Friday, August 28, 2015

MatchaDNA Milk Frother

MatchaDNA Milk Frothier - Handheld Electric Milk Frothier - ... Powered by (2) AA batteries (not included), the Matcha DNA Milk Foamier quickly turns your milk or cream into a smooth frothy foam in seconds. This allows you to create fluffy and aerated milk based drinks (hot or cold) easily... Creates delicate foam for homemade lattes, cappuccinos, hot chocolates, and more! Stainless steel shaft and whip •... Easy to Operate and Clean...

(Description edited for content brevity - Amazon descriptions are more long winded than me!)

My Review:
After reviewing some 50+ different matcha teas, you begin to pick up on a few things. Like, all that whisking is hard work and I'm too lazy to whisk that hard before daylight. Since I start everyday with a cold latte (thanks to Starbucks for the green tea Frappuccino addiction), it seems that overcoming the lazy obstacle has become more of a priority.

I first started mixing matcha with a spoon. It works. Sort of. Not really. You cannot easily work up a solid foam this way. I later switched to using a small plastic kitchen whisk. It does work but it takes wrist muscles.

The traditional method is to use a bamboo whisk. I was almost ready to hit the send button on an order when I started noticing some reviewers mentioning a milk frother. This one has been reviewed over 700 times on Amazon and has 4 1/2 stars. At this time it is $7.49 on Amazon. That is cheaper than even the lowest quality bamboo whisk. So, lets see what happens. In the basket. Click. Ordered.

My first impression when I saw the box was - that's tiny. I've seen fancy ink pens come in bigger boxes. I noticed one note on the box that reads, "Made with love in China." Just gives you warm fuzzies doesn't it?

After opening the box, I realize the size makes sense for what this does. The AA batteries do not come with the unit. I included them as a size reference. Also in the box was a coupon for $5 off on a purchase of MatchaDNA tea. If you use the coupon that essentially reduces the cost of the frother to $2.49. The tip is stainless steel. The case is plastic. If you use an inexpensive battery operated toothbrush, then this has that same kind of feel to it. The batteries were easily installed and now I'm ready for a test drive.

I added one tsp of matcha powder to my mug. Then poured 4 oz of 160 F water into the mug.

I am a guy. I don't know much about kitchen gadgets. Fortunately, I had read up on the milk frother reviews a little. I knew enough to put the tip in the water before turning it on. This little thing has some serious rpm's going on when you flip the switch. Start it up, and then hit the water with it, and I pretty much guarantee, you, the walls, and maybe the ceiling, will be green.

I began with the tip low in the mug and along the edge before gently pulsing the switch on and off until I got the feel for it. Once I was comfortable I pushed the switch until it locked in the on position. I then worked slowly up and down the side for just a few seconds.

It doesn't take much effort at all, only a little courage the first time.

The result is a well mixed mug of green matcha with a mint colored foam:

The foam lasted just like it would have if I had hand whisked it. OK, traditionalists won't approve but the lazy among us will rejoice. This actually works.

Next, after taking a few delicious sips, I added a little sweetener, and a little cold milk, for a latte. I again used the frother to mix it all together:
The color needs adjusted on my picture a little to reduce the blue from my lights, but you can get the general feel. The foam is present but only a very thin layer. I am OK with that. The drink itself is nicely creamy. It just needs some crushed ice and it would be good to go.

I can't speak on how well this will hold up with use. I mentioned an inexpensive battery powered toothbrush earlier. Mine has lasted for years with only the brush needing replaced. I would venture to guess that if you keep this clean and take care of it, the unit will last a good while. Surely $7.49 worth of use. If I change my mind, I will come back and update this review. Right now, it seems worth the money and savings on my wrist muscles.

You can find the MatchaDNA Milk Frother here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Teasenz, Xin Yang Mao Jian

Teasenz Description:
The most flavorful and fragrant of all Chinese green teas. Xin Yang Mao Jian’s small, roundish leaves with fine, white hairs develop into an intense green color when brewed, producing a refreshing liquor that transports you to a relaxing, calming world after a long day. Robust flavor, lingering fragrance and an invigorating taste.

