If you’re a regular Tea Deviant reader you’ve heard me praise Japanese Green Tea Co. many times. Their award winning teas have become a regular in my tea arsenal and when they asked if I wanted to be an affiliate it was easy to say yes. Kei Nishida who started Japanese Green Tea Co. contacted me when he started his new Japanese Coffee Co. and asked if I wanted to try his coffee. Sounds like an adventure to me!
Yes this is a tea blog and I am a tea freak, but I like a good cup of coffee too. I’ve experimented with some fun tea and coffee combos and really enjoyed them. What piques my interest about Japanese Coffee Co. is that the coffee they sell is made with a charcoal roasting method called sumiyaki.
Sumiyaki - Japanese Charcoal Roasted Coffee
This was my first time having charcoal roasted, single origin coffee and it was deep and delicious. Ever curious, I wanted to understand what makes sumiyaki coffee different.
There are two main ways coffee is roasted: using hot air or using fire. However, the fire method can be achieved through either gas or charcoal fuel. Much like grilling food has a different flavor than cooking on top of a gas range, charcoal roasting coffee imbues it with a delicious light smokiness and depth.
Charcoal fire also produces far infrared rays which means more even roasting and less chance of destroying cell structure (which is more likely with gas heat and causes poor flavor). As an added bonus, this method also increases shelf-life by delaying oxidation.
Indonesia - Arabica Typica - Mandheling Berkat Lintong Single Origin Premium Coffee
The first of their coffees I tried was Indonesia - Arabica Typica - Mandheling Berkat Lintong. A hand-picked, screen sorted, single origin coffee from the North Sumatra province of Indonesia.
Roast: It is to the darker side of medium
Taste: Coffee with personality, full body, slight smokiness, rich and smooth feel with a pleasant bitterness, but I detected no sourness
I really enjoyed this coffee even without milk and I usually have milk in my coffee. With milk the personality of the coffee still made itself known which I think is the mark of a great coffee or black tea.
I am a fan of cold brew coffee as it is easier on my stomach and I like the smoother flavor. I also like a warm cup of coffee. As I heard that this kind of coffee is great brewed french press style I gave that a go using the following parameters:
Coffee and Tea - Double the Awesome
In my previous coffee adventure I mixed tea and coffee together in a few ways. This time I decided to try mixing matcha with this Indonesian coffee. Intense! If you like both beverages, their health benefits and the kick they give this combo is for you.
I simply added one teaspoon of matcha to one cup of regularly brewed coffee. If you want to start slower try ½ tsp. matcha in ½ cup coffee. There are no awards given for having to be beaten off the ceiling like pinata if you’ve had too much caffeine. If stomach issues are your thing, I suggest making the coffee as a cold brew. The reduction in acid is amazing. Then add matcha. You can also add milk of choice to further cut any acidity, though you do lose a little of the matcha benefit that way.
Decaffeinated - Premium Blend Coffee (Colombia, Brazil, Ethiopia)
I find decaffeinated coffee, like decaffeinated tea, to taste like punishment, so I avoid them. Most decaffeination methods rob the coffee bean of its unique flavor beauty. I was interested when Kei told me how Sapporo Coffee Kan, their supplier, uses a new German style of decaffeination, liquid dicarboxylic acid extraction. He said this application allows the coffee to retain it’s flavor profile while removing 98% of the caffeine. Hmm. Ok. I’ll bite.
It was probably the best decaffeinated coffee I’ve ever tasted. I would not have known it was decaffeinated had I not been told. My coffee drinking friend agreed. As this is a blend, it brings together the strengths of these regions with a full body, balanced sweetness and bright acidity. If you love coffee but have to reduce your caffeine intake give yourself this gift of flavor sans jolt.
The Japanese Coffee Co. site is very thorough. It includes details on the history of this sumiyaki style coffee, the differences between charcoal and gas roasting and tips on how to brew for the best cup.
Sapporo Coffee Kan, Japanese Coffee Co.’s supplier, has a 35 year history of charcoal roasting coffee. They introduced this type of roasting to Japan. They source responsibly and have exclusive contracts with the farms that grow the coffee they roast.
