Is It a Good Deal? Thoughts on Matcha

Matcha is green tea that has been ground to a fine powder. With history that tracks back to Tang dynasty of China, the more familiar matcha that you may know and love is from Japan. You may have tried matcha from your favourite local coffee shop in the form of a matcha latte, or ordered a flavoured matcha blend from an online retailer.

In your search for a matcha to buy for your very own, you’ll find that companies often give their matcha names like ceremonial or culinary grade. While not standardized, these names can really be provided to any matcha sold by anyone. That said, often times a culinary grade matcha is lower in quality while a ceremonial grade matcha should be higher in quality. Culinary grade matcha should also be cheaper, due to the lower quality.

I won’t make much comment on matcha blends – they should be considerably cheaper than pure matcha options available to you because of all the additives (sugars, flavourings, powdered milk, preservatives, etc.). However, these can also be delicious and I am still on the search for a great instant latte option.

Signs of a good quality matcha:

Spring-green in colour
Very fine powder
Has an umami flavour, not bitter
Forms a layer of froth easily

Signs of a poor quality matcha:

Yellow-green in colour
Clumpy powder
Often bitter
Forms a layer of large bubbles, instead of froth

All good quality matcha should come from Japan, and also be ideally single origin in nature. It can come in either sealed foil packets or tins, with appropriate labelling. While matcha has been deemed a “super food” and can be found in a lot of grocery stores, matcha is not going to be as high quality compared to matcha purchased from specialty tea stores (brick and mortar or online). Quality doesn’t come cheap though! A good benchmark is ~$1CAD per gram – that $9.99 tin of 250g of matcha might seem like a great deal, until you realize it’s incredibly bitter and doesn’t even work well in cookies.

Dessert by Deb’s Peppermint Sprinkle Cookie

Peppermint Sprinkle Cookie by Dessert by Deb
Rooibos / Flavoured

Peppermint Sprinkle Cookie came to me as part of the bimonthly subscription box from Dessert by Deb.

First Impressions

A bit late to the party (whoops!) with this part of Dessert by Deb’s Bed & Breakfast Holiday Inn tisane blend, so I wasn’t able to get the price of it off of the website (likely either a seasonal offering only, or discontinued). If it is seasonal and back later, the general pricing for most blends is $6.75 for 25g.

Peppermint Sprinkle Cookie comes in a rich brown metallic pouch that is sealed and resealable, with a colourful polka dot label across the front of it. This is a rooibos blend which consists of organic: rooibos, peppermint, Canadian maple, coconut, spearmint, pink and blue cornflowers. It’s a very pretty blend, the cornflower petals honestly adds such gorgeous pops of colour throughout the blend. I primarily smell the mint (peppermint and spearmint are in this blend), as well as a background of rooibos (that sweet, medicinal aroma). It definitely reminds me of mint!

Preparation

Dessert by Deb recommends steeping Peppermint Sprinkle Cookie in 212°F (100°C) water for 4 to 6 minutes. I opted to do an initial steep of Peppermint Sprinkle Cookie for 5 minutes.

Dessert by Deb also recommends to prepare Peppermint Sprinkle Cookie as a latte. I tried it plain (hot) first, and then added milk to it.

First Taste

Peppermint Sprinkle Cookie steeps to a deep reddish orange. There’s a strong mint aroma from it. It reminds me simply of a peppermint tisane, rather than a rooibos blend, because the mint is a very strong ingredient and greatly overpowers the other ingredients when it comes to the aroma of the steeped tisane. Taste wise, I found that I could taste the mint, as well as the rooibos. The rooibos was surprisingly stronger than I had anticipated, especially compared to the aroma of the drink. I can taste a light sweetness, hints of coconut, but mostly the medicinal quality of the rooibos and the mint from the peppermint and spearmint that’s present in the blend. The aftertaste on my tongue is the mint though, thankfully.

I did add some milk to the cup, and found that I could find the coconut a bit easier and the rooibos a bit less – so making it as a latte was definitely a win for me.

A Second Cup?

I did attempt to resteep Peppermint Sprinkle Cookie, but found that the flavour was primarily rooibos so I didn’t enjoy it. If you’re a rooibos fan, you’ll likely enjoy a resteep of Peppermint Sprinkle Cookie more than me.

My Overall Impression

I thought that Dessert by Deb’s Peppermint Sprinkle Cookie was just okay. As a person who isn’t a fan of rooibos, I’m a terrible judge of rooibos blends. I’m the first person to admit that I don’t like rooibos and I find it to have a strange medicinal quality that I just don’t like. That said, I think Peppermint Sprinkle Cookie has some redeeming qualities for me. I like the mint and the sweetness from the Canadian maple. It has a great mint aroma to it, and I think those who are looking for a light, tummy settling blend would enjoy this blend (especially if you’re a fan of rooibos). If you’re not a huge fan of rooibos, I would highly recommend preparing it as a latte because it helps temper down that medicinal quality of the rooibos base.

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

Hong Kong Style Iced Lemon Tea

Iced Lemon Tea is a menu staple when it comes to Hong Kong diners (right up there with the Hong Kong Style Milk Tea, hot or iced).  There’s something blissfully refreshing about this drink in its simplicity, and it’s so good to quench your thirst when it’s hot out – which makes it a perfect drink basically year round in Hong Kong (hello, tropics). But as someone who spends her time in Canada, it’s less of an annual stable and more of a seasonal enjoyment.

Hong Kong Iced Lemon Tea is a great drink to serve at a barbecue, to bring along a picnic, or to enjoy all to yourself while reading a book in a hammock. The real reason why this recipe makes a large volume – so you can always refill your glass.

Hong Kong Style Iced Lemon Tea – Serves 4-5

4 tablespoons black tea¹
1500mL boiling water (100°C/212°F)
2 tablespoons Simple Syrup²
1 lemon, sliced³
Ice

¹ I would recommend choosing Chinese black tea, I opted for an Orange Pekoe from China.
² See recipe below for an easy way to make simple syrup.
³ Wash the outside of the lemon, as the slices will be used in the drink.

Steep the black tea in the boiling water for 5 minutes, remove or strain out tea leaves.
Stir in Simple Syrup – add more to taste if you don’t find it sweet enough to your taste.
Allow tea to cool to room temperature.
Slice lemon, remove the seeds.
Fill glass with lemon slices and ice.
Pour in cooled tea.
Serve with a spoon, this allows the drinker to squeeze the slices at their leisure to add more lemon flavour.

Super Simple Simple Syrup Method

Combine equal parts sugar and boiled water from a kettle in a bowl.
Mix until the sugar is fully dissolved.
Set aside to cool.

If you make this Hong Kong Iced Lemon Tea, I’d love to see your photos! Be sure to tag me on Instagram (@onemoresteep #onemoresteep) or comment below with a link to the photo!