Sample provided by Teasenz

My Review:
It is cool outside today like fall. I'm sure it will warm up again soon, at least for a few more weeks, but it sure is crisp out there today. That makes this a good day for tea!

The Teasenz teas I have tried so far have been wonderful. The resealable sample packaging is simple and to the point - what's inside and how to prepare it.

Cutting off the top and breaking the seal takes me to far away places for a moment. The nose is a hefty dose of malt along with a sweet and sour aroma like fresh cut dewy grass.

Removing some leaf for examination and brewing has me feeling like a kid on Christmas morning. The picture only kind of tells the story. Reaching in the bag it is like pulling a birds nest out of a birdhouse. The leaf is so tightly wound it looks like long stems or almost pieces of wire. It is very dark green with some lighter green accents and a silvery cast from the fine bud hair. This is kind of a long paragraph just about the leaf, so I think that is a good indication of how I enjoyed playing... er, examining it.

Because it is so loose and wiry, it is hard to judge how much is there. The directions say to use 2-5 grams. Yeah, that's probably how much I pulled out.

Into the press it goes. I added about 10 oz of water heated to 175 F and let it steep for 5 minutes.

The aroma of the pot and the wet leaf is much more green leafy plants now.

The liquor is bright yellow with a tint of honey.

The wet leaf is a bright and alive shade of green. There are some whole leaves. Some are torn. There are also stems present.

I have had Xin Yang Mao Jian before, without looking back at my old reviews it has been long enough I can barely remember. Tasting the tea is almost going to be a new adventure.

The first thing I notice is the bite. More accurately, it is bitter, but it is what I consider the good desirable kind. It opens your eyes to make you notice but doesn't cause you to pucker. It is a crisp refreshing note. Along with the bite is a sweetness that is a good contrast.

This begins to feel thick about mid sip. As it trails off a strong vine like taste kicks in and really lingers.

I was curious how today's review stacked up against my previous tastings of this tea. Most of what I wrote today agrees with a review from a few years ago. One notable exception is that I noted this as sweet. In the past I sweetened everything, which I seldom do today, so only a sugar overload was recognizable as sweet back then. Progress.

The other thing I noticed was the steep time. I thought 5 minutes seemed a bit long. Previously I steeped this only 2 minutes. My thought here is Teasenz has given a steep time based on normal western teapot brewing. I really think a shorter steep would tame this a little. It is not out of control wild by any means, yet I feel a less intense cup would enhance the cup making it more meditative. I plan to go with a shorter steep next time.

Once again Teasenz has provided a very solid tea. Experiment with the steep times and see how you prefer it.

You can find Teasenz, Xin Yang Mao Jian here.

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Update!
I just published this and I'm already updating? Yeah, I just noticed on Teasenz website the recommended steep time is ONE minute. Well, that makes a lot more sense. I'm glad I checked and impressed I recognized the issue - which was the primary reason I looked up the old review. Definitely should make for a more relaxing cup.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

3 Leaf Tea, Aged Tangerine Pu'erh

3 Leaf Tea Description:
2009 pu'erh packed into a tangerine, imported from China.

Steep 1 tsp in boiling water for 3 minutes.

Sample provided by 3 Leaf Tea

My Review:
The wife and I went to town this morning to have breakfast. Met up with a couple old friends and enjoyed some good food and good conversation. When we arrived home and checked the mail, there was the usual pile of bills and an envelope of samples from 3 Leaf Tea. This is a new company launched in 2014. The owner, Luciana, has developed several flavored matcha. She also has hot chocolate, and a small collection of loose leaf teas. In the envelope was one sample of each category (matcha, hot chocolate, and loose tea).

Normally, when I receive samples they go to the back of the box. I do try to mix things up so you don't read only reviews of one company through several posts. 3 Leaf Tea arrived at the most opportune time. I have been craving pu'erh for a few days but haven't been home long enough to enjoy it. Today is finally the day and I have never tried a pu'erh aged in a tangerine before.

