Serving Japanese Tea in Cafes and other Restaurant
While serving tea after meals is usually a Japanese custom, there are cafes and non-Japanese restaurants out there that also serve Japanese teas. In fact, starting 1990s, the tea business in America is already blooming, with billions of dollars that are at stake. The Washington Post reports that tea sales are increasing not just in quantity but gearing towards premium products as well. For example, nowadays, the younger generation is likely to be into healthier food and drinks such as tea but there are still many who are not aware of afternoon tea. Usually, these are served in high-end restaurants or restaurants in hotels, with a cup of tea being served alongside racks of sweets or pastries. Also, trendy cafes and dessert shops already offer teas to go alongside their dishes.
Knowing that teas are good for digestion and as an alternative for coffee, here are some tips on how to serve teas in cafes, dessert shops, or even in non-Japanese restaurants but with Asian fusion. Since this article is about the service of Japanese tea in a more casual dining experience, it will be focused more on how to get the most of the Japanese tea experience in a non-traditional manner.
The Type of Japanese Tea that suits your dish best
Know the best type of tea depending on the dish served. When restaurants serve fatty and heavy dishes for midnight dining, these could offer sencha since this is good for digestion and high in caffeine content. Sencha could also be a good choice for cafes that are open until late nights or those that are open 24/7 since this would help those drinkers to stay awake as an alternative for coffee. Genmaicha is also a good choice of tea for oily food since it is light and refreshing.
On the other hand, it is recommended to serve Sencha, gyokuro, kukicha, or matcha that are naturally sweet with a beautiful aroma and mild taste in dessert shops since these are the best types of tea to pair up with their sweets. Japanese tea does not only suit Japanese desserts but also nice with Western and other Asian desserts. Hojicha is also recommended to be served together with chocolate dishes or with light meals such as pizza and sandwiches and a good choice for coffee shops to be served since it has the same aroma as roasted coffee. Mugicha or barley tea can also be a good choice for coffee shops since it has a nutty taste which will remind you of coffee or could also be a perfect addition as a cold drink during summer, to be loved by kids since it has minimum caffeine content in it.
On the other hand, Kocha leaves, which in the Japanese language, actually means “red tea”, referring to the reddish-brown color of the tea because of oxidation, are widely available at Western-style cafes and restaurants. Teas are best served with a small cookie to complement their taste.
Perfect preparation for the perfect Japanese tea
Just like any other drink, Japanese tea must be served fresh, perfectly prepared with the best quality, and at the right temperature. Never serve teas that are already steeped for too long as they will already have a bitter and old taste. The ideal temperature for making green tea should only be between 160 to 180 ºF or between 70 to 82 ºC, and not boiling water to avoid the bitter taste and to destroy the catechin compound in the tea leaves.
As you do not want to let your tea taste bitter in the long run due to long steeping, it is also best if saucers are provided to set the tea bag aside after the time of preferred steeping. Also, the quality of the water used will determine how Japanese tea tastes so it is recommended to use mountain spring water or, if not possible, high-quality water for steeping.
Be creative in serving Japanese tea
Be innovative with your Japanese tea and they could be served hot or cold. Since dessert shops are trendier for those who love something sweet, for cafes and dessert shops, these restaurants already started to offer teas infused with milk at cold temperatures, some adding sweet toppings to make it into a dessert drink. This could be good marketing of getting the health benefits of Japanese tea in a conventional milk tea. For cafes that serve different types of teas, it is a good strategy to provide in the menu bar the health benefits of each type of tea and for sure the Japanese tea would stand out in terms of multiple health benefits it could provide. This would also keep that acidic warry of the type of tea to be avoided for their acid reflux.
A teashop could also showcase the different types of tea for the customers to smell the aroma of each while there could also be promo cups for different teas for the returning customers to have a taste of what is coming soon in the store. Also, a good quality tea ball and all other equipment for tea steeping such as insulated tea thermos could also be sold in the stores to match your Japanese tea. Tea pods or tea capsules are also now being sold for coffee capsule machines that are convenient for customers who want a taste of Japanese tea in their homes.
For afternoon teas in high-end restaurants or 5-star hotels, serving Japanese tea such as Jasmine-cha that has an overpowering sweet, floral aroma in delicate pots and cups would be a great match for the scones, mini sandwiches, macarons, or pastries. Since these types of restaurants are of superb service, there should be attendants who are aware of the water should already be refilled or not. Also, when serving tea on the cup, the attendants should not pick up the cups and instead pour the tea from the teapot. Since these are conventional ways of drinking Japanese tea, a slice of lemon, a cup of sugar cubes, both brown and white, as well as a sugar substitute, and milk could also be made available beside the teapot according to the drinker’s preference.
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