Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sweets of the day, Fish Jun 10 and 24

Hi, everyone!

The brown fish shape confectionery is the sweets from Jun 10 lesson. It is made in the image of sweet fish. Sweet beans paste and rice cake are wrapped with pancake. This is Hiro’s favorite contection.

The other hexagonal confectionery is the sweets from Jun 24. It consists of two layers which are brown-sugar agar in the bottom and clear agar layer with fish on the top. It looks like two sweet fish in a limpid stream, isn't it? I think it has sensation of coolness, and it's good for this season. It was so smooth and I liked the rich brown-sugar flavor and right sweetness. You gotta try it!

Take care!!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Flower of the day, Jun 17 and 24

Hello, everyone. How was your weekend? I worked on our front yard. We want little fence and did foundation work on Saturday. It was very hot and I covered up to avoid sunburn.

The flower in a blue vase is blue chrysanthemum from Jun 17 lesson. It is smaller than regular chrysanthemum, and pretty, isn’t it?

Our master was not sure about the name of another flower from Jun 24 lesson. She got the flower from a friend of hers. She said it could be yamaboushi. But by looking up on the internet I think it is similar to Japanese stuartia. The flower was still in bud at the lesson, and next day it bloomed as in the picture.

The rainy season has just ended at Okinwa. At our region it is drawing to a close.
Take care

Friday, June 26, 2009

Hojicha at a neighborhood noodle restaurant

Good morning, everyone!

We had a dinner at a nearby noodle restaurant. Hiro had miso-nikomi noodle. I had zaru-soba, which is my favorite. Zaru-soba is a meal that comes soba noodle and soy-based sauce separately. I really like it and most of the time order zaru-soba at noodle restaurants.

The tea served at the restaurant was Hojicha (roasted green tea). It was very hot and came in a typical yunomi cup. The white yunomik cup was tall and thick. It has comfortable wavy pattern in design and warm atmosphere. I think it is good for winter. The cup is a popular style and I like the wavy design.

This morning when I was having breakfast, I watched shocking news on TV, which was that Michael Jackson in cardiac or respiratory arrest has been taken to a hospital. And some US medias were already reporting his death. I listened to his music and watched his videos a lot when I was a student. I’m sorry for the passing of a talented artist.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hirademae brief steps

Hello, everyone! I hope you are well.

We had another lesson last night. As I mentioned at my blog of Jun 19, we have been practicing Hirademae. Today, I’d like to tell you about brief procedure of Hirademae. These pictures are me practicing temae at yesterday’s lesson.

1. Carry the utensils into the tea room.
Come and go three times to bring in all items
*Flesh-water container
*Tea bowl, tea whisk, tea scoop, small linen cloth, and matcha in natsume (container)
*Waste-water receptacle, lid rest and ladle

2. Purify the utensils.
Purify natusme, teascoop, tea whisk, and tea bowl

3. Make and serve the tea
Put matcha powder into the tea bowl.
Pour hot water into the tea bowl
Mix hot water and matcha with tea whisk
Serve the tea to guests

4. Purify the utensils
Purify tea whisk and tea scoop

5. Carry out the utensils from the tea room
Come and go three times to take out all items you brought in

A temae starts and ends with bow.
Have a nice day!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Smart tea serving restaurant

Hello, everyone! How are you doing today?

Last night we had dinner at a shabushabu restaurant for my dad’s birthday. Shabushabu is a one-pot dish made at the table by cooking vegetables and slices of meat in boiling water and eaten with a soy and vinegar-based or sesame-based sauce. I like this shabushabu restaurant because they have very the nice and rich sesame sauce. That‘s my favorite.

There is one more thing what I like about them. I think they have good understanding about tea. They serve hojicha during the meal, and a cup of sencha with dessert after meal. Hojicha is good for refreshing you up at meal, and with shencha you can relax and enjoy the tea and dessert. I think serving two different teas are very smart and thoughtful of them. I don’t know many restaurants who serve multiple kinds of tea.

By the way, they serve ice cream for dessert. I choose green tea flavor(^-^)
Have a nice day!!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Plastic bottles of green tea for prize

Hi, everyone? What kinds of bottled dink are popular at your country?

About 25 years ago, bottled green tea came onto the market in Japan. At that time, I had a stereotype of that green tea should be repaired at home. And, I didn’t want to pay for bottled tea. As time passes, bottles of tea have got very popular. Now, I don’t hesitate buying bottled teas. Nowadays, you will find a lot of selection for tea at convenience and grocery stores, such as oolong, barley, roasted tea, and may different brands of sencha.