The sample arrived in a clear plastic ziplock bag. As you can see the label tells you what you are drinking and how they recommend you prepare it. I appreciate the steeping instructions being on the label - no web searching required.

The dry leaf has a very fresh scent. It is fresh hay with just a touch of fruit from the tangerine. There are no off aromas.

The leaf is loose and dark twists. Pieces of the tangerine are clearly evident. Based on the picture on the website, I assume when you order this, it includes an entire tangerine packed with leaf. I really should check on this and update.

The sample was about 2 tsp of leaf. The directions call for 1 tsp per cup with boiling water. The steep time is 3 minutes. This is not how I normally prepare pu'erh but I am going with the directions and we will see what happens.

The resulting liquor is at first glance 'tea' colored. Actually, it has a slightly more ruby tint than the normal orange/brown cup. The however is that it is not the deep inky black sip I was expecting with a long steep.

The wet leaf is black and has an aroma far more characteristic of shu. It is strongly barnyard in scent. This seldom translates into the cup so don't smell the leaf if you don't want to know.

Upon first sip, I am again surprised. I am not sure exactly what I was expecting. I guess I was thinking this would be a heavily fruit flavored cup. It is not.

The taste is a dusty dry spiciness that is neither astringent nor bitter. It has a deep but gentle earthiness that lets you know it is pu'erh. There is also a background note of tangerine/orange zest.

This first cup isn't particularly sweet on its own so I added sweetener to see what happens. It does not bring out any new flavors but it does make more space for what is present. Just take it easy. It gets very sweet very quickly. At this point I think this would make a great iced tea. I did not attempt it.

The second cup was a nearly four minutes. At first, while the cup was really hot, I thought the dry spiciness had disappeared. Once the cup cooled to a comfortable to me temperature the taste had returned to nearly identical to the first.

This is not a pu'erh of great complexity and depth but at the price, I don't think it is trying to be. What you are getting is an interesting everyday sipper. I think this would be a fun one to play with by adding various homegrown herbs and see if you could com up with an interesting blend. I have some chocolate mint and some lemongrass and one or the other just might find their way into the rest of this sample.

You can find 3 Leaf Tea Aged Tangerine Pu'erh here.

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Update:
I contacted 3 Leaf Tea and asked about this tea. When you order, you do indeed get an entire tangerine filled with pu'erh. That makes this an even sweeter deal at the current $2.50 price.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Little Red Cup Tea Company, Wuyuan Black

Little Red Cup Tea Description:
Good black tea can be sublime — rich, robust, fragrant. Our Wuyuan Back (Wuyuan Hong Cha 婺源 红茶) is all of those and more. It makes a lovely rosewood colored brew, the scent signaling Tea Time. It is grown in Wuyuan County in the northeast corner of Jiangxi Province, not far from Anhui province, the origin of Keemun teas. Wuyuan Black is technically a Congou tea.

Wuyuan Black can be made as light or strong as you prefer without fear of bitterness. It’s a lovely go-to tea, suitable for that first cuppa in the morning, a refreshing afternoon pick-me-up, iced on a hot summer’s day or even for a nightcap for those who like a cup before bed. We generally have several pots of tea available all the time, and this is always among them. It is simply everything a great black tea should be.

Sample provided by Little Red Cup Tea Company

My Review:
Before I get into this tea, I want to comment on Little Red Cup Tea Co.. I find the company goals refreshing. First off, they want to offer, "the kinds of teas that our friends routinely drink in China: simple, traditional, whole leaf varieties... Though our teas are of fantastic quality, we’ve priced them for everyday consumption. These are not for special occasions, to be brought out with the fine China. Instead, they are teas that you can drink throughout the day..." Secondly, "we want to act as sustainably as possible, maximizing the positive aspects of international trade while minimizing the negative. This is the reason that every tea we sell is certified organic with the USDA, and certified fair trade by Fair Trade USA." This was taken from their Our Company page. I just thought it important enough to share.

Today's tea came with this nifty tin. Though the tea sample I received was separately packaged in a resealable bag, it is my understanding if you buy 100g of tea for $11, it comes in this tin.

