Tea needs, macha and brown betty
I have two things I'm looking for regarding tea. One is the ground, bright green Japanese tea that I believe is used in a lot of Japanese restaurants. I think it's called macha or sencha. Anyone know of a good place to get it? I want to use it both for drinking and adding to cooking.
And second, for tea on another continent, I'm looking for a classic "brown betty" English teapot, hopefullly one that won't cost an arm and a leg.
A local place would be good for either, but I'm not opposed to ordering online if the price and quality are better.
I am in Glendale, so anywhere from Burbank to Downtown would be great.
If you aren't so picky about your matcha, you can find it in tins at any Japanese market (Mitsuwa, Nijiya both have several branches in LA). I got mine for about $6 and am happy with it, though I've been served more flavorful matcha by friends. The stuff I have is certainly better than I've ever found at a non-Asian store.
Brown Bettys are expensive. If you want a Brown Betty "style" teapot, you can find them cheaper. I've seen many at Surfas in Culver City, but I'm sure any housewares department will have something similar.
I know Ye Old King's Head has Brown Betty teapots, but amazon.com is cheaper.
There is a huge difference between matcha and sencha and you are probably getting neither (see below) at your typical Japanese restaurant.
Matcha is a very concentrated powder, very very expensive and is traditionally whipped to a froth with a special whisk and used for tea ceremony in Japan. I've seen matcha at some restaurants in New York at $15 or so for a small pot, but never in L.A. except for at the Tea Garden in West Hollywood, which is not really a restaurant, but a tea shop where you can buy and drink tea and have pre-packaged food brought in from M Cafe. You can buy matcha at the Tea Garden, but I think the stuff I order online from www.itoen.com is better.
For cooking, I believe you can find non tea ceremony grade matcha - look for "cooking" matcha. If you made desserts with tea ceremony grade matcha, you'd have some pretty pricey desserts.
Sencha is a high grade Japanese tea, which you are also unlikely to be served at your typical Japanese restaurant, unless you are talking one of the really expensive places. Here is what "Applehome" (who is from Japan) posted on another thread about what you are likely to be served in most Japanese restaurants in the U.S.: "Most places don't even serve sencha, high or low grade, for their standard cup. They serve bancha or kukicha - twigs, or maybe hojicha (which is also made from the low grade stuff). And all the gringo's ooh and ahh! Like Jasmine in Chinatown restaurants - you can hide a lot of twigs and crappy, powdered leaves in flavored teas... but who's gonna know?"
You can usually buy sencha at any Japanese market. You can also get it at the Tea Garden in West Hollywood. But again, I prefer online purveyors for choice and freshness. I usually order from www.itoen.com or from www.rishi-tea.com. There are many other online purveyors as well, but Ito-En and Rishi have a large selection of Japanese teas and are always reliable.
P.S. I haven't ordered in years from Upton Tea, which a lot of people on this Board recommend, but just checked their website. They don't have as large a selection of Japanese teas as some other Internet retailers, but it looks like they have a few really special matchas and senchas. http://www.uptontea.com/shopcart/home...
Just by accident, while walking Montana Avenue in Santa Monica, we "happed" on some really good matcha at a Japanese store called Sabi (1609B Montana Avenue in Santa Monica). In the back of the store, the owner asked us if we wanted to try some of her matcha; OF COURSE, WE DID! She brought out her special bowl and bamboo whisk and brewed us some amazing matcha. I purchased a set from her (whisk and small quantity of matcha for about $22), and it was the best I have ever had. Unfortunately, the quantity was quite meager, but if I have the chance, I will return for more...much more!
You can also try Green Tea Terrace in Westwood. While I know that they carry matcha, I don't know what grades they carry.