Saturday, June 6, 2015

Japanese teas and tasty treats!

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a tasting of various Japanese teas. It was a great event. I sampled some teas I had never had before. Some were award winners, others were seasonal and rare. Our wonderful host was TJ. Very personable and knowledgeable, he was excellent at engaging with his audience. TJ had informed us that he had connections with some Japanese farmers, as he had lived on a tea farm in Japan, and so was able to acquire some teas that were normally not shipped to Canada. Awesome that he was sharing these teas, some of which were rather expensive, with a group of strangers who just have a common interest in tea!

Tea for tasting!

Some of the teas we sipped on included a Spring 2015 Hand Pressed Shincha from Kyoto. This was the winner of the Kyoto Spring Auction, and only 250g was available globally. We had 50g of it! We also had some freshly roasted Houjicha, an award winning Gyokuro, Sakura Blossom Tea, Sweet Bancha, Bata Bata Bancha, Samurai Bancha, Kyoto Bancha, and Peabody Bancha. As well, we ground our very own Matcha using a genuine Matcha Stone Mill!

Matcha Stone Mill.

Hold please!

Roaming between three stations, we were hit with various shades of green from both the tea leaves and their liquors. The room soon perfumed with the light aromas of the many brews. Our taste buds were entertained with all sorts of flavours. Some brews tasted like spinach, asparagus, seaweed, and fresh cut grass. They were sweet, salty, astringent, and strong. Other flavours were a little more challenging and difficult to describe, but it was fun listening to the many opinions. Everyone is different!

Yup. That's tea!

As if the tea tastings weren’t enough, we were also treated to some delicious and beautifully designed truffles that included tea as an ingredient. The extraordinary delights were created by Pastry Chef Chocolatier Sergio Shidomi. Tea and chocolate is a perfect combination, something I’ve enjoyed on many occasions. Chef Sergio’s creations can be found at Old Firehall Confectionery in Unionville, just outside of Toronto. Definitely worth a trip out there! 

Tasty truffles!

Look closer!

The highlight for me, and I do believe for many others, was observing and having the opportunity to grind fresh Matcha. A time-consuming process that requires a lot of arm power, large pieces of tea leaves are converted into a fine powder. Now you know why good quality Matcha is so expensive. It is not as easy as it looks, but I was able to get into a groove after a few turns. A great workout indeed!  

Um, am I doing this right?

Fresh Matcha!

Both TJ and Chef Sergio were warm and welcoming. Extremely knowledgeable about their passions and crafts! It was a great evening and I'm looking forward to the next tea tasting event!

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