Finding comfort in small rituals with Notary Ceramics
Recently, I’ve been finding myself looking to small rituals for comfort; picking up old hobbies, and books I’ve meant to read for a while. My small morning ritual has always revolves around tea and I’ve now been craving solo mornings with a cup of tea and the newspaper (and thinking wistfully of my pre-kid days where I could, post-tea, do an hour and a half of yoga well into mid-morning).
I (virtually) chatted with my talented friend Sarah from Notary Ceramics recently about matcha, rituals, and mothers. Sarah is a potter and all round lovely person, and I’ve loved collaborating with her over the last while.
Sarah has a background as a stylist. She took ceramics in college, but then moved on to other things for a decade. Finally, Sarah made her way back to the pottery wheel via a class at a local art school. This time, she fell in love with pottery and never looked back. Sarah has a covetable minimal aesthetic, with clean lines for her beautiful pottery. Also, her amazing instagram feed and photos is a work of art in itself (most of Sarah’s photos are by the talented Kris LeBoeuf, including the photos in this blog post).
Sarah has a beautiful shop in Portland OR that I’ve been planning to visit (although that plan has been put on hold for the time being). I’ve been saving up for one of Sarah’s newest creations, a beautiful hand-thrown lamp!
Without further ado, here’s my questions, and Sarah’s answers:
Q: I’m a long-time (black and rooibos) tea fan but new to matcha. Can you tell me how you make a cup of matcha?
A: A traditional preparation of matcha will involve two steps: koicha + usucha (thick tea, thin tea). Warm your Notary chawan (tea bowl) with hot water. Discard water.
Place 2.5 grams of Matcha in your chawan (tea bowl) using your chashaku (tea scoop).
Pour 1 ounce of 160 degrees Fahrenheit – 175 degrees F fresh water over your matcha tea. Using too-hot water will make your tea bitter. Do not use boiling water. You may let your kettle boil, but then add cold water to the kettle to bring down the temperature prior to adding it to your tea.
Using your chasen (tea whisk) gently “knead” the tea in a circular motion so no clumps remain and a nice even paste forms. There should be a beautiful aroma. This is your koicha! In a traditional tea ceremony, you would sip this concentrated, intense tea followed by enjoying a wagashi (sweet treat).
To enjoy the rest of your tea, make usucha. Pour 3-4 more ounces of warm water over your koicha tea. Use your chasen, make the characteristic “m” or zig-zag motion with the whisk by rapidly & lightly moving back and forth across the entire bowl until an even, creamy froth forms. Enjoy!
Q: Is there any specific type of matcha you recommend?
A: I personally love Mizuba Matcha, it is made here in Portland!
Q: Does the size or shape of tea cup make a difference? I noticed you have a lovely matcha set in your shop.
A: It does, You need a rounded bottom on your bowl or cup so that your whisk has enough surface area to create a full froth.
Q: Do you have a favourite spot to drink tea? mine is an Adirondack chair in my backyard, alone, on a sunny morning.
A: Yes, I like to sit on my front porch, legs tucked up under me, wrapped in a cozy wool blanket and watching the sunrise.
Q: Any new (or old) rituals you’ve been leaning into during these strange times?
A: One new ritual I have learned and loved is making bread. From the started to the proofing to the baking, it is all very akin to working with clay.
Q: On a non-tea note, I saw recently that your mom is a potter as well! This is so neat, did you learn pottery from her? Do you ever collaborate with her?
A: Yes! She is a potter and in non-typical fashion, she actually started learning to throw after I had been working with clay for about a year. She saw was a marvelous outlet it was for me, and I think she was in a place in her life where she needed something new and creative to focus on. My grandma had recently passed a way and my mom started making small ceramics and printing little words and phrases on them as a sort of catharsis. Over time her skills have evolved and she does more functional work now.
We have not collaborated thus far, as I find that I really like the separation between family and work. But I do admire her work and I enjoy that we are both creative entrepreneurs.