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Updated: 43 min 9 sec ago
This article was originally posted to T Ching in December of 2015.
Whether you ask for matcha tea, matcha green tea, or matcha powder, you are essentially asking for the same thing; matcha tea is powdered tea most often made from Japanese green tea, but can be made from Chinese tea, or any other tea for that matter.
Being that matcha is typically green tea, and green tea is caffeinated, there is some caffeine in matcha teas. The amount of caffeine will have some slight variances depending on the tea used, but it will be there.
The Caffeine Chemical
Green tea caffeine levels are relatively low, especially when compared to black tea, coffee, or energy drinks. Your average steeped green tea will have around 25-45 milligrams of caffeine in it per serving. This makes green tea a bit lower in caffeine than black tea, which averages around 70 milligrams per serving, and substantially lower than the caffeine levels in coffee, which are around 95 milligrams at the low end but is often closer to 200 milligrams a cup.
Matcha tea does have more caffeine than regular green tea, but still less than both black tea and coffee. Matcha powder, due to the fact that the powdered leaves are dissolved into the water, does not have anything “stay behind” in the leaf after brewing, leaving your average 8 oz cup of matcha tea with 45-60 milligrams of caffeine.
However, just because there is more caffeine in a cup of matcha than in a cup of your normal green tea does not make this an unhealthy option. The caffeine that is in tea is much more astringent than that found in coffee, and since the body processes all pure teas like water, you get the pure hydration effects along with the slower release of caffeine through the body. This avoids the common jolt and crash that you might experience with the caffeine associated with coffee while offering a calm alertness that will stay with you, keeping you at an even energy level for a longer period of time.
Matcha tea, much like standard Japanese green tea, comes in a variety of different flavors and qualities. These range from plain to strongly flavored, or from a low quality up to a ceremonial grade quality. The selections that are offered here at the Whistling Kettle offer matcha powders that will appeal to any taste. Here are a few you may haven’t heard of before.
Jasmine is a popular addition to a number of different tea types. When the jasmine is added to matcha teas, the result is a tea that has the flavor of Jasmine coupled with the grassier taste and typical caffeine content that is associated with Japanese green tea.
Matcha Chai is a unique blend of Indian Spices and matcha green tea. The taste of this tea is a strong sample of a mix of cultures, with a strong matcha made as a base with the chai spice added in. This is a potent tea that we actually do recommend for blending with milk or cream and sugar to taste. The caffeine content of this tea is average for matcha tea.
Matcha White Rhino
Mention was made earlier that “most” matcha teas are Japanese green tea. Well, our Matcha White Rhino is derived from Kenyan White Teas. The result is a light matcha that is lower in caffeine than most matcha teas while having a higher level of anti-oxidants.
Matcha Pearl Drop
Grown on the Pearl River, this is a matcha that is actually derived from the Jianxi Province in China. The fact that this tea is grown and processed in China offers a different flavor quality since it originates from higher altitudes and isn’t shaded like it’s Japanese counterpart. The flavor is pure, lightly astringent, and at a relatively low cost for matcha tea, this has the flavor of a true luxury tea couple with slightly higher than average matcha caffeine content.
Matcha green tea (or matcha white tea) is not excessive in caffeine content, and since it is not acidic, but astringent in nature you avoid the potential crash that is associated with coffee. In addition to the healthier taste and feeling from the healthier caffeine levels, you can actually improve your health through the presence of polyphenols, anti-oxidants, and flavonoids. In fact, in matcha teas since the lead is being consumed, you get the highest count of these phyto-chemicals out of any tea, making matcha tea an excellent beverage choice for everyone.
The post Blast from the past: what to know about matcha and caffeine levels appeared first on T Ching.
If you are like me, you have had this experience. You have just brewed a favorite tea and then taken one sip. Inopportunely but invariably, the phone rings or someone’s at the door and you are derailed from that relaxing cup, distracted for just long enough that the perfectly brewed tea has cooled in the cup. Are you disappointed or angered about a potential waste of perfection? For me, quite the contrary. Often, I’m pleasantly surprised by just how different and satisfying the tea tastes when it has cooled to room temperature. All of its flavor notes are intact, the blooming in the cup to be appreciated. It’s as if the tea is saying, “I’m good from the first hot sip to the last cooled-down one. I cannot be devalued.”
