The Basics of Preparing Matcha

Matcha is Japanese green tea that has been ground to a fine powder. There are a lot of different places to get matcha – I’ve bought some very inexpensive matcha, and I’ve also gotten my hands on some very expensive matcha. The general rule of thumb is that you get what you pay for – meaning that the higher the quality, the higher the price is likely going to be. I tend to reserve the less expensive (read: lower quality) matcha for baking purposes, and I’ve also bought flavoured matcha blends before, which are great for drinking straight, or as a latte.

But how do you prepare it? I have tried preparing matcha without a bamboo whisk before – and let me tell you, the result was less than desirable. Ideally, the traditional tools you’ll have are as follows:

Fine sifter
Spoon
Bowl
Bamboo whisk (chasen)

Sifting the matcha is important. It helps break up any clumps in the powder and makes the whisking part of your matcha preparation a lot easier. Even if you are preparing matcha in a blender bottle (and let’s face it, if you’re adding matcha to a smoothie or making a matcha latte on-the-go, this is a viable option), sifting the matcha powder will help it blend a lot easier.

I start by spooning the matcha powder into the sifter that’s sitting in my bowl. Then I use the spoon to push the powder through the sifter, getting rid of any unsightly clumps that may exist. I find with ‘older’ matcha powder or flavoured matcha powders (that have sugar), they’re more likely to be clumped. Sifting it helps a lot in getting a smoother drink.

Once the matcha has been sifted, I add a small amount of warm water. Then the whisking begins! For those who do not have a bamboo whisk, I found that using a fork or a regular (small) whisk can sometimes work, but takes a longer time to get the powder well suspended. I’ve heard from many people that you should whisk in either a M motion (M for matcha) or W motion (W for whisk). Whichever letter you decide on, just keep doing it repeatedly in the bowl. The more vigorous you whisk, the faster the matcha powder is suspended in the water. It becomes a thick green (smooth!) paste in the bowl – I generally wind up with something that reminds of a syrup consistency.

Then I add more water so it’s closer to the top of my bowl, and continue whisking in an M or W motion. Once I’m satisfied with my whisking, which happens when there’s some foam on the top, I will either drink directly from the bowl, or pour into a larger cup if I’m making a matcha latte.

Take care of your whisk! I rinse out my bowl with warm water, and whisk the water to help clean off the whisk. There are whisk holders that you can purchase which help keep the whisk’s shape and you can pop the whisk onto the holder to dry.

Lastly, practice makes perfect! The first time I tried to whisk matcha, it was pretty terrible. But I also did not sift the powder beforehand because I didn’t think it was necessary (not-a-spoiler: it was and it is important to sift your matcha!). I have gotten a lot better with my whisking skills now, although I don’t always get a crazy amount of foam on top – which is okay too!

Adagio Tea’s Raja Oolong Chai

Raja Oolong Chai by Adagio Teas
Oolong Tea / Flavoured
$8.00USD for 3oz

First Impressions

I’ve come to really appreciate Adagio Teas’ packaging – colourful, resealable, with all the information I need about each tea blend, right on the package. The bag for Raja Oolong Chai is no exception to that. The first thing that I smelled when I opened the bag was the smell of cinnamon. It’s strong and makes its presence known over the ginger and cardamom that I can see in the mix. The blend itself is beautiful, but heavy on the cinnamon.

Raja Oolong Chai consists of: oolong tea, cinnamon bark, ginger root, cardamom, chicory, cocoa nibs, natural spicy cinnamon flavour, black peppercorn, and cloves. It’s easy to pick out the ingredients, although I did find that when I first took a scoop, there were no tea leaves! I gave the bag a good shake to redistribute the blend again, and got a more evenly mixed spoonful of tea.

Preparation

Adagio Teas recommends steeping Raja Oolong Chai in 100C (212F) water for 5 minutes. I followed the steeping instructions for my initial steep.

