94 Tasting Notes
Gentle but flavorful. The chai aromas and spices are out front and center, but not overpowering to the degree that they’re crying out for milk. The spice mix seems to lean heavily on cinnamon, which is probably my least favorite component of chai (reminds me too much of Big Red gum) – I could have much preferred a stronger cardamom, clove, or even almond presence.
Flavors: Cardamon, Cinnamon
Excellent green oolong, with a strong buttery component and a wonderful flower-sweet aftertaste. The smell of the cup is sweetness, kind of like honey and bananas (?) and just barely gardenia/jasmine-y. Perhaps this all, combined, is what honeysuckle smells like?
I was expecting the flavor to be like a green Tie Guan Yin, but this pouchong is more alike buttered sweet vegetables than the magnolia and gardenia bouquet of TGY. The sweetness of this cup is amazing…it’s making me think of honey drizzled on french bread, for some reason.
The first time I made this blend (Masala Chai + Irish Breakfast), I tried to brew it like a regular tea and added milk. The result? Gag-worthy roasted yam juice tea. Today, I thought I’d try this again, this time making this in a more authentic way. I used teaplz’s instructions as restated by Kitch3ntools (http://steepster.com/Kitch3ntools/posts/21032), and I also added 4 green cardamom pods to the saucepan as it was brewing. I just eyeballed the amounts and might have used a bit more sugar that was called for, but the result was delicious! Yay!
The spice mix tastes very similar to my mom’s homemade chai. The dry leaf smells like cinnamon, which I wasn’t too thrilled about, but I can’t really taste any in the final cup. I like that there are whole cloves in the mix. The balance of tea to spices was perfect for me. I do wish the base had more English Breakfast than Irish Breakfast in it, as I don’t really like Irish Breakfast (too yam-ey). The malt from the IB comes through the milk just a smidge, so if you like that, you’ll probably really like this blend.
Oh, I really like this tea. I was not expecting to like this tea. I was expecting some kind of hibiscusy, bitter-crushed-up green tea, yucky herbal concoction. But the actual tea? It smelled like honey! Really! Like actual, from the jar, honey. And no hibiscus in sight! Along with the honey was a flowery taste, which I’m guessing is the ginseng. This tea would be any honey or sweet tea lover’s dream. I didn’t add any honey to my cup, but I’m sure this tea, with a bit of honey added, would convert any black/sweet tea drinker who thinks green tea tastes like water. This is a definite repurchase for me.
Wow…I kind of love this tea, and I have no idea how to order more of it! My mother actually found this in the clearance bin at the store. Needless to say, I wasn’t expecting much. However, upon opening the individually wrapped packets, I was happy see that these were actually whole leaf teas, encased in nylon sachets. Just under 3 minutes of steeping results in a well-balanced cup of jasmine white tea, with a hint of sweet orange. More than 3 minutes of steeping and the brew begins to get bitter, so it’s important to watch the time on this one. The tea is not too perfumey, and you can taste the white tea base. The orange is secondary to the jasmine and white tea, like a hint of flavor floating above the jasmine white tea base. The actual character of the orange flavor changes from sip to sip. Near the beginning of the cup, it reminded me of a sweet, “dark” orange flavor (like in orange soda, but less artificial); and now, by the end, I’m thinking of navel oranges. Mmm. I need to figure out how to get more of this….
Thank you Ricky for this sample and for being a very patient swap buddy :)
I love the smell of the strawberries in this mix…it’s like strawberry milk or strawberry ice cream. Yum. Unfortunately, my matcha is a little affected by the smell/taste of some of the other teas in the box, so I’m not sure how much of the mellowed, milky flavor is from the matcha itself and how much is from the other yummy teas Ricky sent me. :)
This matcha, like 52teas Mandarin Matcha, has a kind of strange sharp, sour note. I’m not sure why…I assumed in the case of the Mandarin Matcha it was the acidity of the orange, but the same sourness is in this matcha as well. Maybe its a preservative or a flavoring thing? Or just the quality of the matcha itself? Who knows, but it’s keeping me from really loving this.
My package finally arrived! Included was a 1.06 tin of ceremonial grade matcha and a bamboo whisk (chasen). Thank you to DoMatcha for holding this contest! I decided to go ahead and prepare this thick style right off the bat. For those who are unfamiliar with matcha, there are two ways matcha is usually prepared: thick style (koicha) and thin style (usucha). Koicha is prepared using more matcha and less water, and thus requires very high grade matcha; using a lower grade matcha to make koicha will result in a bitter, undrinkable mess. Generally speaking, the higher the grade of matcha, the sweeter and less bitter it will be. I’m using the directions a friend of mine told me about preparing koicha, as well as the instructions listed at http://www.yuuki-cha.com/matcha_green_tea_powder.php. Note: These directions are for koicha (thick) matcha, and not usucha.
1. Sift 3.5 chashaku scoops of matcha into pre-heated, dry bowl.
The chashaku is a bamboo scoop that comes with many matcha sets. I read on a blog that the amount of matcha in a single chashaku scoop should be about the size of an almond—if anyone has learned tea ceremony, please let me know if this is accurate.
2. Heat 40-50mL of water to a temperature between 70°C and 80°C (158°F and 176°F).
I went with just under 50 mL of 165°F water which probably cooled down a little before I had a chance to add it to the matcha powder.
3. Add a small amount of the water to the sifted matcha to create a thick paste. Using the chasen (bamboo whisk), knead (don’t whisk!) the water and matcha powder together using up/down and left/right motions, or a calm 360° rotating motion.
The water and matcha paste actually was fairly smooth from what I could see, probably thanks to the sifting. It almost looked like green paint.
4. Add the rest of the water to the matcha powder. Continue kneading, not whisking, the matcha. Koicha is not supposed to be frothy, and the kneading should produce a tea that is thick, smooth, and without froth.
The resulting tea was thick and smooth. I was shocked because there was absolutely no bitterness. None. Whatsoever. Maybe my taste buds are off because I’m used to drinking very concentrated matcha using crappy quality powder, but really: I didn’t taste any bitterness or astringency. The flavor of the matcha was a little more on the savory side than sweet. It was vegetal and just lightly sweet, similar to steamed green beans, and oh so creamy…mmm. There wasn’t much of a sea or seaweedy taste. There was no grittiness or left-over clumps, and there was such a small amount of tea (50 ml) that there was no opportunity for settling. The temperature was a bit cool for me, probably because I sifted the powder after the water was done heating up, instead of before, so it just sat on my counter losing heat. Oops.
I prepared a bowl of my really low grade matcha from Mighty Leaf in the same way, and the result was a very bitter and had a thinner mouthfeel, for some reason. So, another plus of the DoMatcha ceremonial grade: the mouthfeel was really smooth, thick, and creamy. The Mighty Leaf was also gritty and didn’t mix as well as the DoMatcha, but that might have been because of error in preparation.
Unfortunately, this is the first ceremonial grade matcha I’ve ever tried, so I don’t have anything to compare it to. However, this is a really delicious matcha, and the lack of bitterness, the sweetness and savoriness, and the creamy and thick mouthfeel all make this one a winner for me.