I love a good taste adventure and this coffee did not disappoint. My relationship with tea is good. Tea knows it is my number one. When I told tea that sometimes I have coffee it didn’t ruin our relationship. So if you are a tea AND coffee enthusiast, I welcome you to this delicious taste rabbit hole!
Japanese Coffee Co provided the coffee for this taste adventure
I’ve been told I have hyperosmia, an increased sense of smell. Though I haven’t had it clinically diagnosed, having an intense sensitivity to scent is a mixed blessing. When I’m the only one woken out of a sound sleep by the smell of something burning, or my nose is being exfoliated by the smell of a cleaner it’s more of a curse.
In regard to tea and other beautiful aromas it is a sensory joy ride! I can smell some of the nuances others miss. I get a jolt of energy from pleasing smells like tea. By that I mean the tea itself, whether white, green, yellow, oolong, black, puerh or a blend. No flavoring needed.
Turning to a friend with excitement over the subtleties in a new tea to be greeted with “I can’t smell it,” is a bit disappointing I admit. I wish they could experience the joy I am having, and that I didn’t feel so alone in having it. I wouldn’t change it though.
I often choose what tea I am going to have next from my stash by smelling it first. That visceral reaction in the moment tells me what I am most ready to enjoy right now.
Perfume, Cologne and Tea
This “super smeller” tendency affects how I experience perfumes and colognes. I am much more sensitive to synthetics and intense commercial fragrances. Oils and colognes that are more natural are what I go for. When I discovered Demeter fragrance had tea scents in their library of 300+ fragrances I felt a jolt of excitement. They aim to be as simple and natural as possible. Their colognes are described on their website as:
Demeter is known for their single note scents that can be used alone or layered to make your own signature scent. Tea-wise I was pleased to find their basic Black Tea and Green Tea scents. The fact they have Baihao Yinzhen Tea and a Silvery Tip Pekoe Tea caused me to do a double take and wonder how I had thus far missed out on this awesomeness.
I chose to try the Black Tea and the Silvery Pekoe. The Black Tea smelled more like a pleasing blend than a single origin like Golden Monkey or a smokey Keemun. The SIlvery Tip Pekoe, was more nuanced with elements of light grass, vegetal notes and white flowers. It is based on Chinese white teas from the Fujian and Zhejiang provinces.
The rabbit hole sucked me in, and after looking through all 300+ plus scents I felt inspired to some layering.
I drink more straight tea than flavored ones, but I do love rose black tea. I love rose ‘anything’, really. There is something about roses. They are romantic, timeless, and there are so many varietals I can get lost in the nuances of their fragrance rainbow for hours. So, I also chose Demeter’s main Rose scent going for a blend of it with their Black Tea. The combination smelled so delicious I wanted to steep myself in hot water.
The Transporting Nature of Scent
To me scent is not just about how ‘pretty’ I smell but about creating a doorway to an experience. Some scents are more for putting in a special drawer or creating an atmosphere than wearing to a party.
I love the smells of plants, forests, and water. Demeter has many such fragrances like Grass, Ocean, and Rain (inspired by “In The Rain” by e.e. cummings). Even more location specific ones like Provence Meadow. Firefly is described as “an early northeastern spring evening at dusk”.
Creating the feeling of a memory or experience through scent intrigues me. I layered Wet Garden with Silvery Pekoe and it was like having tea outdoors surrounded by freshly watered flowers.
Demeter goes beyond common smells to the nostalgic and imaginative. Spacewalk is inspired by the description of space by the astronauts who have been there. How about some tea in space?
Play-doh and Crayon can transport you to childhood memories or memories of your children.
There are even such scents as Puppy's Breath, New Baby and one I had to try (and one of their most popular) Kitten Fur. Now I don't think these have any distilled essence of baby or kitten, but I can say Kitten Fur has a bit of that unique smell that healthy little furries have. You know that popular TikTok and IG trend when people sniff their kittens to a pre-recorded sound of someone sniffing something satisfying? It is that idea in a bottle.
With all of these possibilities I am interested in trying more layers. The experience of reading a good book while sipping a cup of tea with my cat on my lap, blending: Paperback, Green Tea and Kitten Fur. How about an afternoon tea experience with Scottish Shortbread, Black Tea, and Raspberry Jam?
