September 18, 2017

Tora Ceremonial Matcha


The image of a tiger roaring out of a forest is an interesting one for a matcha that is as smooth tasting as Tora Ceremonial Matcha. Going back to the tiger again, another reason I was surprised to see a tiger on the package of a Japanese tea is that tigers are not found in Japan. But, they used to be. Tigers from Indian migrated to and established populations in Japan during the Pleistocene but the Japanese tiger subspecies became extinct "at some unknown time".


This ceremonial matcha is made from leaves harvested in Kirishima in Kagoshima Prefecture which is 879 km (546 miles) southwest of Uji, the famed source for great matcha. The Tora matcha is packaged in a brown, resealable, foil lined pouch. On opening the pouch, a sweet, creamy puff of matcha powder was released. It should be a delightful experience, opening up a new package of matcha. This one was. The powder was a lively green though the photo shown here is a macro shot which portrays it more brilliant than it was in reality. I prepared the matcha a couple of times for this review with slight modifications to the given instructions.


Matcha Preparation - Tora's Instruction
  1. Add 1 tsp (2 g) of matcha to an empty mug or tea bowl. I added 1 sifted teaspoon to a warm chawan.
  2. To avoid clumping, add a small amount of cool water and stir or whisk matcha into a thick paste.
  3. Add 2-3 fl oz of hot water (160-175 °F) and stir or whisk briskly until a light green foam appears on the surface of tea.
The taste of the liquor was consistent with the smell of the matcha powder. It has all the elements I crave in a matcha: sweet (but not as sweet as the powder smells), creamy, grassy, and umami (but not as rich I prefer). The umami of this matcha is borderline asparagus. Bringing the bowl towards me to drink, I smelled matcha milk chocolate bar. The bottom of the cup where the thicker liquor resides produced a dark chocolate tail note.


Really look at the photo above. I used too much water to prepare this cup but was still able to get a decent layer of froth. One of the lessons I've learned from whisking matcha is to measure precisely the amount of water. I typically prepare usucha which is thin matcha but too much water even by a seemingly small amount can produce a less than desirable cup. While Tora Ceremonial Matcha is not from one of the better known matcha producing areas, I have been happy drinking this tea and would say it's a good candidate for a daily drinker.

Matcha provided by Tora Tea.

P.S. Looking to read more about matcha? Check out Eater's A Definite Matcha Taste Test.

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