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:
Matcha Quality: Starter (Basic Grade)
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.
TIME TO ENJOY MATCHA!
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.