In my quest to try as many different matchas as possible, I visited the encha organic matcha website on the recommendation of a new Instagram friend, the tea blogger/teaaholic, Lu Ann Pannunzio of The Tea Cup of Life. Immediately, I fell in love with the story of Encha, and Li Gong, the founder. Li writes about his radical departure from his comfortable Silicon Valley job after tasting quality matcha in Uji, Japan. Instantly, he knew he had to change career paths, and found this company to share his passion and commitment for high-quality, non-GMO, organic, yet affordable matcha with the world. And we all can thank him for that.
Before I knew it, I ordered both the ceremonial and latte grades, as well as two chawans (matcha bowls) and an electric whisk (when I commit, I commit! Matcha and tea sellers, please don't take advantage of me!). After years of holding steadfast to my purist values, I was swayed by several videos claiming the benefits of the thickness, frothiness and flavor achieved from an electric whisk, so I had to compare it to my bamboo chasen.
Saving the latte grade for another time, I eagerly opened the resealable bag of ceremonial matcha. I made both a usacha and koicha (I prefer the intensity of flavors you get from koicha, but realize this is not for everyone). I first made the usacha. Using my bamboo chashaku, I scooped out two heaping spoonfuls into my new black chawan. The hue was a vibrant light green with a slight grassy aroma. Gently pouring in about 5 oz. of water (I prefer to use 170°F), I took hold of my new electric device and turned it on. Not knowing what I was doing, I moved it back and forth in the traditional "W" motion, causing the liquid to slosh and splash over the sides. Adjusting my movements to a simple back and forth "I" motion prevented any further loss of my precious elixir. To my surprise, the whisk created an incredibly thick froth. However, my novice technique yielded a few clumps at the bottom of the bowl. Fortunately, subsequent attempts proved less problematic, and all the matcha was thoroughly and easily mixed.
The taste is bright from the moment it lands on the tongue, slightly sweet and creamy with an umami flavor that remains on my tongue for several seconds, but was not overpowering at all. The koicha was even better - thick and creamy, slightly vegetal and ever so intoxicating. With my bamboo chasen it mixed easily and thoroughly. Truth be told, I made several bowls to taste and re-taste encha ceremonial matcha.
The next morning, I opened the latte grade and made a thick, creamy, and delicious almond milk latte. I very rarely use any of my ceremonial grade matchas to make a latte - in my mind that is a waste, since matcha-time is sacred and meditative, and lattes seem more mundane. However, now that I have tasted a home made latte made with an excellent quality matcha, I might be changing my tune. I find my salivating thinking of it right now.
As a naturopathic physician, I am concerned about the health of the Earth and all its inhabitants. I try to ensure that the matchas I sample, taste and drink on a daily basis are organic and free from pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. I am so grateful to all the of the tea farmers and distributors whom I see as the Earth's stewards, dedicated to growing sustainable and organic tea. Thank you.
As I sat down on my meditation cushion, I thoughts about Li's story, and how a sip of matcha changed the course and direction of his life. I offered gratitude to Mother Earth, to Gaia. I walk about you daily, partaking in all your riches. You give and give, and often I fail to honor and appreciate your gifts - like the gift of tea.
Exhaling, I allow myself to settle. The cushion is supporting me, while the floor holds up the cushion, as the foundation supports the floor, yet ultimately it is the Earth holding and supporting us all. Thank you for supporting us all, even when we overlook, ignore and disrespect you. Thank you, organic tea farmers, who are supporting the Earth and all of us in our path to health and wellbeing.