Japanese Tea Workshop by Toshiya Nakabo

September 26, 2017

Maiko Tea is now available at ILOHA Culture Centre

Originated from Kyoto, MaikoTea is an award winning Japanese tea brand (They won the grand prize in 2015 for producing the best Gyokuro tea leaves) that supply green tea throughout Japan and the rest of the world, including Malaysia. Yeappp, you can now find Maiko Tea at ILOHA Culture Centre. There are various types of Japanese tea, namely Gyokuro, Matcha, Tencha, Karigane (kukicha), Genmaicha (mixture of Karigane with roasted rice), Shiawasecha (Happiness Tea), and Hojicha (Roasted Gencha). Each of them have their own distinctive taste, also, different from plantation method to preparation to serving.

What is Gyokuro? 

Gyokuro is the highest quality green tea in Japan. It grown at the tea gardens surrounding the residence of Maiko Tea's renowned tea expert - Yamashita Toshikazu. He watches daily over the production of this most exquisite premium tea and makes sure that every step of the cultivation is done with great care and skillfulness. Gyokuro is usually served only during special occasions like new year because it is expensive (one of the reasons huh), precious (up to 4-5 servings), and it is not available in large quantities too (It is limited to a few kilograms a year).

Nihon Cha Instructor - Toshiya Nakabo

I am blessed to have met the chamurai a.k.a. Japanese Tea Master of the day, Nakabo sensei. Thanks to Maiko Tea team and ILOHA Culture Centre for giving this opportunity, so that I could learn tea making from a tea master himself. Thank you so much for teaching us how to make Gyokuro and Matcha!

Gyokuro Making Experience

This is my very first time getting to observe Gyokuro tea leaves, from making the tea to taste it. You will know why is it so different from others if you taste it too. It has a condensed sweet taste with a characteristic ambrosial fragrance and extremely gentle flavour. The last drop of the tea is very precious, known as the "golden drop". A very dense tea essence I would say, just like chicken essence, if you know what I mean. The best part is, we can actually eat the tea leaves after drinking! So cool right? You can either eat it on its own or serve it with some soy sauce, or with sakae! It is yummy! Let's see how we prepare Gyokuro now!

1. Firstly, we have to put the gyokuro leaves (about 8 grams) into the smaller teapot (kyusu).
2. Pour the boiling water into the yuzamashi or vessel to cool off boiled water.
3. This will further reduce the temperature by about 10 degree Celsius. 
4. About 50 degree Celsius is perfect for next step.
5. Just pour the not-so-hot water on the gyokuro leaves, the amount of the water should be just enough to cover the leaves.
6. Let the tea infuse for about 2 minutes.
7. Pour the tea into the cups in the sequence of 1-2-3-4, 4-3-2-1. Remember don't fill a whole cup at once! Just pour a little into each cup alternately so the tea can be distributed evenly in each cups. 
8. The leaves should be as dry as possible, so remember to pour until not a single drop is left in the pot. 
9. You can enjoy your delicious Gyokuro now!

Matcha Making Experience

Actually, it is quite difficult to prepare Matcha. But hey, I enjoyed every single moment of preparing matcha. Unforgettable, the mellow sweetness of Matcha with the prepared Matcha Chocolate balls. Let's see how we prepare Matcha now!

1. Firstly, we have to fill the matcha powder into the cup by using chashaku (bamboo spoon).
2. Pour 60-70 ml of 80-90 degree Celsius hot water into the cup.
3. Now use the whisk (chasen) to stir rapidly. The handle of the whisk should be firmly with your hand. The tip of the whisk should never touch the bottom of the cup.
4. Tips: It is easier for you to stir it in a standing position and your arm is straight. 
5. Whisk until all the lumps are gone and the surface of the tea look like a creamy broth with foam on top that consists of many tiny bubbles.
6. Then, your matcha is ready to be served. 

Overall Thoughts

The 2-hour-tea-making workshop was fun and informative, I was quite enjoyed with it as I am a tea-person (I can drink green tea everyday). Well, this is my very first time to prepare tea by myself, the sore is real because we have to keep stirring the matcha until it is done. But, it is worth enough to do that to enjoy the tea! Apart from that, I am blessed to taste this precious Gyokuro, it is not something we would drink everyday (because it is expensive), but I will not forget the taste of it because it is unique and tasty. Since tea has many health benefits, you can try it too if you have not try it before. By the way, if you guys are interested to learn how to prepare your own tea, ILOHA Culture Centre can help you. Just sign up your favourite cooking class or workshop with your friends and family, you will love it like I do. Last but not least, Maiko Tea Cafe will be opening very soon, you can enjoy your tea time and have some desserts with your friends next time! Till then, xoxo.

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  1. Your post is very informative and useful. We'll try this at home. Cheers! Thank you for sharing.

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