When I opened the bag I was momentarily transported to a barn during my childhood where the bales of hay were stored. It doesn't have the slightly sour fresh cut scent. It is more the deeper condensed scent of dried barn stored hay. Wait, there's more. It also packs nifty notes of malt.

The tea leaf itself is dark twist of leaf with some lighter silvery streaks.

I once again used the trusty clear glass press for my brewing vessel. Along with about 3g of leaf I added 10oz of 210F water. The steep time was 2:30 minutes. This came from the tin. The website calls for 4 minutes. That is kind of the standard range for black tea and I normally trend toward the shorter times until I know how a black tea will affect me.

This one pours a nice caramel color. It looks like good everyday loose leaf black tea. It smells like good everyday loose leaf black tea.

The wet leaf is dark small broken pieces - but no where near dust or fannings.

There is zero bitterness here. I am not noticing any dryness. I think this one could go a 5 minute steep easily. I'm also pretty sure you could heavier on the leaf. That tells me this is a very forgiving tea. Perfect for early morning when you can't be trusted with accurate measures or telling time.

What I taste is dark sweet and leafy. I catch just hints of smoke underneath. This is not a tea that is going to blow you away. Then again it isn't trying to impress. What you get is a simply and solid cup for your basic everyday needs.

You could serve this hot and straight. It would not mind if you added a splash of milk or a little honey. It would even work nicely iced. Your friends, who aren't into tea like you, would recognize it as tea. What more could you ask of an everyday workhorse tea?

You can find Little Red Cup Tea Company, Wuyuan Black here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Sanne Tea, Bao Zhong

sample front

Sanne Tea Description:
The tea comes from Pinglin area, one of the oldest tea regions in Taiwan. The tea farm is in Cuku, Pinglin District, near the Feitsui Reservoir area. The environment is strictly protected in this area. Though other areas also produce Bao Zhong Tea, this Bao Zhong Tea, also called Wen Shan Bao Zhong Tea, is recognized as the best quality and the best fragrance.

Fragrance is the key to determine the quality of Bao Zhong Tea. High quality Bao Zhong Tea has a clean, elegant, rich and generous floral scent. The best way to fully enjoy Bao Zhong Tea is to inhale deeply the intoxicating fragrance before drinking. The tea has an after-drinking sweetness blended with hints of gardenias and refreshing flavor surging back up to your nose. The leaves of Bao Zhong Tea have a natural twist and are bright blackish green with a light golden color on the tips. Our Bao Zhong Tea leaves also show grey/white dots, a feature of the highest quality. When brewed, the tea liquor has a clean honey yellow color with a touch of pale green.
sample back

Our handcrafted tea was harvested and made in April, 2015. All tea leaves were from an organic tea farm, and 100% handpicked. The tea workers only picked the well-grown tea leaves, which contain sufficient nutrition to generate exquisite flavors. After harvest, the flesh tea leaves were naturally withered under sun and gentle breeze. Compared to blower withering, natural withering keeps the tea’s innate aroma. These teas are mildly fermented and only lightly roasted to preserve the fresh, lush nature.

Sample provided by Sanne Tea.

My Review:
I have tried Bao Zhong a few times and liked it. So, going in to this review I expect to enjoy the cup. I included two pics of the sample bag. The front is a simple minimalist design. The back contains a lot of information. Rather than going through the details, you can click on the picture to enlarge. I personally thought the back was kind of cool. The information appears to have been hand written on the bag with a Sharpie.

I opened the resealable bag and inhaled. The scent is at first subtle but opens up while lingering. It is sweet fresh cut field grass that takes on that slightly sour aroma of fresh hay. I am enjoying it.

Removing half the leaf (abt 3g), I am surprised by the color. If memory serves me correctly, this is far more green than what I have experienced in the past. What appears to be whole leaves, are withered and lightly twisted. The color ranges from that fresh spring green to an almost battleship gray. I also notice tan tips and some white. Interesting and nice looking leaf.