I don’t have any particular favorite tea brands. I usually pick one according to my mood of the moment. Yesterday, I chose these teas, Iemon in the picture. I’m embarrassed to tell you that, but the reason I bought the tea is that there is a prize promotion, so... You might win an iced tea set with it. I am interested in the tea set which is for tencha brewing with cold water. It is very unique. Tencha is the ingredient of matcha. Tencha became matcha by milling. So, tencha itself is not usually sold in stores. In addition the cold water brewing is a rare method for tea preparing. I have to try it. I have never tried tencha, so I really want to win it!! I need to buy two more bottles to apply for the prize, ha ha… Wish me luck!!

The bottled tea came with a little free gift. It was a Japanese washcloth.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Powder tea at kaiten-zushi (sushi-go-round) restaurant

How are you doing, everyone!

This weekend, I and Hiro went to a kaiten-zushi (belt-conveyor sushi) restaurant. They are popular chain store and provide sushi in very low price. Any sushi plates (usually two pieces) are 105 yen. Don’t you think it is so cheap?

There was powder green tea and plastic cups are stacked at the table. This powder green tea is different from matcha, it is much lower-grade tea. You put powdered tea into a cup and pour hot water into it. That’s it. At this restaurant, there is a faucet for hot water at each table. The tea was so-so. I liked white fish sushi and shrimp with avocado sushi very much!!

Have a good day!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Hirademae setting

How is it going everyone?

There are varieties of *temae in The Way of Tea. Now we are practicing the most basic temae, hirademae for thin tea since we started the lesson in Apr. Hirademae is a temae with the basic procedure, movements and utensils. It is a simple temae but very important.

This is a picture of hirademae setting from this week lesson. In temae, each utensil has a right poison to be placed. I think the tea setting is very practical and also looks smart.

Have a nice day!!

* Temae is series of procedures followed to prepare for making the tea, then to do the tea making and then to put things away.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sifter for matcha makes tea delicious!

Good morning everyone! Last night I had the third lesson of Jun. Can you tell what the silver item is in the picture?

It is a sifter for matcha. The tea made with old matcha often gets lumps which are not good for the taste. When you want to used old matcha, it is better to sift it to prevent lumps. You don’t have to sift flesh milled matcha from tea shop, though. I don’t have a specialized sifter like this at home, so I use a regular tea strainer instead.

At yesterday lesson we used matcha powder from a week before. So, we sifted it before putting into a natsume (container for matcha) at the preparation room. The powder got loose and light, and looked double in volume. At *temae, it was very easy to mix with water when whisking, and we didn’t get any lumps in the tea. What surprised me was the taste. It was very good. The tea was mild and smooth. It was as almost good as new one, or better than that. I realized again how sifting makes the tea better. I’m sometimes too lazy to sift matcha at home, but I’ll try it from now on.

Try it out, everyone. You just might like it, too.

* Temae is series of procedures followed to prepare for making the tea, then to do the tea making and then to put things away.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Green tea at a soba noodle restaurant

Hi, everyone!

On the way to Gero, we stopped at a soba noodle restaurant, and I had zaru-soba for lunch. I believe the tea served at the restaurant was bancha. I didn’t think it’ was a high-quality tea, but it was nice. The tea was little weak and had refreshing taste. I think this is common to be served this kind of tea at Japanese restaurants. It came in a tall thick yunomi cup.

I have another tea lesson tonight, and looking forward to it.
Have a good day!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I tried green tea coke.

Hi, who are you doing, everyone? This Sunday I found the new flavor coke at a convenience store. Since I wrote about the new coke, green tea flavor on my Jun 5 blog, I have been curious about it. I could not imagine how the taste of green tea and coke is like.
Jun 5 blog >>> "Green tea coke!?"

I found tons of green tea coke on the shelf at the convenience store we stopped by. I got one and opened it in front of the store. Its color is the same as regular coke, and smell… Well, it smells like regular coke to me. Or did I smell a different odor little? Was that green tea smell? I could not tell. And I gulped the coke. Hmm, it was just a coke. That means it tastes good! I liked it. It is pretty much the same as the diet coke I usually drink, but you can notice sight of green tea flavor in the aftertaste. Coke is a strong flavor, so it is difficult to find some other flavor in it. If I was not told it’s a green tea flavor coke, I would not notice it. I guess coca-cola didn’t want to make it to too maniac flavor.

