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Celebrating Unique Talent: Tea with Jodie Cohen

Celebrating Unique Talent: Tea with Jodie Cohen

November 23, 2021
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In honor of ‘Celebrate Your Unique Talent Day’, I wanted to share my love of tea with you. 

My passion for tea started with my interest in Japanese culture and religion which I studied when I was a student a UCLA. The only undergraduate class my favorite professor William LaFleur was teaching was on the Japanese Tea Ceremony. I decided to take the class. Through that class I won a one-year scholarship to study at the Urasenke Foundation in Kyoto Japan. The Urasenke Foundation was opening their school to foreigners to learn about the Japanese Tea Ceremony. 

I was intellectually interested in different religions and cultures, and I was drawn to Japan. The Japanese tea ceremony intrigues me because it incorporates religious ideas of Zen Buddhism, Shintoism (the indigenous religion of Japan), and Confucianism. Focusing on the ideas of impermanence and the interdependency of all creatures. Since we are all dependent on one another for our existence we must make the most of our time together because we will never have that moment again. The Japanese tea ceremony also incorporates most of the arts of Japan—woodwork, metalwork, ceramics, flower arranging, calligraphy, architecture, gardening, kaiseki (gourmet) cooking, and textiles. For 37 years I have been studying the Japanese Tea Ceremony. I have been teaching in my six-tatami mat room for almost 17 years.

 

All About Matcha

Matcha is the powdered tea that is used in the Japanese Tea Ceremony. The leaves are shaded before harvesting. That builds up the chlorophyll in the leaf causing the leaves to become much greener. The water is extracted from the leaf and the leaves are grinded into a fine powder. This powder is called matcha.

In order to make a good bowl of matcha which is about two ounces of tea, it is important that you have a powdered tea made from the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant. The best matcha comes from Japan. In the tea ceremony, the water is heated with charcoal made from oak trees and the temperature cannot be controlled. The water should be hot between 170-190 degrees.

The tea is made by using a bamboo whisk to blend the water and powder. It needs to be whisked quickly so the whisk is frothy at the end. The bubbles on top should be smoothed out by moving your hand up and down over the top of the bubbles so there is a smooth froth on top.

From there, enjoy your delicious matcha tea!