A Tea Addict's Journal

Drinking matcha

May 17, 2008 · 4 Comments

Last time I had matcha, it was in Uji about five years ago. There’s a tea culture center in Uji, behind the magnificent Byodo-in. There, you can have the cheapest proper tea ceremony done for you in Japan — I think it was 500 yen per person. The tea room is a bit on the big side, as I’m sure they have to accomodate a large number of people sometimes, tour groups and all. I don’t remember much of the tea — it wasn’t something to really write home about. I just remember my legs almost giving out by trying to sit properly with my knees in front of me. I think I lasted 15 minutes before giving up.

So here I am, trying to make this drink again. I’ve trying playing with matcha before, but only briefly.

Chawan, chasen, chashaku… and you’re in business. Pretty simple, really.

The matcha I used is some stuff I got with the chasen and the chashaku.

Made by a store that is, supposedly, continuously in existence for 450 years in Uji. I believe them. Walking down the street from the train station to Byodo-in really makes you feel like you’re back in an Edo period town. The stores are all obviously old and, thankfully, escaped damage from the war.

I tried

Interesting, because in the mouth, the tea isn’t particularly strong. I made it lightly, in case I did something horribly wrong. I used hottish water — water that was boiled and then let cooled for a bit. I don’t know how hot, or how much exactly, I used. I just eyeballed it as best I can. After drinking it though, I can feel a nice, sweet aftertaste. It also gave me a feeling that is akin to cha qi. A little later, I can feel a jolt, probably from the caffeine.

Interesting. When cooled, it can be a nice summery drink. I don’t see myself drinking this stuff too often — I went to an aged baozhong right after. However, I do feel a sort of obligation, at the very least, to be experimenting a little more in this area.

Now I sound like a drug addict….

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4 responses so far ↓

  • sherabch // May 17, 2008 at 7:19 pm | Reply

    The chawan looks a little bit shallow to me :o) — Did you intend to use a short one for easy handling? The chashaku looks nice! While, you just stirred up my nostalgia for Uji and Kyoto… I went to Uji several times taking the Keihan train, and every time I would first go to a store and buy a cup of cold and very greenish soup tea to quench my thirst — you should know what stuff I’m talking! Byodo-in is a wonderful site, but I never tried that tea culture center there — hmmm, maybe I should.

  • sherabch // May 17, 2008 at 7:41 pm | Reply

    Once I even went all the way to 黃檗山萬福寺 Banfukuji, where a special tea ceremony tradition, different from the main stream of Japanese maccha, but more related to the kongfu tea tradition from Fujian China, started. But I wasn’t up to tea very much those days, so I saw nothing about tea there that time. “You don’t see what you don’t know!” — that was me.

  • mulcahyfeldman // May 20, 2008 at 7:26 am | Reply

    Yes, why do you use the shallow chawan? Although the tea looks very nice against the color. The blue crackle bowl is very pretty, any history on that? Eileen

  • MarshalN // May 20, 2008 at 10:44 am | Reply

    These are the summer chawans — flatter, lets water cool down faster, I think, among other reasons. For winter you use the taller ones….

    The blue bowl, I’m sure, has a history, but I don’t know what :). It’s something I bought online and supposedly came from a ryokan around Kyoto that closed.

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