Kukicha Green Tea by Aiya America

Steeping specs: 3 g 1 cup 175° 1.5 minutes

This one was a tea that I could not find on the company’s website, so please forgive me if I don’t steep it according to the ideal specifications. I kind of guessed a bit and I hope I didn’t steep it too hot. It turned out pretty well with the steeping specs I tried, but who knows what would happen with different steeping specs? (I didn’t have a large enough sample to really experiment.)

As it steeps I’m catching buttery, seaweedy fragrances. After steeping, the liquid isn’t nearly as clear as I would’ve expected. It’s cloudy and has what look like tiny T specks throughout the liquid, similar to matcha specks (?) and much smaller than the type of tea specks that normally escape from my tea strainer. So I’m thinking maybe this is an intentional feature of this tea and not a bug. It doesn’t seem to detract from the drinking experience at all and does enhance the tea’s strength.

The flavor is rich and full, with vegetal savory notes, not bitter, and only a little astringent. And it’s very fragrant, but not really floral– it’s more on the grassy side. Its flavor is not just vegetal, but savory in a smooth and buttery kind of way which creates a cohesive flavor profile.

This seems to be quite a strong green tea with plenty of flavor, yet without any unpleasant bitterness. It goes well with sugar too, but seems to be a somewhat less immersive experience somehow once the sugar has been added. Also, I notice the seaweedy notes more once sugar has been added.

This tea is great for when you want a strong, unflavored and non-floral green tea that’s more on the savory side and yet has a very strong presence of its own without any bitterness. (If you don’t like the tiny specks floating around your tea, I would recommend using a very fine steeping mesh or strainer.)


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Green
Where to Buy:  Aiya 
Description

Kukicha literally means “stem tea” and is made from different varieties of tea stems. Aiya’s Kukicha is a blend of stems from Gyokuro and Sencha. Most of Kukicha available in the market is made by stems from 100% Sencha, however, Aiya’s Kukicha is adding more than 50% of Gyokuro stems for more natural sweetness and rich aroma

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Matcha to Go from Aiya

Today I am reviewing Matcha to Go from Aiya!! When I first opened the stick-pack (easy to use, and perfect for while on the go), there was a very earthy scent. There was a scent that I couldn’t quite place, but after a while I realized that the scent reminded me of seaweed.

Once I stirred and let the tea cool for just a bit, that allowed the earthy matcha scent to become pleasantly strong.

To me the taste is a bit bitter and very much like the scent. However, I figured, from the dark green color, that this would be the case. I know that ceremonial matcha is different from my personal favorite (the kind filled with sugar, a thick latte), so I will try adding a bit of sugar to see if that will make a difference.

Once the sugar was added, that helped!! It’s more mellow, and the slight seaweed taste was no longer there. This tea is, what I would call, a ceremonial matcha (from my own experience) tea, bitter without sugar and more mellow with; it’s also much thinner than the thick latte kind. It’s healthier too. *wink* In fact, Matcha to Go won the Clean Choice – Clean Eating – Award in 2015!!

You can drink this tea hot or cold, so if you love a matcha smoothie, I think it’s worth a try.

It’s not a hot tea for me, though I am interested in trying some Matcha to Go in a smoothie!! If you prefer stronger flavors, healthier tea, some caffeine and a quick pour and stir or shake (I recommend doing so with quite a bit of speed, as I noticed I had some powder left in my tea), try Matcha to Go and let us know what you think!!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Green/Matcha
Where to Buy: Aiya

logoDescription

All of Aiya’s Matcha is produced in the Nisho region of Aichi prefecture, Japan, where the finest Matcha has been grown for over 800 years.

Each box of Matcha to Go contains ten-4 gram single-serving sticks.

Ingredients: Ceremonial Grade Matcha Green Tea, Non-GMO Soluble Corn Fiber (Dietary Fiber)

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Matcha to Go Stick-Packs from Aiya

MatchatogoTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Aiya

Tea Description:

Similar to Aiya’s flagship Ceremonial Matcha, Matcha to Go is intended to be used with water exclusively so as to enjoy the pure, smooth tea flavor.  Either cold or hot, simply open the single-serve stick, add directly to water and quickly stir – there is no need to sift first or even whisk!  

Matcha to Go Sticks are designed to make Matcha drinks as quickly and easily as possible.  By blending Matcha with dietary fiber, we have eliminated Matcha clumping, making it easier to mix into hot water with just a spoon.   For an Iced-Matcha on the go, just pour the stick into a bottle of water, shake and enjoy!

All of our Matcha is grown and produced in Nishio city in Aichi prefecture, known the world over as the cradle of the finest Matcha for more than 800 years.  

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I have enjoyed many different teas from Aiya, so when they approached me to sample their new Matcha-To-Go sticks, I was excited.  They have some of the VERY BEST Matcha that I’ve ever tried so if this new product was anything like the Matcha teas that I’ve sampled in the past, I knew it was going to be really good.

And it is!

The product label states that this Matcha can be enjoyed both hot or cold, and for the purposes of this review, I decided to try this tea both ways.  First, I tried it cold.  I grabbed my 16.9 ounce water bottle that was chilling in the fridge.  Then I added one of the “pixie” stick packs of the Matcha into the bottle, screwed on the cap and gave it a vigorous shake or two.

Mmm!  Tasty!  I’ve tried quite a few of these convenient “pixie stick” Matcha packs at this point and some are better than others.  This one is one of the very best that I’ve tried.  I can taste the quality of the Matcha here.  This is a really top quality Matcha!  It is sweet and it has that silky texture that you expect from a high quality Matcha.  No bitterness whatsoever!

