While many Asians fan over matcha desserts, I’m one of the few that find the taste very saw dust-like and unnatural. When my mother told me that we will be travelling to a matcha town outside of Osaka, I found myself surprisingly excited to try some real matcha. At the same time, I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy it or not.
When we got to Uji, we were already welcomed by people handing out free green tea at the train station. Every single store sold matcha products and people were buying in bulk. At the moment, you had to be smart about which shop to buy matcha from and the ones with the line ups are usually the better ones. Before stopping at any shops, we rushed to attend a traditional Japanese matcha tea ceremony. Located in a tea house near the river on a stone paved path, the setting was set for a tea ceremony worth remembering.
We got into a tatami room with a giant stone pot with boiling water placed inside the floor. Everything in the room was neat, simple and very traditional. We were gestured to sit down but since we were all try hards, we decided to kneel on our knees like the Japanese. Evidently, my try hard skills resulted in sore knees after the tea ceremony was over.
Before sipping on matcha, we were served cherry blossom mochis placed on gold plates with a blunt wooden toothpick. I gave one look and I thought to myself “How am I supposed to eat this when the toothpick is so flimsy?” After much confusion, the lady taught me to use the toothpick to slice the pillow- soft mochi and eat it bit by bit. I was lucky that I did not devour it in one bite because the mochi was incredibly sweet.
When we were all done with the mochis, the preparation to make the matcha tea was about to begin. As the lady gracefully and quietly made our matcha, everyone watched in silence.
I noticed that when she was preparing the bamboo ladle to get water from the pot, she placed the ladle’s handle in between her middle finger and her index finger. The process of making matcha tea was a form of art and every move was very detailed.
After whisking the matcha powder into the water, everything was ready. There were no spills, splashes or drops of matcha anywhere, the process was done perfectly.
The matcha was thick, earthy and healthy. I don’t know how to describe the simplicity and pureness in this matcha but it was an absolute game changer for me. This might not be a good thing because I’ll be very picky about my matcha from now on.
Before drinking the matcha, we were advised that we had to rotate the cup three times clockwise on our palm after every sip. I don’t know the reason of it, but I ended up drinking it pretty quickly before it thickened and got cold.
Aligato! The ceremony was one of the many highlights of my Japan trip and I would highly recommend anyone who would like to experience an authentic Japanese tea ceremony to attend this.
Before leaving Uji, we stopped by one of the many matcha stores for tea soft serve. Made from real matcha and houjicha, no one can leave Uji without getting a matcha soft serve.
Right – Matcha Soft Serve
You could taste the richness in the matcha flavours with some grainy textures from the grinded matcha powder. If you took a whiff of the soft serve, the matcha aroma is still lingering in the cream.
Left – Houjicha Soft Serve
With a less sweeter and earthier taste than the matcha soft serve, the houjicha soft serve would be more suitable for those who are not a fan of sweet foods. With a similar concept to “older people like dark chocolate more than milk or white chocolate”, the houjicha soft serve prides itself in the hints of bitterness, stronger tea flavours and refreshing after taste.
So long, Uji! I’ll be back for more matcha soft serve and a genmaicha restock.