And then I think about the hard work of so many people who toil in the tea business all along the supply chain–from planter to plucker, from factory processor to packager, and finally from exporter to vendor–before it reaches my cup. I feel guilty wasting a leaf or a drop of the liquor in my cup. So in fact, at this citrus-abundant time of year, I often brew more tea than I intend to drink and pour the surplus over a colorful medley of supremed citrus for a simple seasonal dessert (“supreme” refers to perfectly intact segments of fruits obtained by peeling them down to the flesh removing all of the bitter pith and then separating the flesh from the membrane that connects them). Here’s how it’s done.Tea-drenched citrus with a drizzle of honey
To serve 4
4 c. of a combination of the best citrus fruits you can find: navel oranges, pink or white grapefruit, Oroblanco low-acid grapefruit, cocktail grapefruit (mandelo), blood oranges, tangerines, and clementines, among others
4 c. just brewed and cooled-down tea of your choice
¼ to ½ cup of orange blossom honey (or other local variety of your choice)
Pinch of sea salt to garnish each serving
Using a small sharp serrated knife, cut a thin slice from the stem or blossom end of each fruit to steady the fruit on your cutting surface. Now carefully remove and discard the peel and pith from each citrus fruit, following the contour of the fruit. You can go back with the same knife to remove any errant remaining pith that you find. To make the process easier, cut each peeled fruit in half, inserting the knife on either side of the segments, taking care not to cut through any of the segments. Now you should have two roughly demispherical pieces of the fruit. Place the halves flat side down on a cutting surface. Again insert the knife between the membranes to extract each of the segments, moving around the fruit until all segments have been removed. (The goal is to remove each segment keeping it intact as possible; some fruits will be softer and therefore more challenging to process in this way.) Divide any juice that has collected on the cutting surface among the four individual serving bowls. Place an assortment of citrus supremes into each of the bowls. Pour the brewed tea over them and drizzle the honey over all. Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately with a thin ginger molasses cookie.
The Chinese have many words for people who, like myself, have Chinese ancestry but are not from China. They range from the common and innocuous hua ren 华人 or “culture person”, to my personal favorite, the colorful 混血儿 hun xue er meaning “mixed blood son”. Somewhere in between is a fascinating epithet hua qiao 华侨 or “culture bridge”. I like this word, not so much to identify myself with as a Chinese-American person, but as a way to describe a powerful and emergent role that tea culture is playing around the world.
As China comes into its own as a player on the global stage, mutual goodwill and understanding are absolutely essential to harmonious coexistence. The spread of Chinese tea culture means an increase in the number of people who are familiar with and appreciate an aspect of Chinese culture. This goes a long way towards humanizing a people who have historically been thought of as “inscrutable” by those around them. Meanwhile, when a Chinese person encounters a “foreigner” (that’s what non-Chinese are called, even when you’re not in China) who knows how to pour tea, they are generally thrilled, if somewhat baffled. Participating in someone else’s culture is the best way to relate to them – speaking their language, eating their local food, drinking their local beverages. Not everyone is down to learn Mandarin or eat chicken feet, but the simple act of sharing tea with a Chinese person tells them that you think that their culture is valid and worthwhile, and that, far from being an uncultured barbarian, you are capable of enjoying refined and subtle things. In an age of epidemic xenophobia, tea is a powerful medicine.
This effect is of course not just limited to Chinese and non-Chinese. The practice of gong fu cha and enjoyment of Chinese tea is worldwide and growing, but still obscure enough to form an instant bond between people who have it as a mutual interest. Not only does it provide a point of connection and discussion, but the very act of appreciating tea involves drinking it with people, providing an opportunity to share time, conversation, and to show off one’s tea and teaware collection to someone who can appreciate it. The power of sharing tea to form a bond, even beyond language and social barriers, cannot be underestimated – it’s like sharing a drink, having a picnic, and doing something really nerdy like having a Pokemon duel, all at once. And it works just as well even if one serves tea to someone who is completely uninitiated. I first experienced the power of tea while living in Japan more than a decade ago, when my housemate was hosting a couch surfer, an American surfer-type dude. He was passing through the kitchen as I was getting my tea set out to serve myself tea. I offered him some and he declined almost automatically as he looked through the cupboards. Upon turning around, he saw my Yixing clay tea set and immediately said “Oh! Well I’ll have THAT kind of tea”. He had never seen anything like it and we sat and drank tea for nearly 3 hours. When we were done I thanked him for having tea with me and reached out to shake his hand. He took my hand with both of his and looked me square in the eyes and said – this is a direct quote – “No man, thank you, it was like a gift”. To sit down and take the time to prepare tea for someone, to serve it to them, is so much more like giving a gift than just handing someone a can or a bottle, especially if you are giving them a totally new experience.
