Month of Tea Brewing 2017: Day #28
Japanese Matcha Powdered Tea
Matcha is made by grinding the whole leaf plus the stem of steamed green tea into a very fine powder. In this way, we consume the entire plant rather than just the infusion. This is one reason that it is significantly higher in antioxidants and considered by many to be healthier. The traditional grinding tool is a set of two heavy stones with a wooden handle that is slowly turned by hand. But there are now automated grinding machines – even some small enough to be portable and affordable enough that a small business can own one.
Matcha is a powdered green tea most commonly associated with Japan. But we are starting to see the same process used in other countries, such as Korea, to produce some good quality powdered teas. We are even starting to see other categories of tea in a powdered form.
Greetings, New Tea Lover,
A few years ago, Matcha was something rare and mysterious. Today it’s available in every coffee shop and in almost every grocery store (in some form – perhaps ready to drink). We now make distinctions between ceremonial grades for tea and culinary grades for cooking because there are so many ways that powdered tea can be added to recipes and consumed other than as a beverage.
Certainly, the addition of sweeteners and flavorings have made Matcha more accepted than the basic taste of this unique tea. And yet, as you drink more of it, you may develop a taste for the unadulterated version. The real matcha.
As for preparing the powder, the bamboo wisk is a fantastic and affordable tool. It breaks up the small clumps that usually form in Matcha powder as it sits. If you don’t have a wisk, I recommend that you first mix the powder with a small amount of cool water – just enough to form a paste. Then stir it continuously as you gradually add hot water. As you sip, you may want to swirl the tea to keep the Matcha in solution or stir it frequently as you sip.
Enjoy a new sipping experience today!
Japanese Tea Bowl & Wisk
The Japanese tea bowl is called a chawan. It is used for whipping the tea into a froth and then for sipping it both ceremonially and informally. The chawan is wide and deep enough so that a bamboo whisk can be used to whip and froth the matcha.
Chawan tea bowls are available as daily tea ware but also as fine pieces of art for collectors. In serving tea to guests, the quality of the teaware as well as the quality of the leaf are interpreted as signs of respect and honor.
The whisk is made from a single length of bamboo and the small spines. There are storage tools for storing the whisk so that these fragile spines are protected. But they can also be stored in cylinders the diameter of the spines – handle down and spines up – to keep them curved in the correct proportion and free from attracting dust.
What Is A Tea Ceremony?
The spirit of the tea ceremony is based upon four special ideas: wa, which means “harmony”; kei, which means “respect”, sei, which means “cleanliness” or “purity”; and jaku, which means “tranquility.” When you include all four elements, you can fully enjoy the beauty of simply drinking a bowl of tea.