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Which is First, Tea or Sweets?

I am happy to drink tea. I am much happier to have tea with some sweets or food.

How do you enjoy tea and sweets? I mean which is first. Of course, you can do whatever you like. But this is the way that the tea people recommend.

When you have Matcha, it may be better to have sweet first. Matcha is strong and powerful since you consume the whole leaf. If you drink Matcha when you are hungry, it might bother your stomach. Also Matcha is a bit bitter. Having sweets first makes its bitterness milder. Actually, if you attend sado, or the traditional tea ceremony, sweets are served before tea. So you have to have sweets first whatever you say.

When you have Sencha or Gyokuro, the story is different. You don’t have to finish the tea, but drink the tea first at least one sip. The tea like Sencha and Gyokuro have a very sensitive aroma and flavor. You don’t want to miss those, do you? If you eat sweets first, you wouldn’t taste the delicate character enough, which is shame. Savor the tea a little first, then sweets. This is more recommendable to enjoy both tea and sweets.

I had Matcha toast at a tea room in Kyoto. It was not Matcha-ish, it was real Matcha toast as you can see from the pic. Plenty of good quality of Matcha powder and Tencha (the Matcha leaves before being ground) spread a wonderful aroma even before I took a bite.

In this case…. Enjoy it whatever you like.:-)

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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:-)

Kombucha - in English vs in Japanese -

Have you tried kombucha before? I suppose kombucha you may know could be “fermented tea”, but for Japanese, it’s not. It’s a drink made from powdered kelp called kombu

What you call kombucha was popular when I was a kid as “kocha-kinoko”, literally means “black tea mushroom”. Sounds weird, doesn’t it? It was not appetizing AT ALL to me, as a little girl. Due to such a weird name, I remember its existence, but I was too scared to try back then. 
Recently, I found a canned kombucha made in the US. I am already grown up enough to try, and I did. I did green tea and lemon flavored one. Unfortunately I didn’t taste any green tea, but as a drink it was good. Much better than I expected. 
BTW, Japanese kombucha is also good to drink and to season foods. When you have a chance, give it a try!

* FYI  -frm Wikipedia -

<History>  It is not known exactly how or where kombucha originated from.The drink was consumed in east Russia at least as early as 1900, and from there entered Europe.

Matcha or Maccha

Do you spell “matcha” or “maccha"?
The other day, I was asked which one is correct from the perspective of Japanese language. I replied, “I guess either is fine." 
As long as I know, the spelling of “matcha” is more common while the other one is not often seen here in Japan. However, I just learned that a new tearoom opened in Kyoto. It is named “Maccha House.”  ------  OK, I have to research now. 
Japanese language has a double [long] consonant known as sokuon that English doesn’t. In order to represent sokuon in English, there is a basic rule that the consonant has to be doubled. (based on Hepburn System) For example;  * kite ( "come") – /kite/ * kitte ( "postage stamp") – /kitːe/ or /kitte/ * asari ( "clams") – /asaɽi/ * assari ( "easily") – /asːaɽi/ or /assaɽi/                       (Reference: Wikipedia)
If you follow this rule, “maccha” seems to be correct, but there is an exception. In case of the sound of “cha”, ”chi”, “chu”, “che” and…