412 Tasting Notes

drank Caramel Matcha by Red Leaf Tea
412 tasting notes

Yay caramel matcha! I’ve heard so many good things about this flavor, I figured it was the perfect one to use for some comparison testing, so I got three combinations. This review is for the Classic green matcha with delicate flavoring, and it’s already really good, so I can’t wait to see what the others are like.
I prepared this hot, classic style, which is not usually my favorite so it bodes well when I like a matcha made this way – and I do! This is rich, and strong, and the flavor is very true. It probably helps that caramel is a flavor that works well when warm, and that I’m used to a bit of bitterness from the green tea base when prepared hot (I don’t have that issue when it’s cold generally, and yes, I am careful about my water temp). This is like what really dark caramels seasoned with matcha powder might taste like

Ohhhh and this is even more delicious with a bit of milk. Just a little! But it smooths out that bitterness, and brings out the green tea flavor a bit, which I appreciate! There’s a reason I don’t get the super strong flavoring. I am curious to see how the distinctive flavoring will compare with this, so that one’s probably up next!

You can buy this for yourself at http://www.redleaftea.com/matcha-tea/caramel-matcha.html

185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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drank Tiramisu Matcha by Matcha Outlet
412 tasting notes

Mmmm tiramisu matcha. I suppose I should branch out into the fruit or plain matchas eventually, but I’ve been having a lot of fun with the desserts so far. Opening the package today, this smelled creamy, chocolatey, and there was a little fruity sharpness to it also.

I prepared this the traditional way at first: 1 gram of matcha to about 4oz water – at this level I have enough matcha to get a decent froth and enough water that it doesn’t taste too thick and powdery for me to drink. I’ve given up on my chashaku, by the way, and just use a 1/2 tsp now because that is very close to 1 gram. The chashaku, once I measured, was giving me anywhere from .55 to 1.2 grams, depending on the angle I held it at and how the matcha piled.

Anyway, it tasted good just like that! I could have drunk the whole bowl straight, but I couldn’t resist adding a little milk – still good, but different! Much creamier, and the flavor got muted a bit. With just water, I could taste the flavors better – there’s so many that they’re hard to pull out, but the overall impression definitely aligns with tiramisu: cream, chocolate, sharpness that could come from coffee or cheese, fruitiness that I’ll attribute to rum :) I suspect this will be even better cold!

The was the starter grade of green matcha with delicate flavoring, and you can buy it at: http://www.redleaftea.com/matcha-tea/tiramisu-matcha.html

185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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Yum yum yum – this is all sweet and fruity and delicate and full-flavored at the same time. Like a good flavored white tea! I might have to try the Yabao on its own, because I’m having a hard time tasting the difference between it and a good white tea. The dry leaf is gorgeous, very fluffy with all the flowers and fruits and big buds.

Has anyone else had the Raspberry Champagne White tea? I know Red Leaf sells it, and a few other companies – this is like what all of those are trying to be :D That’s really the best description I can think of at the moment. I’m really glad I ordered this, and sorry it’s already gone… oh well. Out with the old, in with the new!

8oz water, 2 tsp tea, 3 steeps so far

185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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I do love all the natural flavorings in Nature’s Tea Leaf’s teas. Not “natural flavors” but: my cinnamon oolong has big chunks of cinnamon bark in with the oolong tea – and that’s all. Using dried herbs, fruits, and flowers makes the flavors more real, but also often makes them blend better in my experience.

This is a green oolong, which I generally find buttery and floral, but a pretty light one. There’s a lot of cinnamon in the aroma, but the taste is well-balanced and, yes, buttery. therefore it reminds me of cinnamon rolls :D It’s not like eating a cinnamon roll – not sweet enough, also liquid – but it’s intensely reminiscent of one.

there’s a little bit of astringency or dryness when drinking – not enough to be unpleasant, rather it gives the tea some heft and character. There’s a lovely lingering aftertaste that has some of those floral notes I was expecting, and that were subdued in the scent and drinking taste.

ETA: On a second steep the cinnamon is less pronounced, but still present and adding a pleasant sweet/spicy richness to the oolong.

Very enjoyable! Unique and highly recommended

2tsp leaf to 8oz water, as recommended

195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 15 sec

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Sweet and sour is right! I was expecting this to be very tart – I drank straight hibiscus tea for quite awhile until I burned out on it, so recognized the smell right away. The color is quite pink for green tea, but also a bit orangey – I’d say a rich salmon hue overall :)

Upon sipping, at first the flavor is just like the smell: sour and fruit. But then I got a lot of sencha on the middle- and after-taste, which surprised me (pleasantly!) The sencha gives a really solid base to the tea, adding some savoriness to balance the sour. I often add honey to fruit teas, but something about the sencha flavor made me want to drink this straight – it just blended so interestingly with the fruit, I didn’t want to overwhelm that with sweetness and lose the complexity.

There is still a lot of hibiscus and rosehip flavor overall (the orange is less prominent to me), but this is a pretty good blend considering the tendency of hibiscus to dominate anything it touches.

I expect this will last more than one steep, and I’m curious how the balance will shift. It would probably also be very good cold!

