Saturday Morning Tea

This morning I am enjoying a very unique Japanese green tea with 3 distinct components, a sencha green tea, a matcha green tea and puffed brown rice.

I introduce you to Matcha Gen-Mai Cha, the 4th tea in my Japanese tea series.

Even though Japan is now an industrialized nation with its bustling, crowded cities, underneath this is a culture based on Zen practices devoted to moments of simplicity and beauty as captured in the tea ceremony, or Chanoyu. Matcha, or powdered, tea is the tea that is traditionally used in this ceremony.

In this tea, the Matcha is dusted over the sencha leaf and the puffed brown rice. The addition of toasted, puffed brown rice to green tea is a popular beverage enjoyed in Japan. Gen-Mai Cha translates to brown rice tea.

This tea leaf looks like cooked greens with rice krispies added to it.

The liquor color is like none other I’ve ever seen in steeped tea. To be honest, it reminds me of the Gatorade drinks my kids used to drink after sports. The Matcha powder makes the tea more opaque.

With 80% of Japan’s 4 major islands being mountainous, efficiency is key in utilizing every piece of land available for tea cultivation. In contrast to China’s isolated mountain tea gardens, Japanese tea gardens are arranged in orderly, well manicured rows on gently rolling hillsides, close to rivers and streams to provide moisture for the tea bushes.

Except for very special, extremely expensive tea, most tea in Japan is harvested with shearing machines, either handheld by 2 workers on either side of the tea row or by a large volume machine which fits perfectly between rows set apart to accommodate the machine. The machines can yield 200-300 lbs. of tea per day as opposed to the 20-30 lbs. hand plucked.

The predominant aroma and flavor of this tea is of toasty rice. The vegetal quality of the tea comes through in wisps along with a lovely sweetness.

So warming. Mmmm…

This weekend my family is visiting from Michigan. It’s the perfect time of year to visit southern New England. The fall colors are at their peak – golds, russets, flaming orange and deep burgundy. I just love this colorful time of year!

Have a lovely weekend, dear tea friends.

“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family.  Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.”

~Jane Howard