2189 Tasting Notes
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! :)
Today is an exam day for the class I am teaching, which means being busy preparing it and giving it all day. Fortunately we got done a little bit early this morning so I was able to come back to my office and have a nice cup of tea. For some reason I was craving this one and all its chocolately glory.
Oh yes, this is delicious. This is by far my favorite chocolate flavored tea, and that is partly due to the great flavoring but I think majorly to do with the quality of the base tea, which has caramelly, honeyed, chocolatey notes on its own. Yum.
Wow it’s been a long time since I had this one! And it certainly is delicious. Caramel is such a great flavor to add to nearly everything, really, and this is no exception. I think the caramel here is blended deftly enough that it just seems like a delicious natural character of the tea itself, blended with a lovely lemony-bergamot. This is such a pleasant tea to come back to after a long time.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had this tea, but I suddenly started feeling a bit queasy this morning and I knew I had to dig it out. It’s a lemon-ginger green blend, and I’ve used it many times in the past to settle my stomach.
Fortunately, it is working. Despite the fact that this tea is getting old, it’s still plenty lemony and there’s enough ginger to settle my stomach (though not really enough to taste in a big way. Lemon Drop to the rescue once again.
SimplyJenW spoils me, sending me so many tea samples. :) This was a surprise inclusion to my sample of the Dammann Fréres Earl Grey. Thanks for sending it along!
So despite the fact that I love a lot of Harney blends, and some of my favorite teas are Harney teas, I have never been too keen on their Earls. Way too light in the bergamot department, and at least the last time I had them I didn’t care for the bases. I’ve tried several different varieties to no avail, so we’ll see how this one fares! The dried leaf at least smells nice and citrusy.
Well I have to say that I definitely enjoy this one. It is definitely a lightly flavored tea, but the citrus is nice and fruity, and it seems to be a good blend of a faint bergamot with other citrus. I’m not sure if I just like this particular base, or if through my newfound appreciation of unflavored black teas I have come to enjoy the base they use for their Earls in general. Is it enough to make me revisit their other Earls? Perhaps, but like I said they’re all really delicately flavored and when I want an Earl, I want bergamot in a big way, so I doubt they’ll ever top my list in that department.
I wanted to try this Earl not long after trying the Dammann Freres Earl (both gifts from SimplyJenW, as it turns out!) since I remembered this one as being one of my top versions and I wanted to compare them. The first time I had this one I accidentally brewed it with water just under the boil, so I am also interested to see how this one fares when brewed at boiling.
Ah yes, this is such a delicious Earl. I do love Dammann Fréres’ Earl, mostly because I love love the base they use. This one is amazing because of the bergamot, which is just some of the most delicious bergamot ever. Fruity and creamy and floral and sweet. The DF bergamot is a perfectly nice bergamot, but this one is exceptional. I think if I could have this bergamot on the DF base, it would be the perfect Earl. Barring that, I guess I might just have to keep both of them around. :)
This tea consumed while listening to The Heavy’s new album “The Glorious Dead”
Oh Monday morning, you come so quickly. I needed a nice strong black tea to wake me up (and I will likely need another to keep me away during lecture this afternoon) so I chose this one, which came to me recently from SimplyJenW! She knows that I’ve been really into Panyang/Tanyangs and other related blacks lately, so she generously sent me a sample of this one along with the Dammann Fréres Earl Grey.
The dry leaf smells promising; a bit caramelly, a bit alfalfa-ish, a bit cocoa-y. Steeped the cocoa notes come way further, and it’s a bit roasted cacao nibs in character. This is a pretty tasty panyang. It doesn’t totally bowl me over but it is a very pleasant tea to be sipping on this morning while I am writing exam questions. It’s got a slight astringency to it and I’m wondering if it wouldn’t be benefited by a slightly lower steep temp, though it isn’t really bitter bitter, just kind of like cacao nibs or maybe cocoa powder. I don’t really find many caramel or honey notes but those can be pretty elusive. It does remind me of the base of their Rose Congou and I can almost taste phantom rose, though maybe that’s left over from the rose petal confit I had with my yogurt and granola this morning. Thanks again for the sample, Jen!
Taking a page from tunes&tea’s book, this tea was consumed while listening to the new Divine Fits album.