Leaf Type: Green
Where to Buy: Nannuoshan
Anji Bai Cha owns a delicate, soft and relaxing taste, with a light sweet aftertaste.
Characteristic of this green tee variety is the colour of the leaves, rather white than green; in Chinese, bai means white. The lack of pigment is due to the low chlorophyll content of the plant.
The leaves are long and thin, with the necessary self-tension to maintain, thanks also to the roasting technics, their straight shape while drying. Upon steeping, the leaf opens and doubles its width.
The origin of Anji Bai Cha is protected. Only the tea produced in the certified area of Zhejiang province can be labelled Anji Bai Cha.
Learn more about this tea here.
I’m more open minded about green teas these days, after discovering that there are some I actually like (and some I even love!) That they’re not all bitter, astringent and brown came as a bit of a revelation to me. This one is a stunner just to look at. The leaves are long and spiky in appearance (a minimum of 2cm long, and broader across the middle than at the tips), and a fairly uniform grass green. They appear to have been rolled horizontally, and unfurl a little when wet. The scent of the leaves, once brewed, is of asparagus and spring greens. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 2.5 minutes in water cooled to around 175 degrees. The resulting liquor is a very, very pale yellow – really almost colourless.
The taste is very mild also, although a lot sweeter than I anticipated based on the scent of the brewed leaves. I was expecting something vegetal, and while there are hints of that, the main flavour I’m picking up is actually reminiscent of sugar beet. It’s thick, sweet, and a little syrupy. Once the initial flavour fades there’s a touch of fresh pea, but it’s pretty faint. It’s not at all what I was expecting from a green tea. As my cup cooled, I did find that the vegetal flavour intensified a little, although it’s still mild in the grand scheme of things. It remained smooth throughout, though, with no bitterness or astringency to be found.
This one makes for a very pleasant, and unusual, cup. I like it when I come across teas that challenge my expectations – often they’re the ones I end up enjoying most because they’re so unlike anything else. This would be a good green tea to introduce those who are wary of the variety, simply because it avoids the characteristics most likely to put someone off. I’d also recommend it to those who love green tea, as an example of something honestly quite different and unusual. An intriguing tea!
Morning Organic Matcha by Grace & Green
Leaf Type: Green
Where to Buy: Grace & Green
A matcha tea with only a slight hint of bitterness. Organically produced, its flavour is smooth and rich. This tea is perfect for everyday consumption, boosting health, energy and concentration.
Produced by Marukyu-Koyamaen (Uji, Kyoto, JAPAN), one of the top tea production companies in Japan. Well respected amongst tea connoisseurs, Marukyu-Koyamaen pride themselves on the excellent quality of their products.
Learn more about this tea here.
I started this morning in my favourite way – with a matcha latte! Grace & Green kindly sent me a sample of their Morning Organic Matcha to try, and as a matcha fan, I was very keen to give it a try! The matcha comes packaged in a resealable tin, initially with an internal ring-pull style seal. The matcha powder itself is a beautiful kelly green shade, and the scent is delightfully vegetal. You can tell this is quality stuff – the brightness of the powder in itself is a good indicator. I used 1/2 tsp of matcha for my cup, and whisked it up with a little boiling water to make a paste while waiting for my milk to heat. I added the milk once it was near boiling, whisking all the while to ensure the powder was well incorporated. The resulting cup is a startling creamy mint green, almost like mint choc chip ice cream!
To taste, this cup is all the things I love about a matcha latte. The initial flavour is the sweet creaminess of the milk, but the matcha emerges clearly in the mid-sip. It’s very vegetal, as you might expect, almost in the way of freshly cooked asparagus, or wilted spinach. It also has an edge of sweetness, however, that helps it to build an accord with the milk. You’d think they might fight against each other in terms of flavour, but they’re actually very complementary. What I’m most struck by is how smooth this matcha is compared to some others I’ve tried. It’s blended very well with the milk, with only a little clumping evident at the bottom of the cup. That could be my whisking skills, though! There’s also a distinct lack of astringency or bitterness, which is at least partly why it works so well as a latte. It makes for a delightful start to the day.
