- Smita Agrawal, OWC Member & tea aficionado
In Japanese culture, Tea is an art, Tea is Zen & Tea is a philosophy. So this Unchi Wali Chai was a bit of art, tad science and a whole lot of love for Teas.
After a welcome and greetings session with a refreshing miso soup, we tasted 3 varieties of Japanese green tea, all very distinct in flavor, taste and the umami-ness of it.
The first tea tasted was Hojicha from Shijouka prefecture – a high heat roasted tea which renders its caffeine ineffective making it a casual everyday tea in Japan, safe for adults and children be it morning, afternoon or evening. Nutty, smoky and smooth in taste, Hojicha should be brewed for half a minute at water @70-80C. It pairs well with a creamy or subtle roasted savoury food. We paired it with an Avocado & Salmon uramaki.
The second tea for the evening was high grade Kukicha - a very typical and unique to Japan tea, is a blend of tea leaves and tea leaf stems. The lightness of the stems makes it a balanced tea with low caffeine content. The presence of stems enhances the theanine levels in the tea, translating it into a sweet playful tea with sesame seed or chestnut note, an earthy feel and a tender texture. Kukicha can be brewed for 2-3 minutes at water @70-80C.
It is normally paired with sweet food but pairs equally well with crispy or fried non spicy food. Our ebi tempura and harumaki enhanced the flavors of tea to an appreciable level.
To conclude the evening, we had a Macha Tea brewing Ceremony, brewed Usucha (the standard or light tea way) style. Macha, being a powder form and made out of shaded tea trees, is high in caffeine & believed to be the most healthy drink, high in theanine – a kind of amino acid found primarily only in tea plant and believed to cross blood brain barrier directly affecting brain chemistry helping control stress, improving mood ( increases dopamine levels) & cognitive ability and has the ability to boost immune system. Macha is best paired with desserts and we had a yuzu cheesecake to go with it. Macha desserts also being very popular, we tried a Macha ice-cream which was a favorite of quite a few guests at the tasting.
There could not have been a better venue for this Japanese tea tasting than Edo, the Japanese Bistro @ ITC Gradenia. The food was made to perfection by the most talented team at Edo under the guidance of chef Amit. We cannot thank the entire team @ ITC including Amaan and Upender who went to every extent to make this a pleasurable experience for us. Many thanks to all the guests who attended and made the evening cherishable.