In Japan, the mid-seasons are the most popular and lively of the year. Spring is marked by the sakura cherry blossom viewings during which everyone joins together to enjoy the gentle autumn breeze under one of the beautifully blooming trees. Every year, autumn brings people together to admire the reddening of the maple trees. For as long as we humans are a part of nature, the natural cycle of our environment plays a significant role in how we live our lives. This, for example, determines the timing of when we plant seeds and harvest and when certain foods become available. The [...]
About Tyas SōsenTyas Sōsen’s unflagging efforts to spread better awareness of Tea “ceremony” is integral to his vision of the importance of (particularly Japanese) tea, as a healthy beverage contributive to social bonding, and an aid to spiritual refreshment. The paradoxical combination – of unbroken meditation with considerate alertness to the needs, comfort and delight of others – characterizing this rite being something of which he feels contemporary society to be in sore need, through constant workshops and presentations he strives to make the Way of Tea accessible to as many as possible – not as a performance, but, ultimately, an attitude to [OR a stance towards] being alive.
This is the final part of a 6 post series on matcha contributed to World of Tea by Tyas Sōsen. As a final part of this series, I would like to compress everything we have learned into a clear definition of ‘matcha’. What does matcha mean in its purest form? And how do derivations of this result in different quality ranks? First the definition: Matcha is a stone-milled powdered tea, made from tencha, produced from the Camellia Sinensis tea bush. Tencha is that leaf which is used for the production of matcha, and is manufactured from leaf obtained during the spring [...]
This is part 5 of a 6 post series on matcha contributed to World of Tea by Tyas Sōsen. Most tea farmers that produce tencha, only manufacture the tea until the ara-tencha, or the stage before the final processing where the rough dried tea leaf is further processed, cut and filtered. At this stage, the leaf is still too large to be successfully ground into fine powder, and the twigs may catch in the veins of the stone mortar, disturbing the smooth pulverizing of the tea. Therefore, before tencha can be processed into matcha, the leaf that is obtained from a [...]
This is part 4 of a 6 post series on matcha contributed to World of Tea by Tyas Sōsen. After the leaf has been harvested, it is immediately transported to the factory where it is almost instantly transferred onto a conveyor belt that takes the harvested leaves through a steamer. The steaming is usually very short; approximately 20 seconds. Its main purpose is to deactivate the oxygen in the leaf to prevent further oxidation, and in doing so the leaf will maintain its green color and freshness. Other effects of scalding the leaf include the removal of grassy-like and similar bad [...]
This is part 3 of a 6 post series on matcha contributed to World of Tea by Tyas Sōsen. Traditionally, May 2nd is considered the 88th fortnight calculated from the beginning of Spring. In terms of matcha production, this is the most favorable date for harvest. Around this time, about two fresh leaves and a bud have developed and matured sufficiently to be ready for harvest. The larger the leaf becomes, the more sunlight it has savored, and in effect has had more time to generate antioxidants which will render the leaf more bitter. It are only the top two leaves [...]
This is part 2 of a 6 post series on matcha contributed to World of Tea by Tyas Sōsen. While the episode in the previous article allows us an insight in the advent of tea in Japan, it also introduces some of the most important factors that play a decisive role in the cultivation of tea bushes for the manufacturing of matcha. In this article, I will look to define the traditional aspects of cultivating tea bushes for matcha, as well as to introduce how these methods have been altered to meet contemporary standards. But first, I feel that it is [...]
This is part 1 of a 6 post series on matcha contributed to World of Tea by Tyas Sōsen. While in Japan the consumption of matcha is gradually declining, the tea’s popularity is rapidly growing in the West. Major health benefits have been attributed to the product, which have rendered it a highly desired item for the more health conscious among us. But in contradiction to the more traditional ways of imbibing matcha, its use in the West has seen a major shift to alternative applications such as the use in smoothies, sweets, etc. Although it is widely known that matcha [...]