I made a trip to the Fuji Mart in Prahran the other weekend - it's at the back of the Prahran Market for those of you who know it, just a little way down from The Essential Ingredient. Fuji Mart is, so far as I can tell, an entirely Japanese grocer, and I was interested (as it will probably not surprise you to know) to see what kinds of tea they might stock.
I cam away with only a couple of kinds, both by the Ujinotsuyu company whose teas are commonly found in Asian supermarkets round here; I hadn't seen these particular ones before, though; I think they are slightly higher end than what you find in a regular Asian grocer. I have had and greatly enjoyed Ujinotsuyu sencha and genmaicha in the past, although I wasn't rapt in their matcha (but I should note that I know very little about preparing matcha properly. For $8 a tin, though, when you can spend up to $50, I think it was probably not a very high grade).
So, onto the first of my two new teas: Iemon Macchairi Kabuse Ryokucha, which apparently means green tea (ryokucha) that has been shaded for a couple of weeks (kabuse) and combined with matcha (macchairi).
This is powerful stuff. As best I could I brewed it as per the directions - I don't know any Japanese but from looking at the little pictograms and comparing them with pictograms on other packets that also had some English text, I deduced that I should be brewing about a tablespoon of leaf in 50ml of water at 60C, for about 2 minutes. I don't have any teapots that small... (An excuse to buy one perhaps?) ... Anyway, so I brewed 2 tbls in 100ml water in a small drinking glass, figuring that it would be okay at the low temperature specified.
Result was about 75ml of the most radioactive looking tea you ever saw... Godzilla drinks this stuff, I'm positive. It's a cloudy, lurid green:
As for the taste, it's strong and bitter at first, really quite a slap in the face; swallow and you're rewarded with the most astonishing sweetness in the aftertaste. Quite addictive. Don't drink it on an empty stomach though; it's much too strong without something to buffer it.
I'm drinking another small glass of this Tokyo-stomping tea right now, it's cooled quite a bit and there are definite coconut notes... lending yet more support to my theory that coconut and sencha are natural partners. Hmm. If only I had some coconut cake to go with. Never mind, I'd better go and eat some lunch before the tea eats me...