Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Efficiency of partial storing 2

A: Opened almost every day
G: Not opened

A looked darker and greener, and G was brighter and brownish. It was not a huge difference but we found that A was slightly better in condition of appearance.

There was no big difference for brewed tea. However, we found G to give a poor flavor.

A had a darker color.

Prepared Tea A was also a little darker. Hiro and I both found A better than G. G tested bitter. The difference was more obvious on matcha than sencha.

This is a very surprising result. I expected that G would be better or at least we would not find much difference. However, the result is totally opposite. I have to say that A is better. I don’t find any good explanation about this but what I can only think that has caused it is moisture. It was rainy and very humid on the day when I packed these samples three weeks ago. So I think the moisture would have gone into the packages. This is only my assumption; by opening Package A every day, it helped reduce the moisture instead of gaining. G kept the moisture from the beginning and it made G worse than A. I think the two advantages of the parcel storing are avoiding oxidation and block humidity. If my guess is correct, you could say that the moisture has much worse impact than oxidation. Again this is just my assumption and nothing to be sure.

I’m dissatisfied with the result and I still believe the theory of the partial storing is correct. So I want to re-try this test sometime. I’m sorry that I could not give you any good advice from this test. But, why don’t you avoid opening a new package on a rainy day till I find out the cause. Jah!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Efficiency of partial storing

When you open a new package of tea, do you keep the tea all in the same tea caddy? It is said that it is better to keep only an amount for about two week’s use in your daily caddy and keep the rest at a cool place in an airtight container separately. It can reduce the risk of oxidation and humidity. Let me call it the partial storing.

Konnichiwa, it’s meヽ(^。^)ノ I wanted to know how effective partial storing is. In the series of my storing tests, I included one for it. Here is the condition for the test. I have two samples. I kept one in a tea caddy at a room temperature and opened it almost every day. For the other one, I triple wrapped and didn’t open it. I did this test for three weeks for both sencha and matcha.

Common conditions
Tea: sencha (3g each) and matcha (1.5g each)
Term: about three weeks
Place: room temperature (the average was about 22degC (72F))

ASingle packing (tea caddy) Opened almost everyday
GTriple packing (small plastic bag, tea caddy, plastic bag with zipper)
Not-opened during the term

Tasting condition
Sencha: 3g tea leaves, 100ml (3.5oz) boiling water, one minute brewing
Matcha: 1.5g matcha, 60ml (2.1oz) 85degC (185F) water

Daily caddies are opened pretty often and it also refreshes the air and introduces more oxygen and moist into the caddy. So, I believe the theory of the partial storing naturally makes sense. I wanted to prove its efficiency or I should say that I myself wanted to know how effective it is. What‘s your thought? I’ll tell you the result on the next entry. Jah!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The best condition for daily tea storing 2

A: Room temperature
B: Refrigerator
C: Freezer


A (room temperature) and C (freezer) were similar in color on dry leaves. B (refrigerator) was brighter and yellowish than the other two. So, B was not good on the appearance.

For brewed tea, B did not have much aroma compared to the others. I liked the flavor of A the best. My wife, Hiro liked C best.


The result was pretty much the same as sencha’s. Hiro found a little weird smell on B which is probably caused by other odors from the fridge. A looks a little lumpy in the picture. But I have sifted all teas so their granularity should be the same. It is just how I placed there when I took the picture.

A was the darkest in color among the prepared tea. I found less flavor on B. Hiro and I both like A best.

To conclude this test, for short period storage, I think it is best to store your daily tea at a room temperature. For both sencha and matcha, B was inferior in quality among the others. I don’t know the reason for this result.  I really wonder why. A and C did not have a significant difference. When you consider the effort of thawing and multiple packing, I think A (room temperature) is the most practical and best way to keep your tea.

I used double-lid tin tea caddies on this test. So when you store your tea, please use an airtight and light proof tea caddy and keep it at room temperature but a relatively cool place like food storage. It will be fine for a couple of weeks^^

There are some other tea storing tests on going. Please stay tuned for more results. Jah!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The best condition for daily tea storing

What do you think the best condition to keep your daily tea; at a room temperature, refrigerated or frozen? I actually did a test for it.

Konnichiwa, it’s meヽ(^。^)ノ I opened new packages of sencha and matcha and repacked them into three different containers. I’ve kept them for about three weeks in three different places, such in a food storage at a room temperature, refrigerator and freezer. I used triple packing for the samples in the refrigerator and freezer to avoid capturing odors from other food. I opened the three packages almost every day to create the similar environment for daily tea. To avoid gathering frost and moisture, I left the samples from the fridge and freezer at a room temperature about an hour every time I opened them. The other day I prepared those tea samples and tasted them.

