Well I ran out of my subpar Ito-en Matcha Love Usucha, so I picked this Kuma Tea up from Amazon. It was available on Prime (meaning I get my matcha fix quicker), had a fair price and good reviews, and it has an adorable bear on it and is named “bear” (kuma) tea in Japanese so, well, they’ve exploited all my weaknesses here! Fast, cheap, high-reviews and cute animals! How could I resist???
I’m absolutely willing to desecrate this ceremonial grade tea by making matcha lattes with it but first I will try it in its intended use. Some reviews said this tea is even good enough to make koicha (thick matcha, which uses twice as much powder and half as much water), and that can typically only be done with really high quality matcha. I am going to make it as usucha (light matcha) this time with just two chashaku of tea, 70ml of water, and a whisk.
Opening the can, the powder color is a nice medium green. Sifting 2 chashaku of the powder into my pre-heated chawan, the aroma is very sweet! I’m getting heavy notes of dates and berries, I’m thinking either blackberry or cherry. Off to a great start here!
After adding the water I’m greeted by a rich umami scent, reminding me of seaweed, then after whisking, this has mellowed out to a scent that reminds me of spiced roasted nuts, still very sweet.
The flavor is not at all what I expected. It starts with sweetness and vegetal flavors like cooked cabbage or brussels sprouts (sweeter than raw ones) . There is a lot of complexity to it with subtle notes of vanilla and coriander. The finish has a lingering tartness and a tiny sting of bitterness. The lingering taste in my mouth is tart and slightly floral, reminding me vaguely of salted sakura leaves (which are similar in taste to the sakura/cherry blossoms but more perfumy and fragrant).
I must say this matcha does not taste at all as I expected it would, and I’m rather pleased with it. The complexity was unexpected, and the balancing umami, vegetal, sour, and bitter notes were not expected. From its sweet scent I expected something more mild-mannered and overall creamy, nutty, and sweet. If I have anything negative to say about this tea it’s that I feel it would be even better with just a bit less of the tartness and bitterness.
So I guess if really mellow matcha is your cup of tea, this one may not be for you. If you like a tea that makes you smack your chops and think “What am I tasting?” because there are layers of nuance, you might like this. When I bought this it was $20/oz so where organic ceremonial grade matcha is concerned, that’s not gonna break the bank. Sure as heck cheaper than buying daily drinks from a coffee/tea shop.
I’ll add an edit to this when I try it as an iced matcha latte, so check back to my review later today if you’re interested!
Flavors: Berries, Bitter, Coriander, Dates, Nuts, Seaweed, Spices, Sweet, Tart, Umami, Vanilla, Vegetables