Product Review: Return of The Mega Matcha Showdown! Part 1

topmatchaphotoIt’s that time once again!

I have taken the (perhaps crazy) task of reviewing even more matcha than I anticipated:  Red Leaf Tea has asked me and a handful of skilled bloggers to take on the task of testing and comparing 30 or so different matcha in a large price range. I have been lax on comparing them, with traveling and whatnot, but I need to get cracking. Without further ado, here is the basic criteria in with I will be judging the teas by: Color, Texture, and Sweetness.

Note:  All the teas were provided to me for review by Red Leaf Tea. I was not aware of which brands were which beforehand.

Sample1
Starter Matcha

Starter Matcha

  • Color: 3
  • Sweetness: 5
  • Texture: 4

The first sample I had was a light olive drab. The matcha woke up a bit with some hot water, but did not foam very well. Even though this tea was a tad gritty, it was smooth and grassy, in a good way.

sample2
Deluxe Matcha

Deluxe Matcha

  • Color: 6
  • Sweetness: 5
  • Texture: 6

I would recognize RLT’s matcha anywhere, thanks to the last taste test. This floral and sweet matcha this one was an improvement.. A muted grassy color, I got some really nice foam from it, but it may have just been through practice, heh. The mixture was surprisingly tart, but still quite smooth.

sample3
JK Tea Shop Ceremony Grade Matcha

JK Tea Shop Ceremony Grade Matcha

  • Color: 6
  • Sweetness: 5
  • Texture: 5

Third one up! This one had a bit of a wet paint smell to it. The powder was a lighter, pastel shade of spring green. Not a favorite.

Sample4
Classic Matcha

Classic Matcha

  • Color: 6
  • Sweetness: 7
  • Texture: 6

Phew. At this time I realized that I had made a grave mistake. I hadn’t eaten before starting testing these, and I sure was feeling the effects. This one was the sweetest so far, with a lemony, acidic finish. It was a happy green color, which was promising.

sample5
Kiwami Supreme Ceremonial Matcha

Kiwami Supreme Ceremonial

  • Color: 7
  • Sweetness: 7
  • Texture: 7

This one smelled and tasted just like pistachios! There was some strong marine notes as well, and a smoothness to round it out.

 

Sample6
Yunomi Excellent Kitchen Grade Matcha

Yunomi Excellent Kitchen Grade Matcha

  • Color: 7
  • Sweetness: 8
  • Texture: 7

A really good one in the bunch. It also has a good color, not as neon as #4, but what this one lacks in color, it makes up in taste.

Thanks for tuning in folks! Will it ever end? Stay tuned next time for another installment of Matcha Madness!

Spring Old Tree Yue Guan Bai (White Moon Light) Jinggu Tea from JK Tea Shop

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  White

Where to Buy:  JK Tea Shop

Tea Description:

White moon light tea from Jinggu, is a kind a tea which does not fall into the six tea categories, due to its making techniques. Or to be more precisely, more people would like to define it as white tea; However, it also has its difference compared to white tea.

Invented by a Taiwan guy in Yunnan in 2003, this tea is made from big white hair big leaves tea trees from Jinggu. Only Jinggu has this type of tea trees, which is charaterized with silver tea hair. Its making process are summarized below: picking the fresh leaves; withering the tea leaves under the moon light to its complete dryness(unlike Pu Er tea, which must be withered under sun light); after the withering process is ok, then it is the finished product of white moon light tea. Since its witherness is conducted for a long time, it causes some interior oxidation by its interior enzymes. So that is why its tea liquid and aroma is so similiar to black tea. You will be surprised to see the tea liquid color turns to more and more red after several infusion.

Taster’s Review:

Dear Readers, I have a confession to make.

You see, I have a lot of tea in my possession.  Even before starting this blog, I had quite a stash of tea.  And at the time that we (Jennifer and I) started this blog, we received many wonderful samples from companies that wished to be featured on our blog.

Of course, we were very grateful for these opportunities, however, there was a downside.  That downside being that when we were offered these samples, I of course tried them (very enthusiastically!), but it left little time for the teas that I already had on hand, and those teas ended up getting buried underneath the new samples.

Recently, I embarked on a quest to try to gain some clarity and try to reorganize my stash.  I’ve been quite successful in this quest, I might add.  However, I’ve come across several teas that I had purchased at one time or another, and had forgotten about after receiving the aforementioned samples.

This happens to be one of those teas.  I purchased it in 2010, right about the same time that we started this blog, and it managed to get stashed away and forgotten.  And how sorry I am to have forgotten such a darling tea!

