A couple of weeks ago I read an article on Hacker News about tea. It was called Hacker’s Guide to Tea and even though there wasn’t much “Hacker” about it, it was a very well-written article and I learned a lot about tea; making me want to know more and making me want to learn to make and drink tea properly. He also has a good article on the good health benefits of green tea.
The guy behind the World Of Tea blog also has a store with some very interesting different kinds of teas, much of them that I wanted to order. Unfortunately he doesn’t yet ship outside the US so I asked him if he had any tips for me on getting some good tea here in Japan. He replied with some really good tips and I followed up on one of them: Obubu tea. It’s a tea farm in Kyoto with some really high-quality green teas that have free international shipping (and national, for me). All their information is in english so it’s very easy to take in everything and browse around. My Japanese is still not at the level where I can discuss the finer points of tea-making :P
After deciding to set out on my tea-journey I headed out to a local tea-shop in my neighborhood and bought the very basic supplies. A very pretty aluminum tea-container, a basic semi-cheap green tea and a tea-pot with sifter (bought at the 100 yen shop instead of at a tea-store, I will buy real tea-stuff at the tea-store later).
At the same time as buying the above stuff at the local store I placed an order with the Obubu farm. I bought matcha which is basically tea leaves ground into a very fine powder. Matcha is what is traditionally used with the Japanese tea ceremony. It’s in the aluminum bag in the picture below. I also bought a traditional matcha spoon which is the bamboo thing you can see in the picture.
Besides the matcha I couldn’t decide on what tea to buy since they had so many different (all seemingly awesome) kinds. But, they had planned for that! They sold a sampler set where you basically get one cups worth of tea of every kind of tea they have. It’s really awesome. Theres 8 kinds of “standard” green tea, 4 kinds of roasted green tea, 2 kinds of green tea mixed with puffed brown rice and one cherry blossom tea.
I have already made tea twice with the store-bought tea and I think it’s pretty good actually. There’s this kind of chlorophyll taste too it that makes it taste like a plant instead of a spice. I don’t know if that’s because I’m doing something wrong or simply because it actually is green and green means chlorophyll which means tasting like grass.
Anyway, I’m excited to try out these new ones from Obubu and see what some high-quality tea tastes like. I’m also excited to buy a real japanese tea-cup and a bamboo whisk so I can mix up some traditional matcha and see what that’s like. I’ve made the mistake many times here in Japan where you buy something green that looks real fresh but it’s flavored with green-tea which makes it taste like crap (not really like green tea at all). I’m afraid the matcha is going to taste like that, but I’m going to give it the benefit of doubt.
In the future I want to try to find some of the non-green teas that are on the chicago tea garden shop like korean yellow tea, oolong tea, zealong, white tea and something like this awesome looking wild orange Pu-erh tea.