This is sweet and buttery.  It has a vegetal flavor, of course, with a creamy texture and a buttery flavor to complement the texture.

This is the kind of “instant” tea that I can enthusiastically recommend to those who are looking for the ideal tea while on the go.  It is everything that you would expect from a top notch Matcha, but prepared in a water bottle so that you can take it with you.

Then I decided to prepare it hot.  After I had prepared it the way I would normally prepare a chawan of Matcha, I wished I had instead gone a less traditional route and tried stirring it in a tea mug or something, like someone who didn’t have the “proper tools” to enjoy Matcha would.  But, I didn’t think about that when I started preparing this.  I thought:  Matcha?  OK, I need my chawan.  But really, you don’t need a chawan.  You can prepare Matcha in a cereal bowl … or as I eluded to above, you could prepare one of these pixies of Matcha in a tea mug or other drinking vessel.

When it came to stirring, I grabbed my chasen (bamboo whisk) and again, I wish I would have thought to grab a spoon instead and tried to stir it the way someone who was less familiar with Matcha might approach their first experience with this tea.  Oh well!  A spoon would work just fine, although you won’t get very much froth with a spoon.

Then again, with this particular Matcha product, I didn’t get a lot of froth anyway.  It does froth up a little bit, but not nearly as much as a traditional ceremonial Matcha would.  And the froth disappears really quickly.

But the flavor that I expect from a ceremonial Matcha is there!  It tastes great!  Sweet with absolutely no bitterness.  Smooth and creamy.  Buttery notes and hints of cacao that are more noticeable in this hot version than they were in the cold bottle.  I don’t notice anything from the fiber except for the possibility of a somewhat thicker texture.  It’s barely noticeable and I only noticed it because I was trying to focus on whether or not I was noticing anything from the dietary fiber.  So … it could have all been in my head.

Anyway … this is a superb to-go instant tea!  One of the best products of it’s kind, if you’re a Matcha lover or just someone who appreciates good tea and wants something of high quality to-go, this product is for you.

Organic Kukicha Green Tea from Aiya

KukichaTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Aiya

Tea Description:

Nothing is wasted as the stems are thoroughly removed from organically grown Gyokuro and Sencha. Not only will you enjoy the sweet aroma and crisp flavor with refreshing aftertaste, you will also be drinking the most environmentally friendly tea.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Having previously tried and reviewed Aiya’s conventionally grown Kukicha – and loving that – I was pretty sure I’d like this Organic Kukicha Green Tea from Aiya as well.   I have enough confidence in this company to know that whatever I try from them, I’m probably going to like.  All the teas I’ve tried from them thus far have been stellar.

And this is a REALLY good Kukicha.  It might very well be the best Kukicha that I’ve tried to date.  It has a really fresh, lush taste to it.  It tastes to me like it was just picked!  Not that I’ve had experience with “just picked” tea, so when I say this, I mean to say that the flavor tastes extraordinarily fresh.

The aroma of the dry leaf reminds me of the first grass cutting in spring.  After a long, cold winter, the new buds of grass offer such a fresh, sweet fragrance, and after that first mowing … the air is so exhilarating!  That’s what I experienced when I opened my package of this tea.  The bouquet does taper after brewing, but I can still smell some of that fresh, grassy scent.

I love the flavor of this.  It tastes so vibrant and yet it casts a calming effect over me as I sip it.  It is a very relaxing tea to drink.  It tastes light, sweet, and grassy, and it has a slightly astringent tail.  Similarly to the previously reviewed Kukicha from Aiya, I find this to be more savory than sweet.

However, unlike the previously reviewed Kukicha, I notice fewer nutty tones here and more floral and even some fruity tones to this.  The fruit and flower notes are somewhat distant and do not intrude upon the sweet yet savory grassy tones, instead, they peek through the grass and hint at their flavors, teasing the palate.

It is very refreshing as it washes over the palate.  I can feel my palate feeling renewed as I sip this.  It’s an excellent kukicha – and I love that its organic!

Hojicha Green Tea from Aiya

hojichaTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Aiya

Tea Description:

Known for its unique, strong, roasted flavor, Hojicha is made by roasting lower grade Sencha and Bancha. Although Hojicha is from the green tea family, the roasting process turns its leaves to an autumn brown. Hojicha has a very distinct, mild and nutty flavor. It also contains less caffeine and tannins, resulting in a less astringent flavor.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I love the toasty, cozy taste of this Hojicha Green Tea from Aiya.  The roasting of the Sencha and Bancha leaves creates such a lovely, nutty flavor that has a hint of caramel undertones.

Aiya has delivered another excellent tea!  This tea is just exactly what I’ve come to expect from a good Hojicha.  The leaves are a beautiful shade of tan that smell warm and toasty, like freshly roasted nuts.  When brewed, the liquid is golden tan and fragrant.

The cup tastes smooth with a light astringency.  There is no bitterness.  The usual “vegetal” notes that you’d experience with Sencha and Bancha teas have become a sweet, warmly roasted flavor that is not grassy or vegetative.  Instead, it reminds me vaguely of almonds that have just come out of the oven after being lightly toasted.  The aftertaste is delicate and sweet.

The flavor is so soothing.  It’s the kind of tea that I like to curl up to on chilly days like this one.  When it’s cold and blustery out there, I like to be inside with my hands wrapped around a warm, porcelain mug of hot Hojicha like this one.