Loose Leaf Tea: Ceremonial Matcha
Tea Company: Aiya
Tea Company Description: Aiya’s flagship product, the ceremonial drinking grade of Matcha is perfect for daily consumption. This daily treat contains the highest color quality, nutrient value, and taste for the average consumer.
Story: There are two major regions in which Matcha is cultivated. One is Uji of Kyoto, and the other is Nishio in the heart of Aichi-prefecture, Japan. Some of Japan’s highest quality teas come from Nishio, known as a historic tea cultivating region dating back to the 1200s. Nishio’s stable climate, fresh pristine river waters, fertile soil, and remoteness from major urban development foster tea leaves that are more resiliently green and full of nutrients than those found in any other regions of Japan. It is this quality that Nishio Matcha represents in over 60% of all Matcha sold in Japan. AIYA holds over 80% of the exclusive harvesting rights to the Nishio tea plantations, ensuring that our teas are made from the best leaves nature has to offer.
Brewing Instruction: Most people think that making Matcha the traditional way is not easy. However, this is far from the truth if you know the simple secret and techniques of making Matcha. Preparing and whisking Matcha to make it frothy on the surface can be a fun and wonderful experience when serving Matcha to yourself and a visual treat when serving it to your guests.
Here is the basic way to prepare a bowl of Matcha.
1. Before adding hot water to Matcha, it is recommended that Matcha is sifted using a tea strainer or a sifter to avoid clumps of Matcha from forming in the tea.
2. Place about two bamboo tea scoops (1/2 to 1 tsp.) of Matcha powder in the bowl.
3. Add 2 to 3 oz. of pre-boiling water to the bowl (~180F / ~80C). Boiling water may not be the most suitable for Matcha because it does not bring out the best flavor and the natural mild sweetness of the tea.
4. Using the bamboo whisk: whisk briskly with the motion of making the letter “M” or “W.” Simply an up and down motion will do as well. The whisking brings oxygen into the tea to create a nice frothy layer on the surface with many air bubbles. (Optional) To remove the air bubbles, simply lift the whisk slightly and lightly stroke the surface of the froth a few times until air bubbles have completely disappeared. Using soft water is best for Matcha green tea and any other Japanese green teas.
5. Depending on personal preference, add more water to adjust for desired taste.
Remember to add more water only AFTER whisking.
Three Key Points
1. Amount of Matcha (two scoops or 1/2 to 1 tsp)
2. Amount of water (starting with 2~3oz. water)
3. Temperature of water (not boiling, approx. 180F/80C)
Dry Leaf Assessment: This Ceremonial grade Matcha comes from the Nishio region, the heart of Aichi-prefecture, which is known for production and distribution of the premium quality teas, specifically ceremonial grade Matcha. The color of the powdered premium leaf has a shade of spring young grass, vibrant and lively. The aroma of the powder is subtle grassy, sweet, milky, very similar to smell of the dry Gyokuro leaves (very often shade-grown tea leaves used to make higher grade matcha).
Liquor: I followed the recommended way of preparing this tea precisely, since it was a new experience for me. Have to admit, it’s a lot of fun. The result of the vigorous whisking turns out to be a beautiful opaque emerald green thick brew with appealing froth. The bouquet is an absolute harmony of freshness and sweetness, nothing overpowering. The very first sip brings smooth, long lasting fresh silky-green note with a hint of astringency followed by complimenting sweet finish. This brew is just melting on the palate, leaving lingering sweet sensation.
Recommendation: Traditionally matcha is served with sweets. Nerikiri is a type of confection which is beautifully designed using seasonal motifs. Since the main ingredient is sweet bean paste, it has very smooth texture, easily dissolves in the mouth and pairs well with subtle astringency of matcha tea.
Score: 95 – Excellent