Japanese Matcha and Ceremony

What is Matcha?Oku Midori Matcha

Matcha literally translates to mean ‘ground tea’. Eighty percent of matcha produced in Japan come from Uji, Japan. Typically, around six weeks before harvest, the Tencha leaves are covered to reduce the amount of light to the plants. Doing this decreases the amount of photosynthesis in the plant and increases chlorophyll, giving Matcha its signature green color. This process also adds amino acids giving the tea its intense umami flavor profile. The newest and youngest parts of the plant are harvested, the leaves at the tip of the new shoots, and are then sorted into grades. These Tencha leaves are then destemmed, deveined, and then ground slowly and gently to produce Matcha powder.

How to Prepare Matcha and the Matcha Ceremony

 Tea has been a large part of Japanese society for centuries. Tea ceremonies originate from the days of the samurai’s and was meant for the elites. The current Matcha ceremony has been unchanged for 450 years. The ceremony was originally practiced solely by men however as demand increased it was taught to females. Today it is commonly studied as a hobby.

The tea ceremony has four principles:

Peace and harmony– All participants must have an open mind.

Respect– This must be given to the visitors host, utensils, and bowl. Many of the items used are expensive and it is said a bowl can be exchanged for a castle.

Purity– The space, utensils, and persons should be purified before and after the ceremony. The host will use a silk cloth throughout the ceremony and the color is significant: green/purple masculine, orange for feminine.

Tranquility– Harmony, small sounds, being quiet lets the participants hear smaller sounds.

The ceremony has many steps. The front part of the bowl faces the person and the artists name is on the bottom left. The bowl is turned clockwise twice before drinking or passing to someone. The ceremony is not considered a social event and is like meditation. There is no speaking during the ceremony so to show appreciation for the tea or ceremony the participant will slurp while finishing the bowl. When finished, the drinker will purify the bowl by rubbing the bowls lid with their finger and will wipe their finger on a cloth. After serving the tea a discussion can take place, but politics and religion are off limits.

A casual ceremony will last 45 minutes where a more formal can take place for 2-3 hours. Tea ceremonies take place at a tea house and can take place during the changes of the seasons or special occasions. Participants should not wear jewelry as it could scratch or damage the bowls. Watches are also discouraged, participants should not be worried about time.

The ceremony is an exercise of enjoying the moment. Each ceremony is a once in a life time opportunity; It will never be repeated.

At Short and Stout Tea Lounge, we have many of the necessary tools to experience a similar experience at home. Matcha bowls, whisks, rests, and spoons are found in our accessories. We are also making it easier to experience Matcha in your favorite drink. Ask to upgrade any tea at the lounge with a shot of Matcha, giving you the health benefits of this experience with your favorite taste.

Read more

Part I: Intro to Rooibos and Honeybush


Rooibos (roy-boss), also known as ‘African red tea’ or ‘red bush tea’, is native to South Africa. Growrooibos bushn in the mountainous region of Cederberg, for centuries natives have used this plant for its taste and health benefits. Considered a ‘tisane’, as it does not derive from the traditional Camillia sinensis plant, Rooibos is naturally without caffeine and has a sweet, nutty flavor. Rooibos is commonly oxidized, giving it the signature red color of the leaves. However, leaves left unoxidized are known as ‘green Rooibos’ with a malty, grassy flavor different from traditional Rooibos. A cousin to Rooibos, Honeybush is also found in South Africa. Named for its honey smelling flowers, Honeybush has a similar but sweeter taste than Rooibos.

Rooibos Plant


For centuries, the Khosian tribe or bushmen of South Africa harvested and used Rooibos as a remedy for many ailments. Their same methods of harvesting and processing the tea are used today with improved technology. In the 1700s, Dutch Settlers came to South Africa and botanist Carl Humberg rediscovered the Rooibos bush, sparking its popularity to settlers missing their tea from home. Then in the early 1900s, Russian tea merchant Benjamin Ginsberg, cultivated Rooibos and exported it to the masses. Later during World War II, importing teas from Asia became more difficult and Rooibos became a popular alternative, however the high cost of Rooibos seeds made it difficult to buy. Finally, in the late 1960s Annique Theron wrote of the health benefits associated with Rooibos and Honeybush expanded their popularity.

