Australia’s leading Japanese green tea expert, Harumi Oshitani, will visit the Riverina to give a special talk.
She will speak at Temora Library on Saturday, 1 July, at 11 am, where participants can learn everything about Japanese tea, how to prepare their own sencha brew and enjoy konpeito, a traditional Japanese sweet.
Harumi loves drinking tea at home so she can have a quiet moment.
“I make the tea with a kind of meditation and mindfulness,” she said.
”Taste and flavour are naturally important, but for me, the process is also important.”
Born and raised in Nagasaki, Japan, Harumi moved to Wagga in 2004 with her family and then to Melbourne in 2014, where she studied and became a certified Japanese tea instructor.
She had to study everything about tea and return to Japan twice to sit written and practical exams, which required her to identify teas by maturity, taste, season and quality.
She is currently the director of the Australia Tea Cultural Society (AUSTCS) alongside international expert David Lyons, and she is also the Australian Japanese Tea Goodwill Ambassador.
Harumi didn’t pay attention to tea while living in Japan because it was always just there like water, but after moving to Australia she noticed that Japanese tea tasted very different.
“In Japan, tea was always there on the table, it was nothing special for me,” she said.
“I didn’t appreciate the tea sold at the shop or restaurant in Australia, so I thought I had to do something about it.
“I decided to study and wanted to share the knowledge with people because some have nice Japanese green tea, but they’re not taking the whole benefit.”
Harumi opened her business, Okei-san Japanese Tea Plus, and sells tea that people in Japan would appreciate.
“I visited a tea farm, spoke to the farmer and tried the tea … and then I decided to source the tea from them,” she said.
Green tea contains caffeine and the chemical component theanine.
“Caffeine makes you alert and theanine calms you,” Harumi said.
“That’s why I always say, if you’re going in for a long, boring meeting, have green tea.”
Harumi said there were four elements to consider when brewing a proper Japanese green tea to gain all the benefits.
“The amount of tea, amount of water, brewing time and temperature: four things to achieve to have nice Japanese green tea,” she said.
“Take three to four grams of sencha, heat the water to 70 degrees Celsius and add 80 millilitres of the water.
“Brew the tea for about 45 seconds to one minute and then adjust according to your taste.”
Harumi said brewing Japanese green tea at a lower temperature evoked an umami flavour in the tea.
“I don’t want to compromise the taste and 70 degrees is the middle ground,” she said.
Harumi formed CuriosiTEA Riverina to help people explore tea from different cultures.
The group meets three to four times a year and members share their stories over a perfectly brewed tea of their choice.
“When you drink tea, there’s always a story to tell. Tea is a way to connect people,” Harumi said.
“Tea is a ritual where people can experience moments of mindfulness.”
Unlike her fellow AUSTCS director, who downs up to three litres of tea every day, Harumi drinks only a litre.
Her Temora Library talk is on Saturday, 1 July, at 11 am.
Bookings are essential. Contact Temora Library on (02) 6977 1781 or email [email protected]. The cost is a gold coin donation.