An in-depth evaluation of Four Sigmatic’s Lion’s Mane Matcha Tea with Ginger
In an endless quest to continuing illuminating dark confers in the world of tea, here is an in-depth review of Four Sigmatic’s Lion’s Mane Matcha. Everything from taste and appearance, to pricing and packaging, evaluated and reviewed in depth, so that you might make better tea purchasing decisions.
Mushrooms in my Tea?
Four Sigmatic is a unique nutritional food company that is focused on incorporating mushrooms into commonly consumed food and beverages, to bring the health benefits of fungi to the masses. Mushrooms, especially some of the lesser known types, have a variety of dietary benefits that aren’t widely recognized. While most foods are classified as plant or animal, mushrooms are technically part of a third group of food, fungi. Four Sigmatic is trying to make mushroom consumption a convenient part of everyday life.
Lion’s Mane Mushroom Benefits
If you search the web for “Health Benefits of Lion’s Mane Mushroom”, you’ll be met by numerous lists of touted health benefits that will have you thinking it’s a miracle food that will make you live forever. However, much research remains to be done, and it may be too early to declare direct causation in some of these studies. What seems to be clear is that Lion’s mane mushroom does have anti-oxidative properties, that with regular consumption could help prevent inflammation as well as number of degenerative brain diseases. You’ll be happy that Four Sigmatic has nicely processed and packaged these things, because by the looks of the mushroom itself, you’d think it had come from another planet. According to the companies founder, Four Sigmatic has also paid close attention to how the mushroom’s are processed, in an attempt to bring the most nutritional and health benefits to the end consumer.
Onto the product itself, the matcha comes in a nice square green tin. While the tin makes for easy shipping and an attractive package, it’s what’s inside that matters. The matcha itself is stored inside a sealed and light proof bag. Because matcha is the whole tea leaf, ground into a very fine powder, it is very susceptible to oxidation. The oxidation process can cause the tea to lose some of it’s nutritional benefits, as well as cause the flavor to become more bitter. I’m always a tad skeptical of tea in pretty packaging, as this can add significantly to the price of the tea, but as we will see later on in pricing, I don’t think that is the case here.
Color and Smell
Opening up the bag, the matcha inside is a darker green and more ashen colored than I would expect. Four Sigmatic’s information on the tea says that it is ceremonial grade, for which I would expect a brighter color of green. The darker, grayer color could be happening for a number of reasons. My first suspicion is that the processed lion’s mane that is added significantly changes the color of the product. There is 1 gram of the Lion’s Mane mushroom in every 3g serving of matcha. Last I checked, Lion’s mane is not a vibrant green, so I would expect it would have a significant impact on the appearance. The second thing that could be occurring is oxidation in the processing and packaging. The package was well sealed and didn’t seem to have much if any air in it, but I have no insight as to how long the tea itself is exposed to air during the processing and packaging stages of the products life.
As for the actual aroma of the matcha, it is definitely pleasant. I noticed a great deal of freshness, almost like if you had just washed some fresh green produce. There is some sweetness in the smell as well. It definitely smells like what you would expect green tea to smell like, but not as earthy as many loose leaf teas do.
Lion’s Mane Matcha Taste and Water Temperature
Matcha tea is a whole leaf green tea that is ground into very fine particles. As a green tea, it is one of the least oxidized varieties of tea, and therefore needs to be steeped at lower temperatures. I played around with using water as hot as 185 degrees Fahrenheit, and as low as 150 degrees while tasting the warm preparation. I found that the the lower temperatures produced the least amount of astringency, but I could not avoid bitterness completely. Preparing the matcha cold kept any bitterness to a minimum, but I found it more difficult to coax out the umami flavors that can come with a high grade matcha tea.
To prepare the matcha I used a traditional Matcha Whisk and bowl, quickly moving the whisk back and forth in a zig-zag motion. If you’ve got a bum wrist, or want to go for a less physical preparation, a latte frother will do just as well (if not better), and spare you some exertion. I found that with this matcha, frothing could only be achieved well on the top level of the tea. I could sip the top layer of bubbles off, which was well aerated, and brought a good body of flavor to the beverage. I would then whisk the beverage again to aerate it further. In this manner, It would take me three or four quick whisking sessions to get through the whole bowl.
Per the company’s recommendation, I also tried preparing the matcha with a nut butter, in this case Silk Almond Milk. I tried adding the almond milk with a little bit of water, in both hot and cold preparations. I didn’t feel that the almond milk added any significant amount of creaminess, and if anything, it may have lessened the presence of the rich matcha flavor.
As for the Lion’s Mane and ginger, I didn’t feel that there was a noticeable flavor addition of either. The tea had a degree of earthiness and dryness that can be present in many teas, but not typically green teas in my experience. It’s possible that this flavor was being caused by the mushrooms. I don’t find that flavor particularly offensive, and I even seek it out in the Pu’er teas that I drink, but some might find it more off-putting.
Caffeine Content and Perceived Mind and Body Effects
I’ve mostly been drinking this matcha in the afternoons, around 2:00pm, as a pick-me-up to get me through the end of the day. The serving size is 3 grams, but I was making smaller 1 to 2 gram servings, as I try to keep my afternoon caffeine intake to a minimum. Anecdotally, I’ve noticed that this matcha gives me a very calm stable energy. In effect, removing any tiredness, without causing me to be overly-anxious or jittery. I found the overall effect rather desirable, and will probably keep this tea in my stock for that reason alone. Of course, it’s hard to determine what of the effect comes from matcha versus the lion’s mane, as matcha contains L-theanine, a compound known to provide a calming effect. The couple of times I did prepare a larger three gram dose, the caffeine effects were more noticeable, and more than I wanted for an afternoon snack.
Price and Where to Buy
Four Sigmatic’s Lion’s Mane Matcha Tea with added Ginger is available from Amazon for roughly $24 before tax. If you are preparing the full 3 gram serving, you’ll eek out 20 cups of matcha before you run out, for a price of just over a dollar per cup. If you are making smaller 1 to 2 gram servings like me, this container will last you over month, and cost 40 to 80 cents a cup. Even if you are consuming it daily, the container will last you over a month with these smaller servings. At a cost of roughly 50 cents a gram, this matcha is well below many other available kinds of matcha on the market.
Should you buy Lion’s Mane Matcha with Added Ginger from Four Sigmatic?
I like the Lion’s Mane Matcha Tea. What I’m not so sure about, is the products place in the world of tea. I like Four Sigmatic’s broader mission of incorporating more fungi into everyone’s diet, and I think putting them into enjoyable beverages for consumption is far better than just taking a supplemental pill. It’s easier to build a good habit around a daily afternoon matcha tea ceremony than it would be to cook and eat mushrooms with every meal. Where I am hesitant to recommend this product is to tea purists, or those that have never drank matcha before. My final verdict is this, if you are looking to incorporate more mushrooms into your diet, and like tea, for the price, this product is a great addition to your pantry. However, if you are seeking out truly amazing matcha, I think you’ll find more satisfaction with other brands. Due to the range in available quality, we will do an in depth analysis of various brands of matcha available from Amazon in another post.
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