Rooibos Health BenefitsOrganic Rooibos

Many health benefits are attributed to Rooibos. After all, it was first drunk for a variety of aliments. Modern science has only started determining its direct affect on health. Headaches, insomnia, asthma, hypertension, and allergies all have been said to be soothed by drinking Rooibos. WebMD reports that they are high in antioxidants which is said to prevent cancer, boost immunity and slow aging process. In 2010, an article in the journal of Public Health Nutrition showed that Rooibos lowered blood pressure which decreases hypertension and lowers heart disease risk. Research has shown no side effects associated with Rooibos and is considered safe for children and pregnant women.

Find a variety of flavors of Rooibos and Honeybush online or in the lounge. Try a Rooibos latte style or try one of our CRAFTeas in the lounge like our Tiramisu Amaretto to satisfy your Rooibos craving!

Read more

Darjeeling Tea: 2017 First Flush Picking

Darjeeling tea is sometimes known as “the champagne of teas” due to its delicate taste and high quality. Darjeeling, aDarjeeling First Flush Picking region in India, is well known for tea and is home to over 80 tea estates, including Monteviot estate. Found in the Himalayan mountain region in West Bengal, Monteviot estate is home to high quality and consistently wonderful, organic tea. With Darjeeling teas, there are four different harvests throughout the year. Each harvest is called a flush and each flush produces a different flavor and profile of tea.

2017 Monteviot First Flush Darjeeling

Sitting on the counter of the tea lounge, is a bamboo box filled with a very special Darjeeling tea. The box contains 2017 First Flush Darjeeling black tea, which is both flavorful and smooth. This teas harvest, known as the first flush, refers to the first, summer harvest of the year. As stated before, each flush provides a different flavor with the first and second flushes being the most sought after. This year has been tough for Darjeeling tea as the first flush was almost unavailable due to droughts in the region. However luckily for tea lovers, the skies opened and provided Darjeeling with good rainfall to harvest a smaller batch of it’s high quality tea.

Political Unrest

Unfortunately, however, t his year political unrest has prevented a 2017 second flush from production. Strikes and demonstrations have occurred throughout the area this year. The conflict surrounds a desire for a separate homeland for the majority Gurkha community in the area. Business within the area including tea production has stopped, with many workers joining in the strike. Many say that even if tea production was to begin it would take weeks for the tea to be ready. Weeding, pruning, and harvesting the delicate leaves takes a lot of time that unfortunately the time sensitive tea plants do not have.

It is unfortunate we will not see a second flush this year, however Short and Stout still has a limited amount of the first flush available in the lounge to take home or to enjoy a pot in the lounge. Come in and try it before it is gone for good!

Read more

Japanese Shaved Ice

Kakigori Japanese Matcha Shaved IceDuring our recent trip to Japan we experienced a delicious and flavorful desert. Japanese Shaved Iced is made up of light ice like snow flakes and slightly sweetened milk. Our first flavor combination is topped with matcha and red bean. Of course you can substitute in any of our wide range of waffle toppings.

Read more

Japanese Tea Part 4: Uji Genmaicha


Genmaicha OverviewUji Genmaicha Green Tea

Genmaicha tea is also known as ‘rice’ or ‘popcorn’ tea and literally translates to mean ‘brown rice tea’.  This tea is made up of green tea, roasted rice, and often has Matcha as well. Brown rice is first toasted and then combined with the green tea leaves to make Genmaicha. During the toasting process, some of the rice kernels pop making them look like popcorn, as their nickname suggests. Known for its unique flavor which is nutty and sweet, Genmaicha can be found in both a yellowish color and green color, which is effected by the addition of matcha to the blend.

Myths and Stories of Genmaicha’s History

 While the true history of Genmaicha is unknown, there are many stories that claim to be the true origins. The first story states that Genmaicha can be traced back to the 15th century. A feudal lord or samurai was enjoying his favorite green tea one day. His servant, pouring him his tea accidentally spilled rice into his cup. Angry and offended the man beheaded his servant. Following his reaction, he tasted the tea with the rice and found the flavor to be very good. Feeling remorse for his impulsive action, the man requested this tea everyday afterwards to honor the servant and named the tea Genmaicha after his servant, Genmai. A second origin claims that as tea was considered a luxury, not everyone could afford to have a cup daily. To make the tea last longer, housewives added toasted rice to the leaves to make the supply last longer and make it more affordable. A third explanation claims that a folk custom of roasting leftover kagami-mochi, or mirror rice cake, from the New Year celebrations and putting it into tea. Whichever the true story, today Genmaicha comes in different ways always including the signature brown rice.

