63 Tasting Notes
I wanted to like this tea because it sounded really interesting when I read about it. Opening the sample pack it seemed promising, smelling of orchids and fresh vegetation pretty equally. I used the whole 5g sample for 200ml of 80C water.
I want to say “1st steep” here like normal, but I didn’t get past that one, and that was for just over one minute. The wet leaf smelled much more of cooked greens with a little bit of orchid. First I noticed a strong and lasting bitterness. Then I could find the cooked greens and orchid like in the wet leaf. And then the bitterness again. And maybe that developed into a mineral-like taste. And then just that bitterness.
I don’t think I did anything wrong here because I used my Breville One-Touch as a variable temp kettle, so the water was definitely right. Teavivre recommended steeps of 1, 2, and 3 minutes, so I didn’t oversteep. I tried all afternoon to make myself want to try for a second steep. I just couldn’t do it. I don’t want to blame the tea, so I’ll just say maybe it isn’t for me. I don’t know if I’ll try the second sample or not.
I’ve been really excited to try this Boysenberry Matcha since I saw it on sale, but I needed to wait until I was ready and able to purchase the other various things for matcha (bowl, whisk, etc.) first. And then it was also prudent for me to order another flavour at the same time to help justify the shipping to Australia. (On a side note, Red Leaf Tea’s international postage prices are very reasonable, at least to Australia! I’m so glad it’s a calculated rate, not a flat rate.)
Here’s what I ordered: the small (30g) size in Starter Grade matcha with the Distinctive Flavor level and a small tin. And here’s where you can get yours: http://www.redleaftea.com/matcha-tea/boysenberry-matcha.html
When I opened the gold foil pouch (non-resealable, by the way, so get a tin if you don’t already have one), I knew I did not let myself down in getting this. There were only one or two reviews for the boysenberry here when I placed my order, so I was taking a little leap of faith with it, but I did not go unrewarded for my boldness. Sweet, juicy boysenberries with their playful tartness filled my senses. Oh, but that’s not all. There was also that lovely floral smell I noticed in the caramel matcha I had for the last two days, the scent of good sencha and gyokuro, lurking in the background.
The lattes I made with the caramel matcha were a success, but the berries smelled so good that I continued in my resolve from earlier in the morning to make this one with just water. And a little Splenda, mind you. So I used 2 scoops (about 1 teaspoon), poured in about 60ml (2oz.) of 80C water and got to whisking. I didn’t get quite as much froth this morning, but that was more than likely me. Then I topped it up with what seemed to be close to another 175-200ml (6-7oz.) of water. It looked like I had right about a cup of emerald goodness in my bowl, so I think my eyeball estimates were pretty good.
And as if on cue, a little someone needed their bottom to be cleaned. Now I wouldn’t normally include something like this as part of a review, certainly not one meant to be appetizing, but it has a purpose: just trust me here. As Lil’ Miss and I reached the top of the stairs to come back down to my awaiting bowl of warm matcha, I was taken aback by the definite smell of boysenberries from all the way down in the kitchen! Remarkable!
So I was now even more excited to try this. Oh, it was just wonderful. Juicy and sweet-tart with a hint of that white floral I noticed in the dry matcha. I liked this one quite a bit more than the caramel matcha, and that one was good too. But it’s so hard to pass up beautiful fruit, and the same goes for fruit flavoured tea.
I know I got this on sale, and it’s not at that sale price anymore, but I tell you it is worth every penny and more. Don’t be the least bit afraid that there aren’t that many reviews for this flavor (yet). It’s a rather new option, and I’m so glad it’s there. More than that, I’m glad it’s here with me too!
I was holding off giving this matcha a number rating until I made it again. As I said yesterday, while I enjoyed it as my First Ever Matcha, there were a couple of things I’d do (only slightly) differently: make it a little sweeter and with warmer milk. Check and check. The result was a real success! I liked it yesterday—and loved the steady buzz with no crash—but this time it’s much more to my immediate liking, right from the first sip! I can see Red Leaf Tea’s matchas becoming a regular part of my morning. Look out, kids, here comes Mommy with energy to burn!