I put the leaf in my clear glass press, then looking at the bag noticed Sanne Tea recommends 6g per cup. Well that is twice what I would normally use but into the press goes the rest of the sample. I probably would have been fine doing a western style brew my way, but the bag has directions for short steeping times, so I went with it.  The water was heated to 198F which is roughly in the middle of the range. The first steep is a short 40s.

Pouring, I notice how light and yellow is the liquor. A cheap point and shoot camera with bad lighting doesn't do this justice. It is so bright and clean looking. Very nice.

Lifting the cup, I breathe in a wonderful floral aroma. Generally speaking, I am not a big fan of oolong as most that are popular in the west are heavily roasted and highly oxidized. This is just the opposite. Sanne Tea notes the aroma as similar to gardenias. I personally have not sniffed gardenias so I can't say. To me, it is very similar to Taiwan Alishan teas I have tried. A really clean and inviting aroma.

Tasting, it is sweet. This reminds me of corn. It is very clean and refreshing like spring water. Mid sip I again notice the floral notes. None of the flavors are overpowering. This is an excellent afternoon tea to sip, relax, and meditate on the cup or the moment. It has a lingering green viney aftertaste.

Sanne Tea gives parameters for 6 steeps. I don't have the time for going the full length on this one. That said, my cup is now empty and I am still craving more of this so steep two is at 30s.

Cup two has the same color as the first. Same wonderful aroma. The flavor is more green leaf like than corn and there is a spice note that kind of bounces towards peppery then backs off. Feels thick milky except with a slightly rougher texture.

Bao Zhong is also Pouchong, so maybe you have tried it under one or the other names before. This one just strikes me as different. Maybe I need to pull out some of my other samples to be sure, but this one just feels richer and has more life than I remember. A very nice tea.    

You can find Sanne Tea Bao Zhong here.

Monday, August 17, 2015

What-Cha, India Darjeeling 2nd Flush Goomtee Oolong Tea

What-Cha Description:
A delightful oolong tea which evolves and develops with each subsequent brew. A great fruity nose with a complex taste of orange and spice.

Sample provided by What-Cha Tea Redefined.

My Review:
I'm having a blah day. I knew I had not written many review posts lately - I will say the matcha reviews took an extraordinary amount of time to test, photograph, write, edit, and post, but really like most people summertime is just not prime hot tea weather. I forced myself to grab one out of the box today. Turns out What-Cha is just the treatment I needed to fight the summer tea blahs.

As with all What-Cha teas I've reviewed, this is a 10g sample in a resealable aluminum zip lock bag. The label is simple and to the point. It tells me what I need to know including a description and a best by date.

I opened the bag and my blahs went scurrying over the hill. I held the bag to my nose several times. So sweet. So spring flowers. I finally decided it has the aroma of a bouquet of peonies. Let's see, I could continue smelling this or...

Removed about 3g of leaf. It is as pretty as the aroma. The lightly twisted leaf has streaks of red and browns, along with some silvery white tips. So glad I grabbed this already today.

I used my clear glass Bodum press with water heated to 195F. I let this steep for 3 minutes per the label instructions. The leaf did not move much at all during the steep. I won't hold the lack of dance against it. I can't dance either.

As always with a Darjeeling, I am surprised at how light in color it is when poured. It looks like old fashioned ginger ale without the bubbles. I wish I had better photography skills to capture the glow of the cup. It is liquid sunshine.

The scent of the wet leaf is intoxicating. It reminds me of peaches, no wait, it's grape, I mean orange. Yeah, it is like that.

Tasting, I first notice the muscat grape notes, along with touches of malt. Beyond this it, at first, grabs me as fresh mountain stream water. Then I notice fruity notes that lightly suggest orange. I am not able to identify any spice notes as mentioned in the description. I'll chalk that up to different brewing parameters.

This is a gentle, relaxing cup to meditate upon. At the same time, I found it invigorated me. It definitely took away the blahs. Since I waited so late in the day to get started, I am going to have to break for the evening meal. I hope afterwards to pick up with more cups as this is really an enjoyable oolong.

