Friday, November 29, 2013

Rikyu was not an easy person!?

I feel that Rikyu is now something of a fad. I found a magazine featuring Rikyu at a bookstore the other day but actually there were three of them. Of course, I bought all three, hahaha. We don’t know the true personality of Rikyu, but it’s interesting to read different opinions. I think that the occasion of the boom stems from the film coming out on Dec. 7, “Ask This of Rikyu”. I welcome this boom and hope that Chanoyu (The Way of Tea) gets more popular! 


Rikyu is often introduced as an innovator. He contributed to the evolution of Chanoyu from luxurious to Wabi-Sabi style. For instance, he used a fish basket as a vase as if he is asking you “Isn’t this cool?” How modern he is! A tea master, Soshin Kimura illustrates Rikyu’s novelty like “At a wedding ceremony when everybody is wearing the morning dress, one came wearing a sophisticated washed-out linen shirt and jeans. He captured everybody at a blow.” I have no objection that Rikyu brought a new concept and created new values.

Rikyu is also known as a person with a keen aesthetic sense. Mr. Kenichi Yamamoto, the author of Ask This of Rikyu uniquely infers that Rikyu would not be an easy person to get along with. Rikyu might have sought beauty in every moment even in everyday living. I agree that Rikyu would be very particular about his aesthetics, but I’m not sure if he was stubborn; nobody knows. But then again, it’s very interesting to imagine that he was so.

When I read that Rikyu had an obsession with beauty even in daily life, a story of a grate figure came up in my mind. It’s Steve Jobs at a hospital refusing to wear an oxygen mask because he didn’t like its design. He asked them to bring five different options for the mask and he would pick a design he liked. I imagine that Rikyu would be a person like Mr. Jobs. Not only the obsession with design, they were both into Zen and also they were innovative. I think they are similar. What do you think? Rikyu and Mr. Jobs might have been stubborn but I regard them as people who had an insight into the nature of things and produced new values to the world.

Friday, November 1, 2013

How accurate is a teaspoon to measure matcha?

I encountered another surprise regarding preparing tea. My interest varies as well as my favorite tea. Lately, I drink matcha almost every day. Every time I prepare matcha, I scale the weight of tea that I scoop, because I want to be good at measuring matcha accurately with the bamboo tea scoop. After trying this habit for a while, I was kind of getting a good sense to tell the weight of the matcha visually by looking at the heap on my tea scoop. 

However all of a sudden, I could not scoop a desired amount. After a while, I earned the right sense back. It happened a few times. This kind of trouble arouses my curiosity with surprise. I realized that the reason of the miss-measuring is not me losing accuracy, but the volume and weight of tea are actually changing. The miss-measuring often happened after loading new matcha into my tea caddy.

The causes of different density of tea are as follows;
These are my mere guesses.

1. Movement
Once I’ve measured freshly sifted tea directly from the sifter can. Another time, I measured the tea after transferring into the tea container from the sifter. The tea was shaken and compacted when transferred. Also, the tea stored in the container for a while must have gotten moved during the storage. The vibration caused by those movements might have made them more compact.  

2. Stored old tea
Even though you sift matcha, the fluffiness of old tea is not the same as brand new one. Once I sifted old tea with lumps, and it became fine tea but I realized that the particles were not still as fine as brand new tea.

3. Moisture
Once I sifted matcha on a rainy day and I have also done it on a fine day. Maybe tea gets heavier when it has absorbed moisture.

Even with sifted matcha, the volume will vary from time to time. Nobody may not be able to measure the tea accurately with the bamboo scoop. There might not be a necessity to be so accurate, but I still want to try, hahaha.

Now, I got curious about the topic that I wrote on the previous post. I have to know what range does the weight of matcha has if measured with the 5 ml spoon. I actually measured it again.

The range is between 1.0g and 1.4g.

You might not find a big difference in taste between 1.2 tea and 1.0 tea, or between 1.2tea and 1.4tea. However, there will be a certain difference between 1.0 and 1.4. I just want you to be aware that there is a range, but I still think that the 5ml spoon is a useful item to measure matcha for beginners.