DavidsTea’s Grand Cru Matcha

Grand Cru Matcha by DavidsTea
Green Tea (Matcha) / Straight
$24.98 for 50g

First Impressions

Sometimes I like to pat myself on the back for actually remembering to post about matcha on a Monday for #matchamonday – although I am aware that I may be the only one who cares about this. Grand Cru Matcha from DavidsTea is one of the pricier matcha options from this Canadian tea company, I actually got mine through the Frequent Steeper program ($100 in purchases → 100 points → 50g of any one tea, with some exceptions).

Grand Cru Matcha comes in a sealed, resealable foil bag. Because it came with an online order, instead of me going out to the closest local retail location, it came with a coloured printed label. Grand Cru Matcha is a lovely bright green powder, it has a strong grassy aroma to it. This straight matcha consists only of matcha green tea from Nishio, Japan. A little internet search tells me that Nishio is the largest producer of matcha in Japan.

Preparation

The packaging for Grand Cru Matcha recommends steeping tin hot water, and preparing with a whisk. On the product page of DavidsTea’s website, the recommendation is to whisk the matcha with 75°C (170°F) water. The lowest temperature my Breville IQ Kettle goes to is 175ºF, so I allowed the water to cool for approximately 5 minutes before whisking.

First Taste

How I typically prepare matcha is to sift the powder, and then whisk with a small amount of water. After it’s well whisked with a frothy top, I add water to thin it out since I don’t like my matcha too thick tasting. When photographing for this review, I forgot to take a photo of the matcha when it still had to froth, so instead I have a photo of after adding water to thin it out.

Grand Cru Matcha is a darker green once whisked. The aroma from the matcha is mostly grass with some vegetal notes. The flavour of Grand Cru Matcha is a mix of salty, grassy, vegetal flavours (reminds of me spinach, to be honest!), with some umami notes. There’s a pleasant smoothness to this matcha that makes it goes down easy.

If you’re not a fan of the umami/salty notes, you can always add a bit of sweetener when turning this into a matcha latte. I’ve also seen some posts online about mixing Grand Cru Matcha with some lemonade for a bit of a summery drink!

A Second Cup?

Grand Cru Matcha, like other matcha, is a suspension, so there are no repeat steeps!

My Overall Impression

I loved DavidsTea’s Grand Cru Matcha. There was something zen-like about the process of me preparing this matcha, and then drinking it was a little adventure in itself. I love the act of sifting and whisking matcha, it’s just a lot more involved than simply steeping a cup of tea – although there’s nothing wrong with that either. Grand Cru Matcha has a lovely flavour balance of grassy, umami, and vegetal notes that I think a lot of people who enjoy matcha would like. It is on the pricier end of DavidsTea’s tea selection, so it may be a good idea to get to a store to get a smaller amount or use a redemption reward on it!

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Trudy Ann’s Apple Pie Chai

Apple Pie Chai by Trudy Ann’s
Rooibos / Flavoured
$14.99 for 100g

First Impressions

Trudy Ann’s Apple Pie Chai is another tea that I got at the 2018 Vancouver Tea Festival (oh yes, I spent a lot of time at her booth!). Surprisingly, this is a rooibos blend. I know what you’re all thinking, “But Michelle, you don’t like rooibos blends”. That’s right, traditionally I don’t. There’s just something not tasty about the medicinal-like base that straight rooibos has, and there are some rooibos blends that I enjoy. Apple Pie Chai smells pretty much like apple pie, and I can’t smell the rooibos blend – so I consider that a win overall and it makes me willing to give it a try.

Apple Pie Chai consists of: rooibos, apple, cinnamon, and cloves. I think it’s the combination of the cinnamon and cloves that really makes me think about apple pie. They’re just such classic ingredients that it makes me think of that warm, autumn dessert. The ingredients are fairly easy to pick out, especially the very generous amount of dried apple pieces.

Preparation

Trudy Ann’s recommends steeping Apple Pie Chai in hot water for 5 to 10 minutes. I opted to steep with 100°C (212°F) water for 7 minutes.

