Apr 11, 2008

Grinding tea

I tried grinding my own matcha last week. I used some Gyokuro, which is leaf tea grown and processed like matcha, only it is not ground up. I didn’t have a tea grinding stone. I used a mortar and pestle because I thought it would grind it to a fine powder.

I remembered from my tea lectures that often it fell to the daughter of the house to grind the tea because the tea grinding stones are heavy and young girls, unlike young boys don’t try to muscle the stones to grind the tea faster. Something about the heat from the friction of the stones changes the flavor of the tea. So I tried to grind the tea slowly and make good matcha.

Whew! Grinding tea is hard work. After about an hour, I had some broken up tea flakes, but nothing that resembled the fine powder of matcha. We’re talking baby powder fineness here, and I was still a long way from that. I began to press harder on the pestle, but then remembered the friction and heat.

Two and a half hours later I had ground enough tea for one hearty bowl of matcha. I thought it was fine enough to whisk into a good bowl of tea.

And how was the taste? It was terrible. Completely awful. Though it whisked up to a fine froth, the taste left much to be desired. Besides being the most bitter matcha I ever tasted, the mouth feel of this tea was like a big bite of compost. It grassy and chewy and not in a good way. Apparently it was not ground fine enough and perhaps the gyokuro was not the highest quality. I drank the whole bowl, but I don’t think I’ll be grinding tea again. Now I know why good matcha costs so much.

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