405 Tasting Notes

Cold-brewed overnight, 4 tsp tea (came out to 10g) for 20oz water.

Color: light yellow/olive, slightly opaque. Scent: not much, because it’s cold, but gingery! Maybe a little lemon too. Taste: Wow that’s spicy. Herb-spice, not pepper-spice. I decided to add some honey to this because I was finding the rosemary and ginger pretty overwhelming; with honey, everything is smoothed out a bit and I can taste more of the lemon. This is very tangy and refreshing; the word “tonic” comes to mind. I haven’t had rosemary in beverages often, so that’s really standing out to me.
The white tea is completely overwhelmed by the spices, at least with the way I brewed it; their website recommends steeping hot then pouring over ice. Maybe I’ll try that next time.

Overall, this is very refreshing and tastes like it’s good for you :) I’d drink it on a hot day, or if I had an upset stomach. This is going on my list of “teas to drink when sick”

Iced 8 min or more

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Wow, the dry matcha smells incredibly strong, like I just opened a pack or oreos, but a little thicker and creamier.

I prepared this in a way that is quickly becoming my standard, since I got some good smoothie cups to take to work: 2 chashaku scoops of matcha, fill the 16oz cup about half way with water, blend (OMG my stick blender makes this so easy – no lumps! Nice froth! No sifting needed!) fill the rest of the cup with whole milk and ice. My matcha lattes stay cold easily for a couple hours, which is plenty of time for me to drink them :)

My first impression upon sipping this one agrees with the smell of thedry matcha: the flavor is strong and noticeable. The green tea flavor is actually pretty overwhelmed. It must just be something about the Cookies & Cream flavor, as opposed to the others I’ve tried, but this is kind of like being hit in the face with a carton of cookies ‘n’ cream ice cream. It’s definitely a contrast to the Royal Bavarian Cream I had yesterday, and even stronger than my “distinctively” flavored cheesecake matcha. I found myself wondering if I somehow prepared this stronger than usual? It’s possible, but if that were the case I’d expect more green tea flavor too, and that’s not what I’m getting here.

As you may have figured out, the flavor is really too strong for my taste (even on delicate, which this is) and comes across kind of artificial to me. Boo! This is the first time I’ve had that issue with Red Leaf’s matcha – I thought maybe they were magic :/ However! The aftertaste is quite good, as if I’ve been eating that cookies & cream ice cream I mentioned and just set it down for a minute. I think I need to give this another chance, so I’ll try preparing it in the classic style (warm, whisked) as well as cold with just water – hopefully one of those will work better for me.

If you are a big cookies & cream fan, I would certainly recommend this, with the caveat to try the delicate flavor first! On the other hand, if you’ve been looking for a matcha flavor that lets you forget you’re drinking matcha – look no further! This is like a cookies & cream milkshake all on its own :P

You can buy it for yourself at http://www.redleaftea.com/matcha-tea/cookies-and-cream-matcha.html


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drank Fujian Baroque by Adagio Teas
405 tasting notes

A tiny bit of this was hiding in the back of my cupboard – it’s a couple years old, but with some extra leaf and care in prep (preheating my mug, which I rarely bother with) it still quite good! Has all the chocolatey rich spice notes I like. After having Rishi’s China Breakfast for so long, it kind of tastes like a wannabe…

Boiling 3 min, 15 sec

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New Red Leaf Matcha order! Bavarian cream, and I splurged on the royal matcha this time. I mostly wanted to see if I can taste the difference but also (if I can tell the difference), do I prefer the better matcha + less flavoring, or basic matcha + more flavoring? After this, I’m leaning towards the former, which surprised me!

Anyway, I really like this. The royal matcha is a lovely vibrant green, as powder or in water, a bit brighter than the basic grade. Even with less flavoring (delicate, rather than the distinctive I tried last time), this is sweet and flavorful. I am frankly impressed with myself – not exactly a connoisseur of green teas – for being able to taste a difference. Of course, for science(!) I should get the same flavor in different grades and have someone else prepare it as a blind test… maybe next time :P. For now, I am convinced that the royal matcha is truly distinctive.

I first tried this iced (the easiest way to prepare things at work) with about 1/2 tsp to 16 oz water. First impressions: cream, lime???. There is definitely something citrusy here, in addition to the sweet cream flavor. Also, not the least bit of bitterness. The flavor is very light and refreshing, where I was expecting it to be heavy. I mean, Bavarian cream, right? But this is creamy and rich and light at the same time, kind of like cream soda. If someone had given me this to try without telling me the flavor, I think I would have guessed key lime pie because of the citrusy sweet notes along with the cream (… now I’m hoping they get a key lime pie flavor so I can compare!). I also want to try the royal matcha plain to see if that’s where the citrus is coming from, it’s really baffling me.

I also prepared this warm, but at work I don’t have my chawan and chasen and I’m having a bit more trouble with clumps this time. I’ve gotten away without a sifter so far, but I suppose it makes sense that the finer grade of matcha would clump more easily. Anyway, the warm matcha was quite good, even with the powdery sensation that comes of insufficient whisking. A little milk (unsurprisingly) really brought out the creaminess and made this a decadent dessert drink.

