Matcha: Taste is Everything 1

 What is your favorite tea?  Mine is matcha, I first tried it in 2010 when I got a can of Kono-En Kirin Matcha from David’s Tea. They had a small amount which went fairly quickly. Now they have their own brand of Matcha.

 In September Kohei over at Tales of Japanese Tea posted about how matcha is not about price or origin. Which you can check out by clicking the link in the previous sentence. After reading his post it made me think about how I was trained to think that Uji matcha is the best. After some thought I started to try a few differnt matcha’s. Once a week  for the month of December I will be sharing my notes on various matchas I have encountered. 

  For my first subject, I will be tasting Teavana’s Matcha. This one is from  Nishio, Aichi Prefecture, Japan tea. They carry two sizes, 40g and 80g. The latter is the size I have on hand.

    After warming my winter tea bowl (Chawan), its time to whisk! This tea whisks well with a nice foamy froth.The colour is a beautiful vivid green that stands out well from the interior of the chawan.

 Time to taste! The taste
makes my mouth salivate and moves the taste throughout my mouth. I am surprised to find that there is a
slight citrus fruit taste, that dissipates in to a light vegetal flavour. The
typical chocolate taste is barely there. the final lingering taste is sweet. it
reminds me of mandarin oranges.

  Over all its a great tea. I found out that this tea was from Nishio, a few months after acquiring it. This initially prevented me from drinking it, but after Kohei’s post I am glad I gave it another chance. My only problem with this tea is that you need to remember to drink it quickly. The reason is this tea likes to separate on you.  Other than that, this tea is actually really great for daily use or even Sado practice. 

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 Have you tried this matcha before? Please feel free to comment below with your experience. I would love to hear from you~ 
Till next time- Kat

Matcha: What is it made of?

As many prize pu-er and start collecting them, I have a habit of collecting matcha. When its the right quality it has beautiful chocolate notes that vary from make to make. I was lucky enough to have Kono-en as my first matcha. David’s tea had opened their first shop on Queen Street here in Toronto and they had it!
 I was a poor student at the time but I quickly grabbed my first whisk (chasen) and asked for a can. Then got out. The first sip of this Jade brew changed how I feel about tea and pushed me to try different kinds, meet other tea people and learn more. I would not be where I am without this experience.
 
Recently I have been coming across posts stating matcha is made from Gyokuro. Another fine Japanese tea that was my push to try matcha. Even a company handbook I read stated the same thing. This I mentioned my previous post.
   The truth is that this tea is made from “Tencha”. This is made by first shading tea bushes for thirty days, this concentrates the theanine amino acid (to put it simply, its one of the many antioxidants). It gives the tea its full bodied flavour.

   
 Once Hachijuhachiya (88 days) after spring has begun harvesting begins. This marks the beginning of the first harvest which lands in early May.
   When the leaves are taken back to the factory, they “kill the green”. This is a great process that will prevent the leaves from oxidizing and (oh noes!) become a different kind of tea. For this the leaves are steamed for 15-20 seconds within the first 12-20 hours of plucking.
    My favorite part is drying, because the leaves get blown around in a multi-chamber air machine. Before they completely dry they pass through a special drum like machine where stems and veins are removed. The tea is now “Tencha”, aka. pre-matcha.
   The fun part starts, the leaves are ground by a stone grinder, but before that the tea is aged. The leaves are packed up and stored for 6 months to a full year. The taste over time rounds out to become smoother and develops the harvests unique taste for the matcha being made. Then in the stone grinder,once its time to take the leaves out,  the slight heat created from the friction of the stones grinding together give the tea its unique smoothness.


 
 Matcha is a wonderful tea with a very unique practice for creating just the tea  to be used to brew. I enjoy learning and making this fabulous tea because of the process involved, that may be due to my being an artist. If you have not tried matcha before I highly advise you give it a whirl. Keep an eye out on my youtube and here for a simple step by step matcha making video. Till next time, keep steepin’ on~

 Photo credit to: Mr.Randazzo  also Thank you to Dr.Ralph Fareber for answering my questions and allowing us to become friends.

How tea effects art for me – 2 Year Anniversary for Tea Journey!

For my TWO year anniversary post I decided to put together a little montage to visually show my growth with Tea since I began consuming tea regularly. To do this I used my own art work as they both grew together over these years. Please enjoy~

First step towards my ink style. 
ukiyo-e  with screen printing  ( Abe no Seimei 2008)
Drinking tea regularly and learning new styles around this time. Stopped drinking coffee due to a seizure around Thanksgiving
One of the few first works I have done in ink  at OCAD U  ( Dream or reality 2009)
Regularly looking for new teas in Toronto and regular customer for Davids Tea.
Began to learn other methods of painting with sumi-e ink.
Bought Matcha for the first time and used a fork. Soon after
purchased a chasen to prepare it right. (Fetus Fear 2009)

