|"The aroma was sweet, mellow, and slightly vegetal. I took a first sip and was delighted by the smooth, robust vegetal flavor, with only the tiniest whisper of bitterness in the finish. Actually, it's more accurate to describe the finish as "sharp," rather than bitter. There's something about that combination of flavors that always reminds me a bit of dark chocolate."|
I'm new to this company, and it's always exciting to go into uncharted territory, as it were. I was impressed right off the mark by the fact that the tea arrived in a vacuum-sealed pouch inside a proper metal canister with a close-fitting lid. The can was sealed with one of the "pop-top" lids I'm seeing more of. The tea comes directly from the Kyoto area, from Shohokuen, one of Japan’s oldest and most established Matcha suppliers. Shohokuen has been cultivating the Matcha green tea for over 300 years.
I popped the top, opened the pouch, and was instantly greeted with a whiff of pure heaven, that lovely sweet, mellow aroma of fresh matcha. Not surprisingly, given that, the powdered tea was a very nice spring green. Going by the name, I at first assumed that this was their top grade. However, exploring their website, I discovered that it is in fact their least expensive.
Their directions are written with a western audience in mind, recommending measuring with a teaspoon and stirring it into an indiscriminate amount of water. My purist soul was a little shocked, and I went ahead and prepared a chawan of Usucha (thin matcha) in the traditional manner: two chashaku measures to 70ml of 180F water. A vigorous whisking produced a respectable layer of pale green foam and a dark jade green tea beneath. I poured it out into my testing glass to examine more closely. The aroma was sweet, mellow, and slightly vegetal. I took a first sip and was pleased with the smooth, robust vegetal flavor, with only the tiniest whisper of bitterness in the finish. Actually, it's more accurate to describe the finish as "sharp," rather than bitter. There's something about that combination of flavors that always reminds me a bit of dark chocolate. It was somewhat lacking in vegetal sweetness, but otherwise it was very good. If this is their base quality, I would very much like to taste their Masters Choice. This matcha was smooth textured, as well, with no lumps or grittiness right to the bottom of the glass. The foam was less rich than some other matchas I've had, with larger bubbles and not as creamy, but it did last to the end.
So far, so good. Very enjoyable and tasty. DoMatcha also recommends this for the thicker Koicha, so I whisked four chashaku measures into 50ml of water. I found it necessary to sift the powder first, as it lumped together, but that's not uncommon. This bowl whisked up nicely, with a much stronger aroma. The foam layer was thicker this time, with finer bubbles. The flavor was deeper, richer, and the texture was still very smooth. The almost chocolate-notes were stronger, and now there was a slight note of kelpiness and again, that slightly bitter finish. I left about a quarter of it in the glass to cool, just to see if the tea remained in suspension or separated. It remained well mixed and smooth-textured.
At $25 for a ounce and a half, it's not inexpensive, but decent matcha seldom is and for a medium grade matcha, this one is more than decent. And if you look under "Matcha Accessories" on their website, they have two beautiful, very affordable matcha bowls, which I'm finding far too tempting. One appears to be black and the other an earthy red, the two colors that show off matcha's green color the best.
Many health claims are made for matcha tea. According to the DoMatcha website, it raises your energy level for up to 8 hours with no negative side effects, induces a state of relaxation and calm mental alertness, boosts metabolism by up to 40% in regular consumers and helps control body weight, contains up to 137 times more of the potent antioxidant EGCG than steeped green tea, helps regulate healthy blood sugar levels, supports healthy cholesterol levels within a normal range, acts as a strong blood detoxifier and alkalizer, and supports healthy teeth and gums. Much of this is supported by medical research, too. In my experience, it does raise my energy level. I tested another matcha late one afternoon and was awake until 3 am. I also agree with the mental alertness, without any buzzed feeling. I'd also add "cures nasty headaches" to the list. I had a bad one when I started reviewing this tea. By the time I got to the end, it was gone. That was most likely due to the high caffeine content, but I'd also like to think that the pleasure of making and drinking matcha had something to do with it, too. Recommended.
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