You can find What-Cha, India Darjeeling 2nd Flush Goomtee Oolong Tea here.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Matcha Madness - The Final Chapter Part 2

Below are the final 12 contestants in the set 3 challenge. For the first half of this blind tasting review of high grade matcha see Matcha Madness - The Final Chapter Part 1.

The Sponsor:

One more time, I would like to thank Red Leaf Tea for sponsoring this challenge. They furnished all the samples including those of their competitors. Each was generically labeled so I had no idea what I was drinking or to who it belonged. The information was made available after the reviews were completed then added to my notes for this post.

Methodology:

I used 4 ounces of water heated to 160 F. To this, 1 tsp of matcha was whisked into the water. The whisk I am using is not a proper bamboo whisk. Instead I am using a small plastic kitchen whisk.

I will be using the same rating system I used in Part 1. A score of 1 is bad. A score of 10 is excellent.

 On To The Tasting:

Sample 22

Beautiful vivid spring green powder with a fresh cut field grass scent. The dry taste is lightly malty and buttered popcorn. As with all these higher grade matcha this mixed easily and foamed well. What I perceive as different is how tiny the foam bubbles seem - and this was using a kitchen whisk. The tea is dark green. This is not a negative comment, just my way of describing the tea, it looks thick like paint. The taste is very smooth and thick like drinking a mostly melted milkshake. I am getting no bitterness while hot and only a slight amount as it gets cold. The taste is spinach, corn, and malt. Savory and refreshing. This one I am finding really pretty tasty.
Aroma: 8  Color: 8  Taste: 9 Sweet/Bitter: 6/9


Price/oz: $23.54 
Size: 1.06 oz
Price: $24.95

The company furnished descriptions on Amazon are usually a turn off and concentrate on outlandish health claims. This one made me laugh. Most of it is OK selling points, but the last one "Makes you even sexier!" Now come on, who doesn't wan to be sexier? Still like the taste.


Sample 23

Once again a really good looking powder. The dry scent to me is slightly paint and fruit with grassy undertones. The dry taste is very robust. It is malt and buttered popcorn but with a nice bite. Mixed easily and foamed well. This one, like the last, reminds me of looking at green paint. It is thick and consistent in its color. Tasting, I notice a good bite. It is a nice change from the smoothness of the last one. It feels thick and creamy. The taste is so fresh and green. I get spinach and celery. Starts sweet then umami becoming bitter at the end, but it is an enjoyable bitter. Lingering vegative aftertaste. Completely different from the last. Different but good different.
Aroma: 7  Color: 8  Taste: 9  Sweet/Bitter: 7/6


Price/oz: $23.54 
Size: 1.06 oz
Price: $24.95

After learning what this was, I don't have anything to add, except I am happy to see I am noticing differences in tastes again.


Sample 24

Spring green powder with a light field scent. The dry powder tastes like unsalted butter. It is savory and dry. Mixed well. Foamed easily. I noted this in an earlier review, but as I move up in price, I am noticing how tiny the foam bubbles have become using only a kitchen whisk. I can only imagine how it might be with the proper tools. The tea color is the same deep thick green I have been seeing with the last few samples. Tasting this feels thick like syrup yet is very dry and savory.  It has kind of a lettuce taste mixed with much darker greens. Interesting. I would probably like this more with a little sweetener.
Aroma: 7  Color: 8  Taste: 8  Sweet/Bitter: 6/9


Price/oz: $23.58 
Size: 1.06 oz
Price: $24.99


Sample 25

The powder is maybe just a tick darker than the last couple. The powder has a nut and hay scent.  The dry taste was butter and nuts with a bit of bite. Mixed easily but was a little harder for me to build a foam. The bubbles were larger but they did last. Nice green cup. Wow, there is almost zero bitterness here. Thick and creamy. Has a kelp and spinach taste. Not sweet, leans more toward umami. What bitterness I'm getting comes in at the end and lingers in the vegetive aftertaste.
Aroma: 7  Color: 9  Taste: 8  Sweet/Bitter: 6/9


Price/oz: $24.29 
Size: 0.7 oz
Price: $17.00

I tried the matcha LOVE Ususha earlier and liked it a lot. Classic is another winner with me.


