Friday, August 28, 2009

Flower of the day, shukaido & wakanakago Aug26

Hi, everyone! This flower is hardy begonia, called shukaido in Japanese, and the vase is wakanakago. I think I found out a little tip of flower arrangement for tea. In this arrangement, can you tell two different greens are used? Shukaido is the one on the bottom with blooms. I’m not sure if I’m correct, but the tip I found is…

Small foliage with bloom(s) + Tall foliage with only green

I think our muster used this combination a couple of times. This isn’t a complicated arrangement, so I can try it home myself. I think this is so simple, that you just need to be careful about the balance of total figure. Anyway I like this combination which the only blooms attract people’s attention and the tall green adds something more to the arrangement.

Have a good day!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Front of tea whisk

How is it going everyone? I could have nice tea last night, twice. Hiro doesn’t stillremember the hirademae steps. She says that she understands the steps in the lesson, but she forgets them in a week. So this week, she asked for having hirademae practice twice in a lesson. That’s why I played a guest twice, and had sweets and tea twice. My legs hurt, thought.

Do you know there is a front for a teawhisk? There is black thread belt on a tea whisk, and the side has its knot is the front of the tea whisk. So anytime when you place a tea whisk, put it toward to you on the front. The excess thread from the knot should always be laid to the handle side. It’s often wild after washing, isn’t it?

Have a nice day!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Flower of the day, uzukumaru vase, Aug 19

Hello, everyone. These days it’s nice and cool here. It is like in the fall. I’m little happy about it. It will be easier to take a lesson in the tea room. Usually, it’s little hot in the tea room. I guess a brazier may raise the room temperature a bit. I’m having another lesson tonight. I’m looking forward to have a nice tea in a cool evening!!

This is a flower from last week lesson. The bloom is natsuzuisen, Lycoris squamigera, and the green is Quince. The vase is called uzukumaru. It means to crouch. Our master says that it’s because it looks like a squatting down person.

Have a good day!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Difference between hard and gentle pouring

Hi, everyone, how are you today?

I read an article about how the way of pouring tea effects to the taste. The article says that the tea will be milder in taste when you gently pour hot water into the teapot and brewed tea into a tea cup. And you will have stronger and bitterer tea with hard pouring. How interesting! Don’t you think? I know may books say “pour tea gentry”, but I have never been so serious about it. Now I have to try it myself.

1g of sencha
80ml 100 degree C water
2 minutes brewing
I tried two way of pouring, hard and gentle with condition above.

Hard pouring: pour swiftly from height

Gently pouring
: slowly tilting the kettle and teapot, and pour quietly

I got disappointed result. I could not find evident differences.
I was expecting the hard pouring tea would get darker in color. But actually, I couldn’t find any big differences, or the gentle pouring tea was even little darker (on the right in the picture). The taste of the first sip for hard pouring tea was that bitterness came first and I could taste sweetness afterward. The gentle pouring tea was smoother, but I had bitterness in aftertaste. Then I tried many sipping to find out more differences, but I could not find any but bitterness.

I made two big mistakes to fail this experimentation.
First, I could not give fair comparison. I brewed the hard pouring tea first and then gentle pouring, so the hard pouring tea got little colder when I tasted. The temperate of tea gave a huge effect to the taste. And second, I made the both tea bitter. I used hot boiling water and brewed for two minutes to bring out the taste and aroma well. But, it worked negatively even I used few tealeaves. I’m so disappointed. I need to try this again under another condition.

Take care!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Putting match from a natsume to a tea bowl

How are you doing everyone?

Do you casually drink matcha at home? You might not need to know the proper way to scoop matcha, but if you know it, you could impress your friends!

Pick up the teascoop with right hand.
Hold natsume with left hand.
Open the lid with the hand holding the teascoop.

Place the lid next to the tea bowl on the right

Scoop matcha and put into the tea bowl.
Do it twice for one and half scoops
This is how much one scoop looks like.

Flick off the excess matcha remained on the teascoop by gently hitting the tea bowl edge twice

Put the lid back by the right hand with holding the teascoop
Put down the natsume and place the teascoop on top of it

Did you acquire these movements? Now you are a master of ceremonial tea!!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sweet of the day, Slippery confection Aug 19

Hello, everyone!

This is the confectionery from yesterday’s lesson. I think it is a kind of yokan. This confectionery consists of two layers. The bottom layer is sweet bean jelly like ordinary yokan. And beautiful clear layer lies on top of it. The top layer has some soft freckle stuff and sweet beans. I think it expresses a waterscape. This sweet was very slippery, and it was difficult to pick up with chopsticks. When everyone handled it, they pretended to be calm but actually were so serious underneath (^_^;) Hiro and our master really liked the taste. I enjoyed the cool atmosphere from the appearance. I think it’s pretty nice to enjoy sweets in season.

Take care!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Green tea for a summer gift

Hi, everyone! There is a gift-giving custom in Japan. The summer gifts are called "ochugen", and the year-end gifts are "oseibo". We present gifts to someone who has done something for you like a teacher, a boss, relatives or business contacts. Green tea is one of popular item for ochugen or oseibo.

We are not exemplary people to follow this custom, but at least we want to present the gifts to our tea master. So, the other day we went to a tea shop in my town to look for the summer gift for her. The tea shop has a lot of selection of tea, sencha, hojicha, matcha, genmaicha, oolong, and so on. I always get little excited in the large selection. They even have many choices for sencha. We got two packages of tea, fine sencha and kabusecha. Kabusecha is a nice tea; it’s like in between gyokuro and sencha. I hope our master will like them.

Take care!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A new-style Japanese cafe

Hi, everyone!

