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Showing posts from September, 2012

Future of Kyusu

The word of teapot is “kyusu” in Japanese. My mother used to make tea for us using kyusu when my growing up. Now, I make tea using kyusu. But, in general, this kyusu is like an endangered spices especially for younger generation. To them, tea means bottled-tea or teabag tea, not from teapot. They think using teapot is troublesome, even not having it at home.

This situation may have something to do with changing of our lifestyles to some extent. We used to have dinner with family and get together in the living room while chatting and watching TV. Then, mother would make tea using teapot. Nowadays, everyone is getting busier. Conversation is getting less. Family size is getting smaller. Even the word of  “ocha-no-ma (tea space)”, which refers to living room, is obsolete.

I have to admit that bottled-tea or teabag is handier in a way, but I feel we are missing something. Something personal touch. It’s only kyusu, but it is kyusu, after all.

Needle vs Comma

For most of Japanese, “tea” refers to green tea called as “ryokucha” or “sencha”. But sencha is not only one type.

In order to destroy the oxidizing action of the enzymes, different methods, steaming or pan-roasting, are used. Even for sencha with steaming method, steaming time varies. The shape of tea leaves differs depending on the process.

Most of sencha has needle-shape because the leaves are rolled well at the final stage. But some are comma-shaped tea, which are often called “tama-ryokucha (round-green tea) to distinguish from the needle-shaped one.

Which would you prefer? It is really up to you!

Dumpling and Tea on the Tsukimi night

It is still hot, but at last I've come to feel a little bit of autumn. Nicer and more cozy breeze in the evening and the longer nights. Also, air is more limpid, which makes the moon look more beautiful. Since olden times, we have a traditional event known as “tsukimi (moon-viewing)”, refers to Japanese festivals honoring the autumn moon.It takes place on August 15th and September 13th in the lunar calendar. (These days normally fall in September and October of the modern solar calendar.) Traditionally, we made” tsutkimi- dango” (rice dumplings for the moon-viewing) and offered crops in season together with pampas grass, appreciating the rich harvest of the year and hoping for good crops in the coming year. Nowadays, the way of observance has changed, and less people offer pampas grass and crops in season. But, we still appreciate the nature, enjoy viewing moon and eating "tsukimi-dango" with a nice cup of tea.

Harmony of Japanese and Western

Nowadays, a spice of western taste is added to many traditional things, giving the feeling of stylish more to them. We often call this style “wayo-sechu” in Japanese. “Wayo” is Japanese and Western. “Sechu “means eclectic or blending. So, I may translate this word as “harmonized style of Japanese and Western”.

Wagashi (traditional Japanese confectionery often served with matcha) sold at “Isshin” has this feeling. They are conventional Japanese sweets by their appearance, but ingredients are “wayo-sechu”. For examples, a cheese&yuzu (Japanese citrus) , and cheese &strawberry, passion fruit &red beans flavors etc. In this case, I would vote for black tea instead of green tea!

Memorial Service for Tea

Wazuka town in Kyoto is one of the traditional tea growing areas.
Last Sunday, Kontai temple at Wazuka held an annual memorial service for tea trees whose roles are completed. The monks lit a holy fire for the trees and prayed for prosperity their tea industry with local people attending. I believe they consider tea a gift from nature. So, since olden times, people living with tea there have treasured tea and showed their respects and appreciations to tea.
Their tea, especially Sencha, often enjoyed the highest-price in the spring auction. Maybe, local people’s prayers are granted and a tea god has watched over this town.