2185 Tasting Notes
This morning I had to get up at, no joke, 3:30am so I could drive two hours to the airport for my flight to Ohio to visit my boyfriend. If there was ever a time to need to the matcha energy boost, it was this morning!
I did a dual preparation, first off a bowl of hot matcha. This time I used probably 3/4tsp of matcha, and I actually measured out 8oz of water. Pour, whisk, pour. This time after I added all of the water I took a sip and was amazed. Here was the natural sweetness that people talk about with matcha. Even the addition of a little sugar (to try to bring out the caramel a biiiit more, but really it was pretty prevalent) didn’t really do much to it. I finally think I figured out a decent matcha prep method! When I first sip I don’t necessarily taste tons of caramel, but it quickly builds up to be nice and strong.
For my second preparation I tried the “cold brew” matcha so I could take it with me on the road. A half teaspoon of matcha in an old Simply Orange juice bottle (~13oz), a little cold water, a lot of shaking until it looked dissolved enough, and then I filled the rest of the bottle up with cold water. At first sip I thought I hadn’t added enough matcha. It seemed weak. But a couple more sips reassured me that it actually had good flavor, and the caramel came through well. This prep was so easy and so delicious… all of the matcha-y natural sweetness, all of the lovely caramel flavor.
Even that much matcha can’t really help keep me alert now that I’m at the airport waiting for the plane, but it certainly made the drive go well.
Last time I held off rating this one because I didn’t steep it long enough and it was weak. This time I steeped it four minutes, so hopefully that should be good enough!
Yes, now that this has been brewed stronger it is quite delicious. The base is lovely and caramelly and honeyed, sweet almost, with the bright bergamot on top. The bergamot is particulaly bright in this one, but that’s just about all I get from it… brightness. I wish the bergamot was a bit stronger, or at least a bit more well-rounded. Still, this is quite a delicious cup of Earl Grey and I wouldn’t hesitated to buy it again in a pinch.
Matcha, take three. I was going to make a matcha latte this morning but discovered that my milk had gone sour. So I decided to try again, this time with just sugar.
Today I pre-warmed my bowl with some boiling water before letting the rest cool off in my saucepan (oh yeah, because in my new apartment I don’t have any kind of kettle lol). This of course left the inside of my bowl wet, so then I was concerned about the match I then sifted in “oversteeping” I dunno, does matcha oversteep? Anyway, I put in a sprinkle of sugar as well, and then after the water was cool enough I poured just enough in to loosen up all the matcha on the bottom. Then a few more ounces to whisk in. After that I tasted it and, yup, bitter. I poured in a bit more water and a bit more sugar, whisked harder (satisfyingly got lots of foam!), then tasted. It wasn’t bitter, but it was very earthy and not exactly what I was looking for. I want caramel! Maybe I just had to have it in a latte? I think I realized that it seems like most people use more water (or milk) in their final product; I heard one person say that 1tsp of matcha should make an 8oz bowl. This never sounded like it would make that much difference to me (what would it do, just make it weaker?), but at this point I figured why not, and I dumped probably enough water to make about 8oz into the bowl, and color me surprised! It wasn’t so earthy at all, just light and pleasant, and a third sprinkle of sugar (so, probably a tsp total?) really brought out the caramel. It was so satisfying to make a delicious bowl of matcha without milk. Well, by the time I finish this tin of matcha maybe I will have truly figured it out.
I realized today that I haven’t had an oolong in a while. It’s been almost all black tea, black tea, black tea since I got back in the country. But something triggered in my mind and all of the sudden I really craved a tieguanyin. Also I went through my tea stash recently to update my swaps list, and I saw this one lying neglected in the back of the cupboard. For shame, and one of my favorite teas! It will be a very sad day when I run out of this one.
I walked into the office this morning and happened to look down at a package by the mail boxes. Before I even saw my name on it I saw Verdant’s, and I snatched it up! I had forgotten I got my tea sent to my office instead of my PO Box! Yes, my precious Bergamot Rose Laoshan Black, you are finally mine! Being away all summer I never got a chance to order this one, and when I came back it was out of stock, then David announced it was being discontinued! No!! But it came back in stock before being discontinued, whew, so I bought 4oz, which is a lot of tea for me to buy at one time. And I had never even tried it, that’s how much faith I have in David’s blending.
I tore into the pouch and oh my goodness it smells delicious. Mouth-wateringly good. Like bergamot and cookies and chocolate. It has a decidedly baked-good note to it that is familiar but I can’t quite place. No, wait! It smells like rosey bergamot chocolates. Like maybe a rose-bergamot fondant dipped in dark chocolate (now I totally want to make that, but I know my boyfriend wouldn’t like it because he’s not a fan of either flavor!).
Steeped, the bergamot and the rose definitely took a back seat. Now I smell the familiar Laoshan Black toasty chocolate notes. My first sip is decidedly rose and chocolatey. Definitely toasty grain notes, with some creamyish citrus lurking in the shadows. The bergamot in this one is extremely light, and the rose isn’t super strong either. There seems to be a reason this one isn’t called an Earl Grey, and I’d be lying if I didn’t wish for a bit more bergamot, but it’s still an extremely delicious and amazing tea. Glad I got a supply of it before it disappeared!
Well shoot. For some reason I thought I hadn’t tried this one yet, but apparently I had. Tells you how memorable it was! I basically concur with my first tasting note, in that this is fruity and decent enough but kind of boring, tea wise. I’m sure at one point in my tea journey it wouldn’t have bothered me at all that the black tea base is basically nonexistant in regards to the flavor (in fact I would have welcomed it), but that is not the case anymore. Oh well.
Matcha, take two.
