Monday, May 2, 2011

Kenya White Rhino Matcha

Today I tasted a tea that I'd never tried before, in fact before last week I'd never even heard of it. It's called "Kenya White Rhino Matcha" and it was imported by a well regarded, Can-Am outfit called Metropolitan Tea Company.

The Rhino (as I've come to call her) is a Kenya grown white tea that has been powdered like matcha. The powder...

...which looks like this...


...has a very nice, heady, fresh, white tea aroma. I tasted a tiny bit with my finger and it was very bitter.

I used a small, level, half teaspoon, of powder (about what I wound use when I whip myself a bowl of regular matcha) and about 4 ounces of 180° water. I'm certainly not a skilled matcha whipper, but I gave it my best, and the result looked and smelled pleasant.



Ick... way too bitter... like badly over steeped yinzhen (銀針) (silver needle white tea) (think 30 minutes, with boiling water and too much leaf). It was undrinkable and just two sips made me feel shaky.

I cut the amount of tea powder down to about 1/8 flat teaspoon (almost like a "finger nail" amount") and tried again with 160° water. Ah... much better flavor for me. It was a bit too weak and watery but I think that an experienced matcha whipper could probably coax out a little more body and sweetness.

If you've ever had a decent Indian or African white tea you can sort of guess at the flavor profile. I really struggled to put my taste perception into words with this tea so I'm just going to stick with "malty and grassy."

I didn't love the Rhino, nor the shaky, "not-mellow-buzz" that she left me with... but I did find her to be a very interesting and worthwhile beverage. Has anybody else ever tried any powdered white teas?

7 comments:

the_skua said...

I didn't even know they were powdering anything other than matcha! Very interesting...I'm kind of surprised it was so strong and bitter. My experience with non-Chinese whites is that they have practically no flavor.

MAS said...

Checking calendar to see if it is April 1st. :)

Brett said...

skua- thanks for the comment. yep, 'twas super bitter on that first go around. I've had some flavorless non-Chinese white teas too. (But one, a Sri Lankan, was almost two years old, so it couldn't be held to fault). I've also had a few really wonderful ones like a Satrupa garden Assam silver needed imported by Assam tea company back in 2009.

MAS - I promise it's a real tea! (I only ever post about fake teas on April first.)

Denise said...

Yes definitely something different, we've been carrying it at Culinary Teas for about 6 weeks now. Playing with amounts and brew time is a must with this tea...it's an excellent cup once you figure it out. My hubby is drinking it daily now, he says it really grows on you! Thanks for the review, I love other opinions!

Alex Zorach said...

This looks fascinating and intriguing; I have never tried any African white teas, nor any powdered white teas, but I have tried Indian white teas.

I find it encouraging how much innovation and creation of new types of tea is continuing to happen. =)

CloudMountain said...

I tried that tea last year and it made me want to puke. Nasty stuff.

Zach said...

I tried this tea several months ago, and "incredibly bitter," is an understatement, I agree with the "undrinkable" assessment. The first taste (both making a cup, and trying the powder on your finger method) were awful. It put me off this tea so much that I have yet to try it again, but your recommendation of trying it at half strength made it sound slightly better, so maybe I'll give it another go.