In the tea ceremony, ground green tea leaves also known as matcha are used. The color is green because the tea leaves are not roasted or fermented. There are stone grinders that turn the fresh matcha tea leaves into powdered tea. The most famous tea is grown in Uji, the southern part of Kyoto. During the Edo period 30 armed horsemen escorted the seasons first batch sent to the Shogun in Tokyo from Kyoto.
The growth of matcha leaves usually slows down in April and the leaves are hand picked in the month of May. Then they are steamed, dried and stone-ground. The type of green tea used at Maikoya is the above average grade green tea grown in Kyoto. The difference between low grade and high grade is difficult to notice when drinking thin tea (usucha). The low grade green tea tastes bitter when drinking thick tea (koicha). For koicha high grade tea must be used. Also to make sure the good taste is preserved the tea is kept in the fridge after opening the box and the tea is filtered everyday to prevent big chunks int he tea container.
Usucha (thin tea) refers to putting about 2 scoops of tea in to the tea bowl during the casual Tea ceremony gathering (chakai). Koicha (thick tea) refers to about 3.5 scoops of more tea drunk in formal (chaji) tea gatherings. Koicha tends to look more creamy and usually everyone drinks from the same bowl in the case of koicha.
Wazuka village home of friendly people and tasty matcha tea, beautiful view on the terraced tea plantation near Uji, Kyoto Prefecture
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