Here it is, my first ever matcha. And what else should I choose, but the highest rated matcha here on Steepster?
Everyone raves about the fast shipping from Red Leaf Tea. Unfortunately I had a longer wait than most since I live in Australia. But to receive my order in just over a week from the other side of the world is not bad at all! I should just consider it as exercise for my patience.
First, for the details. I ordered the small 30g size in the Starter Grade and selected the Distinctive Flavor level. With that I also ordered the small tin since, as others have mentioned, the slick, gold pouch the matcha comes in is not resealable. I also took the option of ordering a bamboo whisk, spoon and scoop. I ordered a chawan (matcha bowl) and whisk keeper elsewhere since Red Leaf Tea doesn’t sell these. But it’s a great deal to get the whisk, spoon and scoop with your matcha if you’re in need of them!
Here’s where you can get it: http://www.redleaftea.com/matcha-tea/caramel-matcha.html
And the moment comes: I open the pouch and a beautiful, sweet smell comes wafting up to my nose. Caramel, yes, but also a white floral scent that you find with really good sencha and gyokuro. So, we’ve got flavour and quality, nice! And that’s just with the Starter Grade matcha!
I sift 2 scoops (about 1 teaspoon) into the bowl, pour in about 60ml of water (that’s about 2oz.) and start to whisk. It comes out a deep emerald green and beautifully frothy. Now, I’m a Southern girl that’s been transplanted Down Under. I’ve been doing all of my recent tea sample tasting without any additions of milk or sugar. But I know myself. My first matcha should be as a latte to give me the best conditions for trying out something that is so very different from any other tea I would normally have to start my day. I pour a little more than 200ml of lowfat milk into my new Bodum milk frother and start pumping. Half a minute later, the contents have more than doubled. I place it in the microwave for 20 seconds and then pour it all into the bowl of whisked matcha. A sprinkle of sugar, and fold to combine. Done. Now all of that is not too much effort for something that looks marvellous. It’s this beautiful, fluffy, mint green concoction that I know is full of goodness and outstanding flavour. I mean, it does taste good, right? I haven’t actually tasted it yet, now that I think about it.
First sip, I taste the matcha. I’m surprised by how much it tastes like a good, but strong, sencha. It takes me a couple of more sips to have the caramel develop. But there it is, not taking over, just playing its part. Actually, I’m finding the matcha itself a bit strong a character this early in the day, but I’m not yet a lifetime devotee to straight Japanese green teas. I realised as I was putting the matcha into its tin originally that I probably could have gone straight to the Robust Flavor level, but I wanted to give matcha a real chance. I’m still very glad I did. After all, this is my first ever matcha, and I made a good choice. I’ll maybe try it a little sweeter next time, and I’ll probably warm the frothed milk more than I did today.
But I’ll tell you what: I feel great today. I don’t feel the least bit tired, not even running around after my two-year-old while carrying my hefty six-month-old on my hip. It’s a few hours later, and coffee would have made me crash a while ago. The matcha? Nope. I’m going strong and not the least bit let down.
I had been saving this sample for towards the end of my sample stash because I tend to save the best things for last. But I’m having a really hard time right now and I need to calm down and treat myself.
I was a little confused about how much to use for my teapot with 200ml of water. Teavivre’s site says 1tsp and equates that to 7g, and that’s not right. Others here have mentioned using 1tsp. Most notes though haven’t said outright how much they used, but hinted that they used the whole sample pack of 7g. I hedged my bets and used 3.5g, which turned out to be exactly my tea scoop that is 1.5tsp! With that amount I did Teavivre’s recommendation of 1, 2, and 3min steeps.
1st steep: On opening the pack, I was met, no, I was virtually mugged by sweet jasmine. But mugged in a good way, of course. Behind that was a subtle woody scent. After the steep, the pearls were only starting to open, and the woody scent seemed to be in the middle of the jasmine now, making me picture a swirling ball of jasmine with a small, central core of the woody-ness. It was just like being able to smell the flower and its stem. Tomato lovers know that a tomato smells best when it still has some vine attached, and this is the same; you get a fuller sensation. In the cup it was just the same, and all the heady aromas really filled my mouth and nose.
