Leaf Type: Green (Matcha)
Where to Buy: Chiang Rai Tea House
Matcha -green tea powder- is an antioxidant powerhouse (ORAC rating of 1,300 units/gram compared to 105 units/gram for pomegranates) and its list of health benefits goes on and on -fights viruses and bacteria, lowers cholesterol and blood sugar, L-Theanine relaxes and supports concentration, boosts metabolism and burns calories, contains the unique and powerful antioxidant catechin EGCg.
Learn more about this tea here.
It’s been a while since I’ve written about Matcha. And even though it’s been a little while since I’ve written about Matcha, that doesn’t mean that it’s been a while since I’ve consumed it. I try to drink a bowl of Matcha (or do a cold-water shake-up of Matcha in my water bottle) at least every other day. Occasionally, I might skip a day or two, but, I do try to drink it regularly – the stuff is magical! It’s not only tasty but it also makes me feel so good after I’ve had it. It’s one of the most revitalizing, energizing and spiritually uplifting teas I know of.
So, I was really intrigued when Chiang Rai Tea House sent me some of their Matcha to try. Traditionally, Matcha is a Japanese tea, but the tea that was ground into this powdered green tea is from Thailand. So, I was interested to find out if it would be different from the traditional Matcha.
The dry powder is not the vivid Apple Green that you’d find with most top quality Matcha teas from Japan. This tea was more like an Army Green color. Kind of drab and dull. This worried me because it’s been my experience that when it comes to Matcha, the color is very telling of what I’ll be tasting.
But, I’m going to try it and see how it goes. I measured out some of the Matcha into my sifter and sifted into my Chawan and added hot water (160°F) and whisked the Matcha with my Chasen. The Matcha incorporated quickly. There was some froth to the prepared Matcha but it disappeared as quickly as it formed.
On their webpage, Chiang Rai Tea House says this about their Matcha:
We are particularly proud of our matcha, which we honestly believe can rival any Japanese matcha. This is a high-grade, 100% pure green tea powder made following strict guidelines. It has a smooth texture, a sweet aftertaste and an intense flavor, without the bitterness characteristic of lesser matchas.
I don’t know if this can rival any Japanese Matcha, but I will say that it’s better than some of the lower quality Japanese Matcha that I’ve tried. It is smooth and sweet. I’m not getting any of the bitterness or even the bitter-sweet notes that I’d taste from a lesser quality Matcha from Japan. I’m actually quite surprised by that – because I expected this to taste a lot like that! I expected this to taste like some of those average or even less-than-average Matcha teas that I’ve tried over the years.
This has a strong flavor that is a lightly buttery and there are pleasant notes of cacao. It’s smooth and even though there were a couple of chalky moments, overall, I find this to be a very tasty Matcha. The powder remained suspended in the liquid and didn’t settle to the bottom which was a big bonus as far as I’m concerned. I liked that the consistency of the tea remained the same from the first sip to the last.
Overall, this was a pleasant Matcha experience. This isn’t the best Matcha that I’ve ever tried, but it certainly wasn’t the worst. If you’re someone who drinks Matcha daily and is looking for a good alternative to the average Matcha, try this. This has a very pleasant flavor that I don’t always find in the average Matcha.
Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: KTeas
whole-leaf black tea grown 5000 feet above sea level, in the valleys of the Andes Mountains, where the air, cool from the snow-capped peaks of the Andes, mingles with air moist and warm from the Amazon. A blended cultivar, not a specific cultivar as from China or Assam. A completely unique cup. If you need a comparison to tea from another origin, you might find Bolivian black tea akin to Assam black tea, but without the bite that many people find harsh and don’t like in Assams. Bold, strong, malty, earthy sweet, woody, burgundy, raisiny, roasted sweet potato, nurturing are all terms that come to mind as you savor this hand-harvested, orthodox-processed, organically-grown black tea.
The dry leaf smells quite remarkable – although it is difficult to find the words to adequately describe it. I can smell notes of fruit and flower as well as a deep, caramel-y undertone and a subtle earthy note as well. But here’s the thing – it smells so much better than that description sounds. The brewed liquor’s fragrance softens somewhat, but I can still smell a sort of caramelized fruit note as well as a lingering floral presence. It’s really quite lovely.
But the smell is NOTHING compared to the flavor. This is a delightful cup of tea.
This is a very full-bodied, robust cup of tea – and I agree with all of the terms that are listed in the company description of this tea (provided above). I can taste that deep, raisiny flavor, I can taste notes of wood and earth, and I can taste similarities to burgundy and sweet potato with a nice, roasted, caramelized crust. There is a delicate malty note to this as well, not as strong as an Assam might be; it’s more of a smooth malty note.
What is so irresistibly delicious about this tea is the rich, caramel-y, burnt sugar flavor that arrives at the finish. It tastes so good that when it hits the palate, you want another sip!
I LOVE this tea – in fact, this is the best candidate so far to replace my beloved Dawn (from The Simple Leaf which is now closed). While these two teas are certainly not identical, the way my palate responds to this is similar to the way my palate responds to Dawn – and that brings a big smile to my face! And even more importantly, if I cannot have the one, I am more than content with having the other!