Welcome To The Mighty Leaf Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Green Tea’

Tea Culture: the Japanese Tea Ceremony

March 25th, 2016 by Eliot Jordan

Eliot Jordan tea-team

The Japanese tea ceremony dates back to Sen no Rikyu, a tea master who served General Oda Nobunaga and then with his successor Toyotomi Hideyoshi. He’s credited with his influence on the way of tea, also known as chado. The way of tea incorporated all of the major components of Japanese philosophy and aesthetics 500 years ago. Rikyu’s influence extended to introducing the concept of wabi-sabi – an appreciation for beauty that is imperfect and impermanent into the tea ceremony, a style known as wabi-cha. The classical Japanese art seen in calligraphy and ikebana, the Japanese style of flower arranging are brought into the tea ceremony along with the issue of harmony and balance, finding the universal in the immediate and simple thing in front of you.

A traditional Japanese tea ceremony lasts 4 hours. To do it right, you have a dedicated ceremonial room in the back of your garden with a low door. The low door symbolizes that whether you are a peasant or emperor, you have to bend down to get in, bringing each person into the same posture for the tea ceremony, among the stratified society. The tea ceremony is a place where everyone can be equal. The space where the ritual takes place is bare of adornment except for one flower arrangement and one piece of artwork hanging on the wall, usually a painting of nature or calligraphy. Typically, one to three guests take part at a time and they admire the painting and flower, commenting politely. Then, the tea-making begins. The coals are heated. The kettle is placed on them. The tea used in the ceremony should be high quality Matcha green tea. The pot and the chawan bowls should be expertly made but slightly imperfect, an element of zen Buddhism. When the tea is poured, the technique of the host is demonstrated as they use the chasen bamboo tea whisk to froth the Matcha. The host then drinks the tea first. He or she will then turn the bowl a quarter and pass the cup to the person on their right. This process is incredibly elaborate and stylized. These days even in Japan, the tea ceremony typically is abbreviated to only 45 minutes but still observes a relatively quiet, studied, meditative experience centered around the tea.

Joane Filler-Varty, our VP of hospitality shares her insights on how Japanese culture and the tea ceremony have influenced the tea programs she sets up for our four and five star hotels in Japan. “The aesthetic plays an important role—everything needs to look right and be in the right place. All the details are important. No one element sits by itself. Instead, it’s how the cup, teapot, and tea all combine together.”

Speaking of tea, the history of Matcha starts off in China where it was super-finely ground and found popularity there. Originally developed in China, in the 1300’s Matcha made its way to Japan. Matcha’s popularity died out in China after several hundred years, but flourished in its new home. Japan’s history has selected certain aspects of Chinese culture over the years and made them their own. So much extra work and care goes into making Matcha, and this green tea became uniquely Japanese. Matcha is typically reserved for use in the tea ceremony where its required focus and preparation come to life, but even in Japan it is now often consumed in smoothies, lattes, and the like.

Chinese Tea Ritual

January 6th, 2016 by Eliot Jordan

Eliot-tea-team

If you go to China and partake in a traditional Chinese tea ritual, you will find the Chinese tea ceremony celebrates the tea itself and puts a lot of emphasis on the style and skill of the person brewing it. The ceremony is social and can be very formal or informal. One person takes charge of the brewing and commands the tea. The practice uses a gongfu style of multiple infusions that is done using a wooden tray with a small teapot and cups. The vessel that actually steeps the tea can either be a typical teapot with handle and spout, or it can be a special lidded cup called a gaiwan. The gaiwan cups consist of three parts: the saucer, small cups without handles, and lid. The lid keeps the tea warm inside the cup and acts as a strainer when sipping. With a teapot, hot water gets poured over the pot and is also used to refresh the leaves. The teapot might be a yixing terracotta teapot that is dedicated to brewing just one type of tea, or one simply made of porcelain or glass.

In a Chinese tea ceremony, they use their best teas. Most of the country drinks green tea such as Dragonwell. You might find oolong teas like Ti Kuan Yin and pu erh teas like Ancient Trees Pu Erh used in the Chinese tea ritual because those styles of tea can be manipulated in a small teapot to brew strong tea. Keep note of how the tea changes from infusion to infusion. Perhaps even keep tabs on how many infusions you can get out of one pot of tea. Oolong teas are great for brewing gongfu style.

