Friday, July 31, 2009

Glass tea bowl

How are you doing everyone?

This week lesson we used a glass tea bowl. The tea bowl brought cool in the tea room. I really liked this tea bowl. I think it is quite gracious in the coolness from the clear glass texture and the airy silver sparkles. Glass tea bowls are usually used in the summer. It shows the Japanese preference for things in season, I think.

Have a nice weekend.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Manner of guests, brief steps having sweets

Good morning everyone! I took pictures for manner for having sweets at yesterday lesson. I think you will look smart if you can do this naturally as courtesy.

1. Bow when sweets are served

I think Hiro needs a little more practice for bowing. See our master's bow is much beautiful than Hiro's. You don't want to curl your back and neck when you bow; you bend your hip and tilt your upper body with strait back.

2. Make a bow to other guest(s) when the host starts purifying the tea whisk. It has meaning of “Excuse me for going before you “.

3. Make a bow to the host when the host finishes purifying the tea whisk.

4. Take one of the sweets with the chopsticks to your kaishi (packet of paper). Put the chopsticks back to the bowl and pass the bowl to the next guest

5. Eat the sweet using your sweet pick.

6. Put away your sweet pick and kaishi

Take care.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tea at a steak house

Hi, everyone! I aimed my camera at the eastern sky.

The weather has been gloomy these days. It’s clouded now, and will be raining this afternoon. The rainy season is usually over in the middle of July. But this year, it’s not over yet. In Japan the rainy season usually starts and ends from Southwest. I think I heard the rainy season is over in Tokyo now. The rainy season left behind our region, Aichi.

Yesterday, we had a dinner at a steakhouse. There was a beverage fountain there, and you could enjoy coke, ginger ale and some other stuff. Iced oolong tea and sokenbicha (kind of green tea from Coca-Cola Japan) are also provided from the fountain. I forgot to take a picture of it, sorry. I haven’t seen any fountain provides green tea at oversea, so I thought it could be interesting to you. Hiro and I had iced oolong tea with steak. It could be funny to Americans to have oolong or green tea with steak, but it’s not so surprising at all in Japan.

We’re having another lesson tonight. Take care!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sweets of the day, Jul. 22

Hi, everyone.

This is the sweet from Jul 22 lesson. I was a little disappointed with it. I didn’t think the design and the taste are sophisticated.

The other day, we had really good sweet that a friend of mine gave us. It was jelly in a block container. A mesh was mounted on the end face of the container and you push the jelly out from the other end. You stick it out into a bowl. The jelly became noodle shape and you could enjoy with syrup. It was pretty interesting. There was three different flavor for the syrup, brown sugar, matcha, or plum. We loved brown sugar. The mellow syrup and smooth jelly were very comfortable to my mouth, and it was excellent sweet. Thanks to the friend!

Have a nice day!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Flower of the day, mukuge Jul 22

This week flower was mukuge, H. syriacus.

We spent a lot of this weekend watching videos. We watched THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON, DREAMGIRLS, and MICHAEL JACKSON LIVE IN BUCHAREST. We liked DREAMGIRLS. This was the first time to watch a musical movie, and I wasn’t count on it. But the singing scenes are so powerful and emotional. I could fill the soul. The actors and actresses did excellent convincing performance.

Have a nice day!

Friday, July 24, 2009

I practiced a new temae with mrujoku.

Hi, everyone!

We have been practicing hirademae at lessons. This week lesson I practiced a new temae with tana, a utensil stand (shown in this picture). Please compare with the picture of Hiradema from my past blog. This type of tana is called marujoku. Most procedure is the same as hirademae. The big differences are placing a fresh-water container on the stand, and displaying the ladle and lid rest on the top of the stand when you leave the tea room. This marujoku stand can be used in either the summer or winter season.

I have done this temae before, but it was a long time ago. I didn’t remember some details, need more practice. Hiro is not ready for tana, so she is still keep practicing hirademae.

Have a good day!

PS. In this picture I used a bamboo lid rest, but I should have used a ceramic lid rest for marujoku temae.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tea bowl for the summer

Good morning everyone! How are you today?

We used a flat tea bowl at yesterday’s lesson. This wide-topped and short silhouette tea bowl is often used in the summer. I think it is because it looks cooler, and also for real the tea gets cool easily with the large surface dimensions. The bowl on the left is the flat tea bowl we used yesterday. It looks thinner and smarter, doesn’t it? The other one is a tea bowl which is often appreciated in the winter. I think it’s more ponderous and rugged.

I really like the flat tea bowl we used. I loved the smart design; the roomy top, the streamlined bottom, and light thin body. The white and wide opening emphasized the green hue of matcha so well.

