Matcha Outlet (formally Red Leaf Tea) Flavored Matcha – Eggnog & Caramel

Talk about mood whiplash! This is the first time I’ve had a tea experience that was both absolutely delightful and downright disappointing. It actually started with the bad!

For the holidays I finally broke my “no online purchases” habit and snagged some flavored matcha from Red Leaf Tea – I bought the caramel and got the eggnog as a free sample. The eggnog was the choice I brought with me to a friend’s to share since it smelled AMAZING.

I prepared it fairly traditionally (water with a wisk and matcha bowl), and went for a test taste before I served to my friends. I was totally horrified by the flavor – it was bitter beyond belief, and the “eggnog” flavoring did nothing to help. It was more like when somebody with bad BO tries to cover it up with too much perfume. Just two really overwhelming sensations trying to out-do each other.

I tried to salvage the matcha with a second prep and by adding sugar and milk but nothing seemed to work. My buddy Nikki gave it a shot – she was displeased as well. I was really disappointed to have a bust in my otherwise unbroken chain of great teas shared with friends.

As I prepared another cup more recently for photographing for the review, I couldn’t find the eggnog sample so I broke into the caramel  that I had actually purchased. I dared to taste it again, since it WAS a different flavor. And, well, once again I was completely surprised. This time, it was totally delicious.

Befuddled, I went on to photograph the tea and prepared it both traditionally and as a cold milky latte. In both instances it tasted great, though a little on the sweet side.

red-leaf-tea-caramel-matcha-06So it’s kind of hard to write a proper review of this tea since I had two very opposite experiences. I tend to give the benefit of the doubt in most cases – maybe the eggnog was just a flop or perhaps my actual sample was bad. I can’t deny that I really hated it. But I really, really like the caramel

The overall quality is pretty nice (you have the option to pay more for higher grades, I went with classic). I can’t attest to their higher grades but I can say the classic was just right with the added flavors (I would go higher for un-flavored, of course). The caramel matcha, I would recommend only as a dessert drink. It was great as a cold latte and probably equally good hot. Would make a great base for baking or other homemade matcha deserts (mochi!!).

My overall experience with Red Leaf Tea was great, as well. No problems with the site, charge on my card, or delivery. I am certainly not going to judge the entire site on one bad free sample. I do want to try their traditional un-flavored matcha soon, and perhaps take a gander at their other loose leaf options.

Suggested Preparation : 3g per 5 OZ /143 ML | 76 °C/170 °F  | 2 MIN of whisking