Common Conditions
Tea: sencha (3g each) and matcha (1.5g each)
Term: about three weeks (average room temperature: 22degC (72F))
All containers were opened almost everyday

Place Condition
ARoom temperatureSingle packing (tea caddy)
BRefrigeratorTriple packing (small plastic bag, tea caddy, plastic bag with zipper) Leave it at room temperature for an hour before open

Tasting condition
Sencha: 3g tea leaves, 100ml (3.5oz) boiling water, one minute brewing
Matcha: 1.5g matcha, 60ml (2.1oz) 85degC (185F) water

Where do you think the best place to keep the daily tea? My assumption was that the refrigerator is the best. Because, repeatedly freezing and thawing may not be good for tea and it’s also better than room storage because it is lower in temperature. However, it is said that refrigerator has the most chance to capture odors from other food. So, what is your assumption? I’ll report the result on the next post. Jah!

Pictures for the triple packing >>> Preparation for tea-storing tests

Monday, June 13, 2011

Yakitori-ya, popular drinking place in Japan

List Friday, I went to a yakitori restaurant or I should say yakitori bar. They serve yakitori, grilled chicken on stick. Yakitori bar (yakitori-ya) is a popular place for drinking. I wanted to drink shochu (Japanese liquor) but I drove there so I had oolong tea. I enjoyed yakitori for dinner.

Konnichwa, it’s meヽ(^。^)ノ Here is a quiz for you. At this yakitori bar, there was an empty ceramic cup on each table as you can see it on the picture below. Can you tell what is for? …

It has something to do with yakitori.

Before I give you the answer, let me talk about yakitori a little bit. Yakitori is usually flavored with salt or sweet soy based sauce, which is similar to teriyaki sauce. You know what? I think teriyaki sauce is a coined term in English. We do not use such term in Japanese. Teriyaki means just one of cooking methods which is grilling something with the sweet soy based sauce. Anyway, at the yakitori bar, they just call it tare which means sauce. You would be asked tare (sauce) or shio (salt) when you order teriyaki.

Have you come up with any idea what the cup on the table is for? The answer is that the cup is for you to put the sticks in after you eat the chicken. Not every yakitori-ya has this cup but some do.

You can now have your debut in a yakritori bar. What you just need to remember are Japanese terms tare (sauce) and shio (salt). Don’t forget to look for the cup when you are at a yakitori-ya. Jah!

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Confection Named Clear Stream

I don’t fish but I remember that my father took me to the river for fishing when I was a kid. My father loves sweet-fish fishing. One of the popular fishing methods for sweet fish is decoy fishing. You use a real sweet fish for a decoy. You put a decoy on the line and maneuver it with a very long rod. You lead the decoy into a territory of wild sweet fish. The wild fish tries to attack your decoy and will be caught on a hook from the decoy. Isn’t it interesting? Now the season for sweet fish has just started in Japan and my father has been to the first fishing of the year.

Konnichiwa, it’s meヽ(^。^)ノ The other day, I went to my favorite confectionary shop in my town, called Azumaken. The confection I got this time was named seiryu 清流 or clear stream.

I think how they express the water is superb. You can see the fish warped as they would be in water. This confection really pictures the scenery of two sweet fish swimming in clear flowing water. It brought the comfortable air of the early summer to my table. It reminded me of my childhood memories. Jah!

Google image search result for 鮎 ”sweet fish” >>>

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Shizuoka prefecture decided to do the test

There is some progress on the controversy about the tea regulation. Opposed to their previous standing, Shizuoka prefecture has announced that they are going to do the radioactive test on their dried leaves. They’ve reached the decision to prevent harmful rumors.

Konnichiwa, it’s meヽ(^。^)ノ According Shizuoka, most of aracha has been processed to the end products and it is difficult to do the test on aracha from every region in Shizuoka. However, they can do the tests on the end products from every region. That means they have accepted the test on the dried leaves more or less. Shizuoka prefecture is going to refrain from selling the tea from the regions which go beyond the regulation criterion (500becquerel per 1kg).

I have not heard any news about the other prefecture, Kanagawa granting the government request. However, I found another news that 16 cities and towns, and some agricultural associations in Kanagawa submitted a request to redress the criteria of the regulation to the government. I’m not worry about the tea from Kanagawa, because the amount of tea produced in Kanagawa is little. It is only about 0.3% of entire tea production in Japan. I do not usually have a chance to buy the tea from Kanagawa.

I as a consumer am very happy with Shizuoka's decision. Shizuoka is the biggest tea producing prefecture in Japan. If Shizuoka did not change their stance, it would have a certain impact on their sales as well as to the tea industry. Now most tea in Japan is safe and I don’t have to change my habit for buying tea. I’m grad about it. Jah!

Source from Yomiuri Online (Japanese) 08 June 2011 >>>

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Controversy over the radioactive test on tea2

Konnichiwa, it’s meヽ(^。^)ノ Yesterday, I wrote about a negative opinion about the radioactive test on aracha (dried leaves). Today I’m writing about …

The Other Opinions in favor of the Government:

Even though it is still safe for drinking, there will be cases that people consume the leaves by eating the residue after brewing. Also, the consumers will feel threatened knowing that the there are somewhat contaminated leaves that has leveled with the regulation specification that are distributed in the market.

