My Matcha Journey – Choose Carefully

The Beginnings

I am sad to say that my first dealings with Matcha tea weren’t the best.  I had heard so many things about this super tea drink.  Magazines, Websites, Cafés, even Coffee shops, were all harping on about Matcha tea.  Skinny matcha lattes’, or Matcha Macaroons, the world was going crazy for this green powder.  With such things being said as, “70% more anti-oxidants than green tea” or “Boost metabolism and fat-burning” I was intrigued.  What I wasn’t prepared for was the price!!

I immediately jumped online to buy some of this magic powder, but very quickly discovering it was expensive.  Prices ranging from 20-60£ for a small pot of this magical powder.  I wasn’t prepared for this and went for a cheap version.  When I say cheap I really do mean cheap.  Not a £15 or £10 version oh no.  I went for the 27 pence version!!

img_6911What were you thinking? Yes, Yes, I know this now but at the time, I wasn’t fully versed in the tea culture, least of all Matcha.  As far as I understood, in my caveman brain, was that Matcha is just green tea leaves ground into a fine powder.  Oh, how wrong I was.

Now you know the background to my matcha tea journey.  I am starting from a negative place.  It was horrible.  I didn’t have the whisk (Chasen), or the right bowl.  Nothing.  Obviously, I went to Google and found many resources showing me how to brew Matcha.  However, I had to make do with a toy metal whisk, a small mixing bowl and a teaspoon to make my first matcha bowl!

Present Day

Now imagine my reticence when Anthony from matchæologist contacted me with a very generous offer.  He was going to send me a pot of his Ceremonial Grade Misaki Matcha tea.  I had spoken with Anthony a few times via email or recording an interview for our podcast.  I had deeply enjoyed our conversations and was also very appreciative that he had replied to my Instagram messages and was so enthusiastic about my magazine.  So, on the one hand, I am extremely grateful that he would be prepared to send me this incredible gift, on the other hand, I was worried I wouldn’t enjoy the tea and disappoint him with my feedback.  I replied to his email and he sent the Matcha tea through to me.

The Review

A few days later, I got home to find a post office card telling me my parcel was left under the slide in the garden.  I was worried because that day it had been raining heavily, luckily the postman had thought it through and it was safe and dry.

img_6912There was no mistaking where this had come from, “MATCHÆOLOGIST” printed across the small box.  I quickly went inside and opened it up.  When I opened it, immediately I felt that this was something special.  Inside was a lovely card wishing me the best with my Matcha.  Then a muslin draw-string bag, with Matchæologist printed on the front.  I opened the bag and there is was, the small metal pot that housed the Matcha.  I pulled out he pot and slowly started opening it.  As I did so I said to myself, “Put your previously experiences out of your mind, treat this as a new experience”.  Once I opened the pot, immediately I knew I had made a mistake two years ago.  The colour of this Matcha was so strong and vivid.  If you’ve read about matcha you’ll have heard it referred to as Jade in colour, I can happily say that this Matcha was exactly that, Jade.  Next I smelt it, oh the smell was exquisite.  Sweet, pure and clean, a quantum leap from the muddy and odourless 27p matcha.

Surprisingly, I didn’t brew some straight away, I took photos.  I wanted to capture this unboxing!  Then I realised I wanted to give this tea the full attention it deserved.  I wasn’t going to rush into brewing this tea, I needed to take my time.

Saturday morning,  I brewed my first Misaki bowl.  I wanted to try it out and then get my wife to have a try.  She had also experienced the foul taste of the 27p matcha, so I wanted her opinion too.

I pulled out my matcha bowl, whisk, spoon and most importantly the Misaki.  I heated the water to the recommended 80C and warmed my bowl.  I followed the instructions and whisked my way to a nice frothy bowl of Misaki.  The whisking is the hardest part, to get that lovely foam on top takes some concentration and patience, as well as strong endurance in your forearms.

Lifting the bowl, I can already tell that this is going to be special.  The smell from the bowl is gorgeous.  Exactly the same as smelling it in the pot, but now it seems sweeter, even cleaner and pure.  Now I am going to the taste it, giving it a good slurp to make sure I aerate the Matcha, the liquid flows elegantly across my tongue leaving a sweet, pleasant and velvety taste in my mouth.  My taste buds come alive and I can already feel the promise of “70% more antioxidants” or increasing my metabolism is completely missing the point of this drink.  It all sounds great, but the real plus to this drink is the smell, taste and feeling you get while you drink it, the rest is just beneficial by-products.  This Misaki stands up proud and lifts you out of your seat.  

Final Thoughts

Clearly picking the correct Matcha, like anything, is a necessity.  What was really highlighted to me in this experience was that all the hype can make you think a certain way.  Trying this Matcha has really blown away the idea of having Matcha for simple health benefits.  It is a beautiful drink, very much to be enjoyed like a good wine or a well-prepared coffee.  Respected for the art of growing, picking and manufacturing to get to the stage that we can enjoy this simple but very powerful elixir.   

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