It is a little disappointment to not have much green tea flavor, but in other words it is similar to my favorite diet coke flavor. So, the green tea coke will definitely be an option to me!!

Have a nice day!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Welcome drink at a ryokan (Japanese-style hotel)

Hello, everyone. We went to a trip to Gero in Gifu prefecture this weekend. Gero is a popular hot spring resort, and we stayed at a ryokan (Japanese-style hotel).

Most ryokan will serve you a welcome drink at the lounge or your room. Usually, it will be sencha (most common green tea). When we arrived this ryokan, they served matcha (powdered green tea) at the lounge. I was very happy to have matcha. A little bit of disappointment was that the matcha was a little watery. I guess it is the taste treat for everyone. Even in Japan there are many people who are not used to matcha. I’d prefer a little bit more strong one though. Anyhow, I appreciated the nice arrangement of the ryokan, which we could have a relaxing moment with matcha at the lounge while viewing a nice courtyard.

Hiro & courtyard

Heve a nice day!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Boiling water → Teapot → Mug = Temperature???

Hi, everyone! Everyone has their own way to cool down boiling water to the correct temperature for sencha (most common green tea), I guess.

As I write yesterday, I measured the temperature of actual water I used to infuse sencha. I usually pour boiling water into the empty teapot, and then pour the hot water from the teapot into the mug, then use the water to brew the tea.

Boiling water → Teapot → Mug = Water temperature???

Amount of boiling water : About 500ml
Room temperature : 21 degrees C
Tool : Mug(500ml) and Teapot (550ml) in the picture, and a thermometer

Generally, 70-80 degrees C (158-175 degrees F) of hot water is good for brewing sencha.
The water I used yesterday was…

76 degrees C !!!

Wow, it’s a perfect temperature (^0^)/ I’m glad that I have been preparing sencha with right water temperature. Was this the reason that I was good at brewing delicious green tea!? Ha, ha..

The result may differ in different conditions. If I have chances I’ll check it in different conditions, and let you know then.

Take care!

Correct water temperature for sencha?

How are you doing today, everyone?

How do you usually cool down boiling water to the correct temperature for green tea? Do you use a water cooler (pitcher) or cups and a teapot?

I usually use a big mug for sencha (most common Japanese green tea) when I’m working at office. The teapot and mug in the picture are what I’m using now. When I was preparing sencha this morning, I was curious if I’m always using right temperature water for the tea. I usually pour boiling water into the empty teapot, and then pour the hot water from the teapot into the mug. I use the hot water in the mug to brew sencha. In this way I can usually make delicious sencha pretty much. But I’ve never measured the actual temperature of the water.

So, let’s check it out!
I did measured the temperature today.

Boiling water → Teapot → Mug = Temperature???

Amount of boiling water : About 500ml
Room temperature : 21 degrees C
Experimental tool : Mug(500ml) and Teapot (550ml) in the picture, and a thermometer

How much do you guess the water temperature was?
I’ll tell you the result at my next blog, talked you soon!!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The flower of the day, Ajisai with Hanging vase, Jun 10

The flower at yesterday’s lesson was ajisai, hydrangea. It was small and pretty. But the flower is not the one I want you to look at. Can you tell where the vase is placed?

Yes, it is hanged on the column at *tokonoma. This hanging vase is called ayukago. Ayu means sweetfish and cago means a basket. Ayu is stream fish and its season starts now, early summer. Ayuago vases are used in Jun and July. I love the cool impression that spindly bamboo vase has(^-^) I think it’s neat to place a flower on the wall.

*Tokonoma is an alcove in a traditional Japanese room where art or flowers are displayed.

The flower of the day, Chinshibai, Jun 3 2009

Good morning, everyone!

This is the flower from last week lesson called, chinshibai. It was still in the bud, but our master chose it by more handsome foliage than blossoming. I think three foliage spread in different directions with aligned leaves were beautiful. I like the well-balanced figure of buds, leaves and vase.

After the lesson, our master gave us the flower. We brought it home and placed it on the niche in our hallway. We used the vase our master gave us(^-^)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

We got vases

Hello, everyone!

Officially the rainy season started yesterday here in Aichi Japan. I don’t like rainy days much(^_^;) But if we don’t get much rain in this period, we’ll suffer a water shortage in the summer. So, I should welcome the rain \(^0^)/

We got five vases from our master at the last lesson! Before, we had told her that we have only one vase at home. Then she gave us five of them. How generous of her!!

