In our first post, “Chado: The Japanese Tea Ceremony” we introduced the topic of “ocha” (お茶), Japanese green tea, and “chado” (茶道), the Japanese tea ceremony. In today’s post, we will share a twist on the classic beverage that will make you feel elegant, refined, and cool as the summer (hopefully) winds down. The drink of the day is: sparkling ocha.
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What Is Sparkling Ocha?
I first heard about sparkling ocha from an elegant lady who teaches tea seminars throughout the year. She also participates in Ginchakai (銀茶会), an annual open-air tea ceremony event held in Ginza (銀座), the fashionable district of Tokyo filled with top-brand shops, where the most expensive piece of real estate in Japan is located. People line up for tickets, choose a tea school from out of 12 or 13 choices, and enjoy fine tea, prepared and served in beautiful teaware.
So what exactly is sparkling ocha? Just what it sounds like: Japanese green tea plus carbonated water! (Do you notice that “wa” (和) and the west are meeting in this drink?)
What Does Sparkling Ocha Taste Like?
Sparkling ocha is not sweet, but it is utterly light, with a faint fizziness that makes it refreshing. You can enjoy it on its own at teatime, with a delicious meal, or whilst watching your favorite Japanese movie. My favorite is Sweet Bean, which stars the famous actress, Kiki Kirin. The Japanese title is An (餡) meaning sweet bean, because Kiki Kirin’s character is an expert an maker, who goes to help out the youngish owner of a dorayaki (どら焼き) stand (dorayaki is an anko-filled pancake). Both of them are hiding a secret. It’s quiet, heartwarming drama, perfect for a slow summer evening!
By the way, did you know? Nowadays, when we think of the tea ceremony, you might think matcha–powdered green tea leaves–but actually, sencha (煎茶)–whole leaf tea–came first!
Recipe For Sparkling Ocha
6g green tea (loose leaf)
20ml hot water (80°C/176°F)
200ml carbonated water (chilled and unsweetened)
ice cubes (optional)
How To Make
First, put the tealeaves directly into a teapot. Next, pour hot water slowly over them. 20ml is a surprisingly small amount of water, but at this point, you are simply using it to open up the leaves. This allows them to release their natural nutrients and flavors. Be careful that the water is not too hot, or the tea will become bitter!
Next, wait for one minute if you are using regular green tea (普通煎茶). For deep-steamed green tea (深蒸し煎茶), wait 30 seconds.
Then, add the carbonated water slowly (not all at once).
Again, wait one minute.
Last, stir gently and strain into a cool-looking glass. If you like, add ice. And it’s done! Enjoy! If you have never tried drinking green tea before or if you want to serve something new and different to your houseguests, try making sparkling ocha!