Tokyo: The 10 Essential Places for Tea

This hardly needs stating, but even so: Tokyo is a city like no other. The sheer density of food and drink around every corner, in every alleyway, and under every bridge is purely insane. I mean, how does a cafe with 12 seats, on the 8th floor of a gigantic department store stay alive? Moreover, how do people even know about it? The cuisine, in some small part, and the culture, in large part, are influenced by the Japanese Tea Ceremony, known as sado or chado, the practice of which is called chanoyu. Tea saturates Japan, and this intrinsic relationship can be felt from the [...]

Tokyo: The 10 Essential Places for Tea 2018-11-07T20:33:21+00:00

Matcha – Quality

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 [...]

Matcha – Quality 2018-05-15T08:40:31+00:00

Matcha – The Right Blend

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 [...]

Matcha – The Right Blend 2018-05-15T08:40:31+00:00

Matcha – The Production of Tencha

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 [...]

Matcha – The Production of Tencha 2018-05-15T08:40:31+00:00

Matcha – Harvest

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 [...]

Matcha – Harvest 2018-05-15T08:40:31+00:00

Matcha – Cultivation

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 [...]

Matcha – Cultivation 2018-05-15T08:40:31+00:00

Matcha – An Initial Encounter

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 [...]

Matcha – An Initial Encounter 2018-05-15T08:40:32+00:00

Pursuing the Moon and Good Tea: A Conversation with Nihoncha Instructor Tyas Sōsen

I was able to chat with Huybrechts Tangetsu-an Tyas Sōsen, also simply known as Tyas Sōsen, the first Belgian and youngest foreigner to become a certified Nihoncha Instructor (Japanese Tea Instructor). He currently lives and works in Japan, directly sourcing naturally-grown rustic Japanese tea for his online store, The Tea Crane, and performing the traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony (sadō, chanoyu, or chadō) at the Kyoto-based school, Kyūgetsu. He told me about his experience moving to Japan, studying for the Nihoncha certification, his sourcing philosophy and practices, and what it's like to perform the tea ceremony as a foreigner. What was your [...]

Pursuing the Moon and Good Tea: A Conversation with Nihoncha Instructor Tyas Sōsen 2018-05-15T08:40:32+00:00

Is Japanese Tea Safe from Radiation?

Five and half years after the Tohoku earthquake and subsequent meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant in Japan, a question still lingers for some tea enthusiasts: Is Japanese tea safe to drink? The short answer? Yes. The longer answer? Resoundingly, yes! And the reason why is multi-faceted. Firstly, by “safe to drink”, the layman might think this means, “the tea is absent from radioactive particles”. While this may be true for many producers, this interpretation isn’t entirely accurate, for reasons that will soon become apparent. Why shouldn’t you be worried? Thankfully, radiation doesn’t travel far unless carried by a radioactive [...]

Is Japanese Tea Safe from Radiation? 2018-05-15T08:40:33+00:00