I’m really surprised this has so few reviews, considering you can buy this at asian grocery stores and health food stores all across America.
Skip this section if you don’t like anecdotes in reviews!
I had the pleasure/honor/curse of reviewing about 70 different matchas in a blind taste test a couple years ago for a company that sells matcha. This was done to help the vendor evaluate their products and decide on new matchas to source. Among the blind samples were also samples from other companies and vendors. The idea was that rating and ranking these teas would help this vendor understand how their matcha compared in quality and value to those from other companies. The experience was really fun, and at the same time daunting, and the end result was I burned out on matcha so badly I didn’t drink it for a year!
Now the matcha spark has been relit in me because I saw a beautiful chawan in an Asian market that I just had to buy. I’ve been broke this past year due to a move to my first house and various other factors, so for me it’s been rare to order or review any new teas. I feel like a ghost here since I used to be so active. Anyway, this matcha love usucha cost me a whopping $6 because Sprouts Farmer’s Market had it on sale for $10 and was running a $4 coupon at the same time. What better opportunity to try it?
Actual review begins here!
This was actually one of the matchas included in a blind taste test I did a couple years ago, but it has been so long since I had matcha that when I bought a tin of this recently I decided to just try this one over again before reading my initial evaluation from that taste test, give it a fresh chance.
I do want to share my initial impression though here. My initial rating for this tea back then was only 40/100. My notes read “This tea doesn’t leave a very strong impression. The scent and color were inviting, but the flavor is lacking and finishes moderately bitter. I’m mostly getting a seaweed impression from the flavor, and it’s a bit creamy as well. The bitter finish is unfortunate and really subtracts from the subtle flavors, which in themselves aren’t that easy to discern.”
Now, trying this again a couple years later, are my impressions the same? Has the company changed their product in any way? Let’s give it a try. I’m preparing this the traditional (a.k.a. ceremonial) way with the matcha whisked in about 2.5 oz of water.
This time around, I’ll start by saying the color and aroma are nice. The powder is a nice jade green. It’s not a very vivid color, but it is at least green and not tending toward the dingy yellows and browns of terrible matchas. The scent is sweet, mild, and nutty. The taste is, let’s be honest, rather unremarkable and difficult to describe. In fact, I’m just going to stick with my original description because I think that was a pretty accurate one!
I will say, I have been using this matcha also in soy-milk iced matcha lattes as well as for matcha affogato, and I’ve found both applications to be pretty good. This is not a matcha I’d recommend for traditional use unless you are like me and are scraping the bottom of your savings, yet desperate for matcha. For the modern “froufrou” uses, this one is just fine. I have to say I recall this tasting better a few weeks ago when I opened the tin. I haven’t stored it in refrigeration so I think maybe the powder has just gone “off” a bit since then. I feel pretty neutral about this matcha, so I’ll up my initial review score to a nice even 50. I don’t really feel it is good or bad. It’s just (barely) matcha. Take it or leave it.
I think for the price of this matcha though, you can do better. The tin seems cheaper than others but I only recently realized that it’s also because it is smaller than most that are available Stateside. Most matcha tins I’ve seen hold an ounce, while this one holds just over 2/3 of an ounce. The catch reveals itself.
Flavors: Bitter, Nutty, Seaweed, Vegetal