You want that green tea to go?
Hot black tea may be the ultimate make-anywhere beverage — what’s easier to carry than a tea bag? But green tea is almost always made in Japan from loose tea, the leaves either dried for basic rokucha or powdered as matcha. This requires a small pot with a filter, or, at the least, a mesh strainer. As the centerpiece of the tea ceremony, matcha usually comes packaged in a pretty – but not particularly pocket-friendly tin. Don’t tell the nice lady who taught you about the traditional tea ceremony, but there’s a movement afoot for tea that is shaken, not stirred.
Manufacturers at this year’s international food trade show Foodex had a few solutions for making fresh green tea on the go. Green Tea Espresso, on shelves this spring, comes in six single-serving envelopes of intense powdered tea packaged in a plastic cup with a domed lid, a cross between a coffee cup and a martini shaker. Shake a packet of the powder with some milk and ice, and you’re good to go. Don’t expect the syrupy green tea latte you find in convenience stores or coffee chains – this stuff has a bitter kick. “Just like only a small percentage of coffee drinkers like espresso, we only expect a small percentage of people who like green tea to like this,” said a Birouen rep as he whipped up a batch at Foodex. “But those who like it, really like it.”
Karatsuya has another shake-and-go tea option that’s a little milder. Despite the delicate sakura petals on the bottle, Marugoto Rokucha Benifuuki [whole leaf benifuuki tea] has just a touch of a chem-lab feel to it. It’s a bottle of spring water from Kirishima in Kyushu with a dose of powdered green tea sealed into the cap. A strong twist releases the powder into the bottle. Shake and drink for dark, cold green tea that’s always freshly made. The company claims that using the entire leaf doesn’t waste the vitamins, fiber and allergy-fighting properties that get left behind in brewed tea. To combat hangovers, another type has liquid turmeric extract (ukon) in the lid.
The Sukidaccha portable tea containers look like fat magic markers, but they’re actually is filled with powdered tea, which can be release via a soft rubber opening. One pen can hold enough powdered tea for about 24 cups. It comes in a variety of teas, such as oolong and rooibos. The container can be bought by retailers in lots starting at 500 units and filled and decorated as they like, so keep an eye out for pens with original decorations and fillings.
A representative from Asahara Manufacturing pointed out that it doesn’t have to be used just for Japan’s most traditional drink. In addition to various powdered beverages (caramel hot cocoa, for example), he said it will be sold filled with spicy wasabi salt by Tamuraya. Just be careful not to mix it up with the tea, OK?
Click for more treats from Foodex 2011 …