Kokeicha (pronounced Ko-Kay-Cha) is one of the most unusual and rare teas we offer. It’s a specialty Japanese green tea made from shaped Matcha powder…. In fact, its name translates to “Formed Tea.” It has a delicate, vegetal flavor that’s not quite like any other tea we’ve tried.
The process for making Kokeicha begins in the famed tea farms of Shizuoka province in Japan. Once a year in Shizuoka, tea plants are grown in full sun until a few weeks before harvest. Then, they are shaded with netting, thatched bamboo or other materials until their tender new leaves are ready to be plucked. The leaves that grow during this time are smaller than most, but they’re packed with an abundance of caffeine, L-theanine, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
After plucking, the tealeaves are steamed until they begin to crumble. The stems and veins of the leaves are removed and the remainder of the leaves is slowly ground between two granite wheels until they form a fine powder. This is Matcha… but there are still several steps to go before you have Kokeicha.
The Matcha powder is mixed with a small amount of water and rice paste, and then kneaded to form a paste, much like how pasta dough is made. The paste is then extruded through tiny holes, much like how fresh pasta is made. The extruded Matcha paste is dried and then cut into short pieces (about 1/4-inch each) to resemble tealeaves. These “leaves” are the final product – Kokeicha.
Kokeicha’s “leaves” are extremely dark and muted. They are shaped like gently curved triangular prisms and their aroma is reminiscent of chalk, mineral-rich sedimentary rock and cooked greens. When they are brewed, they remain surprisingly intact and smell like wakame seaweed.
Infused Kokeicha is hazy, pale and green with yellow undertones. It has a delicate aroma like poaching water from cooked baby spinach. Its flavor is smooth, light and vegetal, with mild notes of collard greens, flowers, nuts, iodine and mineral springs. The aftertaste is similarly subtle and mineral-tinged. Like most Japanese green teas, Kokeicha pairs with seafood, but its mild flavor is best with something mellow in flavor, such as poached white fish.
To brew this mild and majestic Japanese green tea, use one heaping teaspoon “leaves” per cup of boiling water. Infuse for one minute. Alternately, you can brew it with water at 180º F (about 80º C) for three minutes. Kokeicha is also exceptional as a cooking herb. Try it on ice cream or yogurt for a crunchy texture, use it in a salt rub for meats or seafood, or add it into baked goods. (Interesting factoid – it holds its shape when baked into breads and pastries!)