Matcha from ZenTei . . . . .

In the last wave of summer weather, I brewed up a cup of matcha from ZenTei.  It was an easy choice, after my eye caught a glimpse of its beautiful packaging on my tea shelf. This matcha is a hand-ground, organic green tea.

The powdered tea is smooth and green, though a bit muted in color.  Matcha is best at its freshest and greenest, and I should note that I’m tasting this sample after a friend, so it’s possible my sample was just a little past its prime.

In the warm weather, I tried this iced, unsweetened and without milk.  The matcha is very vegetal, leafy, and grassy.  This is a culinary grade matcha, so it’s best when paired with other flavors in baking, or when mixed with juice smoothies, or in a foamy milk latte.

I definitely preferred this tea as an iced latte with vanilla almond milk.  The sweet, nutty, frothy milk helped add more dimension to the grassy matcha, and added a touch of much-needed sweetness.

This is a versatile tea.  Mix it in your next batch of cookies, prepare it in a traditional whisk and bowl, or shake it up in a milkshake bottle.  Just don’t shake up a hot latte or you’ll be dealing with a matcha bomb; cold water matcha-shakes only.  Perfect for a high-caffeine, iced latte, pick-me-up on a hot summer morning.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Matcha
Where to Buy: ZenTei
Description:

Culinary-Grade Matcha has a stronger tea flavor than a traditional Ceremonial-Grade and allows the Matcha flavor to shine through even if mixed with other ingredients.  Traditionally whisked into a frothy beverage, Matcha can be blended into smoothies, green tea lattes or green tea lemonade.  Matcha is also perfect sprinkled over fruit or yogurt, added to salt to create a savory seasoning, mixed into baked goods recipes or added to ice cream.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Milk Caramel from Lupicia

MilkCaramelTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Lupicia

Tea Description:

Sweet aroma of milk caramel brings out the comforting aroma of houjicha.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

The scent of this tea is reminds me of roasted grass topped with something sweet. A part of me dislikes just how roasted this tea smells, but when I sip this blend, I’m reminded of why I like it so much.

I enjoy how balanced this tea is. The caramel is soft, but adds the nicest whisper of sweetness to the roasty Hojicha. It reminds me a bit of those chewy caramel squares that come in individual wrappers.  What’s lovely about this tea is that I don’t detect anything artificial about the flavoring. The caramel blends so well with the tea itself. As for the hojicha base, it’s quite roasty as I mentioned before, but also has a nutty flavor to keep it from becoming too bland. The cup as a whole reminds me of caramel covered nuts that have been baked in an oven.. a bit like toffee, perhaps?

If you’re looking for something different, I recommend this tea as there aren’t too many sweet hojicha blends out there. It makes a delicious and comforting treat for the end of the day. This tea will satisfy your sweet tooth without being too rich.

Golden Snail Yunnan Black by Whispering Pines Tea Co.

goldensnailTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Whispering Pines Tea Co.

Tea Description:

This Yunnan black tea was harvested in early spring (2014) and carries a robust and delicious flavor profile! The first thing you taste is a thick honey flavor giving way to creamy cocoa with a touch of malt. A heavy molasses-like sweetness lingers on your tongue while juicy morel plays with a hint of gardenia in the aftertaste. This tea is delicious hot as well as iced and holds up very well to three or more infusions!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Black tea will always be my absolute favourite, and as I discover more Chinese black teas, they rise higher in my estimation. I bought this one from Whispering Pines in an effort to try more teas from Yunnan, which (of all black teas) seem to possess the majority of characteristics I really enjoy. High praise indeed! This one impresses from the moment the bag is opened. The scent drifting up is pure chocolate – so much so that I almost had to check I’d actually picked up a bag of tea. The dry leaf itself is beautiful – little golden black curls that really do look like miniature snail shells. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a medium golden brown. Since this is to be my first cup of the day, I added a splash of milk.

The initial flavour is a beautiful, creamy milk chocolate. It’s pretty hard to believe that this isn’t a cup of cocoa, but I definitely made it with tea leaves! I’m reassured when a sweet maltiness emerges in the mid-sip, along with the wonderfully comforting flavour of baked break. Tea it is, and a wonderfully sweet, smooth, chocolatey thing at that! The maltiness deepens towards the end of the sip, becoming an almost treacle-like molasses flavour. It’s rich and flavourful; a real treat for the tastebuds.

Chocolate and baked bread are my two favourite flavours in black tea, except perhaps for sweet potato and honey. To find a tea that features these so clearly is a real delight! This is a great example of a Yunnan black tea, and would make a good starting point for anyone looking to explore this particular variety. Whsipering Pines did well with this one – I’m left in no doubt as to the quality of their offerings, and it’s certainly a tea I’d be happy to repurchase in future. Well worth a try.

Alishan Jin Xuan from Tea Ave

AliShanTeaAveTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Tea Ave

Tea Description:

Known to some as milk oolong, around here we think of Alishan Jin Xuan as our dreamy, creamy oolong. An elegant tea with a refined, subtle taste, Alishan Jin Xuan’s fruity and floral aromas complement its smooth, milky mouth feel. 