At the end of the day, the tea itself is just a catalyst – something to do, something to share, something to drink, something to talk about, more often than not for hours on end. It’s what happens during those hours, between those sips of tea, that really creates the bond. It’s so rare in the modern world to sit down face to face with someone and just have a conversation – without watching anything, without getting intoxicated, without staring at a phone. When we share tea we build a bridge, spanning culture, class, gender, race, and religion, and we find that what we have in common with each other is greater than our differences.
A short time ago, I received my final K-1 on a business a female partner and I incorporated in 2004. The business plan was tight, the recipes I’d worked on for years were like nothing out there using tea back then..lattes, blended drinks, favorite vendors secured… the whole 9 yards. The company eventually opened a total of three stores under the name The Tea & Coffee Exchange; the concept store in Lake Arrowhead, and two others in Manhattan Beach and Big Bear.
I won’t go into all the details, suffice it to say that it didn’t turn out to be the dream we had on paper that followed for me. It was ten years of pain, emotionally and financially.
With the company recently sold, I can look back and either dwell on the pain, or I can look at all the practical lessons learned about business and life in general and move forward, which is what I chose to do from Day One when things ‘turned’ in the co-ownership relationship, when a third party entered the mix, and I gave up 30% of my 50% co-ownership to prevent prolonged wrangling.
What my husband and I did, my having refused to sign a non-compete, was decide to immediately move on and open another retail business in tea, which kept us ‘in the flow’ and honed our skills in all areas of the tea niche. We also began to think about what we saw as ‘missing’ in the industry, which was a way to brew loose tea quickly but even better than the thousands-year-old method still being used in most tea and coffee stores, hotels and restaurants, and wherever tea is offered, including fast food places like McDonald’s, which are now offering full-fledged specialty beverages due to high demand for this wonderful Camellia Sinensis plant and its many benefits.
During the ensuing years, we saw a number of quick-brew inventions hit the commercial market, but none like what we were working on. We are planning to introduce our commercial one min. by the cup/multi-cup brewer for licensing to an equipment manufacturer or others who see the potential of an industry-disruptive technology which has been thoroughly taste and utility tested. It is difficult to hold back until you are absolutely sure of what you are bringing to market, and not to worry about ‘missing the timing’, but it is also essential to do so. I’m not a patient person by nature and this has been a long journey.
Why am I writing this article? I believe it is cathartic, with the selling of the company bringing an end of some sort to this chapter of my business life. I’m not sure during all those years that people in the industry even knew I was a co-founder or involved in any way because my name was never mentioned when interviews were given to industry trade magazines, that I saw, and I had given up any part in decision-making or managing the business. In fact, I read about things in those publications that I had done, with someone else taking the credit for my hard work.
But the main focus and purpose of this article is to encourage others who have dealt with or are dealing with what seems to be a devastating business/life experience that the best thing to do is ‘keep moving’ if you can, emotionally and physically, stay active in your niche, think positively and proactively and long-term, keep a right attitude, and let hard and painful situations make you better, not bitter!
Check out Diane’s new tea shop, California Tea and Herbal, here.
