For some of us everyday is Halloween, and no, we don’t get tired of it. The flavors of fall, however, are seasonal. Adagio Teas has both the season and the holiday covered with teas and teaware.
Of the teas I sampled my favorite is the Puerh Hazelberry. Normally I see puerh as a category of tea that is best experienced unflavored and in multiple gaiwan steeps. I wasn’t sure how this was going to go for me. The dry leaves smell like dessert with the fruit and nut flavors overwhelming the tea. But when the leaves are wet that’s when I could smell the earth of puerh rising up over the strawberries, hazelnut and cream.
Though dark in the cup, don’t be afraid. This is an amiable darkness with a soft touch that is not astringent at all. It is a friendly puerh with smoothness and a touch of that walking through a wet forest experience that I love. The earthiness of this puerh is on the whole mild with subtle mushroom notes, and capable of multiple steeps. I still preferred it without any sweetener or milk, though it can handle both if that is your cup of tea.
They also went fall on their matcha with Matcha Cinnamon Apple. It’s unsweetened which is best for customization. I don’t usually do flavored matcha but the flavoring is both natural and mild so the tea is still the star. The matcha is a tasty Samidori cultivar from Uji, Japan, a vibrant green and not bitter.
This is great as a latte and sweetener brings the apple cinnamon flavors out. I also enjoyed it plain though as the matcha is good quality. If you are new to matcha having a latte is a great introduction as it can be intense on your stomach especially if empty. Remember, once opened, store your matcha in a cool, dark place away from sunlight and have it within two months or it will begin to turn bitter. Be good to your matcha and it will be good to you.
TEA NOTE: When preparing matcha traditionally it is best to use a chasen bamboo whisk. Using a spoon may leave you with chunks. For me chunky matcha is a no. If texture is important to you, get one of these tools for your matcha preparation. It is easier to use in a flatter based bowl, or dedicated matcha bowl. For a latte or smoothie using a blender will work.
Adagio has a limited edition box of six Wicked Teas in decorative metal tins (I think I was sent last year’s designs but the teas look to be the same). Though small the tins are packed with enough loose leaf tea to invite a friend over for a pot. (Or three. No judgments.) They are all flavored and lightly sweetened blends. Two are caffeine free and the rest have a caffeinated black tea base. Notable ones for me:
There are eyeballs in this tea. Candy eyeballs. I love that. It reminds me of that Sherlock episode where an eyeball is shown floating in Sherlock’s tea (Adagio has a tea just for that fandom too). These, thankfully dissolve into sweetness (no experiments or heads in the fridge necessary).
The creme and caramel flavors mixed with this black blend lend a dessert taste. I think milk (of choice) is a good complement here, amping up the creamy feel. The sweetness is mild, but sufficient for me. Whatever the mystery black blend is it is low in astringency but full enough in body to shine through when milk is added.
TEA NOTE: I think the candy eyeballs are only in the six tin sampler pack version of this tea, not the a la carte version.
This is a black tea base with apple pieces and sugar in it, red sugar. It does look pretty almost like a magical element (poof! You’re a toad!) No. This tea won’t give you the powers of an animagus or transform you into an amphibian, but it is the essence of fall apple picking during Halloween.
I let the water boil and then cool slightly, steeping at about 205° for four minutes. I also used one and a half teaspoons for an approximately 10 ounce mug. I liked it brewed at this strength and time. The tea tasted good with nothing else in it. The sweetened apple flavor definitely came through while the cinnamon is playing peek-a-boo in the background. If you prefer your tea extra sweet you could use a no calorie sweetener of choice, honey or simply more sugar. This Tea pairs well with a simple tea biscuit too.
TEA NOTE: If sugar is a no no for you try one of Adagio’s many other unsweetened fall teas
The other teas in this box are:
The ingredients for each tea are not listed in the box I received, but all of the info is available on the Adagio website. I get it. It keeps the look of the box clean and gives you a reason to visit the site.
Tea Infuser Cups
The company has a fall and a Halloween double walled infuser cup available, and they sent me the Bones one. It includes a fine mesh brewing basket that hooks to the rim of the cup and a lid. The volume isn’t listed on the box but it holds about 10 ounces. I like having multiple forms of teaware for different brewing styles and situations. Pros for this tea infuser cup:
Thanks to Adagio for providing the teas for this adventure. For more Halloween tea check out these posts:
Tea and a Tale: Celebrating the 200th Anniversary of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow - Join my mini-tour of The Sleepy Hollow Cemetery and a bit about tea in the 1800s.
Tea Halloween Style - Dragon makeup and pumpkin coffin scones!
Happy Halloween! Get out your Tea Cauldron - Make your own pumpkin tea at home
Go get your Halloween tea on!
Following on my other posts on the gloriousness of matcha here is a new tea adventure with Fragrant Yame Blend from Naoki Matcha. I tried preparations based on the suggestions on the Naoki website and discovered some new benefits of this powerhouse tea. Let's matcha!
