Tea based snacks are something that is very popular in Asian countries and I was very excited to place an order to sample these delights. It is worth noting that CHA-ology is primarily a tea room and thus the snacks are considered secondary. The tea room exists to provide a space one can relax and reflect in. A reservation system is in place to ensure a quiet atmosphere and chatting is kept to a minimum
This review focuses on examples of what you can order from their website https://www.cha-ology.com/
Elsa: I really like the packaging. Everything looks like it’s hand-made and there are cute details from the string used to the stamping detail on the pudding packaging. The birdie biscuits are gifts from the baker and are designed to sit on top of a mug as shown:
Ryo: I also loved the packaging. There were simple yet very cute details throughout the packaging and it felt like receiving gifts from a very thoughtful friend.
Elsa: The cookie box was fairly robust and I like how each cookie flavour was individually wrapped. A decent-sized menu was also enclosed so you can see what exactly is in each cookie.
I had high expectations for the Rose Oolong, Earl Grey and Genmaicha shortbreads as these were unusual flavours even within Asian cultures. All three were nice, but I felt that the bitterness of the Earl Grey and Rose Oolong was overpowered by the amount of sugar used. They were still nice, but I felt a tea flavoured biscuit should have more balance between bitterness and sweetness. The Genmaicha one, however, worked very well, perhaps because Genmaicha in itself can be quite strong tasting and the roasted rice went really well with the amount of sugar used.
The Matcha shortbread was also very nice, as was the Yujacha jam ball but I was surprised at how tasty the Smile biscuit was. It was deliciously sweet and textured, almost like an oat biscuit! Having said this, my favourite is still the Genmaicha for its unusual flavour and tasty combo.
Ryo: This was Elsa’s order so I only sampled one each. All cookies were soft, buttery yet deliciously crumbly. However, I agree with Elsa that the sugar was overpowering everything. It wasn’t the sugar in the cookie dough per se – it was the coarse sugar that was coating the cookies (which I am not a big fan of, anyway). And sadly I couldn’t taste much of the tea flavour except the matcha and genmaicha. I expected more bergamot taste from the Earl grey cookies as well, but sadly the sugar again hid all the flavours.
Yujacha balls were nice – citrusy and sweet, just how yuja tea supposed to taste like. This was a very comforting flavour for me since yuja tea is one of the most common teas in Korea.
Elsa: Ryo ordered these with another friend (Hi Stephie!), and I got to sample some of them. The puddings are definitely best sampled fresh from the fridge. (Unfortunately, at the time I sampled these they had warmed a bit). The tea flavour in all three of these puddings were really nice and I was particularly impressed with the Hojicha pudding as I don’t like drinking Hojicha, but perhaps the sweetness and creaminess of the puddings helped to support the flavour.
The Matcha and Hojicha puddings were topped with red adzuki beans whilst the Early Grey pudding was topped with shaved dark chocolate. I felt these didn’t add much to the pudding and that if they were to make an impact, more should be added on top.
My favourite out of this lot is possibly the Earl Grey. I should note that I love Matcha but it didn’t make it to the top only because it is a popular flavour (it was still pretty good!).
Ryo: While I was travelling South East Asia last year, I absolutely fell in love with “Hokkaido milk pudding” so I was very excited when I found these puddings! Tea flavoured puddings and cakes have always been big in Asia and the trend is slowly coming to the UK though it has always been quite difficult to find in Manchester.
The puddings come with a very cute wooden spoon, so I delved straight right in when I received them but they definitely taste much better cold. So as tempting as it might be, refrigerate well before you eat it. As Elsa said, matcha was very nice though if you have ever had the green tea ice cream or latte, you get the gist of how it would taste like. It was very well done nonetheless. It had the right amount of bitterness (though I wouldn’t have minded even more bitter). Hojicha had a slightly smoky, roasted flavour which I loved and Earl Grey tasted a strong bergamot flavour. But these flavours were not overpowering as the milk pudding was making them taste all mellow. One thing, though – I’m not sure about pairing Hojicha and red adzuki beans. Matcha and adzuki combo is a classic combination as they complement the taste (bitter/sweet/warm) but hojicha already has a warm element from roasted tea so it overpowered the flavour of the pudding.
OVERALL RATING AND COMMENTS
Elsa: 8.5/10 -0.5 for not enough balance of flavours in Earl Grey and Rose Oolong cookies. -1 for slightly overpriced items. These snacks are well made and if you are interested in trying tea-based snacks, these are definitely the way to go!
Ryo: 8/10 -1 for some weak tea tasting cookies, overpowering sugar and the toppings of the puddings, – 1 for the price of cookie sets. It’s handmade in a small batch so I understand but one cookie bag cost roughly 1.5~2 quid and you get 4-6 cookies in there so, in the end, it is not cheap…
WOULD eat AGAIN?
Elsa: Yes! Although probably not often and only for special occasions as these snacks aren’t cheap. Their menu is constantly growing with more cakes, puddings and cookies so it’s worth following them on their Facebook page and Instagram.
Ryo: Maybe? I don’t eat cookies much anyway so maybe not the cookie set but I loved the pudding jars. I would definitely try again if they start having some new flavours. Yuja works quite well in milk puddings (and ice creams) as well and some herb teas would also be nice, such as elderflower or lavender – which are very nice in pannacotta.
Address: Unit 3B Nuovo, Great Ancoats St, Manchester M4 5AB