Thursday, November 3, 2016

Matcha Program - MATBA

The program for the October seminar of the Mid Atlantic Tea Business Association featured MATBA member Dr. Drew Sodo Hanson and Brandon Forsht, both from Boukakuan Japanese Tea House and Garden in NJ. Drew, a licensed teacher in the Urasenke Tradition of Japanese Tea, conducted the program. Brandon along with MATBA member Judith Krall Russo assisted in the skillful preparation of the various Matcha samplings. This beautiful blossoming Camellia sinensis plant graced the table alongside the Japanese calligraphy that says that today is "a once in a lifetime meeting". Essentially, today will never come again, so be fully present in the moment, experience the event as it happens as the time and the people gathered together will never occur again.

Before we sampled the Matcha, we sampled some sweets that included a Green tea scone with green tea honey, both flavored with powdered matcha. We also tasted panna cotta (a chilled dessert) topped with red bean paste (azuki).

Powdered matcha can be added to baked goods, sweets, smoothies and to make matcha latte. It can also be sifted over top of everything, including cheesecake. When baking with matcha, it will turn your baked goods a bright green as noted in the scone and the honey.
Sweets served at a Japanese Tea Ceremony

Above, Brandon with a variety of bowls used for drinking matcha. Matcha, or Usu-cha, meaning 'thin tea' is prepared using the powdered leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Matcha must be stored properly, best kept in the freezer until it is opened and then stored in an air tight container in the fridge. It is best used within 2 months. Prepare the matcha using 1/2 tsp. to 2 oz. of water (filtered or bottled) at 165 degrees.

Using a bamboo whisk, whisk the matcha approx. 100 times, with the wrist only. To properly whisk, you don't go around the entire bowl, but rather whisk from 12:00 - 6:00. You are whisking the tea into the water and creating a suspension. Notice the concentration as Brandon and Judith follow the proper technique to prepare the matcha for sampling.

We sampled five different types of matcha and attempted to compare the differences between them. Some were noted to be more astringent, others had different levels of complexity to them. Some of the samples appeared to be smooth, while others had a rich flavor and fuller taste. We sampled Horaido from a family owned tea plantation outside of Kyoto, along with Itoen and Ippodo. There was also a matcha from Kyushu the southern island of Japan. It was all very interesting, and a welcoming introduction to the world of matcha. Thank you, Drew!


Marilyn Miller said...

As much as I try I have not developed an affinity to matcha. Occasionally I come upon one that is OK, but most of the time I don't care for them. I will keep trying. How fun for your group to have the side by side comparison. I think that would help alot. Love the matcha bowls and equipment. All very beautiful!

Angela McRae said...

Okay, so I've just learned that 1) I've been whisking mine all wrong and 2) I've stored it for too long. Thanks for enlightening me! :)

relevanttealeaf said...

How educational and interesting to learn that matcha is the exception to the rule about refrigerating or freezing tea. I would have loved this presentation even though I'm not a great matcha enthusiast. Like everything else, it's an acquired taste.