Matcha Naoki Style
Naoki works with smaller tea estates in Japan to source their matcha. One of the things I like about Naoki’s approach is their support of customers finding the matcha making method that works for them. They have many resources on their site to assist their customers' experience. That’s part of what Tea Deviant has always been about. Deviate. Find your own path, your own flavor, your own style.
Like Tea Deviant, Naoki provides information on traditional preparation, but also shares alternatives. That way those new to matcha can ease into the intensity of this amazing tea. The Naoki style of matcha tea is greater water to tea ratio and made simply by putting both in a vessel with a lid and shaking it.
I do this often with matcha when I am looking to take in matcha more slowly. If you have ever had issues with green tea or matcha irritating your stomach a more diluted preparation like this will give you a better experience. Also make sure if you are preparing it hot that you use water at 175 degrees max. Higher temps bring out a nasty bitterness in green tea that feels like it’s exfoliating your insides. Keep the temp low and green tea is a friendly, delicious, healthy experience you will want to repeat.
Traditional Matcha Preparations
Usucha - thin (though this is mighty thick to the uninitiated western palate)
Usucha preparation uses about 2.5 oz water to 1 tsp matcha blended with a matcha whisk called chasen. I have been drinking matcha for a while and this concentrated prep is enjoyable to me. However, even I have to watch when I have it so that my stomach is not empty and I don’t have too much caffeine. Matcha packs a wonderful energetic, focused punch, but can take me over the edge if taken too soon after other tea.
Naoki suggests their Fragrant Yame Ceremonial Blend for usucha. Though they describe this blend as sweet and floral, I tasted a delicious asparagus note prior to the floral kicking in. It was delightfully smooth with barely any bitter notes. As you can see the color of this matcha is a very deep, brilliant green which is indicative of quality in matcha. I made the Naoki Yame alongside a cheaper more every day matcha and you can visibly see in the unaltered image below the color difference.
Koicha - thick
This preparation is for Japanese tea ceremonies mainly and has even less water to tea. It is closer to mud or paste consistency and is also made using a bamboo whisk. Not all matcha is good for koicha. The highest quality matcha from leaves that have been shaded for a sweeter, bitter free taste is used.
Per Naoki’s website their Kirishima Harvest Ceremonial Matcha is good for koicha preparation.
You can discover more about usucha and koicha and other preparations on the Naoki website.
Matcha and Caffeine
It is frustrating to do a search about how much caffeine is in a teaspoon of matcha on average and find so many different amounts. That’s why it is good to cross reference and vet your sources.
Naoki’s estimate is on par with other scientific and tea industry sites I’ve read: around 70mg per teaspoon. It is important to be clear we are talking teaspoon of matcha rather than cup of matcha. The amount of caffeine per cup is dependent on how much tea is used in the preparation. As tea is so customizable this can vary widely. On top of that, the caffeine level of different teas, even in the same category, is affected by terroir, climate, elevation and harvest. Yeah, tea is complicated like that.
There are also all sorts of different guidelines on the maximum amount of caffeine an adult should have in a day. I’m not a doctor, so I will first say if you have any concerns talk to yours. Still, caffeine experience varies person to person based on everything from body weight to tolerance. In my experience there is no hard line that fits everyone.
Matcha and Stomach Issues
Matcha is powerful. Like Naoki suggests, making matcha as a tea with more water or as a latte is a good place to start if you are new to this tea. In addition to a milder prep be careful about when you have matcha. Drinking matcha on an empty stomach may cause stomach cramps or even diarrhea. Not a pleasant thought, but knowing in advance can be the difference between a great experience and an awkward or miserable one having you running for the bathroom mid sentence.
Even with my caffeine tolerance I have caused myself some rough rides by consuming intense tea without enough in my stomach. I’m just sensitive that way. If you know you have a sensitive stomach, go slowly using less matcha or one of the diluted preparations we talked about above.
Here’s more from nutritionist Nicole Castaneda: https://gutadvisor.com/matcha-and-diarrhea/
Quality is Key
I get that not everyone has access to the highest quality teas out there, and if you get together with your Nan to drink a grocery store brand tea on Sundays I think that’s great. The experiences around tea are just as valuable as the tea in my opinion. Two categories of tea where I believe quality is supremely important though are matcha and puerh. With matcha you are ingesting the whole leaf not just steeping it. I feel that warrants the use of a better quality tea. It’s my understanding that matcha sourced from Japan is best as their standards are so high.
Matcha Eases Anxiety
I’ve written about high points of adding matcha to your life in previous posts, but there has been some new research. Kumamoto University did a study in 2019 with mice that revealed “Matcha and Matcha extracts reduce anxiety by activating dopamine D1 and serotonin 5-HT1A receptors.” You can check out more on that study at Science Daily.
Thanks to Naoki Matcha for supplying the tea for this adventure. Have you taken a deep dive into matcha yet? If not, give it a try and discover a new way to experience the magic of tea.
The first thing I ever did on matcha was a video covering the LA International Tea Festival and you can check that out below.
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