Have a good day!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Which taste better cold water or hot water brewing mugicha

How are you everyone?

There was a summer festival in my town on the last Saturday.

Yesterday, I had an endoscopic exploration. Have you tried endoscop? It was so unconformable experience. I lie down on my side on the bed with a mouthpiece stacked. I was passed through the viewing tube. Ick… I never want to do it again. Fortunately, there was any disease found in my stomach. I was relieved.

As I told you before we usually enjoy cold brewing mugicha. Today, I tried hot water brewing.

The tea on the left is cold water brewing mughica.
Just left a teabag in cold water for couple of hours.

The tea on the right is hot water brewing mugicha.
Put a teabag in boiling water and left it about five minutes and cooled it down.

The hot brewing tea is a slightly murkier. They have nice roasted aroma, but both made cold, so neither has rich aroma. The most important thing, their tastes; I could not find big differences in their tastes. Both have nice mugicha flavor. I could say the cold brewing tea is a little mellower and hot brewing tea is slightly earthy. It was a subtle difference, so I will preparer with easier cold water brewing from now on.

Have a nice day.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Tea at an eel restaurant

Hi, everyone.

Yesterday was a doyonoushi day in the summer. In Japan People eat unagi, freshwater eel on the day to develop their stamina and get through the hot summer. We went to a unagi restaurant nearby. The unagi dish we orderd was kabayaki syle, which is the most common style in our region. The unagi flesh is basted a sweet savory soy sauce and grilled. Its delectable aroma and crunchy texture outside and melting inside are irresistible. The tea served at the unagi restaurant was sencha. I was so busy eating unagi and don’t remember the teste of the tea, sorry. I believe it was just regular sencha.

Take care!

Friday, July 17, 2009

My favorite tea cup for cold mugicha

It is a typical day in the rainy season here. The picture is a view from my office.

I have introduced my big mug at the office before. I have another favorite cup using during work. It’s a double wall vacuum insulation cup. I like that it’s big enough and keeps my drink either hot or cold for a long time. Especially with cold beverage, you will be made to realize the potential of the cup. Ice cubes in cold drink will last more than four hours. Isn’t that amazing? And more, there is no sweat. I really like that. Even in this moment I’m drinking cold mugicha with this cup at my desk.

Have a good day!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Our mugicha system

Hello, everyone. We didn’t have the lesson this week. We have four lessons a month and there are five Wednesdays this July. So, we made this week off.

I talked about mugicha yesterday. There are mugicha teabags for hot-water brewing type and cold-water brewing type. Hot-water type, you brew it with boiling water like hojicha brewing. If you want to have it cold, you need to cool it down afterwards. Cold-water type, you just leave the teabag in cold water, but it will take time, usually hours.

The picture on the right is the mugicha teabag we use. Actually, you can use either hot or cold water with this product. We do cold brewing. It’s easier. We have two pitchers for mugicha. While we are drinking with one pitcher, we prepare next tea with another one. (Picture on the left) It is so easy. You just put water and the teabag into a pitcher and leave it in the fridge. That’s it. When you finish one pitcher, another one will be ready. It’s easier than purchasing big heavy mugicha bottles from glossary stores, and much reasonable. This is our major beverage for the summer. We drink about one pitcher a day or more on hot days.

Have a nice day!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Iced tea for the summer!

How are you doing? It is getting hot here. It been getting over thirty degrees C these days.

Do you know there is a popular tea for the summer in Japan? It is barley tea called mugicha. The brewed tea color is brown, and it has a nice roasted taste. I think the taste is more like to hojicha then sencha. I always have mugicha in the fridge in the summer. I have iced mugicha instead of hot sencha in this season. This is it for the summer!!!

Take care!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The sweet of the day, joyo Jul 8

Good morning everyone!

To watch Michael Jackson DVD at the living room without constraint I’m conspiring to make my wife Hiro to be a Michael fan, and burning an original CD for her. Ha,ha.

The picture was the sweet on July 8. It’s one of my favorite Japanese confectionery called joyo. It is a pretty basic confection, just sweet bean paste covered with the white skin. It really goes well with sencha and matcha, and is reasonable as well. I started to like joyo since my grandpa’s funeral. It was years ago. People brought tons of joyo to the funeral. I, junior high kid munched them up. I don’t see many people bringing joyo to a funeral nowadays, but back then I guess joyo was one of a popular confection as hospitality gift for a funeral in my region.

Talk to later!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Tea at the best Japanese restaurant in my town

How was your weekend, everyone?