The narrow-neck vases are for single-stem flower, called ichirinzashi the one of my favorite kind. They are pretty popular in The Way of Tea. We have a little niche for flower in our hallway, so we wanted small vases. The ichirinzashi our master gave us are perfect in size!

Thanks to our master.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Brewing sencha from friend

Good morning, everyone! Yesterday I tried the tea that I mentioned on Jun 7.

The good water temperature for sencha is 70-80 degrees C (158-175 degrees F). I poured boiling water into the teapot with no tea leaves, and then the hot water from the teapot into a water cooler (pitcher). I guess the temperature of the water became around 80 degrees C at this moment. I put the tea leaves into the teapot and poured the hot water, and waited for one minute.

When I pour the tea into the cups, the brewed tea was a nice sencha yellow, but didn’t smell as good as I expected. The tea leaves have very nice scent, so I had too much expectations, I guess. However when I drank it, I realized that it did have a nice aroma . When I took a sip, the green tea aroma spread inside my mouth and climbed though my nose. The taste was also perfect!! It has a great balance of comfortable bitterness and refreshing green tea flavor. This is the green tea flavor I like which really go with sweets!

If you want to know how to brew green tea, please visit our website
Everyone’s Tea “How to brew green tea (Easy!!) “ >>> http://www.everyonestea.com/

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Tea from a friend

Hi, everyone!

It was hot today.When I got home today I found a package in our mailbox. It was the first tea of the season from a friend of mine. Her grandma grows tea. When I opened the caddy, the nice refreshing aroma flared around. The color is deep green. It smells and looks nice. I’m really glad for the first tea of the season!! Thanks to my friend.

I’ll try the scented tea tomorrow, and am looking forward to it! Good night!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Green tea coke!?

Hi, everyone! How is it going?
It’s raining here. I guess the rainy season is just around the corner.

Yesterday, I found an interesting article on yahoo Japan news. Coca-cola Japan is releasing a new coke, “coca-cola plus CATECHIN”. Catechin is bitterness in green tea and medically effective constituents. According the article the drink is a diet coke with catechin and green tea flavor. What, coke and green tea!? How interesting! Diet coke is my favorite drink and I love green tea. I should try it at least once. But, I’m really not sure if the both flavor goes well. I’ll let you know when I try it.

Everyone, visit to Japan and try it!

The Yahoo new article (Japanese) >>> http://zasshi.news.yahoo.co.jp/article?a=20090604-00000005-tkwalk-ent

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sweet of the day, Jun 3 2009

How are you, everyone?
We had another lesson last night.

I really liked yesterday’s sweet. It has bean paste inside and covered with thin soft sticky stuff (like rice cake) outside. I loved the moderate sweetness and sophisticated flavor. I believe a little bit of brown sugar was used in this sweet, and the brown sugar gave it a depth in the flavor. Do you know Japanese Loquat (biwa in Japanese, picture blow)? This sweet is designed in the image of Japanese Loquat. Aren’t they cute?

Have a nice day!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Flower of the day, May 27 2009

Hello, everyone!

This is the flower at May 27 lesson. It is called shakyaku in Japanese. I’m not sure the name in English, but it’s Paeonia lactiflora or paeoniae radix, I guess. It has a big blossom (about 10cm) and is pretty pale pink. Our master says that shakyaku is often used at tea ceremonies in this season.

Have a good day!!

Japanese cake

How are you, everyone?
Yesterday, I got some Japanese cake from a Japanese-style confection store.

There are couple different types of Japanese-style confections. Today I want to talk about nama-gashi (uncooked type). In The Way of Tea, nama-gashi are often served with tea, also in my tea lessons. They are made from sugar, starch syrup, rice, wheat and red beans mainly. And fruits are not used unlike western cakes. Japanese cakes are not only good to eat, but also fun to look at. They are beautiful visually. I like that they made with the sense of the season and the beauties of nature. I think they are a kind of art.

For casual tea and practicing *temae at home, I and Hiro (my wife) went to our favorite Japanese-style confection store and got some Japanese cakes. They are about four centimeter big which is smaller than western cakes and 160 to 250 yen for each. Hiro liked the one in the right back on the picture. It is made with an image of rose. The one in the most front is “a reflected moon on rice paddy”. My favorite one was “stream” which had an image of fish in clear liver. But, it is not in the picture. My father already had it; I was too late to take the picture (^_^;)

Have fun with your teatime and good day!!

* Temae is series of procedures followed to prepare for making the tea, then to do the tea making and then to put things away.