During my time with Reviews, Chews and How-tos, I've had the pleasure of reviewing several different tea sampling and delivery services. I am a voracious lover of tea so I have jumped at every opportunity to try out a tea service.
Here for you today is a little something different than my past reviews. I present to you, Smacha Tea. The big difference between this review and my other tea related reviews is that those were more a review of a sample delivery service, where this will be an actual product review.
Smacha is a company that offers Real Tea. To quote them directly:
"...tea that's made from the right variety, grown in the proper region, processed correctly, and that meets or exceeds the strictest standards for pesticides and other chemicals—and it tastes great too. We strive to be the most trusted tea brand in the world, providing great service, promoting healthy lifestyles, and educating all of our guests about the value of real tea."Most of my experience with tea has been of the more "British" tradition and variety, so to say that I was out of my element would be a huge understatement. I contacted Smacha to let them know that I would be conducting their product review and received a prompt and courteous reply followed quickly by a neat little box containing 5 bags of green, pu'erh, oolong and red Chinese tea.
I have very little experience with what I'll call green teas. As I said, my tastes lean toward a hearty English breakfast tea or a builder's tea. However, I've always been fascinated with the tea ritual involved in properly brewing green tea, so I was excited to give it a go.
To my slight dismay though, each bag of tea told me very little about the contents. The names were neatly hand written on the bag, telling me what the variety was and the region it came from but that was about it. There were no brewing instructions, measurements or flavor profiles with the teas themselves.
I visited the Smacha website to see if I could get more information and was able to find brewing instructions for some of the varieties that I received but not all five. I don't consider that to be a negative though. The Smacha website is very easy to navigate and has a clean, beautiful layout. Even though I wasn't sure of the optimal preparation method for each style, I was up for the adventure of figuring it out!
So, I set out to treat my box of teas like a science experiment to get the most out of my review. I know that with some of the green teas I've had in the past, you use water that is not quite boiling at 170°, pour water directly over dried leaves and steep for 2-3 minutes.
I treated every variety of tea exactly the same. I placed one level teaspoon of tea into my cup, poured my hot water over the top and set my timer for 2 minutes. I then tasted the teas and wrote my thoughts on smell, and appearance both dry and brewed and also taste.
Here are my personal findings and opinions (including the varieties of tea I received)
|Jing Mai "Old Tree" Ripe Pu'erh|
Jing Mai "Old Tree" Ripe Pu'erh: This tea comes from 100 year old trees that grow in the Jing Mai mountains of Yunnan Province, China.
Appearance of dry leaves: matted and blackish in color.
Smell of dry leaves: alfalfa or hay that has been sitting in the sun
Taste of brewed tea: grassy, sharp, earthy
Brewed tea was deeply red in color.
Price: $12 for 2oz (larger quantities available)
Jing Mai "Old Tree" RAW Pu'erh: The difference between the ripe pu'erh and the raw pu'erh is in how the leaves are fermented. The raw pu'erh leaves are still green. This tea, like the ripe pu'erh comes from the 100 year old trees in the Jing Mai Mountains of Yunnan Province, China.
Appearance of dry leaves: matted and dark green in color
Smell of dry leaves: alfalfa or hay but very fresh, flowery, clean
Taste of brewed tea: very subtle, clean, slightly citrus, subtle sweetness.
This was my second favorite next to the oolong, below. I could easily enjoy a pot of this any time of day.
Price:$12 for 2 oz (larger quantities available)
|Da Jin High Mountain Oolong|
Da Jin High Mountain Oolong: This tea comes from "a 60 year old mountain top tea garden" in the Da Jin mountains of Fujian China.
Appearance of dry leaves: pearled and dark green in color
Smell of dry leaves: bright, flowery, fresh cut grass
Taste of brewed tea: grassy, citrusy, bright, refreshing, slightly sweet
Brewed tea was golden yellow in color.
This was my favorite variety. I feel like I could drink this all day.
Price: $20 for 2oz (larger quantities available)
|Mao Feng Mtn. Green Tip|
Mao Feng "Mountain Green Tip": The brewing instructions were available for this variety and it is also listed as their best seller. This variety comes from Wuyi, Zhejiang Province, China.
Appearance of dry leaves: grass like and green in color
Smell of dried leaves: woody, grassy, sweet
Taste of brewed tea: savory, salty almost, slightly bitter
Brewed tea was pale green in color.
This was my least favorite variety - definitely one for those who love green tea.
Price: $12 for 2oz (larger quantities available)
|Smacha Red #27|
Smacha Red #27: Brewing instructions were available for this variety also. This variety comes from Anxi, Fujian Province, China.
Appearance of dry leaves: pearled and blackish in color.
Smell of dried leaves: earthy, musky, dried berry notes
Taste of brewed tea: rich, slightly savory, drying, grassy, berry notes
Brewed tea was pale orange in color. This tea was closest in taste to my usual favorite black teas. I quite enjoyed it.
Price: $18 for 2 oz (larger quantities available)
I have learned a whole new appreciation for tea through this review, and I'm excited to continue drinking these wonderful teas. I'm currently looking into getting a proper set up for brewing and serving these types of teas, as my English tea set seems anachronistic for the purpose. Smacha carries a good variety of teaware, too!
Smacha has a brick and mortar store that you can visit in Bellevue, Washington where they will teach you the art of brewing tea. They serve desserts and drinks made from their products. I am putting a visit to their shop on my bucket list.
If you would like to learn more about the art of brewing tea, please visit Smacha on their website, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.