Tea Review: Hoku Ceremonial Matcha from Bonsai Cha

Spring is in full bloom which means it’s time to taste new matcha! The deep green hues are in many ways reflective of the blooming life around us and it is with excitement I share matcha from a new vendor! The folks at Bonsai Cha asked if I would share my thoughts on their Hoku Ceremonial Matcha. The reflection below contains my experiences and feelings over the course of a week of daily consumption of this tea. Let’s meet the duo that is Bonsai Cha before covering the basics!

Founded by the mother/daughter team, Donna and Avery, Bonsai Cha’s passions are to share authentic, quality matcha that serves a range of taste profiles and encourages the benefits that come with preparing matcha!

Avery moved from Canada to Fukuoka, Japan, before transferring to Tokyo. With the base of operations between Japan and Canada, they can source the matcha they want while having a strong sense of the North American palate!

The Hoku Ceremonial Matcha utilizes the Yabukita cultivar, so let’s take a look at the material used!

First discovered in Shizuoka by Hikosaburō Sugiyama and registered in 1953-54, this cultivar was later recognized and selected as cultivar #6 in 1956. Known for its vegetal, grassy taste with wide appeal and flavor, it is a familiar and comfortable classic. Yabukita is in many ways a standard since its booming popularity beginning in the 70s, accounting for 70-85% of production in the region due to its harvesting schedule, resistance to frost, and versatility to be used by sencha, gyokuro, tencha, kamairicha, and wakoucha producers.


Flavor: High umami and low bitterness & astringency. Any bitterness should transform.

Texture: Good quality “Ceremonial” grade matcha is typically around 5 microns in size, and should not leave a gritty texture.

Color: Bright green color of the dry powder, deep green-blue when whisked

Aroma: Strong and sweet aroma

Finish: Long and smooth, silky finish that persists for at least 30 seconds

Foam: A thick froth should be present with consistent and long-lasting microbubbles. This is more a sign of the matcha/water ratio, my whisking abilities, and preferences, but helps to note as poor quality matcha drastically hinders the quality and persistence of foam.

Season: First Flush 2021
Cultivar: 100% unblended Yabukita
Origin: Uji, Kyoto
Picking/Processing: 21-day shade-grown
Elevation: N/A


My Whisking Parameters
For Usucha
Leaf to Water Ratio – 2 g for 100 mL
Temp – 80°C
Whisk time(s) – 45 sec.

My Tasting Experience
Eyes Dry: damp moss-green
Nose Dry: Lily flowers
Nose Wet: Floral, vegetal
Mouth Texture: Full-bodied, creamy, smooth
Mouth Taste: Raw asparagus, earthy, sauteed spinach, cashews
Nose Bowl: White chocolate, cool grass
Mouth Finish: Persistent umami, milky sweet
Body Sensation: Relaxing yet focused

Take a look below for a few other preparation styles you might also enjoy!

Koicha4 g | 40 mL | 80ºC | whisk to paste
Iced latte2.5 g | 40 mL | 80ºC | whisk, pour over ice with milk (200 ml)
Hot latte2.5 g | 40 mL | 80ºC | whisk, add frothed milk (200 ml)

A fine representative of the yabukita cultivar in matcha that also works well prepared as koicha, Hoku Ceremonial Matcha ticks all the right boxes in providing a creamy experience that yields floral highs and deep, earthy lows. It’s very well balanced and would be a great jumping-off point for someone who wants to explore more what yabukita matcha has to offer. If you’re interested in enjoying this, you’ll find Hoku Ceremonial Matcha HERE

Steep well!
– Marco

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