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Saturday, March 3, 2012

Matcha Madness

In honor of March Madness, I am going to be having fun with Matcha this march.  Granted this has no bracket, and I certainly hope no one places bets on the matcha I will be drinking.  In fact I will not even be doing head to heads so I won't really be comparing.  But as I caved and purchased two brand new tea bowls/ Chawan in the past week I felt the need to order some matcha and a new chasen to make sure I had something to use in the chawan.

This morning though was the first morning I have given a decent bit of thought to start a morning ritual involving a bowl of matcha.  It really is not a bad idea, and know quite a few people that fit Matcha into their morning routines.  If I could consistently be awake and functioning upon waking up, I think I would definitely fit matcha into my morning ritual.  Though sadly I am one of those people that gets up and fights tooth and nail to not fall back asleep, even when sitting up and trying to nibble on some breakfast.

Just in case any of my readers are having trouble with Matcha,  I have noticed a few key things that are absolutely critical when preparing matcha.  While you do not need to buy a special matcha sifter, it is incredibly important to sift your matcha.  What I actually use is a metal tea infuser that I think came with a enameled tetsubin I got early in my tea drinking days.  It is a basket that has a somewhat fine metal mesh everywhere except for its rim. To sift I use my Chashaku to scoop the required amount, then use it to push it through the mesh to sift it.  Speaking of Chashaku, they are not necessary but the basic ones are somewhat inexpensive and do not actually ware out like Chasen, the only time I have heard of a Chashaku being ruined is when someone left it sitting in water ( the bambo when wet unbent itself). The other key item, which doesn't need to be a special yazumashi, but rather just any cup/ item that is hot water safe that can be used as an effective cooling vessel.  While I have never actually tested out the kettles that heat water directly to preset temperatures, I personally feel that usually water below the oft quoted 180 is needed for Matcha ( though not much).

In fact, while the whisking may be somewhat unusual to begin with, the hardest thing to get right when preparing matcha is water temperature.  Keeping in mind that these are similar to gyokuro leaves, so if the water is too hot you can get that horrible taste you often find in gyokuro leaves.  If the water is too cool ( i. e gyokuro temperature)  it is incredibly hard to get the proper amount of froth when whisking the tea.
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