“…Hear blessings dropping their blossoms around you.” – Rumi Fluffy snowflakes dance and float, piling softly one on top of other. In the same moment, the silvery hairs of white tea float and dance, delicate as snowflakes in my cup. Snow is white, yet white tea is not white. The whiteness of snow is a result of light scattered and bounced off ice crystals in the snow, and this reflected light includes all the colors, which, together, look white. White tea, however, is not white; when infused it becomes a beautiful, pale yellow. Its name comes from the young tea buds that have fine white hairs. White tea leaves are plucked and delicately processed and oxidized in a shorter time than the leaves for green or black tea. As you drink white tea, you will see fine white hairs drifting like snowflakes in your cup. This silky, aromatic beverage is perfect for any day including a snow day! Fill your cup with this winter blessing Nan Mei Wild Tree Buds White Tea from Camellia Sinensis Tea House. Camellia Sinensis brewing recommendations: use two teaspoons of white tea leaves, with 80 degrees celsius water, steep for 5 to 7 minutes. I hope you enjoy the last days of winter with the magic of this white tea. Interested in individually designed tea reviews? Weaving compelling visual stories for social media is a passion of mine. I love creating immersive illustrated reviews that awaken people to tea and culture. If you desire an illustrated review to engage your followers, please contact me.
This article was originally posted to T Ching in March of 2015.
Whole leaf enthusiasts know the exquisite difference between a cup of carefully steeped whole leaf – part ritual, part alchemy, part spirituality – and half careful attention to detail. We also know how convenient tea bags are. In desperate circumstances, we will buy a cup of hot water and whatever bagged tea is available and . . . be grateful for it.
Tea bags. We love them and we loathe them. Not all tea bags are equal. At the top of the quality pyramid is Steven Smith, Teamaker. Not too far behind is Mighty Leaf. In descending order, you will find Tazo, Stash, and Good Earth. At the bottom of this caste system dwell the likes of Red Rose, Tetley’s Tiny Tips, and Lipton. These last three share the distinction of being grown in an area where tea isn’t plucked: it is mowed and baled like hay. The dust on the floor is swept up, measured into tea bags, and sold to Americans.
I have found myself in the dusty midwest, waiting at an airport in the middle of the prairie, stressed out by travel (travail), and anxious. Knowing that I need hydration, I peruse the offerings at a canteen beyond the security checkpoint. Sugary soda? Not. Coffee would add to my anxiety. The tea offerings include sugar-laden iced tea or a teabag from the dungeon of fannings mentioned above. If you had photographed my face as I plucked the tea bag from the water and closed my eyes for the first sip, you would have seen bliss.
If tea were a drug, teabags would be the gateway. Rather than disparage those who enjoy the convenience of teabags, let’s embrace them. It is easy to indulge our inner snob. The way of tea, however, has no place for the egoism expressed by many recent converts to whole leaf. Like those newly converted to evangelism, fervent certainty can be quite exclusive in its fundamentalism. Stop it already.
Let the leaf do the talking. Make a cup of the real deal and share with the gratefulness that is the spirit of tea. To paraphrase my dear mum, “you will catch more tea drinkers with a real cuppa than you will with your nose turned up.”
Image courtesy of the contributor.
A former contributor sent me an email today with a link to a most disturbing event. It appears that a tea shop in San Francisco’s Chinatown sold some herbal tea that sent two people to the hospital.
According to officials at the Department of Health “The tea leaves bought at Sun Wing Wo Trading Company contained the plant-based toxin Aconite.” It appears that this is not an unusual blend in Asia, however correct processing is key to avoid adverse health consequences. Both people affected were treated for critical cardiac responses which could have been fatal.
As I have said many times before, herbs are medicine and need to be respected and treated as such. You need to know where your herbs are coming from and what is the correct dose for consumption. Herbs can heal on a profound level but they can also do great harm when used improperly. Once we understand the powerful medicine they contain, we can use them responsibly and effectively.
Whenever we are buying natural products, which of course include our favorite tea leaves, we need to know where they come from and who is responsible for bringing healthy leaves into our country and homes. Talk with your favorite tea vendors and ask questions that will inform you about the origins and processing of your favorite teas. Please consider going organic, as it’s so unnecessary to be consuming pesticides along with the healthiest beverage on the planet.
I am fortunate enough to be able to brew and drink tea at work just about all day. For the past few years, I have only brewed black tea western style to sip on throughout the day. I was saving all my gongfu brewing for home, which meant I was only really enjoying some of my favorite teas two or three times a week. I decided to buy a cheap gaiwan and a cup so that I could brew gongfu at work. The setup was simple: I had a kettle already, and I would brew with the gaiwan and use a cup larger than the gaiwan so that I wouldn’t need a pitcher.
