2014/01/30

Setsubun -Bean Throwing Day-

Setsubun (bean-throwing festival) is the day before the beginning of Spring in Japan, falling on February 3 this year. It used to be thought as New Year’s Eve according to Japanese traditional calendar and the very important day to cleanse away all the evil of the former year and bring fortune spirits into the year to come.

One of the special ritual is “mamemaki (lit: bean-throwing)”. Since olden times, the beans have been thought to have a miraculous power to expel eveil spirits. Therefore, roasted soybeans are thrown out the door in order to drive away evil spirits and in to bring in fortune while we say “Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi! (Demons out! Luck in!)”.

Also, we eat the same number of roasted soybeans as that of the age. (plus one more to bring luck in for the year to come in some areas) in hope of our good health. It means if you are 30 years old, you are supposed to eat 30 or 31 beans. Well....., in my case, how many beans do I have to eat??? I like beans, but maybe too many to eat, ha, ha.




Roasted beans and evil's mask are shown at the shop around this season -by Wikipedia-

2014/01/24

Getting somewhere

As many black teas are so, most of the Sencha are blended in order to try to maintain their quality and price. In Japanese, we say gogumi for blend.

Usually, those teas which have been done gogumi process are “easy-to-drink” for many, which is fine. No problem at all. However, for those who are “demanding” or “spoiled” like me, “something different” sounds more exciting once in a while.

Maybe, I’m not the only one because there seems to be a new trend. Hinshu-cha (variety tea), which is made from a single variety, can be seen more in the market. Especially, I think, the ones that can create subtle, but distinctive aroma have come to be paid more attention (ex:  Sofu, Koshun, Shizu7132 etc).

In addition, those teas seem to be withered just a little. As you may know, withering is considered “not preferable” for green tea, but some are done in order to bring out the variety’s characteristics enough.

Unfortunately, the Japanese tea industry is not that brisk now. I like to see for this challenge “to get somewhere”.

-by T-

2014/01/18

Enjoy Aroma with "Chakoro"

What makes tea special? Beautiful aroma is one for sure. Of course, we enjoy the aroma of tea while drinking, but even when not drinking, we can.

The picture below shows a tea incense burner called Cha-Koro. It is similar to an aroma diffuser. The only difference is tea leaves. The leaves are used instead of essential oil.

When you light a candle in the pot, the scent of tea comes to spread, making you feel relax. And besides, lighting “tea incense” helps remove odor for rooms since tea has disinfectant and deodorant effects. Tea can be a drink, food, and an aromatic. It is versatile!

Chakoro -T-

2014/01/10

Make a Tea Toast!!

Some cities require that the residences should have “sake” for the first drink when they go out for dinner or make a toast. Sake is our traditional alcohol, but not that popular now. People prefer beer. In order to boost sake industry, some sake-producing municipalities issued such an unique ordinance.

After the local goverments, Uji city in Kyoto renowned for Uji-tea is proposing to issue a regulation about tea. The proposal includes to “make a toast with Uji tea”, “serve Uji tea when residences have a guest” or so. The reason is the same. Even people living in Uji drink the tea less now. In many cases, coffee is served even when they have a guest at home, one of the most famous tea-producing areas. The people would not be penalized, breaking it. The local government just hopes that the regulation, if enacted, could help raise people’s awareness to its own specialty and boost its industry.

Is this going to be a shot in the arm to revive Uji tea? 

Anyway.... "kampai (cheers)!" with tea! 

hand-rolling Uji tea



2014/01/04

A Sign of Good Luck -Chabashira-

Have you seen a tea stalk floating vertically in your teacup when you have Japanese green tea? When you see it, you will have a good day. Because it is believed to be a lucky sign.

A tea stalk floating vertically is called chabashira (lit: tea pillar).  Seeing a chabashira, we feel happy, saying “Engi(luck) ga (is) ii (good).”

The origin of this expression is unknown, but some say it is because that the situation is rare. Others say that a pillar for chabashira can be considered the central pillar of a house. We liken a chabashira floating vertically to a house pillar standing vertically, considering it is good.

Whatever the reasons, when you find a chabashira, be happy!

Hope all of us will enjoy our tea lives in 2014:-)