2nd steep: The pearls were most unfurled now, but they still kept the general pearl shape in the centers. This was very much like the first cup, but the woody scent in the wet leaf was now much more like green tree sap, a bit richer and deeper. I wouldn’t have expected to pick up on that. Rather proud of myself there.
3rd steep: I’m surprised that there still seems to be some centers of pearls mostly together. Looks like I could get another steep from this, but it’s getting late. I’ll have to try getting to four steeps next time. It’s also not noticeably different from the previous cup.
This is so smooth and velvety that it is almost creamy as someone else here mentioned. I haven’t tried the lower-priced Premium Jasmine Dragon Pearls, but based on everything I’ve had so far from Teavivre, I can’t imagine they would be a disappointment. But it looks like I’ll be getting one or the other of them for my permanent stash!
I’ve got a quiet night to myself. Husband is out for a couple hours, kids are sleeping, and I’ve already passed my caffeine limit for the evening. The nice tang of this lets me have something sweet and light that’s also warming on this cool night. I really can’t feel ever guilty about Turkish Apple.
This is what happens when I make Indian for dinner: I have chai for the next few days. I agree with everyone about the heavy clove in this. It took me a few times to get used to it, but that was a couple years ago now. So it’s been in my cupboard ever since. I know that it’s not my favourite chai that I’ve tried, but T2 is the most convenient tea company for me, especially given Australia’s insanely tight customs regulations. I simply wouldn’t be able to order chai from overseas. Well, I suppose I could order it; I just wouldn’t recieve it. Ideally I’d like to make my own masala chai blend, but I want to make sure I could find the freshest spices before I laid out the money gathering it all together.
In any case, I made a concentrate to go through the next few days. Then I filled my cup with 1/3 chai and 2/3 milk (spoiling myself with whole milk today) a little honey and a little sugar. Despite the way that sounds, it’s not very sweet, but just sweet enough. I finish it off with nutmeg that I freshly grate over the top while the tea is still moving from the stirring. When the nutmeg hits the surface it magically spreads out, looking like a swirling, spicy universe in my cup. What a nice way to start the day.
So, Oriental Beauty, the oolong everyone raves about from the tea company everyone raves about. It’s a pretty tea when dry with colors ranging from pale yellow, golden, red-brown to almost black. I can find scents of honey, peach and bread. I’m following Teavivre’s recommendation of 30sec, 1min and 2min steeps at 85C.
1st steep: I’m going to start getting a reputation for painting strange flavor “pictures” here if things keep going the way they have, and this tea isn’t going to help! The wet leaf first smelled like the wonderful crust of freshly baked bread, and then—wait for it—Southern-style green beans. The type that’s been cooked to an inch of its life, with bacon (and plenty of bacon fat) and sugar added. Reminds me of my favourite BBQ restaurants back home. For a homesick South Carolinian, it’s hard to get past that, but if I really push through it I think I can find some peach following it up. And that was just the wet leaf! This first cup was quite light in color, like fresh peach juice, and very smooth. The flavors are buttery with bread, honey and peach, but not exactly sweet.
2nd steep: This steep is darker, like copper. A gentle bitterness this time. The flavors are mostly related to what I found in the 1st steep, but they’re in a different order and there are some additions. First is buttery, baked fruit (mainly peach), then cinnamon, wood, and freshly baked bread. There’s a slight note of liquorice that comes towards the end, but it’s not strong or unpleasant (as I don’t like liquorice). But the overall impression I get from this steep is remembering when I would spread a piece of pane di casa with some ricotta, put sliced peach on top with a little brown sugar and cinnamon, then grill it. That’s not all that sweet, and neither is this tea, which is surprising considering the flavors involved.
3rd steep: The bitterness more noticeable this time, but it’s not offensive. The flavors are now pretty well restrained to butter, honey, peach and bread, and they’re all a good bit weaker. There’s not really that much to say about this steep. The bitterness did make this last steep not as easy-drinking as the last steep of most other teas I’ve had. I’m not saying it was bad, just that I simply noticed the bitter taste each sip. I couldn’t mindlessly drink it while reading, say.