Shennong Festival 2018

Shennong is known as a mythological deity in agriculture and medicine among people. For tea lover, the deity is known as a deity of tea. An annual Shennong festival has been held in Osaka on Nov.22 and 23.

This shrine, located in medicine district in Osaka, is usually not that busy, but people wait in a long line to thank for their health during the past year and pray for good health next year during this festival.

Some pharmaceutical companies make their own mascot.

There are a lot of stalls.

 Carp-shaped pancake filled with usually "anko", red-bean paste known as "taiyaki"

Candy apples known as "ringo-ame".....and more.

I wish you a healthy 2019!


Taste is in the mouth of the drinker

I almost always find difficulties in describing the taste of tea. 

That happened again very recently when I had green tea made by “Yamakai” cultivar. The nickname of “Yamakai”is “natural Gyokuro” due to the rich taste. Some say this is herby. When brewed strong, it is also said that it has a melon notes.

Since the cultivar is very rare, it was only the second time for me to try this. When I tried it for the first time, I thought “I would describe something different rather than melon…..the taste is familiar, but I cannot remember what it is.”

This time, I was not sure what it was at the beginning again. Very distinctive, very rich and mild. But not really melon to me……what is it!!??

I found it!! It is mayonnaise!! I felt a hint of mayonnaise at the back of my tongue!

Maybe it doesn’t sound appetizing, but believe me, it has rich, mild and distinctive mayo-ish flavor. Believe it or not,  I was not the only one who said that. Other tea people felt a good mayo:-)

Some says melon-ish, others say mayo-ish, and still others say herby....

"Taste is in the mouth of the tea drinker." :-) 


Yumefuki Wakocha from Kagoshima

Wakocha known as "Yumefuki" from Tanaka family in Kagoshima. Benifuki cultivar. This tea is introduced in a book "TEA COMPANION" by Jane Pettigrew. She described it as surprisingly punchy with a sweet spiciness and warm tones of sun-warmed wood.

Beautiful color, and flowery aroma. Nice and good astringency makes the tea tea. I can say this is one of my favorites.

The Tanaka family grows, produce and sell the tea and runs their own tea room both in Kagoshima and Osaka. They serve sweets and lunch together with tea!

Tea room in Kagoshima:  http://www.satsuma-eikokukan.jp/

Tea room in Osaka  http://www.satsuma-eikokukan.jp/bunroku/bunroku_b.html


Washoku & Wakocha

I joined a lunch seminar “ marriage of Washoku and Wakocha coordinated by Takeshi Isobuchi, a prominent tea writer in Japan.at a traditional hotel, Funaya, in Matsuyamam city. Ehime prefecture. “Wa” means Japan”, and “shoku” means food/eating. Kocha is black tea. So it is the marriage of Japanese food and Japanese black.
Mr Isobuchi gave us the tip of brewing of tea. When you make black tea, you need the freshly boiled water drawn from the tap.As for water temperature, he added that the 95 ℃ hot water is the best rather than boiling water. If the water is boiled too much, the oxygen in the fresh water will be gone, which won’t extract the beauty of black tea. Surprisingly, preparation for Japanese broth (kombu kelp and from dried bonito) is the same, the chef at the “funaya” said. You shouldn’t let the water boil to boiling point. Otherwise, the unpleasant harshness will come out. I was surprised, actually Mr Isobuchi and the chef were even surprised to know they have something in common.

Anyway….many people doubted washoku and wakocha would go together. They thought that  black tea could overwhelm the delicate taste of washoku. But actually, black tea will refresh your palate and gives you more appetite as long as you pay attention to what tea you use, how you brew and how you serve. I mean choosing mild tea, making the tea lighter, and serving it room temperature will make the tea a good company with the food.

You may not be surprised, but for many Japanese, black tea means “tea time”, not “meal”. We always have had green tea instead. But it seems like the attendees enjoyed the marriage of washoku and wakocha.

Jikocha (Japanese Black) Summit in Ehime

An annual Japanese black tea event, known as Wakocha or Jikocha was held at the end of October. The venue this year was Matsuyama city in Ehime prefecture. 

Originally, the event is designed for the tea growers and tea people to share the information and to improve their skills. Recently, the growers sell their teas to popularize Japanese black more.

According the survey by the organizer, wakocha is produced by 742 tea fields in Japan now. The quantity in 2017 was 117 tons in total. Not a lot.....wakoha is like a microbrew. (Tea is a brew, so we may call the tea microbrew too?? )

Anyway, wakocha doesn't have to be mass-produced. Small, but it should be a good one.

Kamairicha made by Mr Kajihara in Kumamoto

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