Matcha: Taste is Everything 2

Markyu Koymaen Matcha- Aoarashi, Katherine Bellman

  As part of my matcha taste tests that I mentioned last week, we are on tea #2. I talked to my good friend KingKoh about  different matcha and he brought up that hoarding matcha is not good. The reason for this is after it is open it starts to oxidize and loose its fullness. I try to keep this in mind when I am getting new matcha. With that right now I have three- four open right now and in room temperature. With that said I have been trying to drink them all up. Once they are done I have a closed can of Camillia Sinensis’ Matcha Sendo in the freezer waiting. 

Markyu Koymaen Matcha- Aoarashi, Katherine Bellman

    Just a note on keeping matcha a bit longer, put the tin in a zip lock bag or sealed tupperware to protect it from smells. With that said, on to this weeks tea.
 Aoarashi from Ko no en (Marukyu Koymaen), the lowest ceremonial grade they have on their website.  This tin is 40g of delicious matcha. I got this one from e-bay from a seller who lives within Toronto somewhere. 

     I will admit this tea I have been hoarding and it is not in
its best state. Even still I can not pass up this tea when given the chance. 

Markyu Koymaen Matcha- Aoarashi,Chawan by Kingkoh.  Katherine Bellman

 The taste in the mouth and lingering after taste were
the similar , just a touch weaker. Notes of dark chocolate  develop after tea has
been swallowed. The taste reminds me of the dry sweets that go with Japanese
tea, higashi. 
   As you can see it would not whisk properly. This is a good reason not to let matcha sit around for too long. Although unlike our previous tea from Teavana, this one held together very well. This means it mixed well but just could not create a froth.
  Ko no En’s tea is from Uji, Kyoto. Ko no en is a distributor of Marukyu Koymaen tea here in Toronto. I am lead to believe that the e-bay seller may be part of Ko no En, but they do not say so.  
    With Kohei’s post in mind, I still prefer Uji matcha. The taste is far more complex in the mouth and lingers for a long time. This tea although is fairly cheep on e-bay, it goes for $16.00CDN. Going back to Kohei’s post price does not determine quality. This one has similar notes to Yugen from the same company but is much easier on my wallet.  Let’s see what our next tea has to offer, join me next week for part three. 

                                                            How do you store your matcha ?

Seasonal Depression: Tea Solutions

     
    Every year around this time of year there is a percentage of us that suffer from Seasonal Depression. I will admit I am one of them. It’s hard to tell as I will be all smiles around people but when I am alone, with my cat, its hard to think of anything to do or even find the energy.
   I decided to let you all know this because I feel that tea helps me get through by pushing through these feelings.  I will admit to laying on my bed for long periods of time but those moments I get up to make a cup of tea just help push through down moments..
    The teas that help the most are those with a good amount of caffeine. I feel that the reason behind this is due to it giving you energy to move and also l-Theanine calming effect.
    For this reason I like to have a nice warm bowl of matcha to keep me going and focused. My favourite Matchas are:
-Yugen from Kono-En
-Kan no Shiro from Ippodo
-Matcha Sendo- Camellia Sinensis

Drink up and stay healthy!

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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.