Wednesday, July 28, 2010

So where do you get your Matcha? Part II

We first posted this question nearly a year ago ("So where do you get your Matcha?", Aug. 22, 2009, and "Matcha source update," Oct. 5, 2009). Recently, we purchased Matcha from, of all places, Amazon.com and we were pleasantly surprised.

We conducted a taste test of these teas:

DoMatcha Green Tea, Organic Matcha
1.06-oz. (approx. 30 g) $25.97
Cost per gram: 87¢
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0019FOZC4/ref=oss_product

The Tao of Tea, Liquid Jade Powdered Matcha Green Tea
Loose Leaf,* 3-oz. (approx 90 g) $18.46
Cost per gram: 21¢
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000TVQVNA/ref=oss_product
(*The product description states "loose leaf" but it was indeed powdered matcha)

Tea's Tea Matcha Ceremonial Green Tea
20 g Units (Pack of 2, 40 g total) $24.00
Cost per gram: 60¢
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0037ASIJA/ref=oss_product

There were five tasters whose experience with Matcha ranged from expert to novice. Our yardstick was Ippodo Aoyama-no-shiro Matcha which we purchased for everyday practice while in Japan. It is a mid-grade tea, but still was of a higher quality than the teas under examination. (In Japan, this tea cost about $5.00 for 40 grams, 13¢ per gram. We haven't been able to find it in the U.S. Yet.)

We rated these teas using a rubric based on dry and wet color, aroma, flavor and "whiskability" (how well the dry powdered tea could be whisked to a drinkable consistency in a chawan). DoMatcha barely sneaked into first place with Tea's Tea close behind. Both teas were very drinkable and had fine color and aroma but were not what we consider of the highest quality. The flavor was one-dimensional and didn't develop the desirable aftertaste we like in a ceremonial-grade tea. We found the Tea's Tea to be the best value for everyday practice. (Interesting side note: The dry Tea's Tea dry Matcha had an interesting alkaliney-chocolatey aroma, but it was absent when the tea was whisked in hot water.)

On the other hand, the Tao of Tea was entirely unacceptable -- old, stale, bitter. It was straw-colored (not the vibrant emerald-green we associate with Matcha) and it is no exaggeration to describe the aroma and flavor as "foul," "nasty" and "gaggy." (I shudder to think that an unsuspecting tea novice would drink this evil brew and forever be repelled by the mere thought of Matcha.) Amazon.com customer product reviews were not glowing, but they didn't come close to describing this unbelievably awful tea. We were given a full refund, no questions asked.




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Apologies to Canadian tea brethren: Amazon.com does not offer grocery products in Canada (this was brought to my attention by a reader's comment on a previous post -- thank you Hitsch). I'm sure there are more Canadian tea associations than this, but perhaps this is a place to begin:

Montreal Association of Chado Urasenke Tanokai, Inc.
(514) 393-134.

 Suggestions and comments welcome.
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