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In this episode of Local Flight, Shawn and Brian Means of Dirty Habit get a taste of matcha green tea during a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, then take what they learned back to the bar to create their own innovative tea cocktail.

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Transcript

- I'm Shawn Thomas and this is Local Flight. Join me as we travel across the country to discover extraordinary bartenders and purveyors. We'll share their stories as they work together to create innovative cocktails using unique local ingredients. In this episode, we stand on tradition to make an East meets West tea-centric cocktail. - Located in the south of Market neighborhood, Dirty Habit sits high above the street where you're easily transported from the bustling city to a dark, moody atmosphere. Their menu of classic and cutting-edge cocktails is a product of close collaboration between their kitchen and the bar. I'm meeting up with the bar manager, Brian Means, to find out more. Talk to me a little bit about the format of your menu. Do you try to pair with the food here and work with the chef as far as conceptualizing drink with food? - Yeah, big time, working with them on cocktails, and we started doing more savory cocktails, and sour. Not only did they help me out, but we have like six different palates in the back that taste everything before we actually finish a menu. - Cool. - We play around with teas right now. We just did a black tea with jaggery as one of the main ingredients. It was a cordial that we put into the punch and we're messing with a matcha jasmine tea as well right now. - Well it sounds like you're doing some really cool things here. I'd love to try one of your cocktails. - Yeah, of course, man. I'll do a cocktail called Cream of the Crop. This is a very creamy cocktail. And then I'm grab the Mezcal, measure out an ounce, coconut pistachio. - [Shawn] And you make it like an orgeat-- - [Brian] It's a pistachio milk but it also has a coconut cream in there, it's unsweetened, so we have to add sugar into it. - Delicious. - Lemon juice comes next, and then the ginger is last. We'll add ice and shake. Alright, so I've been really surprised to see how well this cocktail's actually been selling. I wasn't too sure how people were gonna, you know, see a Mezcal cocktail with ginger and spice in it, but it turns out, people want way more smoke, they want way more spice. - Alright so we finish this drink with candied ginger. And there's powdered espelette. Espellete's another spice we use in the kitchen so it's kind of like our collaboration of kitchen. - Well right off the bat I love what the pistachio and coconut cordial does, I mean it's like thick, creamy, off-white color. That looks great so cheers, thank you. - [Brian] Cheers. - That is delicious, man. That is really great. - It's like a smoky pina colada without the pineapple. - The ginger just complements the acidity, which you need just a little bit to cut through that sweet creaminess. The smokiness in the Mezcal and the pistachio, it works perfectly. - [Brian] Awesome. - Aptly named, cause it's definitely cream of the crop. - Thanks, man. - So I'd love for you to come out with me in the city, we'll collaborate and try to find an ingredient that captures some of the deep traditions here in San Francisco. You guys do a lot of teas? - Yeah. - Is there a specific type of tea that you're more intrigued by? - I love using matcha because if you use it with just straight spirit, it's bright green, like a jade color and super creamy. - Okay. - [Brian] It's a little bit of earthiness to it. - Sure, yeah. - But it's actually a tea that's made from the whole leaf, so it'd be really cool to find some place that can make it probably. - Well let's find a place and really get to know the ingredient in its purest form before we come back here and use it in a cocktail. - Sounds great. - [Shawn] What do you say? - Let's go do it. - [Shawn] Alright. We're heading to the Urasenke Foundation in North Beach. Based in Kyoto, Japan, the foundation sends instructors around the world to teach the tradition of chanoyu, or the way of tea. They've invited us to join them for a Japanese tea ceremony, but first, Masami Saisu of Sai Kimono was kind enough to dress us in traditional kimonos for the occasion. - You have the mountain in yours, kinda feel like a samurai. - [Brian] Yeah, I wish I was a samurai. - You might think it's easy to just put on a kimono yourself, but it's an art. As a novice, one needs a master like Masami to do it right. Okay, all set? Thank you. Jessica and Keiko were kind enough to guide us through the process and invite us to meet the host, Toshko, who was preparing our tea today. - [Jessica] We slide in, because traditionally the tea room doors were often about three feet high and that's so that everyone who enters the tea room has to lower their heads. And then we'll turn and look at the objects that the host has chosen to place in the alcove, because that's the position of honor in the tea room. She's bringing in everything that she needs to make tea. - Even the way she moves, it's so deliberate. Now is there always a specific type of tea that's used for every ceremony, or is it the same all the time? - In one way it is always the same type of tea in that it's always powdered green tea, but there are different blends of tea, kind of like wine. - [Toshko] So Jessica this is your tea, please enjoy. - Would you like to have this bowl of tea? - I would love to have that bowl of tea, I mean ladies first, but if you're offering I would take it, in order to accept the tea. - You actually say, "No." - Oh no I would not, no I would not like this tea. I would like for you to enjoy that first cup of tea. - [Jessica] Thank you very much. - The Yuzu is great, it's very