Saturday, May 23, 2009

Tea Tasting Saturday #21 - Matcha (Thin Grade)

If I'd paid attention to the tea catalog, I wouldn't have been so surprised that this tea came in a tin.

Anyone here read Japanese? I'm being cautioned about something, but what? On the other side of this little piece of paper is more Japanese text and a graphic of hands carefully opening the pull-tab can. I'll bet the Japanese lawyers made them do that.

So I *cautiously* opened the can so the powdered tea wouldn't spill all over the place. It didn't, because it's still in the bag!

After opening the bag of Matcha, I carefully measured out just under half a teaspoon (the directions said half a teaspoon for 6 ounces of water, and my little tea-tasting glass is 5 ounces).


My first "whisking" didn't result in too much foam, so I decided I'd probably done it wrong and tried again.

Number two looked only slightly foamier, so I decided it was time to drink up and move on. Besides, this may be what "thin" Matcha looks like anyway!

* * *
I have to tell you, "Matcha Saturday" almost didn't happen! First, I realized late last Friday I had failed to place a new order with Harney and hurriedly went online to play catch up. Bless 'em, it arrived Wednesday, so I'm good for tea tastings for at least a few more months, Lord willing. Then yesterday, I realized I failed to order a Matcha whisk, and the local tea shop is out of Matcha whisks, but I read on the Internet you could use an ordinary wire whisk instead if you had to. (Later, when I read the book, Michael Harney said the same thing.) So I figured with my mini-wire whisk this Matcha process wouldn't exactly be "authentic," but at least I could give the Matcha a whirl. (So to speak.) I don't know how much of a difference it makes that I bought the cheaper thin grade rather than the more expensive thick grade of Matcha, but hey, I was trying to be economical!

Category: Japanese Green Tea

Purveyor: Harney & Sons

When purchased: May 2009

Appearance: A rather bright apple green powdered tea. I'd like a T-shirt this color.

Steeping temperature and time: Just under 1/2 teaspoon of tea, 175 degrees, 30 seconds (or however long it took to whisk the tea).

Scent: I had to force myself not to think about the powdery appearance, but when steeped I realized that oh, it smelled just like green tea.

Color: Deep olive green.

Flavor: I did not enjoy my first sip at all, as I "felt" the powder swirling around and the tea was too strong and bitter. But after a minute or so, once some of the powder settled in the bottom of the teacup, I sipped again and it tasted just like good green tea. Of course, I am going to *have* to get a Matcha whisk now and see if it makes any difference in the foam level. We won't call it a re-match but a re-Matcha! (Also, I want to try some recipes that use Matcha as an ingredient.)

Additional notes: Michael Harney tells of visiting a factory where Matcha is made and says he had to "don protective clothing as if heading into surgery. I even had to pause in an airlock where machines blew off from the protective clothing any particulate matter that might contaminate the powder."

Next week's tea: First of the oolongs, Wenshan BaoZhong

And if, like me, you would enjoy seeing how someone who knows what they're doing prepares Matcha, check out this brief video on YouTube!

10 comments:

Belinda said...

You are Brave -this one doesn't LOOK good to me at all.
I really enjoy these Sat. reports

Melanie said...

That is really interesting. So, you just whisk it in and then let it settle to the bottom and drink off the top? Do you know if the Japanese Matcha differs from the South American Matcha that people traditionally drink from gourds?

parTea lady said...

Thanks for the review of Matcha. I think it would be fun to try it in some of the recipes I've seen lately for green tea cupcakes and green tea ice cream.

I'm looking forward to the oolong reviews - I prefer oolong over green tea.

parTea lady said...

Melanie, the yerba mate drink is from a different shrub or small tree than tea. Thanks for mentioning this - there is so much interesting info online about yerba mate.

Joyce said...

Peaking at your blog today and noticed you live in Ga. I see your swan house post and I was just there last weekend and wanted to take a photo for my blog, but ate so fast that when I thought of the photo it was too late. Next time I will shoot first and eat second:) I am new to blogging and collect tea pots and all tea items that I will post in the future. I will be back to peak at your lovely blog again.
Joyce

Ginger said...

Thanks for the review. Matcha is a tea I've never tried.
If you are looking for ways to use up the powder here is a green tea ice cream:
http://www.latimes.com/features/food/la-fo-greentearec13a-2009may13,1,7739089.story

Yuko said...

Hi
I'm a Japanese so let me help you understand the caution.

"!
Please follow the instruction on the other side to open the tin.
Be careful when you open the tin and pull tea powder out of it as the edges could cut your hands or fingers.
Also be careful of hot water and keep its temperature appropriate.
"

By the way, I'm a tea adviser and love your blog very much!

Angela McRae said...

Thank you so much, Yuko! I am *quite* relieved to know that's what it said! (And thanks for the nice blog comment, too. Coming from a tea professional ... wow!)

Hootie said...

Matcha tea sounds interesting! :)

Lewis said...

I'm helping the folks at Matcha Source Green Tea (www.matchasource.com) introduce their products to bloggers. I really enjoyed your post, which is why I contacted you. If you send us an email at lewis@matchasource.com or info@matchasource.com, we can consider sending some complimentary products. A blog post about us would really be much appreciated. Thanks again for all your help

--Lewis