Monday, October 31, 2011

Tea and radiation in Japan 2

The other day I learned two cases about radiation-contained tea found at France and Tokyo.  Both cases happened in Jun 2011.  I’m sorry that I did not know about them when I wrote the previous entry about “Tea and radiation in Japan”.

Case in France

The tea was found in an inspection at Charles de Gaulle Airport in France.  The tea was imported from Shizuoka Japan and it contained 1038bq of radiation.  They were discarded.

Source: J-cast News (Japanese)

Case in Tokyo

A mail order company, Radish-boya in Tokyo found the tea with radiation on their self-imposed test.  The tea was from Sizuoka and 521-569bq radioactive cesium.  Shizuoka prefecture has requested the manufacturer to recall it and stop further distribution.

The Japanese safety limit for tea is 500bq/kg of radiation.  The tea on both cases was over the limit and they were both from Shizuoka prefecture.  I looked for the cause and measures in response to these incidences, but I could not find any additional information about them.   I also searched on the internet if there are any other cases, but I could not find any.  So, I believe these are not frequently happening cases but I thought that you should know that there were defects on the inspection.  If I find more information about the radiation on tea, I’ll introduce them on my blog.

My past entries about the radiation and tea

Edited on Nov 4
New entry about tea and radiation

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tea for meal

After we did all through the tasting for sencha with variety of food, we wanted to explore a little more.  We prepared hojicha and tried it with some leftover foods.  What was interesting about was that we got pretty different result from sencha’s. 

Konnichiwa, it’s Kohei(^^)  I didn’t like dried raisins and peanuts for sencha.  The raisins created a yucky bitter flavor with sencha.   The flavors of peanuts and sencha existed separately in my mouth and didn’t match well.  But, I didn’t find those negative tastes with hojicha at all.  Hojicha was not bad with fat containing food either.  I could not find a perfect mariage for hojicha this time, but it seems that hojicha is very versatile for many kinds of food.    I surely understood why hojicha is popular for meals.   I can recommend it.  Jah!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Green tea for aperitif

Have you yet tried sencha with anchovy paste?   We have discovered that sencha goes well with salty and umami-rich foods.  Our hypothesis is that umami from green tea and umami from food enhance each other and make a great combo.  Then, how about gyokuro?  Gyokuro has much more umami than sencha.  It must be good also. 

Konnichiwa, it’s Kohei(^^)  So, we tried Gyokuro with anchovy paste.  Uh-huh… we were right!  Gyokuro made an excellent harmony with anchovy.  You can enjoy them at your tea time, but more innovatively, how about serving a shot of gyokuro with anchovy before gourmet cuisine?   Don’t you think it is fancy serving premium green tea like an aperitif?  I’m sure that the umami will stimulate your appetite and it will be a very memorable dinner.  Jah!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Mariage for green tea

After a couple hour tasting, we were tired and getting relaxed.  We talked more about what theory we can find from this test. 

Surprisingly, Gouda cheese went well with sencha.  The flavors from both tea and cheese made a great harmony and filled my mouth.  Other cheeses were not excellent but still good with sencha.  We wondered why, even if cheese contains fat.  Another surprise was that dried tomato went also well.  Of course, dried seaweed was good as well …  Can you think of any clue?

Well, we made a hypothesis that umami and salty flavors are something in common among those foods and go with green tea.  We named some other foods that have umami and salty taste.  What we had there was dried laver seaweed and anchovy paste.  We tried them.  The laver was not excellent; it may need more salty flavor, but we were all delighted by the anchovy paste!  Can you believe that anchovy goes well with green tea?  Umami from tea and anchovy enhanced each other.  They generate a synergistic effect and create a perfect mariage.

You don’t have to eat a lot of anchovy.  Take a very little bite as seasoning and have a sip of tea.  The umami will multiply on your tongue.   If you don’t like umami flavor, don’t try it.  It’s going to kill you.  But if you love umami, you have to try it!  I’m sure you can’t help smiling.

To conclude this test, for sencha, I find that …
Good:  Sweet, salty, and umami
Not good:  Sour or fatty

In addition, I liked sweet for bitter tea and umami for mellow tea.  But again, the foods for tea depend on your personal taste.  So, please enjoy finding your perfect mariage!  Jah!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Snacks and sweets for green tea

Do you know what kinds of food go with green tea?  What do you usually enjoy with Japanese tea?

It is generally said that sweet or salty non-fat foods go with Japanese tea.  I feel the same from my experience.  So, it is pretty make sense that Japanese cakes and rice cracker are popular for tea time.  But, it is difficult to have them overseas and I always wonder what I can recommend for those people.  

Konnichiwa, it’s Kohei(^^)  I had an excellent opportunity to solve my wonder.   I joined a gathering to look for great snacks and sweets for green tea.  What we looked for is not just great, but a perfect mariage!  The six attendees were related to food or tea in their business.  We tasted two kinds of sencha with following foods.  They are not only Japanese food but also foods that you can find overseas (red font). 

- Tea -

Mellow sencha with umami from Kyoto

Bitter refreshing sencha from Gifu

- Sweet -

Sweet bean paste

Japanese pancake with sweet bean (dorayaki)

White sugar

Brown sugar




Dried raisin

- Salty -

Rice cracker (soy flavor)

Japanese pickles

Dried kelp (konbu seaweed)


Potato chips

- Sour -

Umeboshi (pickled plums)

Mandarin orange

- Others -



Smoked cheese

Gouda cheese

Blue cheese

Dried tomato and olive

What do you think?  Is there any food that you are curious about?  Well, the result is very interesting.  Some of the attendees have tried the same kind of test with coffee. They say the result with coffee was pretty much similar for all attendees.  But, at this test with green tea, the results were different in some part.  Example, some people don’t like orange but some liked, and same for blue cheese.  We think that personal taste affects pretty much to the result.  