Sample 26

Deeper green but still vibrant spring. Dry scent is like the others lately - nuts and hay. The dry taste is butter and nuts with a touch of good bitter. Mixed well. Wanted to foam before the whisk even hit it. The tea is deep rich forest green. The aroma as the water was added jumped out at me. It was the butter and nuts along with an egg scent that was like something you would find in a mixing bowl getting ready for the oven. The taste is really hard to describe. It is definitely umami. No real bitterness in the sip. It is thick and creamy and mixed with the mixing aroma has me thinking batter (only the impression, it isn't that thick). Savory kelp maybe? The aftertaste is green and viney.
Aroma: 9  Color: 9  Taste: 8  Sweet/Bitter: 5/9


Price/oz: $27.86 
Size: 0.7 oz
Price: $19.50

Another from Ito En that appeals to me. More because of the roller coaster sensory ride than necessarily the taste. I prefer sweeter matcha but then that's why I have sweetener.


Sample 27

The powder is duller than any since the first part of this set. The dry scent is paint fading to fruit. The dry powder is bitter but has a fresh green taste. Mixed well and held the foam. The color of the tea is a more drab deep green. The bitterness of the first sip will open your eyes wide. That said it is kind of an enjoyable bitter. Remember when you were young and you would pick dandelions and taste the stem? You would flinch, but always did it again. Yeah, it kind of tastes like that.
Aroma: 6  Color: 6  Taste: 7  Sweet/Bitter: 6/5


Price/oz: $28.27 
Size: 1.06 oz
Price: $29.97

While I kind of liked the intensity, it is simply too expensive in comparison with the others in this set. I did notice Epic says to use 1/2 tsp in 6 - 8 oz of water. I am using a full tsp in 4 oz, which is what the matcha websites recommend. My opinion is 1/2 tsp is plenty but I am too far down the road to switch lanes.


Sample 28

The dry powder is a tick darker and duller than the previous ones but is still spring green. The dry scent is fresh field hay and a touch of malt. The dry taste is nutty buttered popcorn. Mixed easily and held its foam. The color is an emerald green. Tasting I first notice the absence of bitterness. Its kind of sweet and vegetable. Leans umami. Very easy to drink. Either the flavor isn't as intense as most of the others or it doesn't have as much depth. Still, this is clean and refreshing
Aroma: 8  Color: 7  Taste: 8  Sweet/Bitter: 6/9

Price/oz: $29.60 
Size: 1.0 oz
Price: $29.60

Well, interesting. This is the same matcha as Matsuri Matcha by Red Leaf Tea (sample 20 in part 1). My notes are similar. I did reverse the ratings on color and taste. Since they are the exact same tea, save yourself $10 and go with Red Leaf Tea Matsuri Matcha.


Sample 29

The powder is vibrant green and smells of hay and fruit. The dry taste is intense of unsalted nuts and buttery popcorn with maybe a hint of malt. Mixed well and held its foam. The color is jade green. Based on the intensity of the dry taste I was expecting bitterness but it isn't present. It is kelp and kale with melon undertones. Very fresh leafy aftertaste. Nicely sweet. I'd give this straight 10's but I'm still learning - maybe there is something more spectacular, but I'm not sure how.
Aroma: 9  Color: 8  Taste: 9  Sweet/Bitter: 8/9


Price/oz: $30.16 
Size: 1.06 oz
Price: $31.97

Wow, we are getting into the nose bleed section with the price now. It is really, really, good though.


Sample 30

Solid deep summer green powder. The dry scent is filled with sweet summer hay and fruit. The dry taste to me is like most of the others - nutty, unsalted buttered popcorn, and a touch of malt. However, once a little water hit the matcha there was an explosion of malt released. Mixed easily and held the foam. The color is deep hunter green with that minty foam on top. Bitterness is absent. The taste is highly umami. Not sure what that means? Grab some of this. Or, I could try and explain what it means to me. While this is sweet, it tastes more dry and savory. It makes your mouth water for more. The flavor isn't overly intense, but it is deep. Deep green vegetables. Think kale and uncooked green beans. There is almost an earthiness to the rich taste. I'm willing to commit to 10's on this one.
Aroma: 10  Color: 10  Taste: 10  Sweet/Bitter: 7/9


Price/oz: $34.99 
Size: 1.0 oz
Price: $34.99

My mouth is still watering from this one.


