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Showing posts from April, 2012

Tea Nouveau - Shincha -

If you like Japanese green tea, you may know Sencha, which is the most popular Japanese green tea. What about Shincha? Sounds confusing, doesn't it? 
Actually, they are the same kind tea.Shincha is the "spring Sencha” made by first flush. "Sen" for Sencha means ‘to decoct’ or ‘to extract essence’, and "cha" means tea. “Shin” for Shincha means ‘new’ or ‘fresh’.
Japanese love fresh and seasonal stuff. Sushi is mainly made of fresh fish. The traditional dishes place an importance on season. So, we would love to give the special name to the new tea.
Made from fresh and young buds, Shincha has more fresh and greenish aroma. Now, “tea nouveau” is everywhere here in Japan!

*See about the tea special day  "Hachijyu-Hachiya".

Tea-Picking Song -Chatsumi-

Another tea-picking season has come!
There is a traditional song known as “Chatsumi (Tea-picking)”. It says that the tea-pickers with special costumes are picking new tea leaves at the beautiful tea farms. We often sing this song using hand-gestures, too. These are from You Tube. Enjoy different version!
* Version1 : * Hand-gestured version:

Green or Black??

Recently, a controversial issue has brought up.
"Does onigiri (rice ball) go well with black tea? "
 Ongiri is a simple and handy Japanese food made from white rice formed into triangular or oval shapes and often wrapped in nori (sea vegetables). Traditionally, an onigiri is filled with salty ingredient such as ume (pickled plum), salted salmon, katsuobushi (soy-sauced flavored dried bonito flakes). Japanese  have never doubted that Japanese green tea is a perfect drink with onigiri.
However, a Japanese beverage company, which has recently put their new bottled “black tea” on the market, cast a question about it.
"Don’t you think onigiri is also good with black tea?"
Actually, its taste has changed. Being really popular, the handy food with much wider variety of fillings and flavors are seen on the market. Even cheesy or meaty stuff, which were not conventional, are used as fillings. So, it makes sense the drink to go with doesn’t have to be “conventional”.
To be…

Bottled Wakocha

Japanese black tea known as Wakocha is still new to a lot of Japanese. Unlike conventional Japanese tea like Sencha, Hojicha etc, Wakocha tea leaves are not everywhere. I mean we can only buy Wakocha at limited shops.
Recently, some bottled Wakocha began to put in the market. Since Japan is a superpower of PET bottled drink, tons of bottled drinks are sold every day. So, people may have more chance to know that Japan produces black tea thanks to its bottled drink.
I prefer tea infused by a teapot to bottled one, but it would be good if bottled drink could be a gateway to Wakocha.

Hoga Sengen - Announcement Tea is Ready! -

Every spring, “Sakura ‘kaika sengen (lit: opening flower announcement)’” is issued. People start to think where and when they should go to see Sakura.
Next, tea people expect to hear “tea ‘hoga sengen (budding announcement)’”. In Kyoto, the announcement was issued on the 9th of April, 2012.
Usually, about one month after the announcement, tea is ready to be picked. This year, since it is relatively colder in March, tea picking season might be later than usual. But for sure, tea front line is now moving north throughout Japan while chasing Sakura front line.

Varietal Tea

As with wine,  there are so many varieties to produce tea. Even only in Japan, new varieties are born from day to day and some are dropped by the wayside. Some are suitable for producing green tea, others are good for Wakocha, fermented tea. Some create more flowery aroma, the other give more brighter color. Although Japan is not that big, its soil, climate and geography are different from place to place.

Blended tea was the mainstream on the market. Tea from different areas were blended so that the taste of tea could be uniform anywhere and anytime. Actually, this is still the most popular type, but more and more varietal tea are drawing tea-drinkers' attentions. As the proverb goes, there is no accounting fo tastes. Surely, people will appreciate the "difference" of tea all the more.

Long-awaited "Hachijyu-hachiya"

Now, April has come. It means a “special tea day”, known as Hachiju-hachiya (literally, “eighty-eighth night”), is approaching, needless to say Sakura season.
Hachiju-hachiya is one of the most important days for Japanese tea. It is a movable feast, and decided according to the traditional Japanese calendar. In 2012, it falls on May 1.It is believed that drinking green tea made from tea leaves picked on Hachiju-hachiya will bring you good health for the year. So, tea on the day can be called “good luck tea”.
Tea festivals are annually held at tea-producing areas including Kyoto and Shizuoka on the day. As you know, Japanese tea industry has been facing difficulty due to the disaster of nuclear power plants. Tea people have been making great efforts to produce safety and tasty tea over the last year. Long-awaited new tea season will come very soon.