Naoki Matcha’s Wazuka Hilltop

Wazuka Hilltop by Naoki Matcha
Green Tea (Matcha) / Straight
$50.00USD for 60g

Wazuka Hilltop is part of Naoki Matcha’s Masters Collection Matcha Set, a collection of three different ceremonial grade matcha. Wazuka Hilltop makes up 20g of the 60g set. Naoki Matcha has provided me with Wazuka Hilltop for the purposes of writing an honest review.

First Impressions

Being asked if I was interested in trying out a new collection of ceremonial grade matcha was a pretty easy question to answer. Naoki Matcha reached out to me and I wholeheartedly said yes. This is part of a collection called the Masters Collection Matcha Set, and I’ll be splitting up the reviews individually because that’s just how I’m rolling these days – plus it just allows me the opportunity to focus on each one individually.

To start off with, this is Wazuka Hilltop – the name comes from the location of origin (the village of Wazuka in the Kyoto Prefecture in Japan). The packaging is an almost plastic-feeling pouch that is sealed and resealable. The front mentions the collection and weight, while the back has the name of the tea hand written with a reference to the website for information how to prepare the matcha itself.

The vibrancy in this matcha is pretty outstanding. If I had to name the colour, I’d be tempted to call it chartreuse or even lime. It’s fluorescent in some lighting, and screams spring to me. Wazuka Hilltop smells grassy and very lightly sweet to me.

Preparation

I decided to check out Naoki Matcha’s website to see how they recommended to prepare their matcha – and there were quite a few methods mentioned!

The method that I opted to use for Wazuka Matcha was the cold brew method. Simply put, I mixed the matcha with cold water into a shaker bottle and shook it up until it was fully suspended into water and then drank it. So I used room temperature water and matcha together. I’ll use different methods of preparation for the other two ceremonial matcha in this set.

First Taste

Wazuka Hilltop mixes up to a pretty vibrant green. Because I didn’t opt to use a whisk, there isn’t that traditional layer of foam over the top – just a thin layer of micro bubbles across the top. The vibrancy in the colour is beautiful – I would describe it as a similar green to say petite peas or edamame. Just a very familiar green colour, that’s not quite as bright as the dry powder. The aroma is grassy, lightly vegetal.  The flavour is a bit different. I found it had a crispness to it that blended with umami notes, strong grassy notes, and then it lingered on the tongue with a nutty finish that reminded me a lot of hemlock needles. There’s just something about it that reminds me of the hemlock needles that I used to nibble on during camping trips.

A Second Cup?

Like other matcha, Wazuka Hilltop cannot be resteeped since it’s a suspension. But here’s another photo of that bright green powder for further appreciation:

My Overall Impression

I loved Naoki Matcha’s Wazuka Hilltop. I think it has a beautiful flavour to it, and it really makes me nostalgic for simpler times. I had a fun time shaking up the bottle to get this cold brew method going, and found that the flavour was just really fun. I appreciate the experience from start to finish, and found that the colour was just really enticing and inviting that made me want to try this matcha. Of course, I do have to touch on the price a bit – right now this is only available on the Naoki Matcha website as part of the trio set so it’s a bit of an investment if you don’t end up liking one of the three – but it’s also a typical pricing for a single origin or premium matcha (approximately $1 per gram), but it’s also a bit of a want type of tea pricing, versus a need.

Curious about the cup rating system? Click here to learn more.

Naoki Matcha’s Ujitawara Special

Ujitawara Special by Naoki Matcha
Green Tea (Matcha) / Straight
$24.99USD for 20g

Naoki Matcha has provided me with Ujitawara Special for the purposes of writing an honest review.

First Impressions

Ujitawara Special came to me from Naoki Matcha in a sealed, resealable pouch. It’s described as being part of their Masters Collection and being a ceremonial grade matcha. This particular blend of matcha is from Uji, Kyoto, Japan. I was quite pleased to get the chance to try this because I’m always wanting to explain my knowledge of matcha and I feel like every experience comes with something new.

The aroma of Ujitawara Special is a mix of grassy and watercress to me. The colour is an amazingly vibrant green that just looks very fresh and inviting – like someone just plucked new leaves off a plant and ground it up in front of me. Giving the tasting cup a small shake and most of the clumps that came out of the packaging that way just fell apart.

Preparation

Naoki Matcha didn’t have specific instructions for Ujitawara Special, but their website does have a lot of information on how to prepare matcha.

