It would have been a wave of depression that would have descended on my head, but not anymore – not this year or the past – about four years ago. When the blues hit they are more like moments when you want to run away from the miasma of stupidity or the ghosts of your mistakes. Alone or with my closest friends in Jakarta, green tea is my run-to cup of solace. There is something invigorating about sipping genmaicha – that blend of green tea and roasted brown rice – as I go over the nuances of memories long gone, allowing me to ruminate without the guilt pangs interrupting every so often. It’s as if the tea reboots my brain cells, aligns my skewed frame of mind, and stems sentimentality.
Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf is the place I usually go to for my genmaicha but, unlike the outlets in Singapore, it’s not always available. Fortunately, TWG, this swanky tea place, has made its way to the capital city of Indonesia. It was coup de foudre when I perused the menu and found a whole selection of green tea to choose one. I haven’t turned my back on Coffee Bean but TWG has proven more consistent with its stock of green tea.
Nestled on the first floor of Plaza Senayan, TWG can easily be filled to the rafters the moment it’s open. The waiting isn’t that long compared to when it first literally opened its doors several months back. Service is passable especially when you’re in a good mood, but a few sips of the genmaicha or matcha-nara put the edgy mood at bay if you’re not. Also, it keeps you from focusing on the cramped space – you can hear the other table’s conversation. Perhaps if they’d made the merchandise area at the entrance a little smaller and extended the dining area one wouldn’t feel like a sardine in a can. [Afterthought: Or is the confined place part of the design?]
Matcha-nara is my latest green tea discovery. A scene in The Karate Kid 2 skipped though my mind when it was served. The scene is where Ralph Macchio’s Japanese girlfriend was whisking green powder in a bowl during a tea ceremony. So that’s how powdered green tea tastes I thought to myself after a few sips – smooth and strong. I felt a powerful jolt go through my system but nothing like the startling, kick-in-the-behind of coffee.
TWG’s genmaicha or matcha-nara goes well with their high-tea offerings that boast three combinations – savoury, sweet or vegetarian. One visit had me pairing my matcha-nara with Eggs Benedict and a few bites of the season’s offering, Christmas pudding, which had the matcha-nara taking away the heaviness of the turkey ham and sweetness of the pudding (and the macarons I had packed to go). The matcha-nara also did away with the irritation of being stuck in traffic on the way back to Bekasi from Jakarta.