I did a matcha training session the other day at the cafe. It was interesting for sure, with techniques and tastings being the focus. The most important bit of the session I think was seeing and tasting three different grades of matcha, from a medium to very high grade matcha. There's quite a bit of difference, though I wasn't surprised at that.

Ceremonial matcha is tough. I let down the trainer at the session, but it was late and I had been up all day. We'll see how it goes in store.

It's definitely an eyeopener to be introduced to the actual process of another beverage and its presentation.

Update! In the comments I have been told that maccha is the correct spelling. I am going to counter with the argument that I'm pretty sure matcha/maccha is in fact normally written in kanji characters over in its native Japan, and I'm pretty sure there are just semi-arbitrary systems in place by English speakers to correlate kanji and their pronunciation over to roman characters. So there. ;)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Correct spelling: maccha.


Anonymous Robert Csar said...

Hi Peter,

Expresso or Espresso? "Matcha" is just as annoying!
Whilst employed at 2% Jazz in Victoria, I befriend Jared and Miyuki owners of Jagasilk (also from Victoria).


They supply top grade maccha and have been schooling folks for quite awhile. They both wince at 'matcha' just the same as you or I would wince at 'expresso'.

"The Hepburn System
The "sokuon" pause is best represented in English as matcha, the "t" forcing English speakers' tongues to pause at that point and shorten the vowel sound. This romanization of the Japanese is the Hepburn method, described in its own article as "an intuitive method to show Anglophones the pronunciation of a word in Japanese." The article further states that, "The Hepburn system has been criticized because its distortion of the Japanese phonology can make it harder to teach Japanese to non-natives." The strongest argument for its application to "ground tea" is that it is easier for English speakers to pronounce and that a lot of companies spell it that way already, so why not just go with it?

Kunrei-shiki is the system promulgated by the Japanese. It is officially recognized by the government and taught to children in Japan when romanizing Japanese in the school system. It is more grammatically correct and uniform in its employment of the "small tsu". Words such as "depart", or "hacchaku" in Japanese, have a similar phonetic sound to "maccha", and are officially written with the "double c". The "sokuon" is otherwise always represented by a doubling of the constantant following the vowel before the "sokuon". The government would prefer people did not use this modified version, and that cha be spelled tya, but that is not used inside of Japan, by Universities, schools, or even government signs. If people used the spelling "mattya", they would be overjoyed. That being said, "Maccha" is still officially recognized.

Japanese Government National Language Division of the Cultural Affairs Agency
On July 18, 2006, the above Division made the official statement that, "M-A-T-C-H-A is not based on any officially state recognized romanisation system."Japanese Government National Language Division of the Cultural Affairs Agency Website They elaborated that M-A-C-C-H-A would be a spelling that they would prefer, if given the choice between M-A-T-C-H-A and M-A-C-C-H-A.

Japanese words are often mispronounced. "Sake" is actually pronounced with the second syllable rhyming with okay, not key. But the spelling is not changed to make it easier to pronounce. Romanization of Japanese is not, according to the above agency, for Anglophone consumption; its purpose is to reflect Japanese phonology. Spelling maccha with a "double c", can lead to confusion with caffe mocha (especially in the cafe setting) or even maca root (in the health food setting). It leads to mispronunciation. But it is a Japanese word to begin with and corresponds to uniform grammatical representation. Maccha reflects the Japanese language, matcha reflects English."


Anonymous Aaron Ackerson said...

You are right, Peter. "Matcha" and "maccha" are both equally valid romanizations. I personally prefer "matcha" because it more closely represents the pronunciation of the word, but since there is no one "right way" to romanize Japanese, either one is fine. Heck, under another system it could even be written "mattya."


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