late spring or summer tea, best drank around sunset, each successive steep urging you on toward nighttime, light and sweet and warming. Mmm.
Oof! This is the most intensely ginger-scented tea I’ve ever experienced, that dry leaf is a knockout. Luckily for those of us who aren’t all in it for the big G, this tea tastes much milder than it smells. The dominant taste is still ginger (especially as it cools), but the peach provides a hint of sweetness and the white tea base adds a pleasant taste as well. I’m not sure what prompted me to buy this, but I’m glad I did!