In the interests of research, I also tried this matcha in a couple of other ways, both of which worked equally well. 1/4 tsp stirred into a small glass of cold water made for a refreshing mid-afternoon pick-me-up. Again, I found it to be smooth, with a minimum of clumping, and no bitterness or astringency at all. The vegetal flavour of the matcha is very apparent taken this way, but as it’s so fresh-tasting and reminiscent of sweet spring vegetables, that’s more of a bonus than anything! My third way of trying this matcha was similar to the above, but stirred into a small glass of apple juice rather than just water. I made a thin paste first with 1/4 tsp of matcha and approximately 1 tbsp of cold water, and then topped off the glass with fridge-cold apple juice. I was actually surprised by how well this worked, but the sweetness and lightly tangy acidity of the fruit juice paired beautifully with the vegetal flavour of the matcha. I’m reminded of fresh garden peas more than asparagus or spinach when tasting the matcha this way, and this would be an ideal preparation for those who aren’t so keen on the intense flavour of matcha when taken alone.
While I enjoy matcha for its versatility, I have to admit to being impressed by this offering from Grace & Green. It lacks the bitterness of some other matchas I’ve tried, which was what used to put me off most. The sweet, fresh taste of this particular matcha is second to none – it’s comparable to the flavour of a spring Bi Luo Chun to my mind, albeit stronger and more concentrated. I also appreciate the ease with which I managed to blend it each time. Although I did experience a little clumping with my latte, it was at a minimum. This would make an excellent matcha for those who like green teas with strongly vegetal notes, or those who are looking for a fresh, high quality, affordable matcha powder. The shipping speed was also excellent, arriving in the UK from Japan in just 6 days. Highly recommended.
Ayurvedic Calming Tea from Tea of Life
Leaf Type: Green
Learn more about Tea of Life and Amazon Teas here.
About Tea of Life Ayurvedic Collection:
The word “Ayurveda” is derived from two words – “Ayus” meaning life and “Veda” meaning ‘knowledge’ or ‘science’. So the literal meaning of the word Ayurveda is ‘The Science of Life.’
Life or Ayus, according to Ayurveda, is a combination of senses, mind, body and soul. So Ayurveda does not just limit itself to the body or physical symptoms, but also provides comprehensive knowledge about spiritual, mental and emotional health.
The traditional healing system of Ayurveda is based on a theory of balance between the body (physical), the soul (spiritual) and the mind (psychological).
Green Tea with Asparagus, Lemongrass, Winter Cherry, Cardamom and Jasmine flavors.
Well, I had a stressful couple of days, so I could use some “calm.” I’m hoping this Ayurvedic Calming Tea from Tea of Life will grant me some!
As I brewed this tea, I tried to recall if I had ever tried a tea with asparagus in it before. I can’t say that I have. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t, just that if I have I can’t recall and I would think that with as unusual a tea ingredient that asparagus is, I think I would have remembered!
To brew this tea, I went with my “go to” green tea parameters. For a green tea, I typically go with a temperature of 170° – 180° Fahrenheit. I went with 175°F for this tea, and I steeped the teabag in about 6 ounces of water for 2 minutes.
Going into my initial sip, I was a little apprehensive because I generally am with teas that claim to offer “functional” benefits like those that are offered in Tea of Life’s Ayurvedic line. Now, granted, having tried three other teas from this line and having experienced some true benefits from those teas, I do not doubt that the teas work as they claim to. I just tend to associate “functional” teas with “medicinal tasting” teas and there is also a skeptical side of me that seems to want to step in and question the validity of the Ayurvedic teas. That said, teas (other than stimulating black teas) tend to calm me to a certain extent.
OK, so this doesn’t taste terrible. It’s actually tasty. I don’t know if I’m actually tasting asparagus or if that ingredient sort of melds into the vegetal quality of the green tea, but I am noticing that the “green” taste of this cup seems to be enhanced somewhat.
This does have a certain herbaceous/medicinal flavor which I attribute primarily to the Winter Cherry. Fortunately, the other ingredients in this tea balance out that herbaceous tone, and I especially like the light citrus-y note from the lemongrass and the warm note from the cardamom. I don’t taste much from the jasmine at all.
Overall, this is not a bad drink and I do feel a little calmer than when I began to brew it. It does have a relaxing quality to it.