93 Tasting Notes
I finally was able to try out my new tea thermal! I ordered the Copco tea thermos (http://www.amazon.com/Copco-2510-4600-Tea-Thermal-Stainless/dp/B0028N6OLQ/ref=pd_sbs_k_1) which has a twistable infuser so you can stop steeping without having to dump the leaves. Unfortunately the inside of the mug is plastic, not steel…deceptive, because the outside is stainless steel!
Anyway, I decided to christen the thermal with one of my favorite teas, English Breakfast by Twinings. I heated the water and milk to boiling, put a little under 3 teaspoons of leaf in the infuser, added some Splenda and honey, and let it steep for a few minutes. The first thing I noticed was that the tea is HOT! And it refused to cool down until like an hour later…good if you’re planning on packing your tea for a long trip, but bad if you’re impatient like me :(
I’ve never made English Breakfast outside of the Zarafina, so it might have just been my weird steeping methods, but the tea did not taste very good. It actually tasted a lot like Irish Breakfast tea does…malty with notes of brown sugar and, um, sweet potato. I didn’t taste the delicious caramel-honey flavor English Breakfast with milk and honey usually gets. I don’t know if I added too much leaf, or oversteeped it, or if the temperature was off. I’m increasing the rating a little, just because before today, this tea has never let me down.
I found this on sale today at the store, so I picked up one box of this, along with a box of organic genmaicha. Instead of drinking this straight up, I made ochazuke with it! I layered cooked white rice, umeboshi (pickled plum) paste, wakame seaweed flakes, and bonito flakes in a bowl, poured a cup of hot green tea over it, and then topped it with some crumbled seaweed/wasabi flavored rice cake. Umai!
Oh wow…this tea is pretty darn good, even though it’s from a teabag and decaf. I wasn’t even keeping track of how long I steeped it, but I think it steeped pretty long, in boiling water…yet not a bit of bitterness! I added in some milk and Splenda, and the tea is strong enough to handle it. It tastes creamy, orangey, sugary, and flowery. It’s late, and I apologize if this note is just blah. But the tea itself? Good enough that it’s making me feel better since my kitty, who peed all over her own winter coat fur bloomers, backed up into my leg 5 minutes ago and got pee on me. :(
(Side note….should I take her for a haircut? It’s the middle of winter, but my apartment is really warm…)
I measured up 11 ounces of water. I heated the water to around 194 degrees. I added a little less than 1.5 teaspoons of dry leaf to my teapot. I timed it for 3:45. I tried it plain. With Splenda. With milk. But the result was always the same—no caramel!
This tea is yummy on its own, as a smoky, non-bitter, savory tea. The texture is like silk, and it goes down easily. I won’t have any trouble finishing it off. But I wanted caramel, damn it!
I’ve been craving some kind of strawberry kiwi high fructose corn syrup disaster all week, so when I saw this at the store this afternoon I immediately snatched it up. The smell of the leaves is unmistakably sweet strawberry kiwi high fructose corn syrup disaster, which I’m actually happy about!
Steeped up, the tea tastes like sour strawberry herbal tea. I’m not tasting any of the green tea, nor any sweet kiwi flavor. I’ve gotten used to drinking my teas without sweetener, so I was a little surprised by the fact that I wasn’t able to drink this tea, a fruit tea, on its own. I added a little Splenda, but unfortunately that didn’t work out. The sweetener didn’t blend into the flavor of the tea at all. Now the tea just smells like strawberries dipped in Splenda, with that characteristic “Splenda” taste. It tastes like Splenda in hot water mixed with strawberry juice. While I don’t hate Spelnda (I actually like it) I’m not really in the mood to drink Splenda Tea. So down the drain this cup goes.
I’ve found that it’s really hard to compare this to plain, unflavored matcha—they’re two different animals. Even though Mandarin Matcha isn’t the same as regular matcha, it’s still wonderful in its own way. The powder is olive green, rather than the bright, radioactive green of fresh matcha. I’m guessing the color is due to the pulverized dried orange that is mixed in with the matcha, and not just the quality of the matcha itself. The smell is flowery and sweet.
Today I’m using two scoops and 4 ounces of hot water. The color of the tea is a murky green, and quite a bit different from that characteristic jade green color of regular matcha tea. Mandarin Matcha does not foam, no matter how hard or how long I whisk it. Only a few weak bubbles appear at the surface.
The taste is a bit weaker and sweeter than regular matcha is at this concentration. I’m guessing this is because of the orange that’s mixed in with the matcha dilutes it. The orange taste is light and not artificial tasting. There is a strange sharpness or sourness near the back/middle of my tongue, but it’s bearable. Happily, there is no bitterness.
In exchange for the orange note, you do lose some of the vegetal/grassy flavor of regular matcha. At the same time, there is an interesting blossomy component to it that I didn’t taste in the plain matcha I have on hand. And oh, the smell! The smell of Mandarin Matcha is divine. Juicy orange, tart and sweet, cream, and matcha.
I think it’s a good change of pace from regular matcha. The novelty of the orange flavor certainly makes it worth trying. While I don’t know if I’d consider it the best matcha I’ve ever had, it has earned a place in my cabinet.