A Taste of David’s Tea’s 24 Days of Matcha

A Taste of David’s Tea’s 24 Days of Matcha

Remember when I said you can never have too much tea?

One of the ways I build my tea collection is sample packs. Loose leaf tea is expensive enough that it helps to have a small taste ahead of time so you know exactly what to expect when you buy 25 – 50 grams of a specific blend. My in-laws subscribed me to David’s Tea’s subscription service this past year (I promise to post more about that soon), and that has certainly helped fill out my post-pandemic collection.

But the ultimate sample packs are David’s Tea’s yearly advent calendars. These contain 24 different packs of loose leaf tea chosen from among the company’s favorites as well as their seasonal specific blends. In the past, I have chosen my favorite blends from the advent calendar and added them to my collection. After two or three years of that, I’ve gathered quite a robust collection.

The trouble is, because the advent calendars feature favorites and seasonal blends, they don’t change that much. And after a few years, I’ve tasted most of the blends they included in this year’s advent pack.

David’s has ‘solved’ this problem by creating three different Advent Calendar options. The first is their regular loose leaf advent calendar. The second is specifically herbal blends (and thus decaf teas). The last is their Matcha Advent Calendar.

I haven’t drunk a lot of matcha. My sole experience with it prior to December was the matcha green tea latte from Starbucks.

Matcha, an Introduction

Most tea is made from infusing tea leaves (and other ingredients) in water, then removing them. But Matcha is made from grinding up specially prepared green tea leaves and dissolving the powder in water or milk. As a result, it has a much more concentrated green tea flavor and more caffeine than regular green tea.

Because you consume the entire tea leaf when you drink Matcha, many believe that it imparts a great many health benefits. The most studied is a measure of stress relief. Other benefits are said to include heart and liver health, as well as a boost to brain function. Certainly drinking matcha allows you consume all the nutrients and antioxidants contained within the tea leaf.

Though I’m not specifically interested in drinking Matcha for the health benefits, I thought it might be nice to add a few Matcha blends to my personal collection. And David’s Matcha Advent calendar seemed like the best way to find blends that I enjoy.

Right off the bat, I have to say that the Matcha blends included in the advent calendar are all mixed with cane sugar. If you were interested in drinking Matcha for the health benefits, this paired with the fact that all of the flavors seem to be extracts rather than natural ingredients, probably counteracts a lot of the desired health benefits.

Since I’m mostly looking for something I enjoy drinking, I’m not overly bothered by the inclusion of the sugar. However, David’s recommends using 5 of their perfect matcha scoops (half a teaspoon each) for its flavored matchas, which feels like an awful lot of sugar.

How to Make Matcha

Matcha has a bit of a different preparation process, mostly because you don’t have to wait for it to steep. Basically you boil the water, measure out the appropriate amount of powder, then you use a matcha whisk to mix a small amount of the powder with the hot water. This produces a nice froth. Then you add the rest of your hot water and any hot milk you might want to add, and do a final whisk.

I didn’t have a lot of the tools for making matcha when I decided to buy this advent calendar, so I also purchased myself a matcha making kit from Amazon. This came with a traditional wooden scoop, an odd shaped mixing spoon and a traditional bamboo whisk. The whisk you use for making matcha is much wider than a normal whisk, and I was advised by several people on Twitter that traditional whisks don’t work as well for producing the desired froth.

Right off the bat, I realized that the one thing I didn’t buy – a matcha mixing bowl – was probably the most critical. My mug is too narrow at the base to accommodate the bamboo whisk, so I quickly had to adjust to using a wider container for mixing. Ironically, after a bit of trial and error, I learned that my simple mini silicone whisk worked best for mixing my matcha powders. Though I do think if I continue to drink matcha in the future, I’ll spring for a proper mixing bowl.

The odd-looking spoon that came with my matcha kit turned out to be very useful for making sure the matcha powder that gathers in the bottom of the cup stayed mixed into the brew while I was drinking it.

Fruity Flavors Dominate

So at last we arrive at the most important detail – the taste!

The default matcha (Matcha Matsu) didn’t appear until day 5, which seemed a bit odd. But I suppose David’s wanted to start with something more exciting.

On its own, Matcha is somewhat bitter. I sweetened mine with honey and a little bit of oat milk, and it was delightful.

The rest of the advent calendar flavors can be broken into three categories. The first was fruity blends. This included: Yuzu (a Japanese citrus fruit), Blueberry, Cherry Blossom, Mango, Peach, Orange Dreamsicle, Raspberry, Strawberry and Berries and Cream.

I quickly learned that some flavors work better with matcha than others. Because the tea is always going to taste at least a little bit like green tea. This means that some flavors pair really well – like the blueberry and raspberry. On the flip side, some of the flavors clash. Mango was particularly bad. It tasted like a tangy vegetable tea. The strawberry also struggled to beat the matcha flavor for attention.

Surprisingly, the peach worked really well. Peach can be a delicate flavor, so I was surprised it held up so well against the matcha flavor. The Cherry Blossom also surprised me. It didn’t have a lot of cherry flavor, but the subtlety of the flavor added a lot to the cup.

The Orange Dreamsicle was probably the tea I was most excited to try, but it wasn’t as strong a flavor as I would have liked. There was a lot more cream than orange. That said, I noticed that whenever I added milk to the blend, it seemed to wash out the flavors a bit, so I might try a second cup without the milk and see if that works better.

Tea and Christmas Blends

Next came tea-like blends, including: Cream of Earl Grey, Earl Grey, Lavender Honey, Matcha Mojito, Wild Honey, Vanilla, Maple and Chai.

The floral teas were not the best, I suspect because they were made from ‘natural flavoring’ extracts. The Wild Honey Matcha was particularly bad. It tasted like potpourri.

The Earl Greys worked a bit better because they blended well with the matcha. The maple was also really good, although very sweet. It kind of tasted like drinking maple syrup.

The chai was okay. As far as chais go, I’ve certainly had better. (This one had a lot of cinnamon.) The vanilla was by far the best.

I did not like the Matcha Mojito because it was minty, and I’m not a huge fan of mint teas. It did taste like the cocktail it was named for though.

The last group of flavors were Christmas blends. These included: Pumpkin Pie, Mocha, Gingerbread, Salted Caramel and Candy Cane.

The last two blends (Salted Caramel and Candy Cane) were particularly hard for me to drink because they included milk powder in the blend. I am, sadly, lactose intolerant. So I had to carefully plan the time when I would drink those and probably wouldn’t add them to my personal collection. That said, the Salted Caramel was really good. Much better than the Mocha, which just kind of tasted like weak hot chocolate.

I have long despaired of finding a gingerbread tea that actually tastes like gingerbread. This is another of those delicate flavors that seems to get lost against any remotely strong flavor. The matcha gave it a really solid foundation, though, and this was actually the best gingerbread tea I’ve ever had. (Though the bar is low.)

The pumpkin pie was another tea I was really excited about but, again, it was a bit weaker than I hoped. I might try it again without milk.

So which were my favorites? The winners are definitely the Blueberry, Raspberry and Vanilla blends. Close seconds were Berries and Cream, Salted Caramel (although it’s harder for me to drink), Cherry Blossom and Earl Grey.

I’m not sure yet which I’ll add to my collection, but I would like to drink more Matcha in the future!

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