4 Green Teas to Whisk, Whip and Cold-Brew While It’s Summer

We teamed up with Ippodo Tea Company to learn how to best enjoy several styles of green tea, even when it’s hot outside.

Americans might be drinking more tea these days, but the ancient beverage has been enjoyed for thousands of years and continues to spawn an almost religious “Teaist” following. As international director of the 300-year-old premium Ippodo Tea Company label, Kenichi Kano is both figurehead and devotee to a tradition (and plant) with deep roots.

Hailing from a family of connoisseurs, his legacy to Ippodo is a reinvention of the teahouse for a digital age. Fourteen years ago, he pushed to launch the brand’s first online storefront. After customers flocked from around the world, Ippodo took another gamble: opening a physical location overseas. The majority of online sales were made in the New York area, hence his venture near one of the the city’s main travel hubs.

© Clay Williams / http://claywilliamsphoto.com

Ippodo’s signature cups.

Ippodo customers in New York can sample four different tea preparations: iced, warm, whipped and whisked. Each method requires traditional implements such as the chasen (bamboo tea whisk) and chashaku (ladle). The finished brew can then be enjoyed in-house or on-the-go in signature paper cups.

With many different varieties to choose from, this can be a daunting experience. Each tea is prepared according to centuries of brewing wisdom. This is not so much steeped as whisked, whipped and double-poured in tradition. Much like a fine wine or whiskey, the same ingredients taste very different based on the brewing method. What initially seems bitter to the uninitiated changes to sweet grass, meadow daisies and chamomile as the palate warms to the flavor.

© Clay Williams / http://claywilliamsphoto.com

Some green teas are best served in whiskey glasses.

Tea can be enjoyed either hot or cold depending on the type of leaves used. Try making your own with the recipes listed below. Tea leaves, implements and brewing guides are available six days a week at Ippodo’s Manhattan location.

Two cold-brews — sencha and gyokuro — are light and airy. These can be enjoyed in whiskey-style glasses or regular table glasses. Western superstar matcha, bright-green powdered tea, can be heated and poured into shallow bowls then sipped like French café au lait. Koicha, a thicker matcha preparation where powder is whipped in a particular ‘W’ or ‘M’ shape rather than whisked into froth (usucha style), is Ippodo director Kano’s personal favorite. He prepares and drinks this as many New Yorkers would their morning espresso.

© Clay Williams / http://claywilliamsphoto.com

1. Sencha 煎茶
Flavor profile: Green, sweet, sharp and fragrant
Best enjoyed: Every day with or without a meal, cold-brewed in summer

One serving = 3 teacups, 80% full

Quantity of tea leaves: 2 heaping tablespoons / 10g
Quantity of hot water: 210ml or just under 1 cup
Temperature of hot water: 176ºF

Brewing Method:
1. Put the sencha leaves into the teapot.
2. Pour the hot water over the leaves.
3. Let the leaves steep for approximately 1 minute.
4. Gently pour the sencha into 3 teacups and serve.

Optional: To make cold tea, infuse the leaves in cold instead of hot water. Use the same amount of tea leaves but wait longer for them to unravel in the teapot. Brew time is 15 minutes for first pot of tea, 7 minutes for the second and 3 minutes for the third.

Brew Tips:

  • Try pouring boiling water into an empty teacup then pouring the water into a teapot. This should cool the boiling water to the desired temperature.
  • Pour a little tea into each cup as you go. This will ensure a consistent flavor in each cup.
  • Don’t leave any tea in the teapot. The essence of the tea lingers in the last few drops.

© Clay Williams / http://claywilliamsphoto.com

2. Gyokuro 玉露
Flavor profile: Brandy-like, syrupy mellow sweetness
Best enjoyed: Slow occasions to sip and linger on the taste, cold-brewed in summer

One serving = 3 teacups, 80% full

Quantity of tea leaves: 2 heaping tbsps / 10g
Quantity of hot water: 80ml (1 full teacup) or ⅓ cup
Temperature of hot water: 140ºF

Brewing Method:
1. Add the gyokuro leaves into the teapot.
2. Pour the hot water over the leaves.
3. Let the leaves steep for 1½ minutes.
4. Gently pour the gyokuro into 3 teacups and serve.