The other day, we found a cafe of Japanese tea. It was not rustic, more contemporary style. These days, this kind of café is getting popular. I've always wanted to go there. My understanding is that traditional cafes are place to enjoy Japanese sweets, and tea just comes with them. So there is not much choice for tea. But this new style cafes is a place to enjoy Japanese teas, sencha, matcha and hojicha. So they have some different kinds of tea brands you can choose from.

We ordered green tea cheese cake, green tea ice-cream, and iced sencha (yame tea from Kyushu). We loved the sencha. First, I liked how they served the tea. It came with wine cooler and wine glass. It looked cool, and we could enjoy the tea cold through the end. I was also surprised with the rich aroma. Usually, it’s difficult to enjoy aroma with iced-tea. But this cold water brewed tea had rich and full-flavor. I really enjoyed the delicious iced tea in the relaxed atmosphere. I want to come to this kind of cafe again!

Take care

Monday, August 17, 2009

Trip to Nagano and Gifu

How are you doing, everyone?

We went to a trip to Nagano and Gifu. There was a lot of nature.

I had zarusoba noodle again. It’s my favorite.

Visited Tsumago, which is an old post station. Now it has been touristy, and they have restaurants, cafes, and gift shops in the historical-looking street. It was interesting place to visit.

We found a place that you can try to make soba noodle at next to our hotel!! It was much fun than we expected.

Even it was little vary in thickness, I think we did good for the first time(^-^)

Sencha came in a yunomi cup at a cafe way home. The café has very nice Japanese garden with white gravels and beautiful green moss. It was my favorite style garden. I don’t find many cafés that has such a nice garden.

Have a nice day!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Flat water pitcher for summer

How are you everyone?
This week we’re having a summer vacation. I’ll miss about a week of this blog, and come back on next Mon of Aug 18.

Yesterday we had a lesson for this week. We practiced another new item, flat water pitcher. It’s a big flat water pitcher used in the summer, and it stays in the tearoom all through a temae; is not brought in or taken out with the host. This flat pitcher has a lid that can be folded half to open.

I thought flat pitchers has a cooler atmosphere than regular water pitcher, because it can hold plenty of water and has larger surface. I guess it is the reason for that flat pitchers are appreciated in the summer.

See you on next Mon. Enjoy your summer!!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Handling chopsticks beautifully

How are you doing everyone?

Aren’t you satisfied with just useing chopsticks skillfully? You would look much smarter if you know manner of how to hold up and put down chopsticks. Today let’s take a closer look for handling chopsticks when you have sweet at a tea ceremony.

1. Hold the end of chopsticks with your right hand and pick them up

2. Hold the middle of the chopsticks with your left hand from underneath

3. Rehold the chopsticks to the regular holding position with your right hand

4. Take one of the sweets with chopsticks with steadying the bowl for sweets with your left hand

When you put the chopsticks back to the bowl, do the backward steps. Have a nice day!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Younomi tea cup at kaiten-zushi (belt-conveyor sushi) restaurant

Hello, everyone.

Last night we had a dinner at a kaiten-zushi (belt-conveyor sushi) restaurant. The tea was powder green tea, which is the same kind of tea from another kaiten-zushi restaurant. But the cup was better, here. This restaurant has big thick younomi cups like regular sushi restaurants. Sushi younomi cups with Japanese characters written are pretty popular. The name of restaurant is written on this cup.

Have a good day!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Flower of the day, Kaido Aug. 5

How is it going everyone?

We had another lesson last night. The flower was kaido, Malus halliana. Our master didn’t like how big these leaves are. I also thought it will be well-balanced figure if the leaves are little smaller. I didn’t know how big the leaves of ordinary kaido should be, but now I’m looking at the internet for kaido. Right, they are much smaller.

Take care.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Iced matcha latte at home

I sometimes enjoy matcha with milk and sugar. Iced matcha latte is easy and delicious. When you get tired of iced café-latte, try this out! It will be your alternative.

Put 4-5 scoops of matcha with a tea scoop into a tea bowl, and sugar if you want.
Actually, I use synthetic sweetener, not sugar. It dissolves easily in cold water and low calorie in addition. Sugar may not dissolve well, so it’s better to add syrup in the end instead of putting sugar here.

Mix the matcha and cold milk with a tea whisk

It is easier to mix with small amount of milk (about 100ml) first, and add more milk (another 100ml or so) after. Immediately rinse the tea whisk with running water really well; remained milk component can be a cause of getting mold.

Pour into a glass with ice cubes

Have a nice day!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Flower of the day, Jul 30

Good morning, everyone! Finaly the rainy season is over!! The Japan Meteorological Agency announced the end of the rainy season yesterday. I feel that it’s going to be hot today. It’s only eight in the morning but there is scorching sunlight outside and cicadas are buzzing on a high note.

Great trees for noisy cicadas at a little shrine in our neighbor .

This is flower from the lesson on July 30. The arrangement was a little gorgeous and elegant, don’t you think? I thought I rather like it. I forgot the name of the vase and flowers, sorry.

Take care and enjoy your summer!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sweet of the day, arrowroot confectionery Jul29

How was your weekend?

This was the confectionery from the last lesson. It has sweet been paste inside and covered with confectionery jelly. This is one of our master favorite.

The first summer came since we moved to this place in last Oct. In Japan there are summer festivals held all over the place in this season. There was another festival in my town on the last Saturday, and firework display was held. We weren’t expecting, but this year we could see the fireworks from our front yard!! Next year, we might invite some friends and enjoy the fireworks over beer and barbecue. Doesn’t it sound nice?

Have a nice day!