2012/02/24

Girl’s Day – March 3 -

“Hinamatsuri” (Doll Festival or Girl’s Day) is held on March 3 when families wish their daughters’ healthy growth and happiness. For this day, a set of dolls representing the Emperor and Empress in traditional court dress is displayed at home.


Also, various colorful sweets are often seen during this season such as hina-arare (bite-sized crackers), hishimochi (a diamond-shaped colored rice cake) and hina-dango (colorful dumpling). Usually, the combination of three colors of “pink, white and green” is used for these sweets. It represents the arrival of spring, which people have long awaited. Pink represents ume (Japanese apricot flower), white does snow, and green does new buds.

Hina-arare and Hishimochi

Like these sweets, we have special “seasonal sweets” to represent season throughout the year. Seeing those annual sweets remind us of changing of the season. In other words, I can say we have a good excuse to have a seasonal teatime. I am not a girl anymore, but I used to be. So, I am allowed to have "Hinamatsuri" sweets with tea, right?

2012/02/18

Senchado

You may hear about “Sado”, also known as Japanese tea ceremony, which is used Matcha (powdered tea). Then, have you heard about “Senchado”? Mainly “Sencha”, sometimes Gyokuro and even Hojicha, are often used for Senchado. In other words, leaf teas is infused in a teapot for Senchado, while powdered tea is whisked in a tea bowl for Sado.

Sencha was introduced by a Chinese Buddhist monk named Ingen-Ryuki around mid 17th century. By that time, Sado was already popular among the samurai warrior and considered to be confinement and formality. On the other hand, there were people who disliked its formality. In addition to opposition against a way formal Sado liked by Samurai worriors, Sencha was the leading edge of fashion around that time. So, especially people in the literary world came to enjoy Sencha and its manner more and more.

The manner in Senchado is a bit different from that in Sado. For examples, two cups of tea are usually served by a tea master. For the first tea, we enjoy more aroma and umami. Then, we eat a sweets. After that, another cup is served, which has more pleasant bitterness to refresh one’s mouth. (For sado, a bowl of tea is served after eating sweets.)

The process is not the same, but both share a common feature in terms of showing guests “hospitality”.


2012/02/15

How to use “infused Japanese tea leaves”

Do you enjoy Japanese Sencha? If so, what do you do with infused tea leaves? I assume most of the cases, they are thrown away. However, tea gives us more benefits even after playing a role as a drink.
Here are some examples how to deal with infused tea leaves:

1)Use for “bath tea”
Wrap infused tea leaves into cloth like gauze and put it into the bathtub. Tea has s lot of Vitamin C, so your skin will be smoother. Tea is one of herbs. Enjoy “herbal bath”.

2) Use as a fertilizer for your plant and flowers. It is good way to reuse.

3) Use as a deodorizer.
Dry infused tea leaves. Wrap them into cloth and put it into the shoebox. It works well.

4)Use as a dish-washing detergent.
After enjoy a few cups of tea, tea comes to too weak and not good to drink, but it still works as a detergent. When you have oily dishes, put them into tea made by infused tea leaves. Oil will be dissolved so that the oily dishes can be easier to be washed away.

Don’t you think it would be sad that if you didn’t make the use of it!



2012/02/09

Long long steeping -Wakocha-

What is your method of preparing black tea? How long do you infuse tea leaves? Of course, it depends on the leaves. Maybe around 1-3 minutes or so.

Then, how about Wakocha (Japanese black tea)?

You will be surprised to hear what I do for Wakocha. Believe or not, I often steep it for 20 minutes or more. Of course, I sometime wait “only” for five minutes, but I prefer longer-steeped Wakocha. Usually, steeping tea that long, we won’t be able to drink it because it will be too bitter. Interestingly, for most of the Wakocha, the longer I steep it for, more umami I can taste. I don’t know why, but I assume it is because of Japanese tea tree and its soil.


Wakocha keeps showing us the new face of its characteristics. Look forward to “what’s next!”

2012/02/06

Tea Wine

Tea can be anything.

I found a “tea wine” named TEANA is put on the market from a company in Shimane. Tea leaf “*benifuki” is infused in white wine, giving a beautiful and rich tea aroma and pleasant astringency to the wine.
Shall I try this at tea time or dinner time??? That's the question.:-)



*Benifuki: It is often used in order to procuce Wakocha (Japanese black tea).

2012/02/01

Happy Valentine's Day

Unlike western countries, Japanese “Valentine’s Day” was introduced by a chocolate company. The Japanese custom is unique. Only women give chocolates to loved one to show their love, not to women from men. Also, it is popular to give chocolates to male co-workers when the day falls on their working day. The Valentine’s Day in Japan is the day when people show their love and appreciation.

In any case, due to the successful campaigns, Japanese chocolate companies make half their annual sales during this time of the year. Nowadays, other industries are taking an advantage of it. Wagashi (Traditional Japanese sweets) is one of them. The concept of Wagashi places an importance on season. So why not? Not that popular yet, but we see more “Valentine-ish” Wagashi here and there these days. It could be a special Valentine’s gift to your special.