The gaiwan and cup arrived–time to enjoy better tea at work! Well, that didn’t work as planned. The tea tasted completely different. At first I was using teas that I was familiar with, and I just couldn’t get them to taste like they do at home. The next thing that I bought was another gram scale. Now, not only did I look crazy for having a tea setup like this at work, but now I also looked like a drug dealer. I had thought that maybe I was underleafing, but it turned out that I was eyeballing the amount of tea pretty close to what I was intending.
Maybe there was a weird taste to the gaiwan? This theory made absolutely no sense to me, as it is made from porcelain. Sure, some of my pots at home are well seasoned to certain teas, but my tea was just tasting completely off. I brought the gaiwan at home and did a side by side comparison with an oolong in a glazed ruyao gaiwan. Both vessels were 100ml, I used 7 grams of tea in both, and brewed both for the exact same times. The difference was hardly noticeable, definitely not as drastic as it was at work.
It is hard to describe what exactly was wrong with the tea, but it definitely tasted bitterer and almost burnt. Every tea was coming out almost chemical tasting. Brewing black tea in a big mug was fine, but it seems like such a strong tea covers up any imperfection anyways. One day I was in a coworker’s office and noticed he had a 24 pack of bottled water on his chair. I asked him why he has that considering we have a water filtration system in our breakroom. “Gross, that water might as well be hooked up directly to a swimming pool” he said. That’s it, the water! I asked him if I could have a bottle of water to make tea. He looked at me really strangely, but said OK.
I filled my kettle with his bottled water and made tea. Perfect, this is how tea is supposed to taste! Now, I can’t stand to use bottled water as I see it as a huge waste, but at least I figured out that the water is what was wrong with my tea setup at work. Now, we do have a water filtration system, so I asked maintenance if they could replace the water filter. He said he can’t remember the last time that it was replaced. No wonder it tasted like a swimming pool, the water was full of chlorine.
Two days later, we had a new filter, time to make good tasting tea right? No, my tea in newly filtered water was horribly watery and weak. I did a bit of research and learned that our filtration system is a reverse osmosis system. Reverse osmosis removes all impurities from water, and this includes any mineral content from the water. Tea needs minerals in the water in order for it to bind and give a full infusion. The tea just tasted flat and uninteresting, and all aroma was completely gone.
My water at home tastes just fine and I use water straight from the tap filtered through a Brita. I bought another Brita filter online and brought it to work. The next day at work I filled the Brita with tap water and made tea. PERFECT, the tea tasted as it should! Even my western-style black tea tasted better. My tea was so strong that I wasn’t detecting the chlorine at first, but once I used quality water, the tea actually tasted a bit more complex. All of this headache was due to the water not being right. It really showed me the importance of good quality water in making tea. Water is the main ingredient in tea after all.
Reflecting on the day serenely with a cup of tea in hand is a great way to spend an evening, but that isn’t always what we’re looking for. Sometimes a little more excitement is needed. One of my favorite pastimes is board gaming, and the social elements of tea and games mesh together incredibly well (socializing, introducing guests to new experiences, food, etc.). One way to make it even better? Play a board game about tea!
Modern board games (sometimes called “hobby games” or “designer board games”) are much more diverse than the local Target or Wal-Mart give them credit for, and board game themes can range anywhere from a simple “Uno”-style numbers-and-colors card game to battling Lovecraftian monsters to curing diseases to even wild west shootouts. One of my favorite games is literally about waiting in line. But did you know that board games about tea are a niche within the niche of board gaming? Here are three you should check out next time you need a bit more pizzazz at your next tea gathering.
Elevenses, designed by David Harding and published by Grail Games, is a game about having the best morning tea service. You will be playing tea, cakes, silverware, and more to your “tablecloth” to make a better spread than your opponents. Each card also has a special ability that will allow you to rearrange cards to maximize your score, or to hinder your opponents. It even comes with wooden “sugar” cubes! There is also a solitaire version of the game for those of use who like a tea party for one. The solitaire version is also an app for Android and iOS. Pair this game with an Earl Grey for sure!
