In case it isn’t obvious enough, given my sporadic TwitFacePlus updates, Spring and I don’t get along too well. I hear there’s this thing called Seasonal Affective Disorder that usually hits people in the Winter. (Lack of sun and all that.) Mine, however, is a bit of a procrastinator…and doesn’t rear it’s melancholic/metaphoric head until a couple of months later. The result? A drama queen-ish manchild with a dire need for stability and hibernation.
Another astonishing surprise, I’m also a creature of habit. I don’t do “change” very well. Rituals – especially during this emotionally trying time – are very important to me. Routines keep me centered, distracted, and even-keel. When there are disruptions to my paradigm, shite hits the fan. Hard.
In the span of a week, my brother/roommate/landlord announced he was getting engaged. All of us were happy for him; myself included. A week after that, he gave us a date. August. Which meant…
I needed to find a new place to live within that period of time.
One would think that four months was plenty of time to find a new living situation, and they’d be right. Normally. Problem was, I had other things I was planning on for the Summer that required money – chiefly, World Tea Expo. With the cost of down-payments, pet deposits, and first-‘n-last-month rent, there was no room for a trip to Vegas.
I sadly took to my usual social media outlets and lamented the news. Moments later, my mother gave me a stern, “You’re going, and that’s final!” And offered to cover the plane ticket as an early “birthristmas” present. A fellow tea pal also offered to host my tea trunk/manchild arse for the duration of the expo.
And this hasn’t been the first hiccup to my plans. It almost seems like whenever I make plans in the Spring, something (or someone) comes in to throw a wrench in them – which further puts a snare on my already-strained mental faculties and emotional fortitude. And that is why having set routines keeps me – for the most part – as balanced as is humanly possible. The most important? That first cup of tea in the morning.
Over a year ago, I relied on matcha (powdered green tea) as my morning kickstarter. With the right equipment, it was easy to prepare and took very little time to brew. A minute to heat the water, a few seconds to scoop the powder, forty-five seconds to whisk, and done – bubbly goodness-to-go. They don’t call it “ceremonial” matcha for nothin’. It’s a ritual in and of itself, and anyone can do it anyway they damn well please.
Most would say you’re not doing it right unless it’s done in a traditional “chanoyu” ceremony, but that’s too much work for 6AM. (That and I’d probably look lousy in a kimono.) So, I opt for a more…uh…”ch’annoying” approach. The aforementioned prep above, the use of a bamboo whisk, and a miso soup bowl to pour it into. My leaf-to-water ratio is probably also a bit more skewed than is traditionally acceptable. A typical koicha (or “thick tea”) prep requires 3 heaping teaspoons of powder, and roughly 3oz. of 150F-heated water. I use the same amount of powder…but twice the amount of water. A more usucha (“thin tea”) approach but double the fun.
Due to financial constrains – and a barely-above-minimum-wage day job – the affordability of matcha is usually beyond my grasp. At an average of $30 a tin for the good stuff, it just isn’t feasible. Usually.
However, that’s where upstart startups like Pure Matcha come into play. I’ve had a working (or rather, reviewing) relationship with this vendor before. Theirs was the first rooibos matcha I ever tried, and their Black Matcha was also a “uniquitea” notch-off. When I received word of their new organic ceremonial matcha, I jumped at the chance.
The word “organic” usually doesn’t matter a damn to me. My main concern runs along the lines of, “Does it taste good?” It had some big shoes to fill with Pure Matcha’s regular ceremonial grade as competition. That offering convinced me that Nishio-produced matcha could give the Uji a run for its money. In a word, perfect.
The powder for Pure Matcha’ s Organic Ceremonial Grade wasn’t as bright a green color as the regular, but the aroma was just as spritely and sweet as before. I could whiff a matcha canister all danged day. It smelled like Spring. Well, minus the depressive suck.
I’ll admit it, I delayed doing a write-up on this because I spent the next couple of weeks simply…well…having it every single morning. Did I mention I was a creature of habit? Let’s add delay-artist to that. That has a nice ring to it, “Delay Artist of Habit”. Okay, no it doesn’t.
Where was I? Oh yes…mornings.
A little known fact about matcha, it may be “technically” green tea, but it packs quite a caffeinated wallop. That’s what you get when you grind a leaf – with more caffeine per surface area than a coffee bean – to a fine powder. The more you use, the more you feel. Nothing like a bit of green cocaine to get ya started, eh?
(Seriously, though, don’t snort this.)
On to the taste. Matcha has a kind of grainy texture to the mouthfeel that some might find off-putting. Many would compare it to soup. I love it. If whisked properly, the effect is downright velvetine on the tongue. The more bubbles that froth up, the better the sensation. It’s like a morning mouth-massage. No, not the “happy ending” kind. (And…ew.) Top that off with a taste of natural sweetness, a slight vegetal kick, a dash of Zen, and it’s like a mini-milkshake for the soul.
This stuff had all of the usual taste trappings in spades. It frothed up amazingly, and that translated ot the taste and texture perfectly. It was a little rougher on the palate than the regular ceremonial grade, but it was also gentler. In short, another shade of perfect. While it had the usual matcha price tag attached, it was well worth every penny.
You can’t put a price on ritual happiness.