Purchased first Yixing from Tao Tea leaf. Bought first porcelain gong fu set and a glass gaiwan. Began to understand more about Oolongs and a little about Puerh. Finally moving FAR away from Japanese sencha and genmaicha! Utilized old watercolour skills with Sumi-e, encouraged by thesis professors to  be bolder and less controlling with future work.( Hold 2010, Thesis at OCAD U
Utilized tea in a work for the first time. Visited Majestes regularly for quality teas. And learned of
the Tea Guild of Canada. Joined Summer 2011!
Attained another Yixing from Majesteas. Working for Teaopia for
over a year! Attained more yixings from work. Began tea antique collection
and began to read The Way of Tea. My second tea book after a tea handbook!
Began to work slowly towards the direction I was told to go by professors. Been graduated for over a year.
Started to take Japanese lessons!
(Lace 2011)
Became a Public Relations rep for The Tea Guild of Canada.  Now has too many teas, extensive knowledge
byond what I need for work. Helps out with “World in Your Tea Cup” Event! Great fun.
Now has too much tea ware (no such thing!) and too much tea (blasphemy!).
Began to experiment more with “tea” as tone. (Hair 2011)
Brings tea where ever I go practically! Creating many entries on tea to Tea Journey!
Reviewed Do Matcha! Made more tea friends at the Guild, two I knew from work. Encouraged a co-worker to join Guild!
Began Tea Sommelier classes, been taking Chanoyu classes when able (I love to learn!). Working on promotional materials for the Guild!
Me working in the back in a Sumi-e workshop at the JCCC in March  2012
Tried some amazing teas at Majesteas and Tao Tea Leaf for Spring!
Learning more about processing of teas in the process outside of class. Been
 supporting The Global Tea Hut since February! Enjoying the large selection of spring teas
 and refined taste of my pickings~ My chop for new work, It says ” Guren” Crimson Lotus.
I will have it by next week! I picked these characters as my hair is red and the lotus symbolizes
 growth for me. Growing out of the mud and into the world as a flower.
Been with Teaopia for 2 years (June 10th 2012) and have had Tea Journey for
just as long. Now I work for Teavana, and hope to grow some more as a 
茶 人 (Tea person), Artist and as an individual in
general.  I truely hope to meet more wonderful tea people and have long lasting
 friendships (Tiffany, Grace, Kingkoh,
Brooke  etc <3 Love you all!) I will be meeting with the Guild
board this summer to plan out fall meetings. I can not wait to get things rolling~
  I am on my second tea class
and I am having one more before I start my super summer. After that third class I am
 about half way done the program.
Certification exam to follow there after and my N5 exam for Japanese Proficiency as well!
“Sheng Nong” in progress for 2012!

  


Davids Tea- 1$ Orthodox Tea Promotion Part I

  When leaving work on Friday I noticed that Davids was offering this promotion till November 14. Since the price was right I will be getting at least one tea each day (if I can).

  Korean Sejak -Green tea

       {No image available }
    White Peony- Green tea

Both teas were pleaseing in the mouth. Sejak kept me going back for more. It represented itself  as almost a Gyokuro.
    White Peony was smooth, perhaps miss labelled or I forgot the correct name. It was not as creamy as I find Silver Needle but a nice alternative.

Till next time~

Darjeeling Jungpana First Flush- Davids Tea

         To start out my weekly tea reviews I picked out my favorite Darjeeling so far (sadly finished it too with this review…).  I originally bought this tea in an attempt to flesh out my taste for Darjeelings, instead it has kept me close to other light Darjeeling (such as Teaopia’s Ambootia Darjeeling). At a mere $15.00 for 50g it was well worth trying.  Disappointingly it is “limited time only”, thus I am in a search for a new one to replace it or to try.
         The Davids Tea website says this:

Darjeeling Jungpana First Flush


A legendary tea

First flush teas are usually plucked after the first spring rains, marking the end of the long Himalayan winter. From the remote Jungpana Estate, deep in the mountains of India, this is a delicate tea with a woodsy taste and aroma. In case you were wondering, FTGFOP 1 stands for Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe, first grade. Sounds like a mouthful, right? Trust us, it’s one of the best mouthfuls you’ll ever taste.

 Like always Davids Tea creates a little story or juicy description for their teas. This one keeps to the origin of the tea and tries to promote the estate. For my review I conducted it at work so that I could ensure the quality of water and temperature, at a latter date I will have the means to check the temperature at home. Below are my basic tools: a simple infuser and a glass mug. I used about two teaspoons to around 14oz of 100 Degree C water. The water at work is filtered four times in the back room and have not had any problems with other teas I have smuggled in.

 After steeping the leaves for three minutes I removed the filter. The leaves were quite green prior to steeping (forgot to take this image) and even more so after. The wet leaves smelled sweet, apple like, grassy and reminded me of fogy mist.
     The tea itself tasted smooth, mild, slightly sweet with a bit of honey and almost toasty. It reminded me a bit of Japanese green teas I have had in the past, or perhaps it was the lingering flavor in my cup from Genmaicha. I had cleaned out the cup thoroughly before hand . I am not entirely sure.  I hope to get a bit more of the tea before their supply runs completely out, again though if anyone has some suggestions I am open to them.

AFTER NOTES: As this is my first review (since Sumatra Highland) I hope to get better at describeing teas as well as prepare for taking the Tea Sommelier Exam (when I get there, wish me luck). I hope to get better at takeing tea photos as well, I recall seeing a toutorial for this and will look it up for the next review. Till then look forward to your next cup of tea!