ChaTo participated in Per Oscar Brekell’s online tea lecture yesterday.
Oscar (#brekell) is the author of The Book of Japanese Green Tea. Other participating lecturers were Kentaro Ishibe (tea critic, tea instructor) and Ako Yoshino (tea ceremony instructor, tea instructor). Also on hand was Kanju Kato (black tea expert).
Back in January, we received an invitation to join a tea lecture that would involve discussing and demonstrating Evaluation of Tea and a secondary part of the lecture that would explore Koicha Matcha (super thick matcha). After we registered, we received our evaluation set and matcha kits in the mail. For the tea evaluation we received 3 bowls, a strainer, a spoon and 3 tea samples. For the Matcha we received 2 matchawans, a chasen and 2 matcha samples.
The zoom webinar happened yesterday morning and tea enthusiasts and dealers from many countries participated (including Australia, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Sweden, United States and of course, Japan). The webinar was uploaded from Yokohama, Japan. Starting time for Oscar was 1AM! So, he finished the webinar at about 3AM. Our time for the webinar was 8-10AM. Thank you Oscar, for staying up!! Oscar asked for participant input throughout and the participants had interesting questions and valuable insights.
Our tea evaluation involved boiling water and 3 tea samples. We sampled: Yamakai, Yabukita, and Koshun. Evaluation involves using the strainer to grab the tea, tilting away to cause a vapor plume which you inhale through the nostrils. You immediately get a sense of the fruity, vegetal, floral, and or umami features (way more than I am mentioning). The tasting done with tablespoons is usually pretty bitter because of the boiling steeping temperature. But, here as well, features and highlights can be tasted and revealed (or exposed). Participants said that notes of sweet corn, peas, carrot tops, cinnamon, musk melon, and arugula could be identified.
Tea evaluation is not something a lot of tea enthusiasts or tea drinkers think about. But it is a very important part of the tea industry used by companies and buyers to get the best teas to blend (unless they’re single estate) and sell.
We took a short break, then the matcha portion of the webinar started. Rather than ‘conventional’ usucha matcha, however, we did Koicha. Koicha is much thicker than usucha. More like syrup. Ms. Yoshino first demonstrated how to prepare koicha, using matcha from Nishio. Next Oscar and the participants prepared a single estate matcha from Asahi. Also, rather than the violent back and forth brushing motion of usucha, the whisking motion for koicha is more twisting and turning, because agitation would initiate bitterness.
The Koicha experience is different than any other tea experience. In koicha tea ceremonies, the tea is shared. The flavors from the koicha we had was intense and incredibly complex. It literally takes a while to register and calculate all the sensations and flavors happening.
Thanks to the Agency for Cultural Affairs, a special body of the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture,Sports,Science and Technology for additional funding to help Mr. Brekell broadcast this informative and fun Tea Lecture and Koicha Experience. Being in a zoom webinar with so many tea enthusiasts was a very fun experience. If this experience is available again in the future I would highly recommend any tea enthusiast enroll. You can get Oscar's book The Book of Japanese Tea at ChaTo.
no umami no life