On a recent trip to Palm Springs, I visited The Ultimate Point (no web site) at its new location in a strip mall (46600 Washington Street, Suite 2, La Quinta, CA 92253, phone 760-777-9876) and was delighted to find a helpful staff, a nice range of yarns, and an excellent selection of knitting and crocheting books. During my visit, collected around a couple of tables was a comfortable group of knitters pleasantly chatting away and as I made myself busy among the tempting skeins and books, the group covered a vast range of non-knitting and personal topics, causing all to erupt in laughter from time to time, with occasional apologies to me the lone shopper of the moment. Visiting yarn stores is a precarious activity for those of us in the needle arts, as there is always another project to start, and I am no exception. At least this time I had the sense to get something small and easy to do: Hemp Market Bag, a store pattern utilizing three balls of Elsebeth Lavold Hempathy. I chose the color Vivid Green and so, cast on my Matcha Market Bag, seen below at a visit to Espresso Vivace Alley 24 in Seattle.
By the way, Espresso Vivace is the closest I’ve come to true Italian espresso in the land that gave birth to Starbucks, and judging by the reviews I am not alone in that estimation, but don’t go by the reviews on its web site only, the reviews on Yelp.com give it a fairly resounding “bravissimo”.
Lately, though, espresso is starting to share the driving of my engine fueled by caffeine with green tea and its variations, one of which is the often misunderstood matcha.
“Misunderstood?,” you ask.
“What’s misunderstood about a green foamy drink that is bitter enough to make me want to run to the dentist for a good tooth drilling?”
Let me back up and explain. I am going through that delightful change in a woman’s life, menopause, specifically hot flashes, and let me tell you, if you are a woman and have never suffered these, you can definitely count yourself very lucky. Hot flashes are a cruel joke on women, second only to menstrual cramps. However, I have found that drinking green tea of any sort has helped decrease the frequency and intensity of my ever-so-merciless hot flashes, of which I have suffered with off and on for a few years now. I can’t say that you, should also run out to your nearest store and load up on green tea, because it does seem to be a “results may vary” situation since I know women who drink green tea and still suffer. For me, the key seems to be to sip on any green tea such as genmaicha or bancha a few times a day, as long as it isn’t much later than about 6 o’clock in the evening (I don’t want the caffeine to keep me up). For those times when I don’t have time to sip 12 ounces of green tea, I’ll literally whip up some frothy matcha. I caution you on the matcha, because if you buy it just about anywhere outside of Japan, I think you can pretty much be guaranteed to swear it off forever. Freshness is key, and the more fresh it is the more likely it is to not be so bitter; there’s no telling how long a little tin of matcha has been sitting on a store shelf. When launching into my mission of matcha, I made the mistake of buying it locally and gagged on the tea when I made it at home; it was painfully bitter. However, I sourced it on-line and found a farm in Kyoto, Japan called Hibiki-an from which I bought Super Premium matcha and was not disappointed. Hibiki-an’s matcha arrived in good time and the taste is super smooth, without any of the bitterness experienced in my local purchase. If ordering matcha seems a bit extreme (I think “extreme” is my middle name), any green tea from your local supermarket will help the cause.
Of course, despite all this talk of green tea which is so much better for your health, as you can see I still have not sworn-off the coffee completely, I just get it with half the caffeine. Some things never change.