Monday, 6 December 2010

Winter greens..

Should we drink green tea in Winter? I suppose the energetic purists amongst us would say no, it's not the season for it. Winter is dark, cold and is all about root vegetables as opposed to a nice fresh salad. But we live in a land of loft insulation and radiators so why not crank up the heating and enjoy something green? As you can see by my pictures I have something new to drink tea out of and I thought I'd show it off a bit.

Hagi ware (or Blobby-ware™) was something I was quite unsure about when I first saw it whilst perusing various tea blogs (the Sip-Tip was the likely source). I have to admit I thought it looked rather naff. Time went by though and those chaotic blobs started to grow on me but the fact that I didn't really like matcha too much and I associate Hagi with that unusual green frothy brew more so than regular green tea, meant that I didn't bother purchasing a bowl. The prices on various websites for Hagi put me right off too!

I must admit to having a rather large bag of rather awful matcha. Occasionally I would froth some up with my electric whisker gadget and gulp it down with the knowledge that it was good for me as opposed to actually interesting my taste buds. I finally got around to purchasing a chasen whisk and despite my most frantic efforts I couldn't get the damn stuff to froth up with it!

There must be more to this though I pondered so I decided to shell out for some better matcha. Without a clear idea where to actually buy good matcha I went to Jing UK to purchase theirs. **edit** Sure, Jing UK have been accused for marking up their pu erh prices as noted by the blogging stalwart Hobbes, but the tea they sell is always reasonable at the very least and the postage quick. **edit-see comments**

I was genuinely surprised just how much difference there was, this time around the matcha was smooth, it frothed well and had a decent green pea flavour. All of a sudden I'm interested and in my flurry of interest I got myself my new Blobby-ware™ bowl from Japan. The textures of the bowl makes the experience a more tactile affair but I wish it was heavier and gravity left me really grasping it's odd surface. The price of matcha makes repeated bowls an insanely expensive tipple so I don't have much chance to really appreciate the moment, it's a little fleeting.

I would like to delve a little deeper into both matcha and Hagi.. where would you suggest?


  1. For matcha, I would suggest going right at the source : order directly from Japan. Ippodo has a very good reputation as well as O'Cha and a few others.

    Concerning Hagiware, Magokorodo is my personal favourite place to buy them (and other styles of japanese ceramics too.) Very nice selection and the best service I have seen so far on eBay.

  2. I'm glad you liked our Matcha. If you'd like to discuss our pricing or give me some specific examples of where you think our tea is marked up enormously (bar the Hobbes article which does not show anything like both sides of the coin) then I'd love to hear from you -

    For the quality of tea we supply and the rigour and care with which we test, store and pack all of the teas we supply worldwide, I believe our teas represent good value.

  3. I'm always quite surprised when I receive comments and this is not the first time I have been contacted by a seller when my words have not been to their liking. I'm not too stubborn a bloke and I'll happily correct myself.

    Hobbes' writings were at the forefront of my mind when I spoke of the mark up, the way in which I phrased the sentence clealy suggested of other teas. Truthfully in the back of my mind I was thinking of your da hong pao supreme, a tea I have raved about in the past. Now, I have gone off and checked my facts and I was very much mistaken about the price of your da hong pao in my head and for that I offer my apologie and have edited my blog correspondingly.

    The service that Jing UK offers is to an interesting up market demographic. Proper teas are made very accesible and are priced accordingly to support a London based business. Part of the fun (and the pain) for a lot of the tea enthusiasts that gravitate towards writing blogs is the process of finding out where to buy great tea abroad without spending a fortune. The removal of this hit and miss escapade is what I expect when I buy tea from Jing UK or other similar outfits like Postcard Teas, this is what you pay the premium for. This is why I turned to Jing UK for some matcha that I would be able to set my bench mark with and now the fun begins on where to get a better product for less. Who knows if I will succeed or fail, this is just the ride.

    This website should really be taken for what it is, a blog. The scribblings of a hobbiest that are in the public domain that is done purely for the enjoyment of creating it. I don't write 'articles' or adhear to word counts, it is what it is.

  4. Hi, thanks for your quick response. I appreciate your comments and I'm glad you liked our Da Hong Pao Supreme. It's very interesting to hear from tea enthuasiasts like yourself about the market in the UK.

    You'd be surprised the sheer range of customers who buy from us though, it really does cover a wide range of people, not just very affluent people, but tea lovers from all over.

    I think what often goes unseen though for companies like us, are the many and costly pesticide testing and EU certifications that we must by law adhere to in order to sell our tea legally in the UK.

    This testing and certification is crucial in determining whether teas are really actually safe to drink, but obviously, it adds cost to the final price of the tea when it arrives with us at our warehouse in the UK. This obviously influences the end price we have to sell the tea at too, in order to continue running a company. We do this testing with each and every tea that we sell. As a supplier to hotels and restaurants worldwide, it is without question that we must do this.

    What I think is important to consider is whether that such rigourous and costly procedures are in place for all online tea retailers? As an online tea customer myself before I joined JING, I emailed many companies and received very woolly information regarding pesticide and health inspection testing of teas sold online.

    I highly doubt that all online suppliers, which can often be run by just one enthusiast, have the time/money/knowledge to fulfill these requirements properly. I'm not saying that all teas sold by online retailers should be considered unsafe, but I think it is a consideration that is overlooked by a lot of consumers.

    We'll be publishing blogs on our site soon about our findings from a recent trip to Taiwan, where pesticide use on tea bushes is common.

    Are you based in London? It would be nice to meet up to discuss further if you're available, maybe after Christmas?



  5. I left the big smoke several years ago I'm afraid but thanks for the offer!