Matcha, another game by Grail Games, and also designed by David Harding, this time revolving around matcha. This is a set collection game in which you need to get all of the necessary tools to make your perfect cup of matcha. Play your cards secretly in front of your opponent, and then you both simultaneously reveal your cards, either helping you or hindering your opponent. This is a bluffing game about trying to fake out your opponent and getting them to play the wrong card. Quick and strategic, and the art is very pretty. Pair this game with–what else?–a cup of matcha. And the loser has to make the victor that cup of matcha!Yunnan
This one is my personal favorite. This game, designed by Aaron Haag and published by Argentum Verlag, has the players take the role of tea traders, attempting to expand their tea dynasty all along the Tea-Horse-Road and become the best tea merchants in Yunnan. Players will be bidding on resources in cutthroat auctions, pushing their workers further along the map to collect more tea, building teahouses, and even bribing the tea inspector with your political influence to shut down the other traders. This is definitely a harder game with a lot of strategy and some “take that”-style mechanisms. If you are a fan of strategy games, this is not one to miss. Pair this game with a smooth pu-erh.
Okay, so maybe that last game doesn’t sound like the relaxing afternoon with a cup of tea you were hoping for–but if you’re looking for something new to try and don’t mind flexing your gray matter while drinking a beverage that can boost that gray matter, check out some of these tea-themed games.
I have bashed the tea bag for years. “Let your leaves dance,” I say…but I may have just met my match.
Chiki Tea has agreed to a licensing deal to open in Connecticut, and our partner rocked up with a box full of handmade organic muslin reusable teabags. My first thought was, “didn’t you read my book Green is the New Black which categorically says DITCH THE BAG!?”
These organic teabags are cute, I’ll give him that–but do they work? And why on earth would someone go through the trouble to clean out the wet leaves then wash it when a strainer is so much easier?
“Holly, people identify with teabags and beginners can understand it, so having a reusable organic one makes eco-sense and is friendly on the wallet. Once they experiment with Japanese tea, chances are they will elevate their taste preferences and with it, their brewing methods…but people need to start somewhere.”
I couldn’t argue against that point. He’s right. Let’s get folks sipping any way we can, and educate, educate, educate, as we go.
After this encounter with reusable teabags, I’ve been seeing many other ways to make tea.
At the O-cha Matsuri in Shizuoka, a company was offering a mock “Chemex” pour-over cone-shaped pot, which is designed for coffee, but they were steeping tea in the same way. The leaves were placed in the cone filter and water was being poured very slowly with a long-spout kettle just like most coffee houses in Japan. Interesting idea, but I just couldn’t get my umami on with this method. Mind you, I only had two samples and didn’t personally try the steeping myself so I might explore this idea down the line. It’s a fabulous looking thing, I’ll admit that!
Adagio’s IngenuiTEA, while quite a manly-looking device, is probably the most well-known tea brewing gadget on the market. You put the leaves in, add water, and when the steeping time is up, just set it on a mug or serving teapot and it releases the tea into the vessel. I bought one just to see what all the fuss was about. It’s fun and it works, but it doesn’t offer me the same mesmerizing experience of using a Tokoname clay pot and manipulating the leaves as I pour, slowing down if I see they haven’t fully opened. But I might just give it for Father’s day to my engineer dad.
One of the latest innovations to show up in tea shops in Japan is a glass teapot with a glass basket featuring thin lines cut vertically into the base edge of the basket. Upon first blush, you aren’t sure if it’s just a decoration or actual holes sliced through it. Initially we thought the glass basket was a cute yuzamashi to cool the water and heat the teapot. But no, that didn’t work. You put the leaves in the basket, pour the water in and some of it leaks out into the main teapot while most of the leaves are in the glass basket infusing. When the steep time is up, slowly lift it out. This teapot is really adorable and is good for beginners who may not fully appreciate the levels of taste that can be produced by manipulating the leaves using a strainer-free glass teapot.
And finally, the one that blows my mind the most: a coffee house in Shibuya that offers green tea blasted through their espresso machine! That scares me but you can bet that the next time I’m in Tokyo, I’m heading there to taste it!
I’d love to hear what you use to steep. Leave me your comments!