2011/03/28

Sakura Cha


sakura cha
Japanese “pet topic” of this season is usually sakura, cherry blossoms. People often talk about delightfully.

“When will sakura come into full bloom around our area?” “Where shall we go to see sakura?”

Of course, this year is an exception.


Sakura is virtually one of the national flowers in Japan. Since all of us love and feel overexcited to see the flower, only seeing it is not enough. Cherry blossoms and leaves are pickled, and both are used as food ingredients to give a fragrance.

The picture (above) is sakura cha, tea (or hot water) simply poured over the pickled sakura in a teacup. Other than spring, the tea is often drunk at festive events like weddings, too.



Pickled sakura is also mixed with other foods including rice, sweets or bread. Its pleasant subtle flavor and aroma always enhances our appetites and spirits.






Sakura pleases not only to the eye, but to the palate and the heart. Since the olden times, the flower has been comforting us and lifting our spirits in pain and in pleasure. Hope sakura, which is dear to us, will bloom beautifully throughout Japan.



2011/03/24

"Soothing Drink"

Tea is a "soothing drink" for Japanese.

But now, how many people can drink tea in the devastated areas where they are short of water, electricity and other necessities?

Japanese tea is well-known for a wealth of benefits.  For examples…..

To prevent tooth decay
To prevent food poisoning
To prevent cold and weaken influenza viruses
To improve immunity and help you recover from fatigue…… to name a few.

Tea would help people survive at evacuation sites with awfully bad condition, if they could drink.

In addition, people will be warmed up by not only drinking, but "holding" tea. Unlike teacups for black tea, Japanese one called yunomi doesn't have a handle. So, you feel warmth directly from the yunomi by cupping it in your both hands. Also, healing effect, brought from L-Theanine in Japanese tea, is another important benefit.

Tea is good for people both physically and mentally.
Undoubtedly, tea is now needed.

2011/03/21

A Ray of Hope

Ten days have passed since the massive disaster hit Japan.

Yesterday, we receive good news. An 80-year-old woman and her 16-year-old grandson were found alive in the rubble of Ishinomaki city. It is a miracle!  A man, who is a son of the 80-year-old woman and father of the boy, said this: “The spirit of ‘Never give up’ occurs a miracle.”

Also, the following message is found in a site called "pray for japan".
Tomorrow, my father will be sent to the Fukushima nuclear plant. He will be retiring from his job in six months, and I was near to tears when I heard that he actually volunteered to go. “What we do now will affect the future of nuclear plants. I have a mission to accomplish” he said. I wouldn’t say that he’s been a dependable father at home, but I’ve never felt this proud of him as I did today. We are all praying for his safe return.
He is one of Fukushima50, who are still fighting against a crisis for the nation. 

Their unbending spirits and resolute courage give us a ray of hope.

2011/03/17

"Arigato" - Thank you -

This is the extracts from the newsletter issued by a tea shop The Tea Haus in Canada.

<Tsunami/Earthquake Relief efforts for Japan>
We had planned on a different topic for our monthly newsletter, but in light of the recent events in Japan, we would like to help out as much as we can with any relief effort in that country. We have been in contact with business partners and acquaintances in Japan. They are situated in areas that were not affected by the tsunami but the shock is widespread. The true devastation is beyond anyone's comprehension. We have decided to donate 100% of the sales of the following teas (Sencha Fujieda /Fukamushi Cha /Tea Haus Matcha/Japanese Sencha ) to the relief efforts of the Canadian Red Cross (valid March 14th until March 31st) 

I am so grateful to Stefanie, the shop owner and a friend of mine, for her kind support to Japan. I learned that some customers visited her shop within a couple of hours receiving the newsletter. I would like to express my deep appreciation to them all for their thoughtfulness and concerns, too. Dear everyone supporting Japan, thank you very much from the bottom of my heart.

Personally, living far from the disaster-stricken area, I don’t suffer any direct damage. But now, the number of the deaths and missing is increasing every day and every hour. More than 400,000 people are forced to live at evacuation sites. Many of them have no heat, but heartlessly, it is snowing. Anxiety about radiation.....Thus, we still have tons of concerns and there will be a long way ahead to recover the whole country, but we are trying to overcome massive adversity.

Excuse my English, but I just wanted to express how much I am thankful to you all.  Your heartfelt supports surely cheer us up. Let me tell you one more time.
               
  Arigato. Thank you. And, enjoy Japanese tea!

* Web site: The Tea Haus   http://www.theteahaus.com/index.php

2011/03/14

We won't give up.

