This tasting is for Breakaway Matcha Blend 97, which is at the higher-end of the Breakaway spectrum (Blend 100 is their most premium).
97 was my first experience making matcha at home. Since I’m not normally a matcha drinker, I compared 97 with a mid-grade drinking matcha from the local Japanese grocery in order to calibrate my taste buds. The difference was stark: the grocery matcha was a dull green powder that makes a harsh and bitter cup, whereas 97 was vibrant, nearly neon green, smooth, and sweet.
I used the recommended Breakaway technique to make a thin (usu-cha) cup:Sift 1/2 teaspoon of matcha Add about 1 ounce of 165°F water Whisk with an electric frothing wand Pour into a serving cup Dilute with more 165°F water, to taste (about 3 ounces) Swirl Drink
This is not traditional, but the results were good.
97 has the strong grassy aroma I associate with matcha, but with none of the bitterness. My biggest surprise was the caffeine kick: it is pleasant, gentle high that is quite noticeable. The aroma paired with the pick-me-up is the hallmark of this tea. I find myself craving it sometimes. Is this what coffee addiction is like?
Despite the nice aroma, the taste is fairly flat. Perhaps this is due to the whisking technique. I remember tasting an usu-cha on my last trip to Tokyo, prepared in the traditional method, that had wonderful hints of umami, nuttiness, and a tad of astringency in addition to the grassy green baseline. I don’t get that kind of complexity out of 97.
In any case, Breakaway Matcha has piqued my interest. I will definitely be exploring matcha further and making it part of my tea rotation.