Optional: Infuse in cold water and enjoy as a cold-brew.

Brew Tip: For an easy way to cool boiling water to 140ºF prepare three empty teacups. Pour boiling water into the first cup then transfer it into the second. Pour the same water from the second to the third and then back into the teapot.

© Clay Williams / http://claywilliamsphoto.com

3. Matcha (usucha/ousu style) 抹茶
Flavor profile: Brilliant-green, earthy sweet aroma and full-bodied umami
Best enjoyed: Best served with sweets

Special implements (pictured in slideshow above): 1 bamboo tea whisk (chasen), 1 matcha tea bowl (matcha-chawan), 1 tea ladle (chashaku). Bamboo whisks are seen as indispensable in the preparation of matcha. Replace when the tips start to break off for the best tea. Note: to preserve these delicate implements refrain from washing with soap or immersing in water. Using a clean, dry cloth wipe the powder off implements instead.

One serving = 1 café au lait bowl

Quantity of tea powder: 2 heaping ladles / 2g
Quantity of hot water: 60ml (⅓ tea bowl) or ¼ cup
Temperature of hot water: 176ºF

Brewing Method:
1. Put the matcha powder into a tea bowl.
2. Gently pour hot water over the matcha powder.
3. Using a quick back and forth motion, whisk the mixture until smooth.
4. Serve the matcha in the tea bowl.

Brew Tips:

  • Matcha can be enjoyed usucha/ousu or koicha style. Koicha is a thicker and softer-tasting version of matcha that can be enjoyed like an espresso. Usucha/ousu style is light, foamy and preserves the metallic/tannin-type qualities of the powder. To make koicha, avoid whipping the tea powder. Instead fold it into the water in ‘M’ or ‘W’ patterns until you have a dark, viscous liquid.
  • As with other teas, try pouring the boiling water into a tea cup first before the teapot to lower the water to the desired temperature.
  • Matcha will remain fresh for up to three months if stored properly in an air-tight container. Copper and tin containers are good for this purpose. The powder should be sieved before use to break up clumps and produce the best-tasting tea.

© Clay Williams / http://claywilliamsphoto.com

4. Bancha (coarse-leaf tea varietals) 番茶
Flavor profile: Ranging from sharp and fragrant (yanagi), to rich and dark (hojicha) or savory and the aroma of roasted rice (genmaicha)
Best enjoyed: Anytime, alone or as part of a meal

One serving = 3 teacups

Quantity of tea leaves: 3 heaping tablespoons / 12g
Quantity of hot water: 210ml or just under 1 cup
Temperature of hot water: 212°F (just boiling)

Brewing Method:
1. Put the leaves into a teapot.
2. Pour boiling water over the leaves.
3. Let the leaves steep for about 30 seconds.
4. Gently pour the tea into 3 teacups and serve.

Brew Tips:

  • Pour a little tea into each cup as you go. This will ensure a consistent flavor in each cup.
  • Don’t leave any tea in the teapot. The essence of the tea lingers in the last few drops.
  • Hojicha, being a roasted tea, requires a different method for cold-brew. To enjoy using this method:

Hojicha Cold-Brewing Method:
1. Heat kettle (2 liters / 8½ cups) until it boils.
2. Add 2 handfuls (20g) of tea leaves and wait for 12-15 minutes.
3. Transfer the tea to a pitcher or other container using a sieve to filter out the leaves.
4. Store in a refrigerator and serve when desired.

A note on storage: Tea is delicate and can absorb unwanted flavors and odors if improperly stored. Generally most teas should be stored in an airtight container and consumed within 2 weeks of opening. New York’s humid climate may cause the tea to spoil sooner. Though storage for longer periods is not recommended, it is possible to freeze unopened packets in the freezer. Once removed from the freezer, tea should be consumed and not refrozen.

Photo credit: Clay Williams

Newsletter

Categories

Tags

Ruth Temianka is a writer, editor and entrepreneur.