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Showing posts from May, 2013

The Book of Wakocha

I’ve posted about Japanese black tea here, so you may know Japan produces black tea too other than green.There seem to be nearly 400 kinds of wakocha throughout the nation, but not many Japanese have tried it yet because of its limited production. However, the wakocha market is getting wider and wider.

Recently, the very first book about WAKOCHA (Japanese black tea) has published. ("The book of Wakocha written by Mr. Okamoto, an owner of wakocha shop “kureha”). This book tells you about the details of the tea, recommendable preparation way and how you enjoy your teatime and recipe for arranged wakocha tea.

Mr. Okamoto says this: Wakocha, Japanese black tea, ismade from tea leaves grown in Japan and processed in Japanese climate. This Japanese nature creates completely new peculiar charm unlike conventional teas. This book will lead you new Japanese black tea world. Enjoy!!

Warabimochi with Hojicha aroma

One of my favorite Japanese sweets is warabimochi, traditional ordinary sweets made from bracken starch. It is like a jelly, but has smoother and a firmer texture, often served with kinako (soybean powder). Usually, the sweets is prepared to be taken away.
Luckily, I had one fresh from “the pan” at a wagashi shop called isshin the other day. Yummy! Their warabimochi has a more silky texture than the one I usually have. Can you see a cute heart-shaped brown stuff in the picture?. That’s kinako mixed with hojicha powder, which gives the appetizing aroma of roasted tea!It pleased both my palate and eyes.

Fresh or Matured? -Aroma vs Flavor -

Now is the time for Shincha (lit; new tea) . It usually refers to "Sencha" made from the first tea leaves of the year, and is valued as high-quality of tea. However, it isn’t always the case. Some Japanese tea with high quality can be aged as wine and cheese are so.

Shincha is particularly characterized by fresh aroma producing from young tender buds and leaves. It gives us sense of refreshing and the power of youth when drinking. While aging, tea gets matured, bringing deeper flavor and milder taste. In other words,  “new tea for fresh aroma, and aged tea for deeper flavor.” Sounds like our human beings, doesn’t it? When young, people are fresh and powerful. Over time, they get matured and more stable.

It completely depends on your preference which you’d select either new or aged teas. Which would you prefer??

Wakocha-Flavored "Kompeito"

In Japan, there are lots of sweets, which were originally introduced from other countries and have been rooted as a traditional Japanese confectionery. Sugar candy called “Kompeito” is one of them.

In the early 16th century, Portuguese traders introduced the candy. Back then, since sugar was very rare and expensive, the sweets were very special. It was not that widely popular until around end of 19th century among the commons.
Nowadays, they are much more available, and various flavors like lemon, strawberry, orange and matcha come in, which make them colorful.

The other day, I happened to find wakocha-flavored kompeito for the first time. I have to admit this...whenever something wakocha, I feel like I have to try, anyway. That was just a sugar candy, but I smelled the tea, which makes me happy :-).

Children's Day -Kashiwamochi -

May 5th is a national holiday known as “Kodomo-no-hi”, or Children’s Day.
Actually, since this day was traditionally celebrated as the Boy’s day until after World War second, the traditional way of celebrating the day still remains, for example displaying warrior dolls and miniature suits of armor, and hoisting carp-shaped streamers called “koinobori”. They are for boys, aren’t they?
But, there is a good thing for everyone to enjoy this day, which is a traditional seasonal sweets known as “kashiwa-mochi (rice cake wrapped in an oak leaf)”. It is said that oak leaves won’t fall down until new buds come out, meaning the family will continue. In other word, oak is a symbol of the prosperity of our posterity. Japanese sweets are not only things to eat. A lot of love and wishes is into those. Don’t you think?
Kashiwa-mochi is always good with Japanese green tea, but I like to have it with black tea including wakocha and even Darjeeling! What would you like?