It was interesting learning about and trying the different teas, or rather the manufacturing process to produce different teas. As far as the tasting, I personally found them to be a little bitter, but I'm not really used to drinking unsweetened tea.
Mixing the teas is a cool idea, the bitterness also pretty much went away after putting them in the bags. However, I felt like the options available didn't really produce drastically different flavors. I think this may be more for people who are into traditional teas.
The rice with tea was better than I expected. On its own it was fairly bland, but the toppings helped add flavor, and I ended up liking it.
I’m from Hong Kong and there, tea is an essential part of everyday life. I drank it all the time. But I had only ever had black tea. It wasn’t until I learned about Japanese culture that I’d also come to like Japanese teas, like green tea and matcha.
With that, we went to try Tsuboichi Seicha Honpo’s Tea Bag Making Experience. Even when I think of tea bags, I can really only think of black tea. But here, we’ll be using green tea to make them, something that doesn’t seem to be offered anywhere else. So let’s go ahead and get started!
First, how to get there
Tsuboichi’s main branch in Sakai. But today’s activity is held in their Namba location, inside Namba Skyo.
▼Take the Nankai Tramway to Namba Station, exit the 3rd floor north gate, make a left, go straight and you’ll be at the entrance. It’s really easy to get to.
▼At first I thought I was in the wrong place, but no, this is it!
▼Once you’re inside, go up to the 5th floor using the escalator. Or the elevator.
▼If you take the escalator, it’ll be on your left.
Once you arrive, it’s time to get started!
▼The instructor will talk a bit about tea. Follow along with the documents.
Let’s learn about the different varieties of tea!
Tsuboichi is a longstanding teahouse that was founded in 1850. They provide high-quality products that are worth the price. They have several professional tea appraisers who personally go out to the farms and make sure they’re getting the best leaves. Then, they’ll create blends with them to bring out their flavor.
▼Today, we’re going to be trying green tea from 5 different parts of Japan.
I’m sure that most people are familiar with Uji, Shizuoka, and Kagoshima’s teas in that order.
In Japan, Shizuoka prefecture is well-known for being a large producer of green tea, actually the largest, but I was surprised to hear that recently Kagoshima seems like they could overtake them. There are, of course, other areas that produce tea, and depending on the season, you can also look forward to trying those teas.
I was curious how different the flavors would be, so we went ahead and started making the teas. The instructor first demonstrated how its done, and then we followed by example. Even if you repeat the steps exactly, the amount of tea, water, and temperature can greatly affect how the end result tastes!
▼Preparing Ise tea.
▼When you pour, you want to do small amounts at a time, and just repeat. And make sure you keep going until get the last drops out. Sounds a bit like a philosophy for life.
Blending green tea and making tea bags for the first time.
After trying the different teas, it’s time to move on to making the tea bags! Now that you have an idea how they taste, keep those flavors in mind as you mix and match! The instructor will again make one as an example. It looks easy, but he is a professional, so I’m sure there’s a lot of thought that goes into the final product.
▼The options we had were 5 varieties of green tea, the same ones we tasted earlier, and matcha, genmai, and houjicha. You can enjoy experimenting with different combinations.
▼Put your choice of teas into the can.
▼Give it a shake and mix well.
▼Put the blended tea into the bags.
▼And it’s finished! First original tea bag ever, done!
▼Since this was the first one I’d ever made, I really wanted to know how it tasted. And I was also curious what a tea expert would think about it, so we didn’t waste any time using up the first batch.
▼If you just look at the color, there doesn’t seem to be much of a difference, but if you actually drink it, you can tell. I felt like it had a weaker flavor.
But that’s just the first one, there are still 7 left! Use what you learn and make adjustments as you like.
Use the remaining tea bags for chazuke and souvenirs
▼Once you’re done making the other 7 bags, you can use one to make what’s called chazuke, which is basically tea over rice. What kind of flavor will your tea bring to the dish? If the flavor isn’t strong enough, you can also add more tea. Looks good!
▼Our friend from America here is about to have his first taste of the tea bag chazuke. He said it was a little bland, but he seemed to like it, especially with the pickled plum. lol
One to try, one for the chazuke, that still leaves 6! You can take them home as souvenirs, you even get these beautiful sleeves to put them in!
▼Choose from a variety of Japanese designs! They’ll make great presents for friends! I’m sure they’ll be even happier knowing that you made them yourself!
Tsuboichi Seicha Honpo continually works to improve their blends to better bring out the flavor of their leaves. Blending tea is pretty difficult, and it’s something that most people don’t usually get to do themselves. But, trying it out and making tea bags for the first time was different from what I’m used to. Before, I had always just used tea bags without thinking about it very much, but today’s experience made me realize that there’s quite a bit that goes into making them. It looks like a simple process at first glance, but you actually have to put thought into what you’re mixing together.