(This is a review of a specific tea. If you would like more information about matcha in general, please see “The growing popularity of matcha” or follow the link below to product information for ETS’s Izu matcha.)
Located about sixty miles southwest of Tokyo, the Izu Peninsula is a resort area favoured for its beautiful beaches, scenic mountain views including Mount Fuji, and its therapeutic hot springs. Izu also produces a rather nice matcha, which I recently sampled.
Unlike some matchas, the colour of Izu matcha is more peridot than emerald – the green has a yellowish cast to it. And it’s milder in the cup than other matchas I’ve tried.
I was sure I had a bamboo whisk somewhere in my tea room, but apparently not. So I used a small silicone whisk instead. And I don’t have a chawan, the traditional Japanese tea bowl, tho’ I do have a yuzamashi, a small open-mouthed pitcher for cooling water, and it served as a good substitute. Which goes to show that while it’s pleasant to have traditional tea ware, you don’t necessarily need it to make enjoyable tea.
Somebody reading this is waiting to get specifics about amount of leaf – actually, powdered leaf – and water temperature that I used. Sorry to disappoint you. As I noted in my recent piece “Intuitive Tea,” I normally just eyeball amounts of tea. I put some matcha into the yuzamashi, added string-of-pearls temperature water, and whisked until it was foamy. Tasted a little too bitter, so I added more water, and that smoothed it out, seguing into a sweetish finish. Aaaah!
There’s something about drinking matcha that is just so satisfying. The aroma, the mouth feel, the taste, the aftertaste, that jolt of caffeine and micronutrients. This matcha didn’t disappoint on any of these points.
I still had a good amount left after drinking a couple of cupsful, so I tried a few experiments. A Facebook friend who goes by the name Toadman suggested putting matcha and water or milk into a glass jar and shaking until it foams. Although purists may scoff, this method worked really well with water, so I tried it with soy milk (not bad) and coconut milk (wow). I bet it would be even better with rice milk: green tea and rice tend to complement each other.
Inspired, I went a little crazy: Mixed some into a cup of vanilla coconut-milk yoghurt. Yum! Added a spoonful to the rest of the ingredients in my bread machine. Yes! Sprinkled a sprinkleful onto sautéed rice and vegetables. Yee-haw!
Finally, I had to try tea-dyeing with the Izu. The matcha-dyed fabric turned out a pretty, if very pale, celadon colour. Not wanting to waste even the slightest bit, I poured the remaining dregs onto my tea-loving begonia.
A nice tea at a good price that encourages experimentation. Gotta say I had a lot of fun with this one!
Getting Along with “Normal” Teawares
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