On Sunday, I had the absolute pleasure and good fortune to be invited to visit Ippodo Tea in midtown for a class on green tea and matcha. The store opened last April and is now celebrating its one year anniversary.
Our very helpful guide had props and explained the various types of green tea.
We were able to taste gyokuro and sencha side by side, which helped us taste the difference.
There was also this helpful chart of the different types of matcha available – at the 12 o’clock position is the best, strongest green colored one. The 11 o’clock is yellowy, weakly green, and the lowest grade on the chart.
The vice president of the company demonstrated how to properly make matcha using the chasen, or special matcha whisk. Essentially it’s a motion of the wrist, a bit of a flicking back and forth, in an “M” motion on the bottom of the bowl. Not rotating or swirling!
We were then invited to do it ourselves. A note: you don’t need a dedicated matcha bowl, but you want one with a wider bottom than your average mug or tea cup. You need enough surface area to work with!
How did I do?
We were given small cubes of red bean jelly, which was the perfect dense, mildly sweet little treat to go with the bowl of matcha – which was delicious. It took all the bitterness of green tea – which I adore – but with smooth edges, very balanced and just… delicious.
Then we enjoyed a cold koicha, which was prepared much thicker – suggested to be used as a sauce for cheesecake. The palate cleansing properties of matcha were touted as well. We were served a bit of dark chocolate (Mast Brothers, in case you’re wondering), and a rice cracker. This was interesting, but I definitely preferred the bowl of matcha to this one.
Extremely good tips:
- Every tea has its own brewing time; the hotter your water, the shorter the brewing time.
- Boiling water is 100c. Pouring it into an empty cup lowers the temperature by about 10 degrees so it will be 90c. Into a second cup? 80c. This is a good, fast way to estimate the temperature if you need to reduce it a bit to brew the tea you’ve chosen.
- Matcha is super healthy, and a great palate cleanser as it resets your palate with each sip.
I found the class super helpful and interesting; I learned that preparing matcha at home is not scary and doesn’t require your own tea master! I definitely plan on preparing matcha at home for myself from now on.
How do you like your green tea?
Please note that I attended this event as press. I was under no obligation to post about it nor did I receive any monetary compensation.