With 2014 finally here, it is time to look back at the best of 2013 together. With the new year beginning today we need to start things off on the right foot together with tea. My goal is to make Tea Journey a fun place to learn about tea, art and all things connected to them. This year is going to be an adventure to remember for years to come, now it’s time to look over my favorite posts from 2013.
The number one thing I am passionate about telling people I meet is that I love Japan and its culture. Being a Canadian there is only 146 years of history to learn about, with Japan there is over 2000 years to drool over. Part of that history is the cultivation of tea and its own culture with it. These books each give their own insight into Japan’s personal world with tea itself.
As an artist and designer, I always love to give something back to those around me. My secret project completed and I was able to present you with the first design for Tea- Shirts on Spreadshirt.
With new beginnings starting with 2014 I can not wait to release the next design!
Teavana did it, they created a master piece in the heart of Manhattan. I was very pleased to know it was happening and eagerly waited to hear from my old colleagues in NYC. Who could not be blown away by their artful ceiling of…. TEA!
This store marked the beginning of something new in the tea world, let’s see what happens in 2014~
Being a Tea Sommelier to me means that you need to keep learning every day. I took the exam not only to complete my journey with the program but to push myself to study intensively and gain new knowledge.
This guide is perfect if you wish to do the exam or even just to learn a bit more about the complexities and subtleties of teas.
Which posts were your top 3? Comment below, much love.
Follow me for more @bellmanart /katherine.bellmanart
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If you just joined us today, we are exploring if there is a connection between taste, price and growing region for matcha. The first two parts can be found here ,and here. The series started after reading a post by Kohei over at Tales of Japanese teas in his post Matcha is not about price, or origin. We are on our third matcha for the month. This one is by Morihan they are located in Uji within Kyoto, Japan.
This tea is sold as a Tea Ceremony Practice quality, which is also good for baking. It has a good shade of green in the bag and a wonderful quantity of 100g. This one I purchased for $14 CDN , approximately, on e-bay. Very good price when you consider how much is in it.
Time to taste it! This one frothed very well and looked very smooth on the surface. It did not have the thickness that I look for in my matcha. Although, it did whisk very well and held together longer than matcha from Teavana.
When tasteing the tea it had a slight vegetable taste, that most call a “green tea” taste. Along side of it there were notes of dark chocolate that came through the creamy-milky texture of the whole tea.
Over all it was a great tea but I found a slight dryness that came after. This could be balanced perhaps with a sweet before drinking the tea, how it was originally meant to be enjoyed.
Next week is the last installment for this series. All matcha teas for this series were purchased by me and all opinions are my own. I highly suggest to try them out as we all taste things differently.
Happy Holidays everyone!
What qualities do you look for in your matcha?
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.
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.
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
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 ?
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.
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
Since Teavana acquired Teaopia there was talk about this Great Neighborhood store. I learned some ideas at head office in April, but kept quiet till now for legal reasons.
Now I can talk! It opens tomorrow in the East end of Manhattan. Crested with gold and it combines the ideas of not only Teavana and Starbucks, but the concept of the Tazo tea shop.
I learned a few weeks ago that the Tazo stores were closing down to become this. Originally I had thought that all the Teavana stores were to become Tazo, I was wrong. In the end they came up with this beautiful concept which melds them all together. It is a great work of art.
The store combines the Teavana Mall concept with the cafe or bistro like concept. The foods are beyond what I expected, the colours and ingredients are fantastic. It also looks like Starbucks changed the colour of the cups for Teavana. Design wise it works better for their whole family, the white with the logo. Classic Starbucks design.
In time I can see this fusion of Tea store and cafe popping up more in the tea world. While the smaller stores are possibly in panic, I feel that this addition to the tea world will do everyone some good. The concept is fantastic, I have pointed out how in awe I am of the shop. My question is can Teavana still give provide the essence of tea? For myself the essence is the history, culture and the almost religions aspect that comes with it. What am I getting at?
The staff are given a condensed version of information on tea, in the form of a thick almost two inch handbook, but only on the first few centimeters.. or millimeters of that. Tea is more than just a leisure drink. There is a connection between history, arts and culture that stems from tea itself.
The book written by Kakuzo Okakura, even points out this connection throughout his book. One main line that sticks is ” When will the West understand, or try to understand, the East?”. If we continue to try to find a Western way to enjoy tea, can we really understand it in the end?
One part of this new store that was on the idea list was to have a High End Cast Iron pot. It would be for purchase but would it be enamel lined? The original use for cast iron pots was to use it as a kettle, this can be seen in Japanese Tea Ceremony today.
I feel that the one thing that Teavana and Starbucks can do right now, is offer special classes or even properly educate their staff on tea this would get them on the right track. As, Gyokuro is NOT used to make Matcha (Here is a post on how it IS made).
All images from http://news.starbucks.com/news/teavana-fine-teas-tea-bar-debuts-in-new-york-citys-upper-east-side