Okumidori Matcha; For the Love of and Enlightenment Of Japanese Green Tea.

By Jo Phillips

Although we see hear and know all about green tea it’s relatively new to shores outside of Japan and other East Asian countries. The use of green tea as a medicine began thousands of years ago, at first in China and then spreading throughout Asia. Over the years, green tea along with its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties has been associated with multiple health benefits, such as obesity, diabetes, cancer, kidney, liver, brain and bone diseases, among others and it helps in balancing the gut bringing the right bacteria levels. The very best grade of Okumidori Matcha is an artisanal grade, made of stone ground leaves shaded for up to 22 days before harvesting, resulting in a naturally sweeter flavour with reduced bitterness. Initially, a magnificent Ceremonial Grade Matcha yet now it has a special run in the UK. Find out more in, Okumidori Matcha; For the Love of and Enlightenment Of Japanese Green Tea.

This  Jade green tea is rare to find outside of Japan. Not only does it taste different from the versions of green teas that are now plentiful in every supermarket it also has a different and unique scent. Think sweet Hay, savoury vegetables, and subtle floral hints. As for its flavour, it has a lighter, sweeter leaf with a largely balanced profile moving between umami and bitter notes.

The history of green tea started in China and goes all the way back to the eighth century. Originally the method of making powdered tea from steam-prepared dried tea leaves became popular in the 12th century.

That is when matcha was discovered by a Buddhist monk, Myoan Eisai, who brought the brew to Japan. Esai was enlightened to the fact that drinking matcha improved his Zen meditation sessions by producing a state of calm alertness.

As the benefits of matcha became more widely recognized it became the basis for the sophisticated art of Japanese Tea Ceremony or “Chado.” Drinking matcha not only aided the meditation efforts of Zen monks but also became a means of attaining enlightenment itself. Sacrificing a bowl of the drink to Buddha was part of everyday temple practices.

Zen master Yōsai

Initially, it was a response to the ornate and sumptuous style that the Japanese aristocracy was particularly fond of, but simplicity was encouraged, by monk Murata Shuko.

The beauty of the tea ceremony comes from the harmony that arises between the minds of the host and their guests. The spirit of the tea is expressed in four concepts: peace, purity, respect and harmony. A ceremony conducted in a proper way frees us from worries, showing the perfection of nature and human activities.

Throughout the centuries “Chado” continued to spread throughout Japan in courts and samurai classes, but at all levels of society.

“Those who cannot feel the littleness of great things in themselves are apt to overlook the greatness of little things in others.”

From “The Book of Tea” by Okakura Kakuzo,

This artisanal product held in great esteem across the world is being celebrated by the company Clear Spring which has been brought to the UK as part of its 30th year anniversary; a premium ceremonial grade Okumidori Matcha.

Specially selected by the company’s tea master, Nagata-san, to commemorate our 30th anniversary. Okumidori, meaning ‘deepest green’, is a superior, artisanal Matcha from Wazuka, in Uji, Kyoto, a place steeped in eight centuries of matcha history.

Of all the tea fields in Japan, fewer than 5% are dedicated to growing Okumidori Matcha, which makes it so valuable. Stone-ground, utilising the freshest and youngest tea leaves from the year’s first harvest, so this limited edition tea allows for exploring a naturally smoother taste, with a rich umami flavour.

Clearspring specialises in authentic Japanese specialities and organic fine foods, bringing to the store, award-winning ranges that are enjoyed around the world.

These particular leaves have been shade-grown for 20 days before being harvested to increase chlorophyll levels which gives the matcha its vibrant green colour and unique flavour. Only the freshest and youngest tea leaves have been selected from this year’s first harvest.

In 1972, as a young law student in New Zealand, Christopher Dawson began to question the changing face of agriculture with its endless deforestation, monoculture and the mass production of cheaper quality food, which he foresaw would present potential dangers for future generations. His family are all involved with the business to this day.

Christopher Dawson Right

This was the beginning of his journey to bring uniquely diverse ranges of organic and sustainably produced Japanese and European fine foods to the marketplace. Starting out with the modest miso soup to 3o years later over 300 organic products today. The core aim is to bring to the fore the ‘art of wellness’ through food offerings. Through enriching the soil and caring for the ecosystem, the brand is protecting the world that we will all pass on to our children.

The limited-edition launch, a first for Clearspring, offers Clearspring’s supporters and Matcha connoisseurs the chance to enjoy the taste of a unique, ceremonial grade matcha, whilst raising a delicious cup of authentic Japanese tea to mark 30 years of Clearspring.

Clearspring will be donating £1 from the sale of each pack of its Limited-Edition Matcha to their long-term charity partner and community cookery school Made in Hackney.

“This limited edition, Okumidori Matcha is best enjoyed when made to a traditional matcha recipe, simply with warm water, to fully enjoy the delicate flavour nuances it offers.”

Maria Dawson, Managing Director at Clearspring

Clearspring’s limited-edition Okumidori Matcha has been sustainably grown and produced to the highest organic standards, whilst working with nature and encouraging balance via biodiversity. Ultimately we can balance what we take from our earth to eat and in doing so keep a healthy balance within ourselves too.

To buy the limited edition Tea please visit clearspring.com here

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