Monthly Archives: October 2012

I’ve met my match(a)!

Matcha: The Green Fairy Dust
Image courtesy of chashitsu_lasere (Flickr)

Before I look a little break from communicating with the wider world, I had just tried something new for me from the tea world: matcha. More specifically, flavored matcha.

To explain from the start, matcha is very finely ground green tea leaves, the same used for sencha or gyokuro, almost of the same fineness as cornflour. Matcha can be made traditionally using a bamboo whisk to bring it to a froth in a matcha bowl, as a latte with frothed milk, added to smoothies, or even used in baking! And because you’re drinking the whole leaf, the health benefits (i.e., antioxidants, etc.) and caffeine levels are higher than all other teas. I’m mostly interested in the impact of the caffeine in matcha since, following gallbladder surgery, I’ve all but given up coffee, only drinking of the bean very rarely. Now, I’m all about the leaf. The caffeine in tea is glorious: yes, it is a lower amount in milligrams per cup, but it provides the mental alertness and stimulation without the dizzying letdown that caffeine from other sources brings. So a matcha in the morning keeps me feeling mentally and physically active well into the afternoon. And if I don’t have one in the morning, an afternoon matcha smoothie does double duty: a pick-me-up and snack all in one to power me through the rest of the day.

Enter Red Leaf Tea. Through discovering this company on Steepster, I’ve been slowly exploring their vast selection of flavored matchas. I know there are several who mock, disdain, or would like to wage all out war on flavored teas, and flavored matcha in particular. But to each his own. I honestly don’t think I would enjoy the extra-grassy and even seaweed-like flavor of straight matcha first thing in the morning; it’s just not a flavor profile I grew up with for breakfast. It is perfectly normal for those in the Far East, Japan and Korea in particular, so I’m not about to knock it. Let the haters take note: if it brings an interest in tea (or even “new” tea types) for people, that’s a good thing–get over it.

Besides the huge and ever-expanding choices of flavors available from Red Leaf Tea, the beauty of their system is the astounding customization they allow. For every matcha you have the option of choosing your grade (quality) of matcha, regular or organic, and amount of flavoring. (I typically go for the “Robust” level, but I simply like the name of the highest flavoring level: “There’s matcha in there?!”)

So what have I had thus far? The favorite on Steepster is Caramel, so my first order included this flavor and a childhood favorite, boysenberry. Both worthy choices and enjoyable as both lattes and in smoothies. My personal preference is to have the caramel in a smoothie with frozen banana, vanilla yogurt and a good dash of cinnamon to create a Banoffee Tart Smoothie. Really, you have no idea how good that is until you try it.

My next order was for large tins of both French Vanilla and Black Cherry. I expected French Vanilla to be a good “mixer” flavor, and I was right. It goes well with any of the other flavors in a latte, but especially the black cherry. Black Cherry is one of my all-time favorite flavors though, so maybe it’s the black cherry heightening the delight of the vanilla. In any case, I’m still winning here.

My third order is presently on its way, and you’ll gasp in exultation at my choices: Peanut Butter and Belgian Chocolate. Yes, I will start my days with a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Latte, and not feel at all guilty about it. Beat that, haters.

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I’ll be back soon.

I know it’s been a little while since I posted anything. There are just some times when I feel extra quiet. This has been one of those times. I’ve been a little bit up and down for a handful of weeks, but I feel like I’m starting to come out of it. So bear with me, and know that I haven’t been doing nothing in the background. I do have some posts and tea reviews hanging back here with me.