Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Uji Matcha Manten


The Manten comes from O-cha via Tsuen, Japan's oldest tea shop, and at $60 for 30 grams, this is the most expensive tea I've purchased. Manten is a koicha (thick tea), and it comes from bushes at least 30 years old, grown in Uji by a distinguished gentleman who has won awards for his Tencha.

The Manten comes in an elegant and simple tin with an inner plastic lid that keeps it air tight.

Making it for the first time was an experience. The timelessness of tea, the fusion of history and culture, has always been the primary appeal for me, but never before had it been this poignant, preparing tea from a family that has been growing and selling tea for 23 generations and using a chasen that was crafted by another family that has been making them for 35o years. I got kind of tingly.

Properly preparing matcha can be problematic and requires a little practice, mainly because with a chashoku and a samashi you have to eyeball the corect amounts to use. I have found that if you use too little water or too much matcha, the tea will become thicker and sour.

I've had more experience now, and I must stress the importance of sifting the matcha first; it will clump much less and always seems to taste better when you do. Unsifted matcha has the consistency of talcum powder, while sifted matcha will have a homogeneous, sandy texture.

Again, for koicha use 3-4 scoops and 3-4 oz of water.

The Manten tastes very green. I made same for Molly's friend, and she said the same thing. It is flavorful, bold, not quite sweet, but definitely not brassy or astringent. Quite smooth, but I didn't notice that at first, only later, after I drank some lower quality matcha that was rather harsh, then went back to the Manten.

Other than that the Manten was too much for my palate. In the same way it was difficult for me to discern or describe the differences between the Kiri no Mori and the Kiku Mukashi, I can not adequately distinguish the Manten from the Kiku Mukashi. I am not experienced enough yet, as this was only my third matcha.

Honestly this is a relief; I can not afford a regular supply of the Manten at this time, and I am pleased that it hasn't ruined me for all lesser matcha.

5 comments:

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