Short and Stout carries Uji Genmaicha in the lounge and online. It is a great tea that when looking for something unique and different is worth giving a try!

Read more

Japanese Tea Part 3: Gyokuro Green Tea

Gyokuro: IntroductionJapanese Gyokuro Green Tea

Gyokuro is a Japanese green tea that translates to mean “Jade Dew”, reflecting the brewed tea’s pale green color. It is of the most expensive tea in Japan and is considered to be of the highest grade. Unlike Sencha, Gyokuro is shaded from the sun before it is harvested. Normally shaded for three weeks, this process increases the theanine and chlorophyll in the tea giving it its signature sweet flavor. The leaves for Gyokuro are a dark green color after harvested. Once brewed the tea has a sweet, soft marine- like and nutty flavor that tickles the fifth taste bud, umami!

Gyokuro’s History

Gyokuro’s history begins in the Edo period, in 1835. Yamamoto Kahei the Sixth, traveled to the Uji region of Japan to study their tea processes. While there, he loved the taste of the teas he consumed. After returning home, he attempted to recreate the process and was unable to replicate the sweet taste and process. Unsuccessful in recreating the tea, he did however create a different kind of tea known as tamanotsuyu. In 1841, Eguchi Shigejuro was able to recreate the process by covering the leaves and completed the process of making Gyokuro as we know it today.


We have all learned about sweet, salty, sour and bitter, but there is a new kid on the block. Umami as a flavor distinct from all the others and was adopted scientifically in 1985. This flavor is described as richness in flavor. This adds another whole dimension to tea since American’s typically think tea is just bitter! The very best Gyokuro that we tried has so much umami and tasted so creamy that we thought we were drinking a latte. In addition to drinking Gyokuro for its health benefits and taste, many consume the leaves after steeping either as a salad with soy sauce and lemon juice or adding them to meals like stir fry!

Gyokuro is available at Short and Stout Tea Lounge everyday as well as for purchase in our online store. Give this delicacy a try and let us know what you think!

Read more

Introduction to Japanese Tea: Part 2

Japanese Sencha Cup and Pot

Sencha Overview

Japanese Sencha is the most popular tea in Japan. This tea is grown in direct sunlight, unlike other common Japanese green teas like gyokuro or tencha which produces matcha. Sencha is harvested early which is also called the first flush. After harvest, Japanese teas are steamed to prevent oxidation. Oxidation is a process that browns the tea and affects the taste. Some teas require oxidation but for Sencha it is important to prevent. Unlike Chinese tea, Japanese tea is steamed to avoid oxidation where Chinese teas are pan fried. After steaming, the tea leaves begin to take their shape. They are rolled and dried into their recognizable needle shape.

What’s it like?

As for Sencha’s characteristics, Sencha has a grassy smell and is often reminiscent of the ocean. Sencha tastes sweet and grassy. It has a smooth flavor that makes it a very easy to drink green tea. To brew Japanese Sencha, it is important to use water heated just before boiling. It is recommended for green teas to use 1 teaspoon per 8 oz. and steep it for three minutes. The ideal color of Sencha when brewed is a greenish gold. However, as with all teas this is just a guideline and can be adjusted based on individual taste.

Let me try it!

At Short and Stout, Japanese Sencha is available both with caffeine and decaffeinated. The Decaf Organic Sencha at Short and Stout is very similar in taste to the caffeinated version however its color is much lighter due to the decaffeinating process. Sencha is great on its own, but at Short and Stout there are other ways to taste Sencha. As a very common green tea it makes up many of the flavored green teas we carry. Popular Sweet Pear’s main ingredient is Sencha and has other flavors like pear and mango to compliment it. Buy these teas online or stop in to the lounge and taste what 80% of Japan is producing for their tea market!

Read more

Introduction to Japanese Tea: Part 1

In Japan, tea is produced just about everywhere. Shizuoka, Kagoshima and Uji are three of the major tea- growing regions throughout Japan. Tea came to Japan from China in the 800s to Kyoto, just north of Uji by Buddhist Monks. Japan didn’t think tea was important and it wasn’t planted in the country until 1100s after another Buddhist monk popularized the health benefits of tea drinking. Today, the tea gardens that were planted in the 1100s are still producing today. They provide a variety of green teas most famously including gyokuro, sencha, and matcha (tencha leaves). Green tea has since then been a very important part of Japanese society and culture.

