Sunday is a day to take a break from the stresses of life and just enjoy living, relaxation, fun, and discovering new restaurants in New York City with friends. Yesterday, I met two longtime friends in the East Village.They’d heard great things about Cha-An, a Japanese Tea Room, and were eager to try their Matcha Tea.
I was pleasantly pleased as I walked into the Kyoto-style tea house. Cha-An’s hospitality is exceptional. We were greeted and seated in the fashion of omotenashi (whole-hearted hospitality). The décor was indeed Japanese—floral decorations, wooden tables, tatami benches, and washi-paper lamps. All a part of the traditional teaism cultivated in old-world Japan. The menu was impressive with an extensive list of teas, which I would have to sample another time. The food menu was impressive as well, but today was all about matcha.
Matcha is a powdered green tea made from the highest grade Gyokuro Japanese green tea. Specially grown by farmers in the shade for three weeks, stems and veins are removed, and the entire leaf is ground into a fine powder. Matcha is the only green tea in which the whole leaf is consumed.
In the ways of the old-world, Cha- An, incorporates elements of the traditional Japanese tea ceremony by serving Matcha in beautiful artisan bowls and cups. It’s not just a cup, but a work of art. Teaism (associated with Zen) requires the person drinking the tea to use their five senses (touch, taste, hearing, sight, and smell). Traditional tea ceremonies are two-sided. The tea makers present the beautiful artisan bowls to show their appreciation to the drinker. The drinker must acknowledge by appreciating the artwork. When drinking the tea, the artwork should face away from the drinker. In traditional tea ceremonies, tea is prepared in front of the drinker. But this part of the ritual was streamlined at Cha- An. Tea is served already made. I’d heard so much about the ritual of preparing matcha and wish I’d been able to experience the full, meditative experience. The process of making matcha consists of:
Measuring 1 1/2 to 2 scoops of powder with a chashaku (bamboo tea scoop
Placing it inside a chawan (tea bowl)
Adding 1/4 cup of hot water to the chawan
Whisking the matcha and hot water with a chasen (bamboo tea whisk)
Stirring slowly until matcha is dissolved, and briskly whisk until a frothy consistency forms.
Matcha Boast More Health Benefits than Other Forms of Green Tea
Provides minerals selenium, chromium, zinc, and magnesium
Vitamins (A, B-complex, C, E, and K)
Rich in antioxidants: Polyphenol EGCG (epigallo-catechin gallate) with high antioxidants activity:
Protection against cancer
Help prevent cardiovascular disease
Slows the aging process
Stabilize blood sugar levels
Help reduce high blood pressure and
Builds resistance to many toxins
Detoxifies the body
Calming effect on mind and body
Rich in fiber and chlorophyll
Basic Matcha Latte Recipe
3/4 cup almond, soy, coconut milk (any milk of choice) 1 teaspoon matcha powder 1/4 cup boiling water 1/2 tablespoon honey or agave syrup (optional)
Bring 3/4 cup of almond milk, soy milk, rice milk, to a low simmer in a small pot or saucepan over medium-high heat. 2. Place 1 teaspoon matcha powder in cup or tea bowl. Slowly whisk in 1/4 cup boiling water, then almond milk, tipping cup slightly to help create more foam. A bamboo whisk or any frother can be used.
If desired sweeten with agave nectar.