This week we have a video feature for you, of none else but the spectacular Kabusecha, zen-inducing tea! (from Japanese it directly translates as 'covered tea'.)
Kabusecha, or Gyokuro's little sister as we like to call it, is a Japanese green tea that's grown in part-shade for a about a week before the harvest. Unlike gyokuro, where the whole garden is covered with a special canopy (traditionally with straw), kabusecha tea bushes are covered individually (can you spot the black and white covers in the back of the photo? Those are Kabusecha bushes).
Shade-growing increases the level of nutrients in the leaves and the result is a super delicious green tea with a full body, subtle sweetness and a lot of umami.
Precisely because of shade-growing, this tea is very rich in l-theanine, an amino acid that calms down our central nervous system and, in conjunction with caffeine, helps us feel serene and alert at the same time. It's that zen quality of the mind that the monks of olden days aspired to when they drank green tea. They didn't have fancy lab tests back then like we do now, but they reported the same benefits for the body and mind as we do today - clear, focused mind and energised yet relaxed body.
We offer a high grade specimen of Kabusecha tea that is grown and processed with love and great care in Uji, the oldest and most renowned green tea region in Japan. You can get our Kabusecha here.
(matcha, very finely ground Japanese green tea powder, on a chashaku scoop)
Matcha is a top grade Japanese green tea, produced from the most tender leaves and carefully ground into a fine powder. It's very nutritious, which is what made it so popular in the West in the recent years. It has about 10 times the amount of nutrients compared to a green tea infusion from the leaves. Also, 1 gram of matcha is said to have as many antioxidants as 60 apples! Now that's something to wrap your head around...
It is usually drunk as tea and it's featured in the famous Japanese tea ceremony. But matcha is also a very versatile culinary ingredient.
In Japan, you can find numerous foods made with matcha such as noodles, cakes, ice cream, pastries etc. We're not so lucky here in the West but matcha has become more available in the last few years, so the possibilities have opened up. We can have fun adding matcha to food ourselves!
Whatever you do, please make sure you're using a good quality matcha as otherwise you won't get the same flavour, colour or nutritional benefit. There are many different grades of matcha, and we suggest using cooking grade matcha in your food. But in any case, quality matcha powder should always be vibrant green with a fresh, slightly creamy scent. Any matcha whose colour looks faded, brownish- or greyish-green is certainly past its prime. You don't want such a matcha in your food or drink as it will only ruin the amazing experience and give you the wrong impression of it.
Ok, moving on to the practical part. Here are a few ways that matcha works great in food.
1. Matcha powder can be used as it is, simply sprinkled on or mixed into your food for extra flavour and nutritional boost. For a nicer appearance, sift the matcha powder beforehand as it tends to clump together into small balls. We love to use it for:
2. It's a delicious savoury condiment too. Simply mix 1 part salt with 1/2 part (sifted) matcha powder and use as a topping or mix it into your favourite dishes:
3. Matcha is an amazing baking ingredient, owing to its fabulous green colour. It makes your baked goods look incredible and it also flavours them with its distinctly delicious creaminess. What we like to bake with it:
We'll share some specific recipes with you soon!
If you're more of a visual type, check out our short video below showing a few ways of using matcha in food:
Thanks for reading/watching! Now please let us know how you use matcha in your food or if you haven't tried it yet, what would you most like to try out? Fellow matcha fans would surely be happy to hear your ideas!
(image courtesy of NikaZbasnik at http://nikazbasnik.com/)
As we all know, green tea is a delicious hot beverage. But what some of you might not be aren't aware of is that there are many teas that can also be brewed cold. It's not the sweetened ice tea we know in the West that I'm talking about, but rather pure fine teas, without any sugar or other additives, simply tea leaves brewed with cold (room temperature or iced) water.
What brewing with cold water does is it brings out the sweet notes from the tea leaves and none of the bitterness. So cold brewed teas always taste more mellow, round, without any 'sharp edges' that you might get in a hot brew (tannins and catechins are the ones responsible for the bitterness and they need hot water to be extracted).
Various teas can be brewed cold, including our Happy Sencha - we know a special Happy Tea Ceremony that is amazing and we'll post a video of it soon.
Also, certain oolong teas are delicious brewed cold (Baozhong for instance, sadly we don't stock it at the moment).
But this time I'll focus on our one-and-only Cool Sencha. We just LOVE the taste of cold brewed sencha, this popular Japanese green tea. It's so intense in colour and flavour, truly the perfect iced tea. Flavour is delicate and grassy, subtly sweet without even a hint of bitterness. It is spectacularly refreshing and can be a great water bottle replacement on the go.
It's an awesome tea to have with you at the gym, just swapping every other glass/bottle of water you drink for the Cool Sencha. It's hydrating and also provides you with nutrients. In hot weather, it will help you to cool down and in cold weather it'll just be refreshing as water would be, but better tasting ;-)
It's an easy way to incorporate more green tea goodness into your life - check out our quick video on how to do it.
Tell us in the comments, what's your favourite iced tea? Have you ever tried a cold-brewed sencha? If not, why not? We'd love to hear it, so go on and tell us!
Thanks for reading/watching!