Only oolongs from this particular region, grown on the foggy Alishan mountainside, produce the creamy, milky qualities found in Alishan Jin Xuan—and since the leaves are naturally flavored, it’s all done without the addition of artificial flavors or chemicals. Alishan’s unique origins also account for a flavor profile that is delicate and nuanced—never strong or overbearing. A little bit like a beautiful woman: subtle, inviting. Alishan is lightly oxidized and unroasted.

Alishan Jin Xuan turns a light golden color after infusing, and its natural creamy and fruity notes develop immediately. Aftertaste is naturally sweet. You’ll want it to linger.

Tea leaves are bright green and come curled into balls.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I adore Jin Xuan oolong teas. If you find the right one, you can get everything from leafy and green to peachy and creamy flavors in just one cup! Plus, the leaves are usually champs with resteeping so you do get more cups of tea for your money. This particular Jin Xuan is natural, according to Tea Ave, and lacks any sort of artificial flavors or additives. I don’t mind a flavored oolong tea, but there is something so beautiful about a natural oolong that can offer such an incredible range of flavors.

teaave-wet-alishanThese tea leaves produce a lovely golden cup with just a hint of green. The first sips offer beautiful milky notes which linger and softly transition into a leafy finish. I also taste salted sweet cream butter and just a hint of mango. There is a slight drying sensation on the tongue, but the lovely creamy start keeps you coming back for more. Oh so delicious!

I can definitely say that this is one of my favorite Jin Xuan oolongs I’ve tried. It’s creamy, sweet and milky – just what I needed! I have a feeling that further infusions will bring out even more interesting flavors, but I will have to save that for another time. If you’re looking for a natural Jin Xuan oolong, this is a great place to start. It’s certainly worth the price, plus Tea Ave’s packaging and presentation are simply wonderful.

Raspberry Truffle Matcha Green Tea from Red Leaf Tea

Raspberry-Truffle-MatchaTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green Tea (Matcha)

Where to Buy:  Red Leaf Tea

Tea Description:

Raspberry Truffle Matcha is the perfectly designed treat that literally melts in the mouth with its mix of sweetness and Matcha undertones. This treat can make the perfect in-between meals treat that is perfect for enticing the taste buds to want much more. It can also make the perfect desert when people want to sample the different alternatives that are available for the palate to partake. For children, this exceptional treat can be one of many favorite offerings on their special occasions.

Raspberry Truffle Matcha is not for the faint hearted because of its deep rich taste sensation on the palate. It is a good alternative for other normal sweet choices such as chocolate or other candies. It also forms a great accompaniment to many foods and drinks with its sweetly inviting appeal and unforgettable flavor.  This is a good treat for making a lifeless day unforgettable with its hints of pure pleasure and understated appeal.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Firstly, for those not familiar with Red Leaf Tea’s amazing and varied selection of flavoured matcha, this company offers probably the widest selection of flavours I’ve ever seen in addition to offering a choice on the level of flavouring (starting at delicate and going up to robust) and grade of matcha. If you want to get especially fancy, you can also get different tea types for your matcha as well, such as white or black tea.

The specifications for THIS matcha are the basic grade of green matcha and a robust flavouring level. It is important to note that my preparation was also not the traditional way even though I used a traditional chawan and chawask. This was prepared in cold milk, instead of hot water. That’s my personal preference when it comes to almost all matcha flavours as well as straight matcha.

You can definitely tell, just from the smell, that this is robust flavouring; if you focus hard enough you can actually pick up on the scent of the raspberry before even opening the resealable bag it comes in. And once it has been opened, you’re going to be flooded with the sweet smell of a confectionery-like raspberry with a dark chocolate backdrop – it’s 100% Raspberry Truffle in scent.

As I was whisking this one, it frothed up a great deal more than the average matcha and that thicker, frothy texture didn’t let up easily; for the first half of the chawan I probably could have consumed it with a spoon. It was that frothy! Considering how strong the smell is before being prepared, the flavour is actually surprisingly light – but there are some things about it that tip me off that it’s robust flavouring. I’ve noticed with other robustly flavoured matcha that some flavours tend to get a sort of chalky note; one that reminds me of children’s chewable vitamins or Tums. It seems particularly bad with flavours with fruit in them. This certainly isn’t the worst offender I’ve encountered (I think Orange probably wins that spot, or Boysenberry) but I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t noticed it at all.

Otherwise, the flavour is pretty good. I’m a touch surprised that the raspberry is coming off a lot stronger than the chocolate though; when I think of truffles I absolutely picture the over the top, dark, rich, fudgey chocolate notes with the ‘extra’ flavour kind of infused in as more of an aftertaste or undercurrent. You could say the opposite is true here! The raspberry doesn’t have any tartness or tang to it; more so it’s a bit of a sweet and confectionery type of raspberry; like what you’d have in a raspberry danish for example. The chocolate is obviously creamy from the milk but has a distinct ‘dark chocolate’ taste to it. It’s maybe a touch fudgey. The notes from the matcha itself are still present, though quite lightly. But that’s to be expected given the flavour level.

Overall; I’m quite happy with this one! It’s gonna do wonders for satisfying those late night sugar cravings and I’m already picturing how well this would taste lightly sprinkled over top cereal or popcorn. If I had to really emphasize anything to potential buyers though it’d probably just be to expect that the raspberry is going to taste stronger than the chocolate.