I asked Joane Filler-Varty, our VP of hospitality to share her insights on how local tea rituals inform how she creates tea programs at four and five-star hotels around the world. Here’s what she had to say about setting up tea menus and service with our Chinese hotel clients:

“In hospitality, you have to consider two different dynamics: what the Chinese clientele want might be different from what the tourists desire and a hotel has to address both. Some properties want to bring in a contemporary universal teapot that is a cross between Chinese-style and British porcelain, while smaller yixing teapots or small glass or porcelain teapots might be used for a more specialty afternoon tea. The actual gongfu tea ceremony doesn’t occur in most hotels on a day-to-day basis. It’s offered at a specific time during afternoon tea. That interplay of style also works its way into the tea offerings themselves as Dragonwell and Ti Kuan Yin warm up to English Breakfast and Earl Grey on the tea menus.”

What strikes me about the Chinese tea ceremony that I love is that it’s not that ceremonial. It’s really about the tea and the social aspect, so it can be enjoyed among tea professionals and laymen. It’s okay to talk about tea and politics—it’s like Chinese culture—there’s a lot of room for interpretation.

 

How to Video: Making Traditional Green Tea Matcha

April 1st, 2011 by admin

Making traditional matcha green tea is fun and easy. We are big fans of matcha, the premium Japanese powdered green tea that inspired the Japanese tea ceremony and provides the main ingredient in a variety of tea treats, including green tea lattes, smoothies and ice cream. Rich in antioxidants and nutrients, its complex and addictive flavor may quickly become a favorite of yours too. It also contains an amino acid, L-theanine, that is know to promote calm and a relaxed mind.

By using a tea bowl (“chawan”), bamboo tea scoop (“chashaku”) and bamboo whisk (“chasen”), you will be whipping up bowls of froty matcha in no time. Find your inner tea master and check out our video for more details.

Green Tea Ice Cream Sound Good?

Bliss DakeAugust 3rd, 2010 by Bliss Dake

Green tea ice cream is one of my favorites. Before I worked for Mighty Leaf, I always wondered how they made it so green and tasty. Matcha, a green tea powder made from ground Japanese premium green tea leaves, is the wonder ingredient. Rich in taste and flavor, Matcha is a versatile ingredient that can be used to make beverages like lattes, frappes and ice cream.  Some chefs  (more…)

Green Tea: Classic Japanese Teas

Bliss DakeNovember 18th, 2009 by Bliss Dake
Japanese Tea Fields

Green tea is well known for it’s pure, sweet and delicious taste in addition to potential health benefits.   In Japan, green tea is the beverage of choice whether it’s paired with food, drunk on a subway platform or in connection with the ancient Japanese tea ceremony started during the 15th century. In general, Japan only produces green tea, much of which is consumed internally.  Boasting a distinctive fresh green character and appearance, Japanese green tea is processed differently than the Chinese green teas.  After the tea is picked, it’s steamed to neutralize oxidation (more…)

Green Tea Treats for Summer

Bliss DakeJuly 13th, 2009 by Bliss Dake
green-tea-ice-cream

Ever wonder how green tea ice cream is made or the green tea latte you had at Starbucks?  Matcha is the key ingredient, a tea powder made from premium green tea unique to Japan.  Essential to the celebrated Japanese green tea ceremony, Matcha is well- known for its health benefits and rich, intense taste.  Versatile enough for any season, this tea powder is ideal in summer for making green tea ice cream, iced tea lattes and green tea smoothies. (more…)

Exploring the Health Benefits of Green Tea

Jeremy Warner, MDApril 27th, 2009 by Jeremy Warner, MD
matchagreentea

Green tea, which has been consumed for more than 4,000 years, has been the focus of many health claims. The earliest recorded book extolling the virtues of green tea is the Kissa Yojoki (Book of Tea), which was published in 1191 by a Zen priest, Eisai. The first sentence of the book goes like this: “Tea is the ultimate mental and medical remedy and has the ability to make one’s life more full and complete.” (more…)