A few minutes is all it takes to leave stress and distractions behind and find peace in a perfect cup of matcha you made all by yourself.

With so many of us both working from home and staying home on the weekend, you’d think we’d all have tons of free time. But just because you’re not in the office doesn’t mean you have any less work to do, and with your work desk just steps away 24 days a day, there’s always the nagging sense that you should finish up just one more project before clocking out for the day. As for days off, the more time you spend sitting around your apartment the more likely you are to notice yet another chore in the never-ending cycle of housework.

So it’s important to build some structured relaxation into your day, and our Japanese-language reporter Natsuki’s newest strategy is to have a one-person tea ceremony for herself.

The idea struck her as she was doing one of those chores we were talking about: cleaning out her closet. That’s where Natsuki stumbled across a matcha-making set she’d assembled some time back. In addition to the chawan (wide, bowl-like tea cup), chashaku (tea ladle), and chasen (wooden tea whisk) pictured above, Natsuki’s set also has an iron tea kettle, kensui (used water container), and chakin (tea cloth).

You can get a budget-priced set for about 3,000 yen (US$28), but Natsuki herself is quick to point out that even if you’ve never practiced tea ceremony before, there are easy substitutes for all that specialized equipment in just about anyone’s kitchen. Any cup or bowl can work as a chawan. No chashaku or chasen? A measuring spoon and metal whisk will do the trick. You don’t need a kensui if you have modern plumbing and a sink to pour the used water down, and any towel, even a paper one, can substitute for a chakin. As for the kettle, you don’t need a fancy cast-iron one, just something that you can boil water in, even one of those electric ones. Oh, and you’ll also, naturally, need some matcha green tea powder.

The first step is to boil some water, then pour it into your cup. Let it sit for a while, and once the cup has become warm to the touch, pour the water back out of it (into your kensui if you’re going completely orthodox, or down the sink otherwise).

Next, using your towel or chakin, wipe the inside of your cup. After it’s dry, take the chashaku and scoop 1.5-2 scoops of matcha powder into the cup (if you’re using a measuring spoon, two chashaku scoops is equal to about one teaspoon).

No it’s time to once again pour some hot water into the cup. About 70 milliliters (2.4 ounces) will give your tea a nicely balanced flavor, but if you like yours a little stronger or milder all you have to do is adjust how much water you use.

Now it’s time to pick up your whisk (either the chashaku or its modern equivalent) and start stirring.

Start with broad, gentle strokes, and gradually transition to more vigorous motions. While you don’t want any big splashes, it’s fine, and even desirable, to hear the sounds of the liquid lapping within the cup, and the aural effect as you concentrate on the motions of your hand helps to wash away distractions and sources of stress.

Once the surface of your tea is nice and foamy, like in the photo above, it’s ready to drink. However, matcha isn’t meant to be gulped down, but slowly savored, ideally with some snacks to munch on between sips.

You can go salty or savory here. Just about any traditional Japanese desserts, particularly those made with matcha powder themselves or sweet beans, go well with matcha, as do senbei (rice crackers). And while formal tea ceremonies often insist upon classical cuisine, when you’re by yourself there’s nothing wrong with pairing it with ultra-affordable indulgences like sakura Pocky.

Recently, Natsuki’s even been snacking on Western treats, like crisp cookies or rich chocolate, with the green tea she’s been making, because when the matcha moment is your own, the best thing to eat with it is whatever you’re craving at that moment.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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