Shizuoka Tea Region

The Shizuoka growing region is also known as ‘The Kingdom of Green Tea’. Producing the largest amount of tea in Japan, this region lives up to its nickname. Shizuoka is responsible for producing almost half of Japan’s tea production between 40-45%. This region is located on the central coast of Japan, 150 km away from Tokyo, with a view of Mt. Fuji from the tea fields. Tea from the Shizuoka region is often referred to as the best tea in Japan. This region is mostly made up of small, family run operations growing a wide variety of tea. However, sencha tea is the region’s most famous variety, as they are the leaders of its production.

Kagoshima Tea Region

The Kagoshima region comes in second to Shizuoka for production rate. Kagoshima is responsible for 20% of Japan’s Tea. While other regions are leaders in a specific type of green tea, Kagoshima is the region that has the most variety of green teas grown. This region is in a volcanic region. There are many active volcanos nearby often leaving ash on the tea leaves to be washed off! Originally this region was insignificant to Japan’s tea production and only after WWII did they grow. Due to this, Kagoshima was seen more for its cheap price in tea rather than its quality. However, after WWII this all changed and Kagoshima is now comparable to the quality of teas of that from Uji and Shizuoka.

Uji Tea Region

The Uji region is famous not for their size of production but rather their high quality. Only 4% of this region makes up Japan’s tea production. Known around the world for their high quality of green tea, gyokuro and matcha are two of the most famous teas from this region. Located in this region is the oldest tea house in Japan, Tsuen Tea. This tea house has been in the same location since its opening in 1160. Today, the Tseun Tea house is still open and in operation for visitors to enjoy a cup of tea overlooking the Uji river.

Sencha, matcha, gyokuro, and other Japanese teas are available at the Short and Stout Tea Lounge or our online store. Check back next time when we’ll discuss what the differences in these green teas are and what makes them so different!

Read more

Yerba Mate part III: Legends

In our final installment of the yerba mate series, we highlight a few of the legends surrounding yerba mate. While consuming yerba mate, stories are shared amongst friends and are a very important aspect of enjoying the drink.

Legend of YariYerba Mate

In this legend, Yari, the moon, and Tupa, the powerful god of the Guaranies, travel to Earth together. On Earth, they turn into two beautiful women and walk through the forest. After a while they became tired and decided to head towards a nearby cottage. Before arriving, a jaguar jumped out to attack them. A nearby Guarani man shot an arrow through the jaguar, saving them and then offered hospitality in his hut to the two women. After spending the night Tupa and Yari left, and went up to heaven to decide how to reward the family. One night they guided the family into a deep sleep and while they slept they sowed light blue seeds in front of their house. In the morning Yari told the family that through their hospitality the gods rewarded them with the yerba mate plant to share with the region, the symbol of friendship. They also granted immortality to their daughter, so that she would never lose her goodness and innocence in her heart. She then taught them how to toast and drink the mate. After many years, the old couple passed and the daughter had fulfilled her ritual obligations and disappeared from earth. It is said that from time to time it is possible to see her amongst the Paraguayan fields, a beautiful blonde girl reflecting innocence.

The Tupi Brothers Legend

This well-known legend takes place in Paraguay and discusses the origins of the Guarani people. Ancient ancestors of the Guarani crossed a vast ocean from a distant land to settle into the Americas. Two brothers, Tupi and Guarani led their people throughout this journey and feuded. Their feud divided the tribe into two groups named after the brothers. The Tupi people were more nomadic and fierce compared to the God fearing, agricultural Guarani. The Guarani people looked forward to the arrival of the tall, fair-skinned, blue-eyed and bearded God, Pa’i Shume. When he did arrive, he unlocked the secrets and health benefits of the yerba mate plant to the Guarani people. While this ancient tradition is today recognized only as a legend, the truth behind the health benefits of the plant have survived.

The Guarani Legend

Like the legend of the Tupi Brothers, the legend of the Guarani revolves around the god Pa’i Shume. The legend begins with an old farmer and his daughter. The old farmer falls ill and decides that he will not move again with the tribe, that he would rather live alone. His daughter refuses to leave his side and stays with him even after the rest of the tribe moves on. As a reward to the daughter, the god Pa’i Shume disguises himself as a shaman and gives the old farmer the yerba mate plant and teaches him how to roast and prepare it. After drinking the mate, the man gains the strength to accompany his daughter to reunite with their tribe. The old farmer and his daughter then shared the secrets of mate to them. From then on the Guarani people have consumed mate and used its health benefits.

Read more