Monday, June 29, 2015

Ceremonial Grade Matcha Showdown, Part One!

It is time again for an epic Matcha showdown, sponsored by Red Leaf Tea, like last time, we test subjects are giving a pile of Matcha samples in little numbered pouches, the Matcha we are actually testing is not revealed until after the testing is complete. This first set contains the cheapest of the Matcha, the next set will be the middle grade, and the final set the more high grade, but price does not always indicate quality, which is what part of this testing is about.

A quick note on ratings and testing. Scale is from 1-10 with 1 being disgusting (or very bitter) and 10 being the best thing in this group (or very sweet and not bitter) the Matcha is made using 2 chashaku scoops, 70ml of water, and a temperature of 160°.

Name: Red Leaf Tea Starter Matcha

Cost Per Ounce: $.094
Cost: $14.99
Size: 16oz
Location: China
Packaging: Foil Bag

Color: 3
Aroma: 6
Sweetness to Bitterness: 2
Taste: 2
Value: 6
Notes: The aroma of this Matcha and the extremely low cost is really what saves this one from being much lower on the value scale! It has a fairly sweet aroma, a slight papery note mixed with grassy sweetness, it smells very green. And it tastes very green, like pulverized grass and bitter vegetables, it is pretty intense...and not necessarily in a good way. There is a bit of sweetness in the middle of the sipping experience, but that fades to a lingering bitterness. The color is not so exciting either, a bit of an olive drab and fairly pale. But after learning that this is the Starter Matcha, I am not surprised, I think it would work best in lattes, and having tested that (for the sake of curiosity) it is certainly best that way.

Name: Red Leaf Tea Deluxe Matcha

Cost Per Ounce: $1.56
Cost: $24.99
Size: 16oz
Location: China
Packaging: Foil Bag

Color: 8
Aroma: 9
Sweetness to Bitterness: 7
Taste: 8
Value: 7
Notes: Ok, I recognized this Matcha as soon as I opened the sample bag, the distinct aroma of grass and orchids told me immediately that this was RLT's Deluxe Matcha, and I was not wrong. This tea won the Culinary Grade showdown quite handily, with being tasty and quite inexpensive it is a good value. The fairly bright green color and decent froth make it visually appealing. Tasting the tea, it has a hint of bitterness at the outset, then boom flowery sweetness and gentle green notes.

Name: JK Tea Shop Ceremonial Grade Matcha

Cost Per Ounce: $5.28
Cost: $19.00
Size: 3.6oz
Location: Hangzhou, China
Packaging: Foil Bag

Color: 3
Aroma: 4
Sweetness to Bitterness: 6
Taste: 7
Value: 6
Notes: Not a very pretty looking Matcha, the color is pretty drab and when it is whisked it is not the prettiest. The aroma is grassy and vegetal, more so than any Matcha I have had before, but I like the vegetal notes, they add a savory element. The taste is dry but very robust, I was expecting the notes to turn into a punch of bitterness but it never came, there was slight bitterness at the end like a mouthful of kale and spinach. This was a very green Matcha, which was fairly enjoyable.

Name: Red Leaf Tea Classic Matcha

Cost Per Ounce: $7.99 ($3.99)
Cost: $7.99
Size: 1oz
Location: China
Packaging: Foil Package

Color: 8
Aroma: 6
Sweetness to Bitterness: 7
Taste: 8
Value: 8
Notes: This one is green! The aroma is very green, blending grassy notes with vegetal and a hint of hay. The taste reflects the aroma, there is very little bitterness, similar to spinach and kale, but there is no sweetness, it is robust and green with a creamy mouthfeel. As starter Matcha go, this is a good choice.

Name: KIWAMI Supreme Ceremonial Maccha

Cost Per Ounce: $8.54
Cost: $29.90
Size: 3.5oz
Location: Nishio, Japan
Packaging: Foil Bag

Color: 9
Aroma: 7
Sweetness to Bitterness: 6
Taste: 8
Value: 7
Notes: Pretty vibrant Matcha, it smells pretty good too, a little fruity and a little starchy with notes of grass and creaminess as well. The taste is a bit bitter at the front, but it fades to sweet chestnut and hay, with a kelp umami finish. This Matcha is great example of the different flavors a Matcha can possess, having them all in one sip is fascinating. I do find the Amazon listing frustrating with its pile of keywords trying to convince me how healthy Matcha is...guys really, stop, drink it for the flavor, stand on the taste alone and stop relying on trendy buzzwords.

Name: Yunomi Obubu #19 Excellent Kitchen Grade Matcha

Cost Per Ounce: $9.25
Cost: $32.50
Size: 3.5oz
Location: Kyoto, Japan
Packaging: Bag (does not list what kind of bag)

Color: 8
Aroma: 5
Sweetness to Bitterness: 5
Taste: 5
Value: 5
Notes: Eh, this one was a bit of a let down, it was similarly vibrant to the previous Matcha, though a bit paler, the aroma is pretty kelpy and sea air heavy, with just a hint of grass. Tasting the tea, well, I am not really a fan, it is not bad per se, it is green like a blend of fresh kelp and wheat grass, a very distinct flavor but a strange one at that, fading to bitterness at the end. So if you like your Matcha to taste like sea air you might like this one, and as much as I like those notes in my Sencha, not so much in Matcha.

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