Japan boasts a tapestry of some of the most beautiful seasonal landscapes in the world. Imagine the snow covered pagodas of Kyoto in winter, then the entire country turning pink with cherry blossoms, to water cascading down the mountains after the rains in June, to a canvas splashed with burgundy, burnt sienna, and Mikado yellow in autumn.
It’s now June and while the seasonal landscape is absolutely gorgeous, in reality, you have to be a virtuous monk to survive a summer here. The heat and humidity are so high and relentless that book pages are always soggy, mosquitoes dive bomb even the dog, and your skin is sticky from June to September. Then just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, that favorite tea beverage you’ve been sipping for most of the year has suddenly gone AWOL from any café or restaurant menu!
We are into our second summer running the Chiki Tea café in Kyushu, and I now know exactly why menus are so sensitive to the weather over here. The ever-present moisture makes baking simply impossible. Ice cream melts 10 seconds after being pulled from the freezer and condensation is a given which is Matcha’s silent killer!
Sensitive Matcha needs special care in summer as moisture and condensation on the tin can suck the freshness right out of it.
Chiki Matcha Tip: Wipe your tin and allow it to come to room temperature before opening it. Trust me, your Matcha will love you for your patience.
We did our best to deal with these logistical challenges but our customers just cared about cooling down! So last summer we went back to the drawing board and re-engineered our entire menu. Here are two of our most popular summer drinks to help you stay cool this summer…
Enter Frosteas and Iced Matchaccinos…
Some of you may be familiar with the term “Mizudashi” in relation to Sencha. Mizudashi means “cold brewing” and the best Mizudashi Sencha comes from using leaves specifically produced for cold brewing. This involves a deeper “firing” in the final stage to yield a stronger brew when extracted in ice or cold water. Using standard Sencha often produces a slightly stale or even fishy odour and taste.
The Chiki alternative to Mizudashi Sencha is Iced Kabusecha. When we first tried this, everyone was surprised at the true depth of flavor and thickness of brew! Kabuse means covered (or shaded) and the range we carry, hails from Chiran, Kagoshima, where the Sakurajima volcano burps ash into the atmosphere on a regular basis (a good thing for tea – think mineral rich!). Don’t worry, our farmers wash the tea before processing it!
To re-engineer our “Mizudashi”, we needed to think out of the box…literally! Our ice box needed as much space for keeping everything from chocolate chips to ice so having huge containers of iced tea was NOT an option! So here’s what we did…
Single-serving Iced Kabusecha:
• Steep 10g of any Kabusecha in 200ml water at 75ºC for 1 minute • Pour into a shaker (we use Ball Mason jars)
• Add a couple of ice cubes and shake vigorously to cool the tea and diluting the tea concentrate
• Shaking it produces an evenly chilled tea with a foamy head
• Add extra ice and ENJOY!
Iced Matchaccinos and summer are synonymous. Our regular Matchaccino uses steamed milk to give that special froth. For the iced option, we use a HARIO milk shaker. Beware using strongly flavoured milk such as almond and coconut milk as these can smother the delicate Matcha notes. Even rice milk can come through a little strong. Dairy or soy milk is the best for this recipe.
To make a Chiki Iced Matchaccino:
At the café, we use a mixture of premium grade and culinary grade Matcha to get our signature flavor. If you want to keep it simple, our MYSTIC is going to be fine. Make it in the order below – this is key to avoid lumps!
• Add 100ml cold filtered or bottled water to a lidded jar
• Add the Matcha (we use 3g), a few ice cubes and shake it like crazy!
• Add about 6oz milk and a dash of vanilla essence – shake it again!
• Add a few more ice cubes and set the drink aside
• Pour milk into the HARIO milk shaker and shake to get the frothy top – this takes practice so don’t panic if your foam ends up on the counter or floor first!
• This puppy is best enjoyed with fun coloured straws and good friends!