aromatic and slightly bitter but very sweet at the same time. It's delicious. - [Jessica] Oh I'm glad you liked it. - [Shawn] Oh I think my tea is ready. - Just bring the bowl toward you and then you'll slide back. - [Shawn] Would you like to have this bowl? - No, please enjoy your bowl of tea. - Delicious. - [Toshko] Matcha powdered green tea is actually grinded tea leaf into the powder, so you drink whole leaf. - And the brush, is that what gives it that beautiful-- - [Toshko] Yes, very nice, creamy on top of that. - What's the reason behind turning the bowl when you're making the tea and when you're also drinking the tea? - She puts the bowl out with the front of the bowl facing the guest, and then the guest would turn the bowl to drink, so that they aren't drinking out of the front. And this is more of an existential gesture. - There's an inner gratitude as well. - [Jessica] Exactly, yes. - Everything's so beautiful, like, it is done so meticulously and perfectly, like to where from start to finish, from even when you walk in to when she makes the tea and the bowls are beautiful and I've never seen tea like that bright, either. - [Shawn] The green. Thank you so much for having us here. - [Brian] Yeah, it was a really amazing experience. - [Shawn] I know it was really a beautiful experience. - It was a very special gathering for us as well. - Armed with an intimate knowledge of matcha preparation and understanding of this special ingredient, we were now ready to use tea in a cocktail and pay homage to our generous hosts. It was almost like we just went back in time to like ancient Japan, and-- - Yes, it was a pretty cool experience to see how everything was done. - Just getting the containers of matcha, you actually got to see traditional preparation. - It's a lot different than what you see nowadays. - So what do you think, now that you know matcha in its purest form, would you be kind enough to make me a drink, sir? - [Brian] Yes, sir. - Thank you. - Alright, so we're gonna be using Grey Goose today. So just the classic, Grey Goose vodka. - [Shawn] Clean. - Pure, little bit of vanilla, kinda creamy, so it'll add some really nice notes to the tea we're gonna use. - [Shawn] Cool. - We actually use a matcha jasmine cordial so we'll see how it works with the Grey Goose in this particular cocktail. - [Shawn] How do you make that? - So this one's two parts sugar and then we use a strong brewed matcha jasmine tea powder. I like the tea powder because they actually use the leaves, like we saw in the tea ceremony, they use the whole leaves, so we just cook that up and then it goes in a cordial. I'm thinking something acidic in the cocktail as well, so probably lemon juice, traditionally with tea you think lemon. You know, whether it's lemon peel or a squeeze of lemon on the inside, so we'll try an ounce on this. And then, probably, see we could do some sort of spicy element not in heat. So ginger is a really great ingredient in tea. - And then you say that's a liqueur? - Yeah, it's a liqueur, it's great cause it's higher in proof so it can still add that boost of alcohol to the cocktail. With tea, to add creaminess, we can actually add milk if we wanted to, but we can try a little bit of egg white just as well to add creaminess to the cocktail. - So it's a riff on a classic sour. - Yeah, sour, exactly. We'll dry shake it first, and then we'll add ice later. - Get it nice and frothy. - Yup. Alright now we'll get our ice in there. - Almost like the whisking that they did of the matcha you just did with that dry shake. - Totally, you've gotta incorporate the ingredients somehow in the tea, you know, how do you incorporate the powder? You gotta stir it up just like you would in cooking, same thing with cocktails. - [Shawn] Dry shake. - You've gotta emulsify and break down the components, integrate them all, and same thing we're gonna do with ice. And then we'll strain it into a coupe. - I'm interested to see the color of that. Yeah see, it almost has like a silver tint to it. - So we have the matcha jasmine in there. What we're doing over the top is actually a hibiscus powder which is also used in teas and then we do cornflowers on top. Not like flour flour, like you use in like tortillas, but like the actual flowers. We've used corn tea in cocktails before as well, so it's three to four different teas we have. - [Shawn] I love it man. - [Brian] There you go. - Thank you sir. That's great, man, that's really solid. I get the botanicals from the matcha and the jasmine right in the forefront really compliments the cornflower. The cornflower has a beautiful scent to it and the hibiscus, so that's a really synergistic relationship right there. Good amount of acidity, it's really lively on the palate, and I love egg white in cocktails, I mean just the froth. - It's definitely a lot different from the traditional way, we just went from drinking tea to a more modern way of how we can integrate it into cocktails. - Please try your own creation. It's balanced. - Turned out a lot better than I thought. - Nice. - What do you call a drink like this? - I'm thinking Liquid Poetry, cause you know, we just drank from a vessel that had a poetry on it. - Yup, it was wisdom but it was also in the form of a poem. - Well it's cool cause the scroll is different to every person that walks in the tea room. Cocktails are the same way, they're different to each person that tastes them. - I'm going to recite you an original poem based on this drink, let's see. When I drink this drink, it makes me smile, I think I'll stay at your bar for quite a while. -It was beautiful. - Thanks for coming along for the adventure and I hope you had a good time and thank you for this delicious cocktail. - Yeah, thanks for the invite to the tea ceremony, it was really awesome. - [Shawn] Absolutely.

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