I basically agree with today’s opinion. I think those uncertainties will generate more anxiety among the consumers making them hesitant in buying these teas. Shizuoka and Kanagawa should grant the government’s request; I think it would eventually be beneficial for them as well. That being said, I still cannot tell how reasonable the criteria are. They could be too strict. A professor from Gakusuhin University says that even the aracha goes beyond the regulation specification level and will be diluted once it is brewed, so it means that it won’t be harmful to your health when you drink it. I really wish the government indicates an intelligible explanation with scientific evidences regarding the regulation. Jah!

Source from Yomiuri Online (Japanese) 07 June 2011 >>>

Edit on Oct 31 2011

Other entries about the radiation and tea

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Controversy over the radioactive test on tea

I do not want to talk about politics in this blog. However, since the radioactive-contaminated tea is a disturbing issue against our safety, then I’ll be writing about a recent the news I’ve just seen.

Konnichiwa, it’s meヽ(^。^)ノ The radiation test on tea that I have introduced on the previous entry (Restriction of tea leaves) was a test on raw leaves before processing, which is like raw vegetable. This time, the government decided to test on aracha (dried leaves) and restrict it. The areas where those tea were found are the entire Ibaraki prefecture and some parts of Kanagawa, Chiba and Tochigi prefectures. Sizuoka and Kanagawa prefectures said that they have already done the tests on fresh leaves. These two prefectures are not going to follow the government’s request and are not going to test on aracha. Basically, a controversy has arose over the adequacy of the regulation.

Negative Opinion about the Regulation:

The criteria of the regulation are not reasonable. By drying, the weight of aracha is reduced to 1/5th of the actual weight of fresh leaves. That means the substances are condensed five times, including the radioactive substances. Thus, to apply the same regulation for raw vegetables (500becquerel per 1kg) to aracha is not appropriate and it is not based on scientific evidences. And also, in brewed tea the substance extracted is only 1/50th - 1/60th of aracha, so it’s not harmful. Therefore, the regulation on aracha is not practical.

Tomorrow, I’ll write about the other opinions in favor of the government. Jah!

Edit on Oct 31 2011

Other entries about the radiation and tea

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Do you know of aracha?

Today, I saw a news about radioactive tests on tea. In the news, a term “aracha” is used. Have you heard of it? I believe that ordinary people in Japan don’t know that term and it is used only in the industry. Today I would like to introduce aracha.

Konnichiwa, it’s meヽ(^。^)ノ Aracha is not usually sold in tea shops. It is incompletely processed tea and distributed in the industry. Harvested tea leaves are taken to tea factories. They are steamed, knead and dried. This product is aracha. You could call it crude tea in English. Wholesalers or distributors buy aracha and they complete the process by heating, screening and blending. It becomes the end product which you find in stores. It is called shiagecha in contrast to aracha which is also an industrial term.

You could drink aracha like ordinary tea. But, aracha is non-uniformed which includes twigs, hard or broken leaves. It is not as dry as shiagecha so it is not good for long storage. Blending different aracha makes stable quality teas and deferent brands to fit customers’ preference. Now, do you know what aracha is? Jah!

I found this tea at a tea shop labeled as aracha. But I guess this is not real aracha, more like farmer’s homemade bancha according to the description on its package.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Is the tea brewed with a porcelain teapot healthier?

I had an inquiry from a reader of this blog. He said that “You wrote on your blog that Tokoname teapots absorb catechin and make tea less bitter. On the other hand cathechin is considered as a substance that affects on health in a very good way. So does it mean that making green tea in a porcelain teapot is potentially more healthy?”. What do you think of that? If you are not familiar with what he is talking about, please refer to the following three entries.

Tokoname teapot can brew more delicious tea than teapots made of other materials

Does green tea prevent cancer?

Green tea for metabolic syndrome?

Konnnichiwa, it’s meヽ(^。^)ノ My answer to his question is “No”. The tea in Tokoname teapots contains more bitterness (catechin) than the ones in porcelain teapots. So, the tea brewed with Tokoname pots could be regarded as healthier. Please let me explain it in the following three topics.

1. Amount of substance extracted

2. What people taste

3. A discrepancy in my article

1. Amount of substance extracted

Tokoname teapots extract more substances in both umami and bitterness than the teapots made of other materials. The chart from the survey shows that the tea brewed by Tokoname teapot has the most bitterness among the four materials.

This chart is from Saron No.37 by Nihoncha instructor association

2. What people taste

Many people thought the tea brewed with Tokoname-pot is richer and mellower. Even though it actually contains the most bitterness, they taste milder in it. I’m not sure about the reason but my assumption is that the flavors along with the other substances surpass the bitterness.

3. A discrepancy in my article

On my previous entry, I introduced an idea as a general understanding that Tokoname teapot absorbs catechin of tea and makes less-bitter tea. But I realized that this idea does not support the result of the scientific analysis by a taste-sensor machine at all. I apologize for the discrepancy of my article. The general understanding for Tokoname teapot absorbing catechin may not be correct or there might be some other explanation regarding this issue. I don’t know and cannot explain the cause why Tokoname teapot extracts more substance and why people find it less bitter.

To conclude, I’m not really sure how effective it is but you could say that the tea brewed with a Tokoname teapot is healthier than the tea brewed with a porcelain teapot on the matter of catechin. Jah!