I mentioned a post or two ago that I have a thing for tea, yet here are three entries up already, and not one of them is about tea! Time to fix that.

I do love my tea. Mind you, I couldn’t live without coffee, either – I’m definitely bi-beverage. A nice strong cup of coffee gets me out of bed in the morning – and down to the cafe for another to face the day. But once the morning caffeine hit is done, tea is my drink of choice.

I had to go out today, and as anyone in Sydney will know, it’s cold, grey, and disgustingly rainy. Wet weather is a real pain to manage on crutches, so I consoled myself with a little retail therapy, and bought myself a Japanese matcha tea bowl from the wonderful T2.

Matche green tea bowl

My shiny new Japanese tea bowl

Mind you, I did need a tea bowl. Really! I picked up a Japanese tea whisk when I was in Tokyo last year, and brought it back with some matcha tea, but so far, my efforts to whisk it in a normal tea cup have not been a complete success.

Tea whisk, small cup

This may explain why the whisk isn't working so well.

So, when I saw the bowl in the shop, it wasn’t hard to convince me to buy it.

Matcha tea is a Japanese powdered green tea, most famous for its use in the Japanese tea ceremony. It gives the distinctive taste and astringency to green tea ice-cream – and a whole range of Japanese sweets (stay tuned for a post on green tea & cherry blossom KitKats!).  Traditionally, matcha is made from shade-grown tea leaves, which are slower growing, and sweeter, than the usual non-shaded version. After harvest the tea leaves are dried flat, then de-veined and powdered, resulting in a brilliantly green, distinctive-smelling tea.

Matcha green tea powder

See what I mean about brilliantly green tea?

Making the tea is quite simple, in theory. You warm your tea bowl with hot water, then put in about 1/4 teaspoon of matcha powder into the bowl. Pour onto it about 70ml of hot (NOT boiling) water, then whisk with the bamboo whisk in a back-and-forth motion, with the whisk tips about a cm or so away from the bottom. Once the tea is well mixed into the water, lift the whisk so it’s just within the water, and whisk until a fine foam of tiny bubbles covers the surface. You want very small, even bubbles to give a silky texture, not great big vulgar ones.

Whisking matcha green tea

Whisking matcha

Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out that way for me today. I’m not sure whether it was because my water was too cool, or my technique is crap, or it’s just not sensible to try and manage a whisk, camera, and reflector all at once while precariously balancing on a chair because your feet won’t hold you up. Whatever the reason, rather than a fine jade of bubbles, my tea definitely had vulgar big ones.

Matcha tea - vulgar bubbles

Sadly, my bubbles were vulgar rather than fine and elegant

So, I definitely need more practice. It’s a good thing I really like the taste! Whether or not I had satisfactory bubbles, I still enjoyed the tea – the empty bowl is still sitting next to me now. I’m patting it occasionally to enjoy the rough autumn texture.

Green tea by my keyboard

A comforting bowl of tea for a cold day - whatever the bubble size

Happy tea drinking!

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