Sample 31

Hmmm. This tastes exactly like the previous sample. Checked the sample and I have the correct one. Willing to bet this is the same excellent matcha.
Aroma: 10  Color: 10  Taste: 10  Sweet/Bitter: 7/9

Price/oz: $48.00 
Size: 1.0 oz
Price: $48.00

Yes, this Aiya Premium is identical to Red Leaf Tea's Tanabata Matcha. The price of the Aiya version is almost more than my first car payment. You can save yourself $13 and buy the Red Leaf version.


Sample B

Nice summer green color. The dry scent was floral and vegative in the bag, once it hit the cup it smelled like bananas. The dry taste was dry, slightly bitter, nutty, and buttery. Whisked easily and easily held a good foam. The color is emerald/jade. The taste is slightly bitter and leafy. This actually pleasant enough. The trouble with it is it just doesn't stand out compared to the previous teas.
Aroma: 9  Color: 8  Taste: 7  Sweet/Bitter: 6/7

Price/oz: $24.43 
Size: 0.88 oz
Price: $21.50

Well, that explains it. This is half the price of the previous sample. It goes to show price is often a good indicator of quality (not always). This one is not bad in its price range but pails in comparison to the big dogs.

Sample C

Last sample people! Awesome; This smells of banana right out of the bag. Not heavy, in your face, scent. Just a light sweet fruity scent. The color is a beautiful summer green. The dry taste is very much just like sample B without the bitterness. I am willing to bet this is the same company as previous one but a higher grade. Whisked easily and made a nice lasting foam. Deep emerald green color. Tasting, I get savory, umami. I am not noticing any bitterness. There is almost a roasty note in the background. I like this one quite a bit. I would probably add a touch of sweetener. I don't think it needs it. I just like mine a little sweeter.
Aroma: 9  Color: 9  Taste: 9  Sweet/Bitter: 6/9

Price/oz: $28.30 
Size: 0.88 oz
Price: $24.90

Ah, I was correct. Same company higher grade than the previous sample. This was a good one to end on as I enjoyed every drop.


Conclusions from Part 2

In the first half of this round there were two that stood out a little above the others for me - Manju Matcha from Red Leaf Tea and Matcha Love Usucha from Ito En.

Now moving on with part 2, man I'm having a tough time choosing. Without question, if you are willing to pay more, the top spot goes to Tanabata Matcha from Red Leaf Tea. It is the same as Aiya Premium at a substantial discount. It is extremely good.

I would also choose Matsuri Matcha by Red Leaf Tea over Aiya Ceremonial. Same tea at a reduced price.

So it turns out the sponsor did well in this round. I would also note that I like every sample from Ito En that I tried. Another personal favorite was  Uji Hikari Matcha by Yunomi.

Restating my conclusion from part 1, price and quality really do seem to run hand in hand with some notable exceptions. In part one, I hit a temporary saturation point at around $17/oz. At this point, and up to around $20/oz, it was really difficult for me to note the difference from one to the next. With this last half of the samples the difference in quality became apparent once again.

I have been told before that westerners generally won't pay the price for quality tea. I think it is the upfront price. $34.99/oz sounds pretty steep, but let's break it down. One ounce of matcha is roughly 28 grams. If you use 2g per cup, you'll get 14 cups per ounce. $34.99/14 = $2.50/cup. Still sound expensive? How much did you pay for that last mediocre cup you ordered in the coffee/tea shop? Probably at least that much.

By first deciding what you are willing to pay for a cup of tea, you can find the per ounce price by multiplying the per cup price by 14. You can then use your per ounce price and the Matcha Madness reviews found on this blog to help you choose.