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!