2012/06/29

Communi-Tea Shop

The owner of CHAEN -photo by tomo-
There is an unique tea shop called “Chayen” at the local area in Osaka. This is not stylish, not fancy, but full of love of tea.

The owner, who switched from a graphic designer, started the shop three years ago. He had nothing to do with tea industry and had no connection with tea people. He started just out of his belief. “ I didn’t know Japan has lots of that good but not that popular tea. I didn’t know that many tea farmers have made a great effort to produce tasty teas. So I made this shop. I hope my shop helps more people know Japanese tea and support tea farmers eventually. ”

Funny things are some customers bring unique tea to the shops and share it with the owner and other customers. Some get tea for the owner as a souvenir when they travel. This is unusual, isn’t it? The tea parties held by the shop often last long long time because guests keep tasting and talking about tea a lot.

The name of shop “Chayen” has several meanings. Steeping tea, tea farms and people’s bond made by sharing tea. He truly serves “Communi-Tea”. Don't you think?





2012/06/26

Summer Purification

“Harae (or harai)” is the general term for rituals of purification in Shinto. Nowadays, the ceremonies are annually held twice a year both at the end of June and the end of the year.


Minazuki

A summer purification ceremony known as “Nagoshi-no-Harae” is on June 30. During this season, it is a custom, especially in Kyoto, to eat Japanese confection called “Minazuki”, a triangle-shaped sweet rice jelly topped with sweet red beans. It is believed that red beans drive away evil spirits and the triangle shape represents ices in order to relieve the heat. As such, people have withstood the oppressive heat from old times.


I assume teatime is a must for every people in every period.



2012/06/18

Takeover of "Chawan"!?

In Japanese, there is a word known as “chawan”. ‘Cha’ means tea, and ‘wan’ does bowl, so it literally means tea-bowls. But that’s not it. Interestingly, the term refers to rice- bowls, too. Why does this happen??

With tea, high-quality ceramic wares to drink tea were also introduced into Japan in olden times and called “chawan”. Back then, tea was really precious and "chawan" were also treated as special. Gradually, the tea-drinking custom got more popular. The word became the general term of bowl-shaped ceramics, not only for tea-bowls. Then, in order to distinguish some ceramics, people began to call rice bowls “meshijawan (meshi means rice, jawan is just sound change of chawan) ”, and tea bowls “senchawan (shorten for sencha-chawan)”.

Chawan      -photo by tomo-
As time goes by, the situation has slightly changed. Nowadays, we use “chawan” mainly for rice-bowls. Tea-bowls are called "yunomijawan" or "yunomi" (yunomi literally means drinking hot water).

Rice bowls are taking over the word “chawan” from tea bowls, aren’t they?


2012/06/09

Ice-Cubed Tea

Do you feel like iced tea when it is a hot day? Are you an “Umami”-lover? If so, you may like “Kori-dashi” method. “Kori” refers to ice-cubes and “dashi” does steeping, so this is the method of using ice-cubes.

Preparation is really really simple. Place tea leaves in the teapot, and put enough ice-cubes on the leaves to make the teapot full. And, just wait until ice-cubes thaw. You can leave it either in the room or the fridge. I sometime leave it in the refrigerator overnight. Next morning, ice-cubed tea with a lot of Umami is ready.

As you may know Umami is extracted with lower temperature water, while pleasant bitterness comes out by higher temperature water. So, using ice-cubes helps extract full of Umami. For this method, tea containing Umami such as high-quality Sencha and Gyokuro are recommendable.

In addition, caffeine goes down to about one third. Also, I enjoy “Mizu-dashi” method, which is the tea using water.
Check my old post.
http://japaneseteastory.blogspot.jp/2011/05/iced-japanese-tea.html


2012/06/02

For the Better

Japan is not only green tea country anymore. Now, black tea (known as Wakocha) and Oolong tea are also produced. Especially Wakocha has been steadily improved and caught more people’s attentions. It is due mainly to tea farmer’s aspirations.

This weekend,  I joined the Wakocha gathering, which is held annually. A lot of tea farmers and tea lovers got together at Mr. Muramatsu’s tea factory in Shizuoka in order to learn more about the tea. He has been leading the current Wakocha industry for more than 20 years. No one else was interested in making tea but green, back then. I can easily imagine that it must have been hard for him to keep producing the unfamiliar tea. But he didn’t give up. He has been pursuing what he believes. And respect for Mr. Muramatsu brought younger tea farmers from throughout the country. While passing on his Wakocha producing skills to the next generation, he is working on the latest tea, Wa-Oolong (Japanese Oolong).

A new phase of Japanese tea world has already dawned. The teas born in Japan will be surely improved for the better and better.

*See the 2010’s gathering (from my older post
http://japaneseteastory.blogspot.jp/2011/06/japanese-black-tea-wakocha.html


Mr.Akasu(left: promoter of the gathering) and Mr. Muramatsu (right)
-photo by tomo 2011-

*See the my older post about Wakocha named “Kaga-no-Kocha” that Mr.Akasu helps produce.
http://japaneseteastory.blogspot.jp/2011/02/wakocha-kaga-no-kocha.html