Matcha, powdered green tea, is whisked with
water into a foamy beverage. Photo by Kelly
Cline | IST.
WHAT IS MATCHA?
Matcha is powdered green tea the consistency of talc, that is used in the Japanese tea ceremony (cha no yu). Matcha has a wonderful aroma, a creamy, silky froth and a rich, mellow taste.
Matcha is made from ten-cha leaves, which are gyokuro leaves that have been not been rolled into needles but are instead steamed and dried. They are top-grade Japanese green tea, produced by a special process in the Uji district, a region known for producing some of the finest green teas in Japan.
The tea bushes are shaded from sunlight for three weeks before harvesting, producing amino acids that sweeten the taste. Unlike whole leaf tea, which is steeped, the leaves are then ground like flour, slowly and finely in a stone mill. The powder is whisked into water, creating a foamy drink. It is the only powdered tea.
Powdered tea is the original way in which tea was prepared. Steeping dried leaves in boiling water didn’t arrive until the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
Matcha contains a higher amount of nutrients (vitamins, minerals, L-theanine amino acids, polyphenols, chlorophyll and fiber) than other teas.
In recent years, matcha has become a popular cooking and baking ingredient, and now comes in different grades for different uses. Pastry chefs have incorporated it into everything from cakes and custards to ice cream.
WHAT IS THE CHINESE NEW YEAR?
The Chinese calendar consists of both Gregorian and lunar-solar calendar systems. Because the track of the new moon changes from year to year, Chinese New Year can begin anytime between late January and mid-February.
This year, it begins today, and it’s the Year Of The Goat, one of the 12 zodiac animals. The Chinese zodiac is based on a twelve-year cycle. Each year in the cycle has an animal sign: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat/ram/sheep, monkey, rooster, dog or pig.
But what’s with the goat/sheep/ram? Which one is it?
It’s what you want it to be. In Mandarin, the character “yang” refers to a horned animal, and covers all three of the contenders. But if you go for sheep, know that is one of the least desirable animals on the zodiac. A sheep is seen as a docile, weak follower, rather than a leader.
So go for the goat: a feisty, independent-minded ruminant whose milk makes our favorite cheese!
If This Is Your Lunar Year…
In addition to those born this year, those under the goat/ram/sheep sign were born in 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991 and 2003. For them, 2015 is an auspicious year.
People born in the Year Of The Goat are said to like to be in groups. They are honest, intimate, and can be easily moved by the misfortune of others.
Every sign confers lucky numbers, lucky colors, lucky flowers, etc. So whether you’re a goat or one of the other zodiac animals, head on over to ChinaHighlights.com to find yours.
CHINESE NEW YEAR TRIVIA: The tradition of spending the Lunar New Year holiday with family means that hundreds of millions of Chinese people are traveling home. It’s the world’s biggest annual migration.