Yes, I know that time is not a tea’s best friend, however, this tea did remain in its sealed package until now, and after tasting it and comparing my thoughts about it with the above description from JK Tea Shop, I feel that the tea has managed to keep its flavors intact.  So, I think I shall proceed with this review!

I brewed this according to the suggestions on JK Tea Shop’s website using my gaiwan with 190° water and very short steeps (the first steep was just 10 seconds!)  The combination of my first two infusions (following a quick rinse) looked more like a very weak black tea than it did a white tea.  It also had flavors very reminiscent to a weak black tea.

The sip started out with me thinking that this tea was in fact too old, because there was so little flavor … tasting a bit like hot water rather than tea.  But after the tea swirled around on my palate for a moment, the flavors began to develop.  It had a deep earthiness and hints of spice in the background.  After a few sips, a floral note emerged, along with a pleasing sweetness.  The tea finishes soft with an aftertaste that has a sweet and sour quality to it that rests in the back of the throat.  Subsequent infusions had more color to them (looking even more like a black tea) and had a taste that reminded me very much of a golden yunnan.

With a tea that tastes this interesting after aging a couple of years, I can’t help but wonder how it might taste when it is fresh.  I think I shall be watching JK Tea Shop’s website for this spring’s harvest!

2009 First Grade Honey Orchid Phoenix Dancong Oolong from JK Tea Shop

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  JK Tea Shop

About JK Tea Shop:

JK tea shop is established by a group of tea lovers and experts in Guangzhou, China, who are out of love for Chinese fine loose leaves tea, wish to promote Chinese fine tea and tea wares, and share the fun of drinking tea and healthy life styles with all the tea lovers in the world.

JK tea members have been travelling all over tea-producing areas in China for many years, and have become good friends with the tea farmers or tea factories. We guarantee almost our teas are directly from the tea farmers, family workshops or factories, that is why our price is so competitive. Our tea knowledge and expertise grant us the privilege to guarantee the quality before handing the teas to the clients. Besides, located in Guangzhou, where there is the world’s biggest tea & tea wares market-Fangcun tea market, we are able to get into touch with the latest tea information and events at the first line, and share all those events and information with all tea lovers.

Taster’s Review:

I bought this tea some time ago, and it had been inadvertently stashed away with some other teas before I had a chance to try it.  I guess I can look at this as a shame that in my carelessness I’ve not tried this earlier, but, I prefer to look at it as I found a hidden treasure!

And what a treasure it is!  The thick texture of this tea reminds me of a delicious Chinese Hot and Sour soup.  And while this tea does not possess “hot-spicy” notes like that soup would, it does have a savory sour note that arrives at mid-sip.  Delicious!

The aroma is mesmerizing!  It smells deeply floral with beautiful sweet and savory tones to it.  So amazing.

This tea is aptly named.  It is sweet like honey, with a beautiful orchid-like overtone.  It has a lovely complexity to it.  A fruit-like flavor that is both sweet and sour.  This is a delight to sip, and the leaves render many delicious infusions.

This is a fantastic Oolong tea.  While this tea is no longer available on JK Tea Shop’s website, I urge you to visit the website for 2010’s Honey Orchid Oolong, and be sure to visit often to watch for this year’s Honey Orchid Oolong offerings.  You’ll be glad you did!

Purple Chrysanthemum Wild Flower Tea from JK Tea Shop

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Flower

Where to Buy:  JK Tea Shop

Company Description:

This purple chrysanthemum is an extremely unique variety among the others chrysanthemums. It only grows up in one mountain in China, where it is located in Qiaoban village, Yanjia town, Chunan county, Zhejiang province, and whose altitude is around 1460 meters. This mountain is called Yu San Jian, which means the mountain’s shape is similar to an umbrella shape. So far, there is still no road directly to the tea farmers who make this tea. We need to stop at his village and then climb the mountain road for about 3 kilometers before reaching his house.

This purple chrysanthemum only pluck one time in mid of Oct and have a limited yield per year.

Read more here

Taster’s Review:

This is a truly unique taste unlike any tea that I’ve ever tasted – in fact, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever tasted.  That’s not to say it’s not pleasant, because I am enjoying it.

It brews to a very light color, in fact, the brewed liquor is virtually colorless, with only a hint of a yellowish tint.  Not surprisingly, the aroma is quite floral.

The flavor of the tea is somewhat honey-like… or perhaps pollen-like is a better description?  Is this what bees taste when they fly from flower to flower?  There is a floral note as well as a vegetative quality to it.  I’m also tasting an unusual flavor – it is kind of what I would think that straw or hay would taste like (I’ve never tasted straw nor hay).

It is an interesting taste – and one that I have enjoyed.  It is not something I would drink on a daily basis, but it is something that is nice to drink on occasion when I want something light yet flavorful.