What I opted to do: heat water to the lowest setting on my variable temperature kettle (the green tea setting 175°F/79°C), sifted Ujitawara Special into my bowl, whisked with a bamboo whisk (in an M or W motion), and then topped up with a bit more water. I had this one straight.

First Taste

Ujitawara Special has an interesting flavour that was hard for me to pinpoint at first. There was the froth from the top of the matcha first, so that was just a bit bubbly. Then followed umami flavour, grassy notes, and then almost a sweet floral that was just kissed the taste buds before it was gone. It has a nice smoothness to it that makes it pretty pleasant to drink.

A Second Cup?

As with all matcha, there are no second steeps.

My Overall Impression

I loved Naoki Matcha’s Ujitawara Special. It was a treat to experience and drink from start to finish. The vibrancy of colour, to that subtle grassy and watercress aroma to the deep green whisked up matcha and just how it easy it was to drink definitely made for a pleasant matcha experience. I had this one straight (so not as my usual matcha latte), and you could certainly opt to do that with this as well, it just might make for an expensive matcha latte given the price – but a good quality matcha will usually run you at least $1 per gram, and if you want to drink a really nice matcha latte, shouldn’t you be using something good?

Curious about the cup rating system? Click here to learn more.

Naoki Matcha’s Matcha Superior Ceremonial Grade

Matcha Superior Ceremonial Grade by Naoki Matcha
Green Tea (Matcha) / Straight
$22.99USD for 40g

Naoki Matcha has provided me with Matcha Superior Ceremonial Grade for the purposes of writing an honest review. This product is also under the name Superior Ceremonial Blend Matcha on their website.

First Impressions

Matcha Superior Ceremonial Grade came to me in a lovely metal tin with a well-fitting lid. Inside was a sealed silver pouch. I did end up cutting it open and pouring the contents into the tin. The matcha inside has a beautiful bright, spring green colour. There’s a nice aroma to the matcha – very grassy, vegetal, a nice freshness overall to it.

Naoki Matcha’s product page for Matcha Superior Ceremonial Grade tells me that this matcha is from Uji, Kyoto, Japan and contains no other ingredients besides 100% pure Japanese Matcha. The leaves are from the first harvest, and that it’s most suited for making matcha tea, lattes, and smoothies. In fact, when a representative from Naoki Matcha asked me if I would be interested in trying their product, they included a guide on how to make lattes and suggested I try it out as a matcha latte, so I did end up obliging! Naoki Matcha does have a lot of articles about matcha on their website, so give it a look if you’re interested in learning more about matcha.

Preparation

Naoki Matcha recommends preparing Matcha Superior Ceremonial Grade with room temperature water if making it into a tea latte. You really just prepare it the same way you would if you were whisking it with warm or hot water.

For ease, and because I had it handy, I mixed mine up in a shaker bottle. I heated up some soy milk as that’s what I had in my fridge, and then poured the prepared matcha on top. Not café quality, but still not terrible looking!

First Taste

As a tea latte, Matcha Superior Ceremonial Grade has a lovely flavour. There’s definitely the umami quality that I look for in a matcha, but it’s quite well balanced. I found it had some nice grassy qualities to it, a hint of sweetness, and it does balance well against the (soy) milk that I had in my cup. I’m always on the look out for a matcha that goes well into lattes since it’s really my preferred method of drinking matcha on a regular basis. It just has a sense of decadence to it.

I did save some of the matcha I had mixed up to drink up straight. Matcha Superior Ceremonial Grade has a very deep green colour to it, almost emerald in likeness. There’s a hint of sweetness to this matcha when not mixed into milk. It has a nice freshness, a nice grassy quality to it, and the umami is definitely heavily present in this more traditional preparation without the milk. I think it’s nice, but having the umami quality of the matcha lightened by the addition of milk certainly helps to make it easier to drink.

A Second Cup?

As Matcha Superior Ceremonial Grade is prepared as a suspension, there are no second steeps with the same matcha powder.

My Overall Impression

I loved Naoki Matcha’s Matcha Superior Ceremonial Grade. I really liked the packaging, it feels like it is good quality. The matcha itself is so bright in colour and has a really strong aroma with just the powder. I found that it mixes really easily and well when wanting to make tea latte out of it. It’s definitely tasty and I found that the flavour was good when made up essentially like a matcha shot, but even more enjoyable as a tea latte, which is one of the methods suggested for preparation of this matcha from Naoki Matcha.

Curious about the cup rating system? Click here to learn more.