Matcha was brought to Japan from China by a Buddist monk named Eisai in 1100 AD. This type of tea was made to support the monks in their endeavours by keeping them alert, focused and also relaxed. Monks meditate for extended periods of time and the green tea is responsible for assisting them.
Uji, the Kyoto region of Japan is considered the mecca of Japanese Green Tea. It is the best producer of the famous Matcha in the world. Uji has renowned tea because of its climate, warm days and cool nights, its rolling hills and its rich soil. This environment produces high quality tea plants which in turn become high quality tea.
Matcha is made from the same tea plant as regular green tea however, it is cultivated differently to produce its unique flavour. The plant is grown under diffused sunlight for a month prior to their harvest. This increases their chlorophyll content, a natural chemical that creates its green colour and also detoxifies the body. Once harvested, the leaves are steamed, dried and then all the stems are removed. Next, the leaves are ground by stone into a fine powder. This is the final product, ready to be used by the consumer.
I picked up a Spanish foreign film from the library a few days ago. It stars Penelope Cruz, the 2011 face of Lancome. This 2006 film is titled “Volver” and has English subtitles. I have always liked Penelope and have watched several of her movies such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Blow, Banditas (which is not listed on IMDB but I have a copy and she is great alongside Salma Hayek!) and Vanilla Sky. Those are the movies she is best known for but, she has been in a great deal of others. “Volver” is one such movie that is not a box office best. It is an independent film, directed by Pedro Almodovar.
“Volver” features the lives of a family completely made of females. Penelope plays the lead character, the eldest sister, Raimunda. Raimunda is a mother, sister, daughter, and friend. She works hard at providing for her family and has an uncanny way of making the best out of situations. When her mother seemingly comes back from the dead, there is confusion and rumours from superstitious villagers. Which does not make her life any easier! It is a modern film in which the characters tangle with some pretty taboo subjects; infidelity, drugs, and even murder. Raimunda is strong and has a good sense on how to deal discretely with issues like these! I found the film funny, heartwarming, and full of emotion.
It is rare that I see any media featuring strong everyday women, having regular and frank conversations with each other. Volver is a gem that shines light on how strong women stick together and support each other, even in the face of public humiliation or dirty family laundry. I find it strongly empowering because the women are so powerful even with their trust in emotions and feelings. There is no romantic sub-plot either! This film is a definite serenity ritual, it reminds me to always keep family near. 🙂
The first and last serenity ritual I have in my day is a pot of green tea. I like the fact that the tea is organic and contains a slight amount of caffeine. The tea is soothing and has a distinct flavour that tastes fresh and light, its aroma is very pleasant. I like to drink green tea after yoga and before or during my daily email/twitter/blog check in the morning. And of course….at night I like the warm liquid to put me in sleepy mode and relax my senses after the days work.
The pot I use gives me around 3-4 cups of green tea, which lasts a good 15 minutes with me. The fluid intake is a good amount and I feel like I am doing good for my body. After all, my doctor tells me its beneficial to drink at least a gallon/3 litres of water a day and I feel this gets me a good amount of fluid into my blood stream. Water is essential to good digestion, without it the immune system would weaken and the body would not receive vital energy at the cellular level.
Green tea comes in different forms. The regular bag type, the powder matcha, the matcha paste and the loose leaf form. I like all of them and think each has their place on my shelf. Their usage depends on how much time I have to enjoy the different qualities of tea.
The matcha is the best form of green tea, it is used primarily in tea ceremonies which are prevalent in asian culture. The leaves of the plant are machine ground to a fine powder which is dissolved by whisk into hot water. It takes time and patience. The making of the matcha green tea has evolved into an art form in Japan. The tea ceremonies are elaborate and are primarily a custom for business relationships. Housewives in Japan also observe the tea ceremony. Sort of like tea time in England. An inexpensive and quick way to get matcha green tea is to use the paste, which can be found at a local market. The matcha paste is a quick way of achieving similar quality. Matcha is considered luxurious and has a matching price tag. About $6 for 50 grams.
As I live in the modern world of convenience, the loose leaf green tea or the regular bag does the job. Just add boiling water, simmer, and drink up! None of that time consuming whisking! I use the loose leaf green tea daily. If I plan to leave the house immediately, I tuck a tea bag into my purse. The delicate flavour of natural plant extracts is enough for a timely serenity ritual, no matter where in the world I am…
The key to good health is to treat your body with care, kindness and respect.