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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Oh this is neat: a floral and approachable pu’erh blend. The lavender is distinctive (prominent and unusual) and blends with the pu’erh in very interesting ways – reminds me of cinnamon, somehow, with the combination of earthiness and menthol. The flavors meld quite well overall, which I didn’t expect from rose, jasmine, lavender and pu’erh. The jasmine is probably the hardest for me to pick out. I was dubious about the steeping instructions too, but it came out just right. I’m quite curious to see if this will resteep well, as that’s one of the things I like about pu-erh

A second steep (higher temp, longer time since I forgot about it..) is mostly pu’erh, with only a hint of flowers to soften it. Still quite tasty! but the first steep is the one I’d hand to someone dubious about pu’erh :)

This is the second of my free samples from Nature’s Tea Leaf, and my favorite so far! I also really like the steeping instructions on their packaging, customized for each tea and right on the front label.

2 generous tsp leaf to 8oz water

185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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This is so delicious – I made it quick before going into a meeting today, and anytime I start to space out I can just inhale and it’s: dark chocolate. rose. citrus. Are there melted truffles in my cup??? There is a solid black tea flavor too, the laoshan black is just so chocolatey when hot – that’s always what I notice.

The flavor is losing a little intensity as it cools to lukewarm, but I remember this was good chilled so I’m putting the rest in the fridge for later!

I’m very glad I ordered more of this!

2 rounded tsp, three 6 oz steeps all poured off into one big mug

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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Cold-brewed overnight, 4 tsp tea (came out to 10g) for 20oz water.

Color: light yellow/olive, slightly opaque. Scent: not much, because it’s cold, but gingery! Maybe a little lemon too. Taste: Wow that’s spicy. Herb-spice, not pepper-spice. I decided to add some honey to this because I was finding the rosemary and ginger pretty overwhelming; with honey, everything is smoothed out a bit and I can taste more of the lemon. This is very tangy and refreshing; the word “tonic” comes to mind. I haven’t had rosemary in beverages often, so that’s really standing out to me.
The white tea is completely overwhelmed by the spices, at least with the way I brewed it; their website recommends steeping hot then pouring over ice. Maybe I’ll try that next time.

Overall, this is very refreshing and tastes like it’s good for you :) I’d drink it on a hot day, or if I had an upset stomach. This is going on my list of “teas to drink when sick”

Iced 8 min or more

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Wow, the dry matcha smells incredibly strong, like I just opened a pack or oreos, but a little thicker and creamier.

I prepared this in a way that is quickly becoming my standard, since I got some good smoothie cups to take to work: 2 chashaku scoops of matcha, fill the 16oz cup about half way with water, blend (OMG my stick blender makes this so easy – no lumps! Nice froth! No sifting needed!) fill the rest of the cup with whole milk and ice. My matcha lattes stay cold easily for a couple hours, which is plenty of time for me to drink them :)

My first impression upon sipping this one agrees with the smell of thedry matcha: the flavor is strong and noticeable. The green tea flavor is actually pretty overwhelmed. It must just be something about the Cookies & Cream flavor, as opposed to the others I’ve tried, but this is kind of like being hit in the face with a carton of cookies ‘n’ cream ice cream. It’s definitely a contrast to the Royal Bavarian Cream I had yesterday, and even stronger than my “distinctively” flavored cheesecake matcha. I found myself wondering if I somehow prepared this stronger than usual? It’s possible, but if that were the case I’d expect more green tea flavor too, and that’s not what I’m getting here.

As you may have figured out, the flavor is really too strong for my taste (even on delicate, which this is) and comes across kind of artificial to me. Boo! This is the first time I’ve had that issue with Red Leaf’s matcha – I thought maybe they were magic :/ However! The aftertaste is quite good, as if I’ve been eating that cookies & cream ice cream I mentioned and just set it down for a minute. I think I need to give this another chance, so I’ll try preparing it in the classic style (warm, whisked) as well as cold with just water – hopefully one of those will work better for me.

If you are a big cookies & cream fan, I would certainly recommend this, with the caveat to try the delicate flavor first! On the other hand, if you’ve been looking for a matcha flavor that lets you forget you’re drinking matcha – look no further! This is like a cookies & cream milkshake all on its own :P

You can buy it for yourself at http://www.redleaftea.com/matcha-tea/cookies-and-cream-matcha.html


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Some notes on ratings:

I’d have separate rating scales for tea types if that were possible (probably Black, Flavored Black, Darjeeling/Dark Oolong, White/Green/Light Oolong, and Herbal) because the flavors and quality markers are just too different. A flavored black rated 100 isn’t better than every oolong I’ve ever drunk, just delicious for a flavored black.

Ratings are a combination of my enjoyment and the perceived quality – I do often demote teas a few points for artificial flavorings, small quantity of steeps supported, or weakness of flavor (requiring extra leaf).

I pay less attention to the number than the order of my ratings; I don’t necessarily keep a stock of everything rated 80+, but if two breakfast blends are rated 82 and 84 I consistently enjoy the 84 more.

And in case it’s not obvious? I am not an expert. I don’t even know what I like until I taste it sometimes, but I’m ok with that :) I like learning to like new teas, as well as enjoying the comfort of familiar ones.


Boston, MA



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