Monday, April 11, 2016

Tea Time!

I know I kept talking about teas, so here are a few teas I'm sampling and drinking here in Tokyo.

Kusmi Tea is a French brand with Russian roots. I first spotted these at my local grocery store and had to sample these adorable 25g tins (less than 1oz.!). They were quite pricey though at 1,000JPY ($9!) a piece, and it kind of bothers me that many of their black teas are scented with bergamot, which makes them variations of Earl Grey. I do love Earl Greys, but after a while they get kind of repetitive. 

I tried St. Petersburg and Prince Vladimir, both are a kind of Earl Grey with St. Petersburg fruitier and sweeter and Prince Vladimir more citrusy and spicy. Both are yummy.

Also spotted this Fruit Garden's Strawberry Cream tisane at the local grocery store. At the time, I was in the mood for some non-caffeinated and sweet, so I picked it up along with a tin of peppermint candy because of the pretty turquoise tin ^.^

Well, I wanted something sweet and sweet I got! This tea is unsweetened but is so sweet in fragrance it might as well be sweetened! So now I blend it with different teas to reduce the cloy factor a bit. It works really well with a plain black tea (Ceylon, Assam, etc.) or with a classic like Earl Grey. I've blended it with a different tisane also and found it works best with a citrusy one.

Now you see mint candies. Now you don't xD

You know, with all these online tea shops at home marking up matcha like nobody's business, you get the terrible impression that matcha does or should cost an arm and a leg or something's wrong with it. That's just plain incorrect. Sure, just like everything else you can always find a "super premium" matcha that comes with a "super premium" price tag, but a great matcha should only set you back around $6-10. At least here in Tokyo that's how much they run. I've been buying this matcha that comes in a black-lacquered, double-lidded tin for my friends and family at home and everyone freakin' loves it! My brother's pretty much addicted to that stuff and he makes everything with it, ice cream, latte, etc.

Anyway, our "introduction" to matcha was Kanbayashi Shunsho Honten's 5-piece Matcha Set, which is still available from Amazon JP for ~3,400JPY (~$31, just checked again and it's even cheaper now)! Kanbayashi Shunsho is a tea producer from Kyoto who's been around since 1556. Yes, you've read that right, 450 years of tea-making and selling, so this is not some crap thrown together from who knows where. Everything is this set is made in Japan with the exception of the bamboo whisk, but I didn't pay the premium price.

The set came with a 20g tin of Kanbayashi Shunsho's very own matcha, though a cheaper variety called Ryu no Kage (龍の影) which costs all of 500JPY ^.^ A $4 most delicious and well spent, I'd say!

Why is the matcha bowl so huge, you wonder? I don't know the answer, but I'm guessing the size is to accommodate the vigorous whisking required to de-clump and froth up the matcha. And for one serving you'll need a heaping scoop of matcha powder and 2-3oz. of hot water.

Then whisk vigorously in a horizontal "M" shape (zigzag motion) to break up the matcha powder clump, until it produces a froth. Enjoy by itself or add sugar and steamed milk if you like matcha latte (I do!).

The whisk should be rinsed well before and after use. I do *not* recommend washing it with soap. Then air dry and store it on this ceramic stand as shown.

Over the holidays, I discovered Janat Tea, yet another French tea vendor with a salon in Omotesando. They had a holiday gifts booth inside Midtown where I picked up this tea and cookies gift set.
Another thing I love about this gift set was the oval steel tray to hold the tea net/filter. This is loose tea after all! When I bought this set, there was a promotion for a free accessory item with any purchase, so I picked a steel tea scoop ^.^ Love it!

The set came with 50g of the Christmas Blend, a black tea with strawberries and mildly spiced with peppercorn and cinnamon. Yum! And of course ginger bread cookies. May be one of these day I'll poke my head in their Omotesando salon for a visit ^.^


Citrine said...

I love this post! Even though I haven't been drinking much tea for a while (mainly because I got a cute water bottle so I just intake my water in plain water form). I have two mickey/minnie tea scoops I am itching to use though.

D. said...

Thanks Citrine ^.^

These days I can't go a day without drinking tea or I'll go nuts. If I didn't want any caffeine I'd pick an herbal. Speaking of which, I need to do a post on Lupicia!!!


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