2012/10/28

Special Day for Black Tea


Do you have a special day for tea? We do. The 1st of November is “the day of black tea”, which was set by Japan Tea Association in 1983 to spread the consumption of black tea. Why November 1st?

Apparently, it was the very first day that Japanese ever had “black tea”. The person was a castaway, named Daikokuya Kōdayū. In 1783, his ship drifted on the way to Japan, but managed to escape to the Russian mainland. People there saved his life and he stayed for a while. Eventually, he was received in audience by Catherine II, Empress of Russia then and allowed to go back to Japan. At that time, he was invited to her tea party and had a cup of tea there. That was on November 1st.

Since it was the empress’s tea party, he might have been too nervous to enjoy the taste, but I am curious what it was like.

DAIKOKUYA Kodayu

2012/10/27

Harrods Tea Bar


photo by T
You must know what “Harrods” is. That’s the upmarket department store in the U.K. Their self-style tea cafe “Harrods Tea Bar” has opened in Japan, two branches in Tokyo and one in Osaka. All of them are in popular Japanese department stores and really small only with several seats. So, it looks like many order a takeaway. Their tea menu varies including several kinds of their original flavored teas and ice cream cone with using their popular tea. The company says that they are planning to open around 50 branches throughout the country.
 

Japan is a coffee country in terms of the market, and self-style “coffee” cafes are everywhere while tea ones are still rare. Is it tea's turn to overtake coffee and pass it up? We will see.
 
Photo by T
 
 
 

2012/10/17

Japan is not "Rice country" anymore??

If you ask me what the Japanese staple food is, I say “rice”. However, it doesn’t seem to be perfectly correct.  Surprisingly, the consumption of bread has surpassed that of rice.

This is the annual expenses per household of rice and bread.
*Rice: 62,554yen (1990) → 27,780yen (2011)
*Bread: 26,122yen (1990) → 28,368yen (2011)

According to the figure above, I think I should say the rice consumption has drastically dropped rather than that of bread has increased.

There seem to be some reasons why we have less rice. First, other than rice and bread, there have been more choices to eat and we don’t stick to rice every day. Second, making rice is more troublesome. To prepare rice, we need to rinse, cook and wash the rice cooker after cooking. Instead, we get bread from the bakery and simply eat it.
 
"Rice and green tea” is considered to be a great combination and the pillar of Japanese diet. But, we’ve been having less rice. I may have to say this is the one of the reasons the consumption of green tea has been decreasing.

2012/10/09

Tea Mascot

"chappy" represents tea seed with buds
Recently, “yurukyara (lit: easygoing mascot character dolls)” are everywhere. They are mascot character dolls in order to promote goods, events, campaigns etc. Some are cute, but I have to say some are a bit wired, but interesting-looking.

Of course, some yurukyara have a role to play in promoting tea; such as “Chappy” in Kyoto and “Yamecha-maru” in Yame. Tea consumption has been decreasing especially among younger generation.


Can they really save the tea industry?? We will see.

"yamecha-maru"represents teapot   (photo by T)

2012/10/05

Greenish or Yellowish?

In order to process green tea, tea leaves need to be steamed soon after plucking. Depending on the length of the steaming time, they have different names respectively Futsumushi (lit; regular steaming), Asamushi (lit; light steaming) and Fukamushi (lit; deep steaming).

Usually, tea leaves grown in the mountain (ex; Kyoto) are produced as Futsumushi, while the one in the wide flatland (ex; Shizuoka) are made as Fukamushi. Since the leaves in the flatland get more sun directly, they tend to be harder and have more bitterness in general. Interestingly, the process of longer steam gives tea milder taste and flavor. Another character for Fukamushi is the finished tea shape. It is relatively broken. Therefore, tiny tea leaves are poured in a cup and you have them with liquid. Actually, it’s good for you because the leaves contain a lot of nutrients.

If you want to know which one you drink, look at the tea color. Futsumushi  is yellowish or goldenish. Fukamushi has more green color because of the tiny leaves in your cup. Which is yours?

Fukamushi tea  -photo by T-


 
Futsumushi tea -photo by T-