I finally must speak up about something that has bewildered me for years. I have seen numerous articles on the most efficient way to heat water for coffee or tea; Is it better to use gas? electricity? the microwave? (Microwave did not score highly overall, by the way) None of them, however, addressed what I term:
The Strange Occurrence of Volume
In the countless homes in which I have been offered countless cups of tea, I notice that the tea kettles were filled to the brim despite the fact that there are only two to four cups of tea, or the one small teapot being planned.
Full kettle. The wait for the boiling water is endless. And then, in the end, all that hot water sits in the kettle and becomes cool again.
My tea drinking darlings! It can be so much easier!
Just put in enough water in your kettle for your current tea drinking needs! You save energy (whether gas or electric) and time. You will be surprised how quickly your kettle begins to sing!
Also remember your hot water temperatures for the various kinds of tea. Boiling water is not so common a necessity as you might think. Please review my article on water temperature for brewing tea.
The foregoing, however, does not necessarily apply to the world of Chinese tea. If you are an avid Chinese tea drinker, you probably will want to fill the kettle, but add to your kitchen’s arsenal a large thermos to keep the hot water handy for hours of fragrant green, oolong, white, or black tea. For more information on Chinese tea, read my article: A Short Introduction to Chinese Tea.
Tags: Chinese Tea, Conserving Energy, Tea
Posted in Chinese Tea, Drinks, Tea | 2 Comments »
In recent months as a drinker of quality Chinese, I have developed a love for matcha - a very different Japanese green tea.
“All authentic Matcha only comes from Japan. Well established areas in Japan where it is cultivated are Kyoto and Uji. The history of Matcha tea is quite fascinating. This unique tea was long served for Japanese royalty and therefore became known as the ‘emperor’s tea’ in Asia. Other historical reports have Matcha arriving in China as a medicinal drink. The full benefits of Matcha tea extend beyond the body. The mental benefits of drinking Matcha have been long associated with Zen.
“Premium grade matcha is described as either “thin” (usucha) or “thick” (koicha) and used in making matcha as a tea. Ingredient grade is used in cooking and drink making. Premium matcha is made in limited amounts in Japan. It is the heart of the “way of tea” and its preparation is celebrated in the Japanese Tea Ceremony.
Why is matcha so green? Matcha is cultivated with great care. To naturally produce a tea so green, the farmers cover the tea plants with bamboo mats several weeks prior to harvest. This step increases chlorophyll content and turns the leaves dark green. These harvested leaves are then steamed, dried and de-spined (stems are removed). Before being stone-ground into powder, these leaves are called tencha.”
Matcha is slow ground into a fine powder (yes you are drinking the leaf, not just an infusion) using a stone mill - it takes about one hour to produce one ounce of matcha. This is so that it doesn’t develop a burnt taste caused by faster grinding.
The highest grades of this tea usually remain in Japan for the tea ceremonies, and are very expensive. Much of the matcha widely available today is ground by sophisticated machines and is made to be more affordable for a greater market. Even when today’s machines are used for grinding, the production of matcha requires many hours of skilled labor in the growing, picking, and processing of the tea. For example, the leaves for koicha/thick tea are still picked by hand, one by one. The young leaves are picked in early May. In order to preserve the beautiful vibrant green color, leaves are lightly steamed to prevent any fermentation. They are then stored in chatsubo/tea jars and allowed to season until November, at which time they can be stone-ground as needed. To produce the best the best flavor, color, and aroma, the leaves from various varieties of tea plants are blended.
Having found myself rather addicted to pu-erh (dark red Chinese tea, of which the younger varieties have a great deal of caffeine, along with some other magical properties) I started substituting matcha for some of the pu-erh drinking. I still drink it, but less. All the teas I drink are rather intense, so if you are an incurable espresso drinker and addict, you might start here with some possible new delights.
My current source is the Japanese market in Little Tokyo whenever I am in Los Angeles where they have 40g containers of organic Koyama-en for $17.
I also enjoy ordering directly from Japan from www.hibiki-an.com who will ship orders over $50 for free. The 40g containers usually last me for a month of daily drinking. I like their organic matcha. I haven’t gotten around to trying a lot of different brands or varieties, so any matcha drinkers are encouraged to leave comments and suggestions.
I don’t recommend trying to drink the matcha available at coffee shops and chains or franchises (Starbucks or Whole Foods for example) Outside of Japan, I have simply found it better to make it at home than to try to find the good stuff in the wilds of America.
Instructions can be found at: (I never got around to getting the bamboo spoon and ladle thing, just the bamboo whisk for which there is no substitute) www.matchaandmore.com
Tags: Chinese Tea, green tea, Japanese Tea, matcha
Posted in Chinese Tea, Drinks | 2 Comments »
I have made Chinese tea in some strange circumstances.
While I have never made it in the grand canyon or while riding a bicycle, I have made it in hotel rooms, using the coffee makers to heat the water and a cup-warmer to get a little extra heat. This is not a recommended method — this is an example of “desperate” circumstances!
When using coffee makers to heat tea water, it is important to take away all components that have old leftover essence of coffee, for example the attachment that holds the filter. The lid to the coffee pot must be removed as well.
Of course the taste of the tea will definitely be compromised in these circumstances. I was limited by airline weight restrictions on luggage, as I have so much equipment to pack for work. When traveling, if I can bring my little electric tea kettle, the quality of the travel tea is greatly improved. If I can get decent water, it is just like home.
Today in the trailer at the circus I had to use a microwave to heat the water. I do not have a tray here, so the dribbles go all over the table. The tea, however, turned out well, and I had about 12 cups throughout the morning and afternoon. I have come to love my cup warmer.
I will have to bring my electric tea kettle to the trailer here, though, since I really don’t groove on the microwave thing. There is no vessel here in which to heat water on the stove, and the propane supply is inconsistent.
Once I stayed in a hotel where there was not even a coffee maker. Before bed I set up my cup warmer. I put pu-erh tea and cold water in my yixing tea pot, and left it on the warmer for the night. In the morning my tea was hot and strong…yumm..only one little pot full, but better than no tea at all.
Tags: Chinese Tea
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