This weekend, I had a chance to have a meal of dainty and refined Japanese dishes, each served individually. The meal was so delicious. I think this is the best Japanese restaurant in my town. At the restaurant, sencha (the pictures on the top) was served in the beginning. The tea hue was dark, but it was regular sencha. It was because the inside of the cup was dark green. Do you find oshibori in the picture? It's a wet towel you wipe your hands with. Oshibori is usually served at restaurants in Japan. Anyway, in the end hojicha (the picture on the bottom) was served with dessert. This is different from the restaurant that I introduced on my Jun 24 blog. They served hojicha during the meal and sencha after the meal. But here, the Japanese restaurant served hojicha after meal. I think there is no certain rule about this, and it could depend on restaurant’s own decision. So, you can try different teas and find your favorite combination for your meal.

Thank you for visiting my blog. Have a nice day!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Flower of the day, giboshi Jul 8

Hi, everyone! How are you today?

I’ve ordered Michael Jackson DVDs on the internet. I used to watch them on videotapes. I guess I still have the tapes in my closet, but you know what now I don’t have any VCR. There is no reason to keep the video tapes any more, ha ha… I’m looking forward to MJ DVDs.

Flower for this week lesson was giboshi, hosta. I liked the leaves with interesting pattern of veins.

I hope you have a great weekend!

Talk to you later.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The manner of guest, brief steps of having matcha

How is it going everyone?

Yesterday we had the second lesson of July. I asked our master to be in the pictures for my blog. This is the first time that our master appears on this blog, yay!!

Today I want to show you the manner of guest especially brief steps of having matcha. In the pictures from yesterday’s lesson I was playing the host and Hiro and our master played the guests.

1. The host puts out the tea

2. The guest comes and takes chawan (tea bowl), and returns to the seat.

3. Bow to other guest(s)

4. Bow to the host

5. Drink the tea to the last sip

6. Take a close view of the chawan

7. Return the chawan

I think this is the best part being a guest that you can take your time and relish the tea and appreciate the chawan in the peace. Have a nice day!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Looking for a everyday matcha

Good morning everyone.

As I mentioned yesterday we got matcha from tea shop “A” and “B” to compare. They both have tea-grinding mortars and are milling the tea at the store and selling fresh matcha.

We usually buy teas from “A”. They have a variety of Japanese teas such as sencha, hojicha and matcha. They also have tea wares, sweets for tea and even green tea ice cream. The store looks nice and has a little tea space as well.

This weekend we went to the store “B” for the first time that our master recommended. It was a small poky store. But you can find many tea boxes on the shelves at back of the counter in the dimly-lit store. They are a matcha manufacturer's retail store, so they can provide good matcha in reasonable price. According the lady at the store, their teas are sold almost double of their price at department stores in the city.

We could not find exactly the same price matcha from both stores. So we got 1400 yen for 40g matcha from “A” (on the left in the picture) and 1200 yen for 40g match from “B” (on the right). The matcha powder from A is a little brighter than tea from B. Other than that they are almost the same and also brewed teas looked the same to me. Both smelled well, and has nice green tea aroma. I daresay that tea from A has a slight of bitterness in the smell. There is not a big difference in the taste between them. However, you can find more umami (the fifth taste sensation) and sweetness in the tea from B. They are not high-end tea, so you can find bitterness in both of them. I taste stronger bitterness in tea A. Hiro and I liked matcha from B. We will probably buy matcha from shop “B” from now on.

Even matcha in the same price range could be different in the taste, so you should try couple different matcha from different stores. Have a good day!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Expencive or reasonable matcha

How are you everyone?

What kind of matcha do you usually drink? We enjoy matcha from a teashop “A” in our town. They have six grades of matcha. I believe they are from about 700 to 5000 yen for 40g. We sometimes get good one for nice occasions, but usually get fourth or fifth one for casual matcha at home. They are 1000 yen and 1500yen for 40g. They are okay for everyday tea.

We really like matcha at our tea lessons. Our master gets very nice one from a different teashop “B”. It’s 3000yen for 40g. The matcha is very mild but also have rich green tea flavor. We like strong matcha, so we use a lot of matcha for one serving. With good matcha it not bitter even you make it strong.

I think the difference between reasonable matcha and expensive matcha is that reasonable ones have bitterness and expensive ones are mild and have umami (the fifth taste sensation). Our master likes the teashop “B”, and she recommended us comparing matcha from each shop A and B. So, we bought matcha from both shops on this weekend. I’ll report you the result tomorrow.

Have a nice day!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Sweet of the day, Jul 2

Hi, everyone.

This is the sweet at Jul 2 lesson. It looked pretty with flower motif and light pink color, but the taste was so-so. I liked the sweet on Jun 24 better. I expect the next good sweets.

Have a nice day!