Between the royal matcha and the delicate flavor, I don’t think I’d use this in smoothies or cooking – the flavor is too fine and mild. It’s meant to be drunk plain, or nearly.

You can buy this for yourself at http://www.redleaftea.com/matcha-tea/bavarian-cream-matcha.html

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Oh my goodness delicious. I don’t have time to do a good review right nwo, but I just wanted to make myself a note that this is really good, plain or with milk, possibly my favorite black from Verdant so far!
I’m on steep 7 so far.

I ended up steeping this at least 15 times – I don’t usually go that high, even where it’s indicated. I iced some overnight, which brought out the sweet malty/wheat flavors

2.5g leaf, 3.5oz water, gongfu style

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec

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drank Laoshan Black by Verdant Tea
405 tasting notes

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drank Laoshan Black by Verdant Tea
405 tasting notes

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drank Cheesecake Matcha by Red Leaf Tea
405 tasting notes

Mmmm, this smelled like cheesecake as soon as I opened the package. This is the first matcha I ever bought to prepare at home – I’ve had it in lattes and ice cream, but that’s all – so I’m kind of excited.

I used 1 chashaku scoop to about 4oz water. My scoop seemed pretty big? Next time I’ll just measure by weight to see how much 1 gram is on the chashaku. I added water a little at a time, starting with the matcha as a paste to get rid of any lumps since I wasn’t using a strainer – this worked quite well! I had a nice froth going for awhile too, but then I added more water and it never really came back, so I might have had my proportions off.

My first impression on sipping was “oof, bitter” frankly, but then… the bitterness never really materialized? It’s more like it tastes like it ought to be bitter, but it’s only a flavor not actually the mouth-scrunching sensation. (Keep in mind, I’ve never had matcha straight before – I have no idea how normal this is). And then the aftertaste is pure cheesecake.

And now I’ve finished the whole bowl. That didn’t take long! And I kind of want more, so I think this stuff must be growing on me. My stomach is not as happy as my mouth though, so matcha may not become a regular first-thing-in-the-morning ritual for me.

I was still excited about the new tea though, so I decided to make some cold to take to work with me. This was a fantastic decision. I used the method described here (http://blog.mellowmonk.com/2010/07/cold-brewing-matcha-in-bottle.html), and accordingly used much less matcha than I would have tried without instruction – about 1/2 teaspoon to 16oz cold water. It worked out perfectly though – cold, mild, and refreshing, yet sweet and rich from the cheesecake flavor. The cheesecake flavor itself is pretty good, too. Cream, sugar, a slight tang from the cheese, a hint of graham cracker crust are all distinguishable. At this rate, I should get 15-30 servings out of the 30g packet, which is more than I would have guessed – a little bit of tasty cheesecake matcha goes a long way!

I think I liked this better cold than hot, and it was easier to prepare and drink through the day. I suspect it will do very well blended with other things, like milk, or ice cream. Maybe even my herbal coffee substitute? Clearly I’m not cut out to be a traditionalist with my matcha, but with flavors like cheesecake, cotton candy, and English toffee to try, who cares?!

You can buy this from Red Leaf Tea at: http://www.redleaftea.com/matcha-tea/cheesecake-matcha.html

I got the small packet, starter quality green matcha (I do want to try the higher grades now), and distinctive flavoring (will definitely play with this).

175 °F / 79 °C

Matcha can be quite potent in flavor and caffeine content. I suspect that this is why so many Steepsterites prefer their matchas with milk. The milk smooths out the flavors. I find that food in my stomach will slow the caffeine punch so matcha might work for you in the morning if you’re having breakfast. :)
Glad you’re liking matcha so far!


Cold brewing matcha hey, I will definitely do this, thanks for the suggestion!


Yeah, I had been a little confused by all the matcha lattes (green tea with milk? really?)but matcha is clearly a category of its own. I usually have black tea with milk before or with breakfast and my stomach’s fine with that, so I’ll probably try the latte tactic myself next.

The cold brewing was super easy, especially in a water bottle – just shake it before drinking to keep the matcha in suspension!


I did the cold water bottle and matcha thing when I was traveling for work. convenient! I prefer matcha hot, but cold is better than none. Next time, try shaking with milk and sugar instead of water and you’ll have instant cold brewed matcha latte! I imagine it will get REALLY frothy.

Also, you gotta try the caramel matcha. Still my favorite!

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Some notes on ratings:

I’d have separate rating scales for tea types if that were possible (probably Black, Flavored Black, Darjeeling/Dark Oolong, White/Green/Light Oolong, and Herbal) because the flavors and quality markers are just too different. A flavored black rated 100 isn’t better than every oolong I’ve ever drunk, just delicious for a flavored black.

Ratings are a combination of my enjoyment and the perceived quality – I do often demote teas a few points for artificial flavorings, small quantity of steeps supported, or weakness of flavor (requiring extra leaf).

I pay less attention to the number than the order of my ratings; I don’t necessarily keep a stock of everything rated 80+, but if two breakfast blends are rated 82 and 84 I consistently enjoy the 84 more.

And in case it’s not obvious? I am not an expert. I don’t even know what I like until I taste it sometimes, but I’m ok with that :) I like learning to like new teas, as well as enjoying the comfort of familiar ones.


Boston, MA



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