Green tea » Japanese » Shade-Grown, ★★★★
Also known as: 抹茶入り玄米茶, Organic Sencha Sprinkles
Genmaicha with Matcha is actually three products mixed together:
- Sencha (煎茶) — a steamed Japanese tea with a fresh seaweed flavour
- Dry rice (干米) — gives a roasted, nutty, popcorn flavour which dominates the brew (these first two ingredients together constitute Genmaicha).
- Matcha (抹茶) — powdered Gyokuro, which gives a cloudy, sweet, invigorating dew-like infusion that’s extremely nutritious. I love Matcha!
The first brew is fluorescent green and tastes of Matcha (sweet dew). The powder then washes off the bright green rice pieces almost immediately, revealing their natural brown colour—you’ll also see them puff up as they absorb water.
The second brew is less sweet and more kelpy. The brew looks a little less cloudy, but still has a fluorescent green tinge from the Matcha that hid somewhere in the Sencha leaves.
Subsequent brews taste of Genmaicha, then eventually just of dry rice pieces, which survive seemingly infinite brewing—or until you eat them. This tea just keeps changing in your cup.
This is a fun tea, a plaything, and is more interesting than Genmaicha on its own. But even though Genmaicha with Matcha has a long history in Japan, I think this tea is too complicated for everyday consumption. For everyday consumption, choose Longjing, Meng Ding Huang Ya or Biluochun instead. ★★★★
Feels like green creatine.
Green tea » Japanese » Shade-Grown, ★★★★★
Also known as: 抹茶
Brewed simply in a glass with a spoon, Matcha reminded me of taking creatine powder that doesn’t quite dissolve in water. I usually care deeply about how tea is brewed, but Matcha needed too much specialist equipment, so I went without. The right-sized bowl and the hand-made Matcha whisk sell for over $80 per set here in Melbourne so I didn’t buy them. I used a spoon and my usual tea-glass, and had what felt like an energy drink that was unpleasant to swallow.
Brewed as part of a beautiful, calming Matcha ceremony, though, this tea is totally different. The gentle, meticulous process of preparing Matcha feels like meditation. Using the appropriate equipment (the right-sized bowl and the hand-made bamboo whisk) give the Matcha a pleasantly smooth mouthfeel with a froth that amplifies the flavour of the drink (rather like that of espresso coffee). Whisking the Matcha properly also removes all the unpleasant, tiny clumps of tea-powder that a teaspoon would fail to remove. The ceremony makes this tea worth two more of my stars.
Watch the a demonstration of the ceremony here:
Watch the ceremony itself here:
The fact that it’s shade-grown and then powdered means that it’s richer in everything (antioxidants, caffeine, catechins, vitamins and protein—yes, protein) than all other teas. It’s a natural energy drink that stimulates you much more than brewed teas because you’re effectively swallowing all of the leaf.
Matcha can be brewed two ways: thick (濃茶, koicha) and thin (薄茶, usucha). Methods of each preparation method are detailed here.
The Matcha ceremony is worthwhile. Even if you don’t kneel on the floor and brew it in traditional dress, at least fork out a good Matcha set to do this drink justice. Matcha sets are $80 in stores, or just $25 on eBay. ★★★★★
- Green tea: Gyokuro (jameskennedymonash.wordpress.com)
- Try the Green Stuff. (elephantjournal.com)
- Matcha ado about green tea ice cream (dailyherald.com)
- Beginner’s guide to Japanese teas (matadornetwork.com)
- Matcha Green Tea (randomlovesinlife.wordpress.com)
- Shaklee Cinch™ Energy Tea Mix (sidshoppe.wordpress.com)