The start to a new year carries an abundance of joy as we look to refresh our perspectives. Even though the daily ritual of tea is a constant and not a resolution, I look to January as a time to practice being a bit more mindful and present as I make my tea each day. I find that the art of making matcha truly grounds me in the process. From the moment my teaspoon rises from the tin with vibrant hues of green precious tea, I am immediately captivated.
Large granules of the powdered green tea are sifted into a shower of green dust that fall to the bottom of my bowl. The fragile bamboo whisk sweeps through the matcha with a bit of warm water transforming the fresh cut grass green shade to a deep and dark emerald hue. A bit more water is added and the rich, umami aroma awakens my senses. I whisk in a carefully controlled yet swift motion to call upon the froth (and if all is calm you can hear the song of the froth quietly move across the top of the matcha). Slow and steady sips coat my palate with the rich, creamy, umami notes that the matcha proudly presents.
Ippodo not only carries my favorite matcha collection, but also holds quite a bit of history in its heart considering that the Kyoto-based green tea empire has been crafting the treasured tea powder for over 300 years. Tucked within the vast matcha collection are fleeting experiences, like their new year's matcha that is only available until January 31st (hurry, hurry). This time sensitive tea "is a special blend made by carefully selecting and purchasing tea leaves with the following characteristics: Magnificent fragrance, Rich, ample umami and Light hue."
Outside of Japan, a tiny treasure box of a store is tucked steps down from busy bustling streets in New York. I make a point to visit while in town to select a few green tea gems to carry back home with me. But before you skip over or before you anxiously await for the package to arrive at your door, peek at the short film below, Matcha: an Ippodo Story, for a rare look at the passion behind this incredible company and those who carry on the tradition. I'm thrilled to note that the film was the winner of the audience choice award and food film maker of the year award at the NYC Food Film Festival 2015.
Want to learn more about Ippodo's teas? Ready my story on their spring shincha tea and gyokuro kakurei tea (that made the world slow down a bit after the first transformative sip).