First Taste

Apple Pie Chai steeps to a deep reddish orange. My initial steep of Apple Pie Chai was with a stainless steel infuser, and I found that a lot of the little ‘bits’ came out into the tea. If this bothers you, I’d recommend using a filter bag to steep your Apple Pie Chai for a clearer steep. I can smell the rooibos base in the steeped tea, but I can also smell the apple and cinnamon. The cloves aren’t as strong compared to the dry base. Apple Pie Chai has a thickened mouthfeel to it, and I can taste the apple and the cinnamon. A pleasant surprise I found with the Apple Pie Chai is that I cannot taste the rooibos blend – win!

A Second Cup?

I attempted to resteep of Apple Pie Chai and steeped it for 10 minutes. I found that a lot of the flavours that I loved in the initial steep were quite muted, and the rooibos base is quite pronounced. So if you love the taste of rooibos, I would recommend resteeping Apple Pie Chai. If you’re like me and enjoy the other flavours more, I would stick to one steep.

My Overall Impression

I loved Trudy Ann’s Apple Pie Chai. I love that the dry leaf and the steeped tea smells just like apple pie, it definitely makes me think of the dessert. The flavour of this rooibos base are delicious, and it makes for a great caffeine-free dessert tea. If you’re not a fan of the flavour of rooibos, I would highly recommend just sticking to the initial steep.

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Oollo Tea’s Honey Scented Black Tea

Honey Scented Black Tea by Oollo Tea
Black Tea / Straight
$8.00 for 25g

First Impressions

Oollo Tea was a vendor at the 2018 Vancouver Tea Festival, and I’m always pleased to sample teas at their booth because oolong is one of my favourites. And then there’s this tea, which is not quite an oolong. Honey Scented Black Tea is described by Oollo Tea as a “secret hybrid tea” as a mix between a black tea and an oolong tea. Either way, it was delicious when I sampled it which just meant that I had to try it.

The tea itself comes in a silver package – it was actually part of a ‘mystery’ grab bag that was available at the Tea Festival (I love grab bags, I don’t know why – I just like the surprise aspect of it, I think). The packaging is not resealable, which was okay because I do have extra tea tins around. If you lack a tea tin, you can put the packaging into a glass jar or a resealable bag – the important thing is to keep tea from going stale by keeping it away from light, air, and moisture.

Besides the stamped information on the front of the packaging, there wasn’t any other information regarding this tea. Luckily, Oollo Tea keeps information up on their website. The leaves themselves are dark, long, and wiry. The aroma from the dry leaf is primarily sweet like honey, with a hint of honey dew and flowers. Honey Scented Black Tea is from a Qingxin Oolong varietal, which was grown by the Fu family in Pingling, New Taipei, Taiwan at 400m elevation above sea level and harvested during the winter of 2017 – in case you wanted to ever pin point exactly when your tea was harvested.

Preparation

Oollo Tea recommends steeping Honey Scented Black Tea in 90-95°C (194-203°F) water for 2 minutes, and suggests that it can be resteeped two additional times. My initial steep was with 93°C (200°F) water for 2 minutes.

First Taste

Honey Scented Black Tea steeps to a beautiful orange colour, with a lovely honey aroma to it. No surprise, given the name of the tea. On first taste, I can taste the honey sweetness, it has a thin textured mouthfeel to it that easily coats the mouth. I found the honey dew freshness at the end of each sip, which makes the tea all the more pleasant. There’s a touch of astringency at the end of each sip as well, but it isn’t too much to make the tea off-putting. Surprisingly, there is no floral flavours in the Honey Scented Black Tea, despite me initially tasting it.

A Second Cup?

I resteeped Honey Scented Black Tea three times, adding an additional 30 seconds for each subsequent steep. I found that the flavour stated pretty consistent as I drank each steep, I found that the flavour stayed pretty strong through each steep, although was a touch weaker for the third resteep (fourth steep total). I would say that Honey Scented Black Tea is good for at least two additional resteeps, as recommended by Oollo Tea, and I would push it for a third if you really want to get your money’s worth out of this tea!

My Overall Impression

I loved Oollo Tea’s Honey Scented Black Tea. It has a great honey flavour, with the crisp freshness from the honey dew flavours. If you don’t like astringency in your tea, I would suggest lowering the amount of time spent for each steep (perhaps 90 seconds instead of 2 minutes!), and definitely resteep this one to get all the flavour out of those leaves. It is a very enjoyable black tea, I think it’d be a great afternoon tea alternative from the classic Earl Grey because of the honey notes. That said, it’d probably take cream and sugar well since it is a black tea, but I don’t think you need to go too each on the sweetener!

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