First Taste

Raja Oolong Chai steeps to a beautiful, deep orange. The aroma is primarily the cinnamon, although I can smell the ginger root as well when I smell the tea. The flavour of the oolong tea blend itself is mostly cinnamon, with some of the warming qualities of ginger and black peppercorn, with a hint of creaminess that I’m attributing to the cocoa nibs. I found that the cinnamon was the strongest and most prevalent flavour in Raja Oolong Chai. I don’t really taste the oolong base, but it could be adding to the creaminess as well – I do find quite a bit of oolongs have a buttery quality to them.

It does play nicely to be doctored – I added some evaporated milk to my cup and found that it helped to temper some of the cinnamon flavour while allowing the other spices to be more noticed.

A Second Cup?

I resteeped Raja Oolong Chai, and found it to be weak compared to the initial steep. I would say that Raja Oolong Chai is good for just one steep.

My Overall Impression

I thought that Adagio Teas’ Raja Oolong Chai was just okay. I found this tea to be very heavy on the cinnamon – which is great if you’re a big fan of cinnamon flavours. I was hoping for a more balanced spice flavour profile from this chai, and I think it could be accomplished with a bit less cinnamon bark or less of the cinnamon flavouring. This does work well with milk, so I think there is potential if you’re a fan of a chai latte. The warming qualities of cinnamon and ginger are quite nice in this oolong blend, so there’s a lot of potential in mixing it up with different dairy products or sweeteners.

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F & B Tea Co’s Sugar Scrubs

Sugar Scrub by F & B Tea Co
Green Tea & Black Tea / Flavoured
$3.95 for 20g (sampler)

F&B Tea Co’s Sugar Scrubs came to me as part of The Sugared Teacup’s August themed subscription box.

First Impressions

I received these two Sugar Scrubs from F&B Tea Co via The Sugared Tea Cup’s August box. They came in little zipped baggies with a label over the opening. I got two different flavours: Reinvented Chocolate and Cherry Rose. The labels have all the ingredients listed and the clear bags allow me to see the scrub itself. Reinvented Chocolate has a brown colouring to it, and it smells like chocolate. Cherry Rose is a light pink, I can smell the roses, but I don’t really smell the cherry.

Reinvented Chocolate consists of: organic cane sugar, organic coconut oil, organic Darjeeling black tea, organic coconut butter, organic cocoa powder, orange blossom water, Oreo chocolate crumble, cinnamon sugar, bergamot essential oil, and vitamin E. Cherry Rose consists of: organic cane sugar, organic brown sugar, organic coconut oil, red rose green tea, rapsflower blossom honey, organic pure cherry juice, rose water, and vitamin E. Both labels on the sugar scrubs state that they are edible.

Preparation

There were no instructions on the sampler bags’ labels, nor were there instructions on the company’s Etsy product listings for usage. The product listings for the company’s Sugar Scrubs did boast a shelf life of 4 to 6 months.

First Taste

I tasted a small amount of each Sugar Scrub. I found Reinvented Chocolate to taste like chocolate and sugar – which I’m not surprised at given the ingredients in it. I don’t really smell Oreo cookies in it, but they probably add to the chocolate flavour of the scrub. Cherry Rose tasted sweet, with a hint of roses. It has a nice floral flavour to it.

I did try both Sugar Scrubs in the intended manner. What I did was use a clean spoon to scoop some up and rubbed it into some rough dry spots on my hands, and then washed away with warm water. Now, the product listings do state to use the Sugar Scrubs daily for four consecutive days, and then as needed. I use them for two days (one day per flavour). I found that the gritty texture of the Sugar Scrub did help remove some of the dead dry skin, although I’m not sure if the flavouring aspect of each scrub did anything for me.

My Overall Impression

I liked F&B Tea Co’s Sugar Scrubs. I think I would be more likely to use these as a sugar alternative versus skin care product. The 20g bag is supposed to last 7 days, but I think that really does depend on how large of an area you’re trying to scrub. However, flavours are very similar to what the names are – Reinvented Chocolate especially. I think that Reinvented Chocolate would be a great addition to a black tea, while Cherry Rose would be great in either a flavoured green tea or a black tea. Both would be nice alternatives to plain sugar cubes for an afternoon tea.

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