Making it Last
Scents that are natural do fade faster. There are ways of extending the experience like layering different products with the same scent. Demeter has body lotions, colognes and perfume oils in each of their scents. I have had success with that kind of layering before and am eager to try it with Demeter. The images in this post are all mini cologne splashes but purse sprays, large cologne sprays, perfume oil rollers and hand sanitizers are also available.
This is not a sponsored post, though I wish it was considering how much I have enjoyed these products. I always wish you great adventures in great tea. This time I wish you great tea-scented ones. Let me know if you plunge down the tea fragrance rabbit hole. There are more tea scent encounters coming on Tea Deviant. Let me know if you indulge in the world of tea scents. Cheers!
Happy International Tea Day!
Sometimes it's the adventure that calls, and other times it's the chill. Steeping tea is relaxing to me both to do and to watch. It calms my mind and my body and I hope it will do the same for you. This session is without music, along the lines of ambient and ASMR experiences it is just the sounds of the tea making, the water, the room the movement.
I am steeping a milk oolong here. It isn't a super high quality one so I only did four rounds in this gongfu inspired session. The creaminess disappeared quickly, but gave way to the feeling of a beach at the ocean with the salt water flowing over slate. The leaves did a beautiful unfurling in the water. Enjoy.
This is not a sponsored post
I am not ashamed that during this past year as an artist I became a member of the covid cocktail club (can I hear a “yes” from my fellow members?) I’ve often used tea in cocktails and to infuse spirits, but not long ago I discovered a new way to get tea in my more potent drinks - tea bitters.
Thanks to moderate reopening I was at an awesome vintage bar with a friend. This place has actually been around since the 1700s and has so far survived the pandemic. I was looking for something simple, so I went for vodka and soda with bitters on the rocks. I asked about the bartender’s selection of bitters. That got me wondering if there are any tea bitters out there. Smart phone at the ready I found a few of them. One was chai-based with a ton of spices and another where the tea seemed like a background player. But then I found 18-21 Earl Grey tea bitters. That sounded much more like tea was the star (as it should be), so I tried them out.
They weren't as Intense or aromatic as I thought they would be. There are many versions of Earl Grey out there and this is more a subtle version than a triple bergamot version, but still a tasty easy way to get a tea buzz. I found myself using more than just a few drops of them in the simple cocktails I was making. First, it was great just having the bitters and vodka over ice with club soda or plain seltzer. Then I started playing around and found a couple of other satisfying combinations.
Most of the recipes I found online were more complex than I wanted to be (or had the access to be at the time). Sometimes simple is what’s needed. I played with what I had on hand and came up with the following. One cocktail uses St. Germain liqueur and another, inspired by a tea I used to drink, uses fresh blackberries and fresh sage. The recipes are below. These are our household names for these cocktails. It's 2021, we're not out of the woods yet, so get your tea cocktailing on!
Bring Me Flowers and Tea
1 dropper full of Earl Grey tea bitters (or to taste)
½ oz. St. Germaine
1 ½ oz. vodka
Top with seltzer or club soda to taste
You can either put the top 3 ingredients in a glass with ice, stir and then add seltzer, or put the top 3 in a shaker with ice, shake, strain into glass and then add seltzer. I tried both and prefer the first.
Note: Often bitters are used in cocktails as a little extra spice, just a few drops in a recipe. To keep it simple I'm using the tea bitters more strongly here. Alternatively, you could brew a plain black tea in a couple ounces of water, use that in the cocktail with a few drops of these Earl Grey bitters for extra panache.
4-5 fresh blackberries
2-3 fresh sage leaves
Sugar to taste
1 dropper full of Earl Grey tea bitters (or to taste)
1 ½ oz vodka
Seltzer or soda to taste
Muddle together the fresh blackberries, Sage leaves and sugar in a glass or shaker (If you want a chunky cocktail use a glass, if you want to strain it clear use the Shaker. No judgments.) Add bitters, vodka and ice and either stir if using the glass, or shake and then strain into a glass if using the shaker. Add Seltzer or soda to taste.
If you give these a try let me know on Twitter or Facebook. Happy cocktailing!
Here are some more entertaining articles from fellow covid cocktailers:
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