Saturday, November 10, 2007

Matcha, Part 3

Kiri no Mori and Kiku Mukashi

They both come from O-cha, and both are grown in Uji. Uji, near Kyoto, was the birhtplace of tea cultivation in Japan. While not always the case, matcha produced in Uji is often superior.

This is an amazing tea, its preperation and consumption unique and unlike any other. From the moment I begin boiling the water till the last drop, I find myself completely engaged in the task at hand. There is little or no waiting, each step flows effortlessly into the next. I better understand the marriage of cha no yu and Zen, the art and practice of continuously committing oneself to the moment.

I covered the preparation of matcha earlier this week, but I left out sifting, mostly because I was still having mixed results at the time. I got the kinks worked out, and I did notice an improvement. It seems to produce a thicker foam and a more thorough consistency. You can purchase a sifter for your matcha, as I will do eventually, but a brew basket will work as well.

The first thing I always notice is the aroma, just a moment after I open the can, green and sweet. The Kiri no Mori has a slight vegetal smell, where as the Kiku Mukashi does not.

Usucha (2 scoops/3-4 oz)

It is hard for me to tell the two apart. Both are sweet, thick but mild, and thoroughly smooth, no astringency or bitterness.

Koicha (3-4 scoops/2-3 oz)

The Kiku Mukashi, a higher quality matcha that "borders on the threshold between the koicha and usucha." I experimented with different methods of preparing koicha. The directions I found on Ippodo pushed the Kiku Mukashi to its limits. Intense, but unpleasant, becoming more astringent than I like my tea to be.

Tonight I tried to remember the instructions that came from O-cha, and used 4 large scoops with 3 oz of water, and the result was outstanding. Certain nuances emerged that weren't there before, and it developed a pleasant bit of astringency that gives the tea texture.

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Our matcha is also produced in Uji - one of the most famed Japanese regions for this type of tea.

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