Your day in matcha

Non-oxidized tea
Janice
Posts: 93
Joined: Tue Oct 10, 2017 11:11 pm
Location: New Jersey

Mon Apr 08, 2019 12:10 pm

I purchased a beautiful Shy Rabbit chawan during the forum fundraiser several months ago. I decided to initiate it by trying matcha. Since I’m overly sensitive to bitterness I selected Chiyo Mukashi from O-Cha to experiment on. I think only one reviewer noted any bitterness, and in this case the majority were right. Now that I’ve discovered how good matcha can taste using a delicate coated cooking whisk I’m ready to buy a real bamboo tea whisk and a tea whisk keeper.

Any suggestions on which matcha to include in my next order? I wouldn’t mind trying something less expensive, although if I alternate matcha days with gyokuro days I can stay within my (ever expanding) tea budget.
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Baisao
Posts: 328
Joined: Mon Dec 11, 2017 5:17 pm
Location: Austin, TX

Tue Apr 09, 2019 1:15 am

Hi Janice! It sounds like you had a wonderful time breaking in your chawan.

I’ve been impressed with the single cultivar matcha from Thes du Japon: http://www.thes-du-japon.com/index.php? ... Path=130_7

The Asahi is expensive but it is like dark chocolate, and it’s thick and so yummy that I splurge. I like the Uji-Hikari cultivar quite a bit. The Samidori is still exceptional despite being more affordable.

The think I like about single cultivar, single estate teas is that you can taste the character of the tea, it’s not so blended that it has become boring. Expertly blended teas are sophisticated yet lack, well, character. The teas above have various qualities to them, especially in the finish, of lemon drops or lingonberry or dark chocolate. I won’t eat or drink for 10-15 minutes after having matcha just so I can enjoy those flavors.

I am also sensitive to bitterness (though I like it in some things) and have found that I no longer taste the bitterness I tasted in my first few bowls of high quality matcha, perhaps because of familiarity with matcha but I also wonder if it wasn’t bitterness at all but a powerful, unfamiliar flavor.

As with a lot of teas, as you go down in price you’re more likely to encounter genuinely bitter teas and other faults.

Something a little sweet before drinking matcha seems to tame bitterness and enhance the flavor.

The chasen (whisk) doesn’t have to be expensive. I’ve had equally good results using expensive handmade Japanese chasen and inexpensive Korean ones. I personally like a lot of foam for usucha. Here is a good video on how to make it at home:

Chashaku can be very inexpensive and they do help when measuring how much matcha to use. If I didn’t have one, I would skip using a teaspoon and use a gram scale instead. Because it’s a powder it can compress significantly in a teaspoon resulting in more tea than you thought.

I never thought I would like matcha. I had a few bowls about 20 years ago and thought it was beautiful but otherwise unimpressive. I was using “ceremonial grade” blended matcha from a Japanese department store: a gift from a Japanese friend. It was probably mid-tier matcha. Even just a year ago I would never have imagined that I would enjoy matcha, and certainly not to the degree that I do! Good teas and good technique makes all the difference.

Happy whisking!
Janice
Posts: 93
Joined: Tue Oct 10, 2017 11:11 pm
Location: New Jersey

Thu Apr 11, 2019 3:15 am

Very interesting video, especially the technique of breaking up the matcha in cold water as the first step. My first matcha, the chiyo mukashi, is not an inexpensive choice, but it’s half the cost of the asahi. I would have to work up to that.

I decided to begin with a reasonably good matcha and do my initial experiments without specialized tools. The big question is how I react to the caffeine. I assume since I’m ingesting the whole tea rather than just an extract I’m taking in a lot more caffeine than with gyokuro or yancha.
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Baisao
Posts: 328
Joined: Mon Dec 11, 2017 5:17 pm
Location: Austin, TX

Thu Apr 11, 2019 5:35 pm

Janice wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 3:15 am
Very interesting video, especially the technique of breaking up the matcha in cold water as the first step.



I can't explain it but the texture is smoother too when done this way, even with sifted matcha. I like it both ways though.

Janice wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 3:15 am
The big question is how I react to the caffeine. I assume since I’m ingesting the whole tea rather than just an extract I’m taking in a lot more caffeine than with gyokuro or yancha.
In my experience, the caffeine is released more slowly because it is whole leaf and is digested. It supposedly lasts longer because of this but I can only say that I do not get the jolt from matcha that I get from gyokuro. I find it to have a more relaxing sensation that gyokuro or sencha.
Janice
Posts: 93
Joined: Tue Oct 10, 2017 11:11 pm
Location: New Jersey

Fri Apr 19, 2019 1:43 pm

I purchased an inexpensive matcha from o-cha, kiri-no-mori, as well as a chasen. Despite the low price the matcha is free of bitterness. I’m working on my whisking technique right now, as I have yet to achieve consistent foam. The experiments are fun, and, foam or no foam, I enjoy drinking the results.
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Baisao
Posts: 328
Joined: Mon Dec 11, 2017 5:17 pm
Location: Austin, TX

Fri Apr 19, 2019 11:13 pm

Janice wrote:
Fri Apr 19, 2019 1:43 pm
I purchased an inexpensive matcha from o-cha, kiri-no-mori, as well as a chasen. Despite the low price the matcha is free of bitterness. I’m working on my whisking technique right now, as I have yet to achieve consistent foam. The experiments are fun, and, foam or no foam, I enjoy drinking the results.

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That’s great news! I’m glad you found an affordable matcha that works for you. It sure is enjoyable.
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