The epicenter is far from where I live, Osaka.

I am lost for words when I see the images of the Tohoku area hit by a massive earthquake and tsunami. But, I know only grieving won’t help the sufferers and go anywhere.

There was a great earthquake of magnitude 7.3 in Kobe in 1995, killing more than 6,500 people. Being in Kobe then, I lived at the evacuation site and walked around in the wreckage and rubbles.

Aftershocks, nuclear power plants, tsunami, and electric power crisis……. this time, there is a lot more concern to tackle with,  and will be a longer way ahead to recover the whole country. But we will surely overcome it.

Thank you all for your concern. And please keep saying prayers for the sufferers.

People in Tohoku are strong. They have unbending spirits.
Gambare, Tohoku! Don’t give up!!

P.S.
Let me talk about one more about tea. Usually, I prefer loose tea to teabags and PET bottles. But, I will say PET bottles are great. People can drink in order to protect their health and quench their thirsts even if there is no water and electricity supplies. PET bottled drinks including water and tea play significant roles as relief goods at the devastating areas.

2011/03/12

Dear Nature.....

Nature is beautiful. Nature is majestic.
But, occasionally, it can be a menace.
The aftershocks still continue, and more tsunami might come.
Dear Nature, don't wreck my country and others any further.....

2011/03/10

"Kaishi" Pocket Paper


I found kaishi with casual patterns. One is designed “iron kettles”, the other is “pairs of tea bowl and tea whisk”.

Kaishi, “pocket paper”, is made of Japanese traditional paper called washi. It is often used as a paper plate on which sweets are placed at the tea ceremony. When in kimono, kaishi is tucked inside the front of one’s kimono.

Other than tea ceremony, kaishi is good to use at home, too. It is smaller than regular paper napkin, but very useful. How about serving some cookies, chocolates or even tempra on kaishi ? What about using it as a coaster? Kaishi is not only an article of practical use but can be a pretty item of conversation at party.


In addition, Japanese poems used to be written on it in old days, so you can use it as a memo pad, too.


How would you use kaishi?


2011/03/07

Tea Incense "Cha-Koro"


Tea is a versatile ingredient. It can be a drink, food, and “a material of aroma”.

The picture shows a tea incense burner called Cha-Koro.

This is more than just creating fragrance. Since tea has disinfectant and deodorant effects, lighting “tea incense” helps remove odor for rooms, too.

Even infused tea leaves can also make good odor-removers for refrigerators and wardrobes. In this case, dry the leaves thoroughly and wrap them in a gauze bag. Don’t forget to take them out periodically and re-dry them, or replace them with another.

Tea is tea. But, it takes on multiple roles!

2011/03/04

Hoji-Chai

When you'd like something to drink with less caffeine, why don't you try Chai using Hojicha?

Hoji-Chai (2-3 servings)
8g Hojicha tea leaves
80ml water
220ml milk
Sugar to taste

Put water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and place Hojicha tea leaves into it. Steep the tea leaves for 2-3 minutes. Add the milk and sugar in the pan, and heat over a low flame, taking care not to let the milk come to a boil. Pour tea into cups through a tea strainer.

If you don't have Hojicha at home, don't worry. You can make your own tea! 
You see,  http://japaneseteastory.blogspot.com/2011/02/what-would-you-parch-with-horoku.html

Enjoy!

2011/03/01

Tencha

Unlike Gyokuro and Sencha, the shape of tea in the picture is not like needles. This is Tencha, which is a material of Matcha powdered tea.

Tencha is cultivated under the shade made by a shelf covered with reeds. Reducing the amount of direct sunlight causes a lot of L-Theanine (umami ingredient) to be retained in the leaves." They are steamed and dried without rolling. Aged for a while, leaves, whose stems and veins are removed, are ground in a granite mill to make powdered tea known as Matcha.

Since the grinding process is done by tea makers nowadays, although it used to be done at home in the past, Tencha itself is not well-known even among Japanese.

Instead, listening the word “Tencha”, more Japanese will remember Chinese sweet tea, which is also called Tencha in Japanese. (The characters of Tencha for Matcha and for Chinese sweet tea are different, though.) The Chinese Tencha is known to have a polyphenol, which works as anti-allergy.

Suffering from hay fever, lots of Japanese attract Chinese Tencha in hopes that it might help alleviate a grave symptom.

When spring is coming, many Japanese are excited to see cherry blossoms, but at the same time, we have to overcome a lot of cedar pollen. Unfortunately, I am one of them.  Too bad.....