I was recently contacted by Louis Endo-Sloley who, with her son Manami, have recently launched a line of Japanese teas. The mother-son duo already have a cafe and deli in South Kensington selling Japanese food and drinks. Whilst you can try their teas at the cafe – everything from loose leaf teas to Matcha and Hoji cha lattes – Tombo wanted to bring their teas to a wider audience by packaging it for sale. Tombo sources their tea from Maruyama Tea Estate based near Mount Fuji. And to develop their unique packaging, Tombo teamed up with London-based Japanese illustrator Natsko Seki to create designs for each product. Tombo Tea also sells a range of teaware, including teapots, kits to make Matcha, cups, etc.
Today I will be trying Tombo’s Bonsai tea. I have to admit that Genmaicha is not my favourite tea because it often tastes too strongly of brown rice or the green tea in the blend is not good quality. The times I’ve tried Genmaicha blended with Matcha, however, I have rather enjoyed it, as the Matcha seems to tame the bold flavour of the rice. Let’s see how Tombo’s Genmaicha with Matcha stacks up.
Dry leaf: The dry leaf looks like a classic Genmaicha: dark green tea leaves combined with roasted brown rice (some of which has popped open during the roasting). What distinguishes this dry leaf is the light dusting of Matcha. The leaves have an aroma of both roasted rice and sweet, vegetal notes
Infused tea: The tea cups out a bright, vivid green liquor that is quite cloudy from the Matcha. It has a strong roasted rice aroma. The body of the tea has a prominent roasted rice flavour, although there are some subtle sweet, vegetal notes in the finish. It a solid medium-bodied tea, and it has very little astringency
Infusion tips: I made this tea in a small teapot (250ml) with 85C water and short infusions. Try 30 seconds to one minute for the first infusion, and 10 to 15 minutes for the second infusion. Try infusing this tea two times
Conclusions: What I like about this tea is that the Matcha seems to slightly tame the bold flavour of the roasted rice and give the tea more complexity than a pure Genmaicha. While it does seem that the Matcha tames the roasted rice flavour, I can’t help but wonder what this tea would taste like with a bit more Sencha in the blend. Genmaicha connoisseurs are undoubtedly rolling their eyes at this suggestion, but I wonder if it would lift the blend. That said, I do like that this tea has a lot of body, and it is a great morning tea. It is very well priced to be an excellent everyday tea
Retail price: 50 grams for £6.50 / 15 tea bags for £5.20