Wednesday, 16 July 2014

The Return of the Matcha

Guys!

I got some new teaware! It's so friggin' cool. Check it out! :D


Anyway, I got a pair of these from Hibiki-An, a great supplier to look up if you're looking for quality Japanese green teas and teaware. I really can't recommend it highly enough, especially after these cups came into my possession.

As you can see, the cups are visually amazing. The cherry blossoms and raindrops grace the interior and exterior. The glaze is also expertly applied, in that unique Japanese style - It's as though the cup and the falling petals are frozen in time, in the middle of being formed... incomplete, yet it feels complete at the same time. The texture is also brilliant. It's got all sorts of bumps and rough spots and other imperfections which make it an interesting tactile experience. It's a joy to hold the cup in my two hands as I drink from it.


Oh hello again, Tea Spirit!

I discovered soon after that these cups are perfect for drinking matcha. Especially shincha matcha, which is blessed with an abundance of umami, maltiness and a fresh taste. I think the umami is the main difference between shincha and older matcha, and it largely determines the level of enjoyment I derive from drinking it. Besides the taste, the residues and stains that the matcha leaves behind are perfect in this cup.

As I swirl the cup around and drink from it, I begin to paint on a canvas. The green watercolour painting features lovely hills and valleys complement the cherry blossom petal and the phyogenetic tree that springs forth from the bottom of my cup.

It's like etch-a-sketch for tea drinkers.


Now that is beauty.

There are few things in my life that bring as much joy as sitting down and drinking tea from this cup. It's only been a few weeks, but I know that this is an heirloom that I would pass down to my descendants. And it will only be infused with more joy and memories as the tea stains the glaze and strengthens the "branches", the cracks from the bottom of the cup.

I'm actually surprised at how quickly it's stained the glaze in the last three weeks! I've left the other cup in the box as an "experimental control" so I can see the stark difference as the days go by.

So now that I've had some experience with drinking matcha, I can tell you what works for me:
  1. Scoop in generous amounts of powder - 2 heaped scoops per person
  2. Pour in a little bit of warm water - approximately 40ml at 70-80*C
  3. Whisk vigorously to create a nice foam
Those are my personal parameters. It sits somewhere between usucha and koicha, and gives the best of both without using too much powder or risking it being too dilute.

I suggest you start off with a thick paste and try it out, because you can always dilute it if it's not to your liking. The worst scenario is making it too thin and it becomes watery and only mildly seaweedy. So be brave and start from the other end of the spectrum, because as my friend says from time to time:

Life's too short to drink weak tea.


...So don't waste either. :P

-Rogiraffe-

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