There is a lot of conflicting information out there about matcha. Bitter matcha? Maybe you didn’t whisk long enough. Or maybe you whisked too long? Maybe you didn’t use enough matcha. Or maybe you used too much? Matcha preparation seems to me to be more an art than a science, and I am a scientist (I am also somewhat of an artist, but that is beside the point). :P
This morning I started out with about 1 tsp of matcha, which I sifted. Last time when I sifted I found little white granules in my matcha because my sieve is so fine, and I tossed them as not something I wanted. But then I read something on there that made me realize that they might actually be “flavor crystals” and maybe that’s why my first matcha wasn’t particularly caramelly. This time I dumped them in after sifting. I added some hot water, a few ounces, and whisked for just about 30 seconds (last time I spent longer whisking, I think). I took a sip, and it was definitely considerably less bitter and more caramelly than my last bowl. There was still an edge of bitterness so I added a couple of ounces of milk. That definitely took away all the bitterness and I was able to focus on the flavor. A little grassy, a little earthy, a decent helping of caramel. I thought I could draw the caramel out a little more even so I added a sprinkling of sugar, which worked pretty well. Yup, I could definitely get used to drinking this stuff! I need to experiment more, but it will be fun figuring all this out.
Argh, Steepster ate my tasting note!
I’m trying this one again before I send most of it off in a swap. I remember enjoying this tea, but I also never was drawn back to it, so I decided to find it a better home.
This is a really tasty tea, all caramelly and a bit chocolatey, with a decent black tea base. Yummy, but I don’t really crave it, so I’m happy to send it off to someone who might appreciate it more.
I am the very definition of a beginning matcha drinker: I have never once even tried matcha before, much less made it myself. I’ve only had matcha-flavored stuff before, like matcha flavored marshmallows from the asian grocery, and I was actually never that big of a fan, so I never was that interested in even trying matcha.
But then of course Red Leaf Teas showed up on the scene with all their flavored matchas, getting astronomically good reviews, and I thought, well, maybe a flavored matcha is for me. I actually noticed it before I went to Madagascar this summer, but I didn’t get around to ordering any until now. I was waiting for a flavor I couldn’t resist to go on sale, and then they did caramel, so I was sold. This one has fantastic reviews, and I do love caramel. You can find it here: http://www.redleaftea.com/matcha-tea/caramel-matcha.html
I ordered the robust level of flavoring because, like I described, I am a matcha wimp and I wanted a lot of flavoring. I also got the basic (starter) matcha as a base, and a tin to put it in. My matcha shipped super quickly on the same day (I actually didn’t even notice I had gotten a shipping notice because I thought it was my receipt!), and didn’t take long to travel. I waited anxiously for my package to arrive and then ran to the post office (to my PO Box) to get it when I saw it was delivered, especially since I wanted to get my review in before the free matcha program changes tonight. I was happy to see a brochure with how to prepare matcha instructions in it because I am totally clueless! I knew I would need a sieve and a whisk and a bowl, so I had those ready.
The minute I cut open the foil envelope of matcha I was swamped with delicious caramel scent. Smelling it a bit closer brought out a kind of fruity aroma, which I assume must just be the matcha. It kind of reminded me of a caramel apple or something like that. Following the instructions on the brochure I ended up sifting 1.5tsp in my bowl (I was unsure on the instructions whether each scoop was supposed to be 0.5–1tsp, or two scoops was that total?). My very fine sieve (yay HomeGoods) worked well, and there were definitely more clumps than it first seemed, so I’m glad I sifted. I added a few ounces of water (though I didn’t measure exactly how much) at about 180°F and whisked with my metal cooking whisk vigorously. It frothed pretty well but I think my technique is lacking! Right when the water hit the matcha I smelled a much stronger green tea flavor and a distinct earthiness, but not so much caramel.
I took a sip, but it was pretty strong and bitter so I whisked some more, added more water and whisked some more. Better. Still a little bitter, but I am chalking that up to user error. Maybe I just need to add some sugar, too, since I tend to be a bit sensative to bitterness, but I didn’t have any with me. Anyway, that kind of fruity caramel came through, the flavor blooming in the sip. The green tea wasn’t too vegetal or in your face like I was fearing, but I’m definitely glad I got the robust flavoring. The caramel was not as strong as I thought it would be, but it was present (and again that might be user error), and I did finish the entire bowl pretty fast! I am excited to try this in latte form, and I’m sure I will look up all kinds of tips and tricks for matcha now. I also wanted matcha to add to smoothies and to try some baking with it, and this seems like it would be amazing for both. I just bought some brownie mix at the store, and now I am thinking maybe some caramel matcha brownies? I don’t know if the flavor would be drowned out, though. Research must be done!
So again, I had Robust Flavoring, Basic (Starter) Grade Matcha. You can find it here:
ETA: The aroma on this matcha is so powerful and delicious smelling that now my entire office smells like caramel and someone just came in wondering if there was delicious cake or candy in here!
Sorry I haven’t been around so much, I’ve been crazy busy with work. Hoping the pace slows a little after next week!
I haven’t had this tea in quite a long time. It’s one of the few Teavana teas that I’ve tried that I really love. It’s a pretty divisive tea, based mostly on whether you enjoy a lot of rose in your teas or not. I happen to very much enjoy tons of rose in my teas, so I love it. And yes, it is still as delicious as I remember it. Sweet and almondy and rosey, with a bit of cookie-ish flavor in there. And though I love it, the base is so flat and uninteresting. I used to not care about the base, it was mostly just a vehicle for the flavorings. Now I want to taste an awesome, high quality base that is complemented (or complements) the flavorings. If only I had a rose-marzipan blend on a really high quality black base! :)