2013/04/27

Hachiju-hachiya -Good Luck Tea-

Hachiju-hachiya (literally, “eighty-eighth night”) is a very special day for Japanese tea. It is the 88th day counting from Risshun (the first day of spring). Since Risshun is decided according to the Japanese traditional calendar, Hachiju-hachiya is also movable every year. In 2013, it falls on May 2.

What makes the tea so special? It is believed that drinking green tea made from tea leaves picked on Hachiju-hachiya will bring you good health for the year. Yes, this tea is “good luck tea”. Tea festivals are annually held at tea-producing areas including Kyoto and Shizuoka on the day. When you happen to be in Japan, why don’t you taste “good luck tea”!

at Wazuka in Kyoto -by T-

2013/04/20

Another Wagashi - Manju-

I posted about handmade wagashi on the previous blog. I also made "manju", a steamed bun. Again, this is how "manju" is made.

1) Mix ground yam and sugar.  Let the dough stand at least half a day in the fridge. Then, add rice flour and knead well.

Mr Hamada "Wagashi Shokunin(maker)"

2) Mix bean paste with edible pickled sakura leaves so that you will get the flower-flavored paste.


3) Wrap sakura-flavored bean paste with yam dough. The tip is that you need to round your palm. Then, steam them 10 minutes.


This was the most tough process for me!


just before steamed

                       Sakura-flavored manju really goes well with matcha!


Do you live in Osaka area? Or are you planning to come to Japan? If so, why don't you try making your own wagashi? This shop gives you a lesson regularly.


2013/04/15

Handmade WAGASHI at isshin -Kinton-

Have you eaten wagashi, traditional Japanese confectionery? I like to eat, but  never made it. The other day, I had a chance to make some at a wagashi shop “isshin” in Osaka. About the shop, please see my old post.

RE: "isshin"
2012/9/10 http://japaneseteastory.blogspot.jp/2012/09/harmony-of-japanese-and-western.html

This is one of wagashi I made on that day. It is known as "Kinton". It represents spring mountain, showing the change of the season from the fresh leaves from Sakura.




This is how it is made.
1) Prepare red bean paste. Color white bean paste green and pink. Roll those into balls with your hands.


2)Strain the bean paste by using a rattan strainer.

after paste strained....

3) Cover red bean paste with strained paste by chopsticks.




Looks easy, but it is not. Still, I really enjoyed hand-made wagashi!
Bon appétit with Wakocha! 
To be continued…

2013/04/11

Matcha Tofu

If you are a health-conscious person, I assume you know "tofu", right? And as long as you read this blog, I assume you know "matcha" too.

Now, what about "matcha tofu"? This is not a common type of tofu even in Japan, but if you are lucky enough, you will come across the unique tofu. I was lucky and sampled some. It Is green matcha color.  I didn't smell particular its aroma, but it left matcha aftertaste. That was interesting. To be honest, I prefer regular tofu with bean's flavor, but whatever its taste is, I'm sure matcha tofu is good for your health.




Matcha tofu sample  -T-

2013/04/05

Tea Auction in 2013 @ Kagoshima

Kagoshima is one of the most famous tea producing areas in Japan. Their “hatsu seri”, first tea auction of shincha (lit: new tea), will be held on 5th of April, which will be six days earlier than last year.


photo by T

Usually, the weather in March is changeable in Japan. The coldness sometimes eases up and returns again, which can cause frost and coldness damages on new buds.

Luckily, this year, Kagoshima area seemed to have a good weather. The temperature both in January and February were normal and higher in March without a temporary return of cold weather. Its rainfall was also normal. Due to its good condition, new buds have been growing healthily. Can’t wait to try this year’s spring tea, Shincha!




2013/04/04

Hoga Sengen – Announcement of Tea -

Every spring, “Sakura ‘kaika sengen (lit: opening flower announcement)’” is issued. People start to think where and when they should go to see Sakura.

After Sakura, tea people wait for “hoga sengen (budding announcement)’”. Hoga sengen is issued when about 70% of new buds of “Yabukita” variety (the most common variety to produce green tea) cultivated at a research institute are grown about twice as big as the size of leaves which are wrapped the buds.

photo by T
And Kyoto tea authority issued the announcement on April 3, 2013, which is three days earlier than usual thanks to warmer March.

Usually, about one month after the announcement, tea is ready to be picked. For sure, tea front line is now moving north throughout Japan.



2013/04/02

Time for “Tea Nouveau” –Shincha-

Sakura season has arrived much earlier this year, which means it will finish earlier. Too sad…., but after Sakura, we have tea!

The  season of new tea, known as Shincha generally starts March in Okinawa, the southernmost area of growing tea in Japan, and goes up north, reaching to Kyoto around the beginning of May. Unlike Kyoto, Shizuoka and Kagoshima, Okinawa is not that well-known as a tea-producing area even among Japanese, because it accounts only for less than one percent of Japanese production. Still, tea made in Okinawa is truly “the very earliest season’s tea” in Japan.

Luckily, I got a package of Okinawa shincha. The one I got  is made from a rare varietal “Inzatsu”, which is characterized by containing a lot of catechin and a particular aroma component, producing refreshing aroma like jasmine flowers. It does have a great natural flowery aroma!

Soon, more shincha will be on the market one after another. It is time to celebrate “Tea Nouveau in 2013 ” !!

Fresh from a tea farm -photo by T-

2013/04/01

Tea-Scented Toilet Roll??

Today is April Fool's Day! But..... this is not a joking, this is serious. You can enjoy teatime in the bathroom!!

In Japan, tea-scented toilet rolls are on sale today. I hear that two different scented-toilet rolls are available. One, named “Teatime in the tropics”, is pink-colored and tropical fruit tea-scented paper. The other one, “Teatime in Britain”, is light-blue chamomile-scented paper. Each one costs around 300yen per a 12-roll set.

Which would you prefer in the bathroom,  fruit tea or chamomile tea???  I would rather have those in the living room, ha, ha.

- by Nisshinbo Paper Products Inc -