Even though we had differences, we found some in common.  The aforementioned theory was quite correct; we liked the sweet or salty foods (sweet bean, brown sugar, rice cracker and dried seaweed) but didn’t like fat contenting foods.  So, we thought that many foods that you can find overseas, such as cake, cookie, chocolate, dried raisin, peanut or potato chips are not that good for green tea, unfortunately. 

So, now what?  Some of you might think “Only Japanese food go with Japanese tea??”  Don’t worry!  We found another wonderful theory!!  It’s amazing.  I’ll introduce it on the next post.  Jah! 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Painting raku cup

At the workshop, you choose a piece from the pre-baked ruku cups, and a quick lecture for painting was given.  You could paint your cup with six different colored glazes available there.  Other people were making colorful cups, but I wanted to make a black cup.  Because, I was inspired by the beautiful black raku tea bowls that I saw at the raku ware museum.  

Konnichiwa, it's Koheiヽ(^。^)ノ  The difficult part is that the original glazes are all grayish and you don’t know how colorful or dark they appear after baking.  But, at the same time, the mysterious part is fascinating. 

Drying the pieces on the kiln

Baking them in the kiln for about 40 min.

Taking them out and immediately soaking in water

If you want ashy black flavor in color, you smoke it for a half minute before soaking it in water.

You feel affection for your self-made piece even if it is not excellent.  So as mine.  I think I did pretty well as my first try.  I look forward to having tea with it^^  Jah!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Asking about the weather for greetings

I saw a TV program interviewing foreign people who have been living in Japan for a while.  They were asking about “The moment where you first got used to Japan”.  They talked about things that seems common to us Japanese in their answers, and I suddenly realized that those things might be weird to foreigners.

Konnichiwa, It’s Kohei(^^) 

Some of the answers are …

When I’m bowing on the phone,

When I can tell correct age of Japanese people,

When I apologize often,

When I get used to seeing people who wear a mask in town,

When I talk about weather in greetings,

You might need some explanation for some of them.  Please refer to the bottom of this entry. 

Regarding the greeting about weather, the interviewee is from Taiwan.  She said it is always hot in Taiwan and there is no need to talk about the weather.  Japan has four seasons and people are conscious about the seasons and weather.  That’s right.  We often talk about weather in greetings.  I really appreciate that we have beautiful four seasons. 

Now, it’s one of the best seasons of the year here in my area.  We have a dry and comfortable weather.  Therefore, some festivals and events are held around the town almost every weekend.   This weekend I attended one of the events.  It was a workshop about painting your own raku ware.  Jah!

This is where we had the workshop.


Some people bow when they thank and apologize on the phone, even though the other person cannot see you.  I, myself, might do it sometimes, hahaha…

**Correct age**

Japanese people relatively look younger than people from other nations.   It seems difficult for foreigners to tell the age of Japanese.  How about me?  How old do I look?   I don’t think I’m an exception.     Well, I’m thirty eight.  Do I look young?


We seem to apologize often.  It is natural to us but it doesn’t seem that way at other countries.

**Wearing a mask**

In Japan, people wear a mask when you have a cold or hay fever.  You see some people wearing a mask in town, especially during the seasons where cold and hay fever are common (from winter to spring).  The country where this interviewee comes from doesn’t have such custom and she thought they are terrorists or something.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Designing tea cups

Do you have a teacup which design you adore so much?   Isn’t it difficult finding a perfect tea cup for your tea set?  I, as a tea ware retailer, find difficulty to looking for a tea cup which design really satisfies me.  So, I’ve came up with an idea to design our own cups.

Konnichiwa, it’s Kohei(^^)  I think Japanese tea ceremony is for getting away from daily life and experiencing an extraordinary peaceful moment.  Our usual tea time should have the same kind of essence.  I believe the design of utensils can be powerful enough to create the extraordinary moment.  I love classic designs, but I don’t like old fashion or ordinary ones.  As ancient tea masters find beauty in rustic tea bowls with simplicity, I want to create contemporary designed cups with simplicity and sophistication.

Now I’m asking a ceramic manufacturer to make tea cups that I designed.   We had many revised drawings though out our meetings.  Finally, we got the plaster samples (In the photo below).  I was so exited seeing them in three dimensions and I was fascinated by thinking of the tea time with them.  But the figures were a little different from what I imagined.  We revised the drawing again, and now we are still working on our next steps.

This is a tough change for me.  Not only the design, I have to consider many other things like capacity, usability and pricing,  I’m really enjoying this project and am excited to see the final products^^  I hope I can introduce them by January.  Jah!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tea ceremony with tables and chairs

Ichinokura in Gifu prefecture is the next town of ours, Seto.  It is one of the regions where the Mino wares are produced.  Last Saturday, we went there for the tohnosato festival  (   Tonosato literally means a pottery village.  You find some stands for food and ceramics at the main site.  Some potteries open their studio to the public around the town during the festival.

Konnichiwa, it’s Kohei(^^)  The reason we visited the festival was for a tea ceremony.  Our tea master introduced us the tea ceremony held at Koubei-gama studio (  There were two things that I was curious about this ceremony.  First is the ceremony was held with tables and chairs.  Another thing is that this ceremony was hosted by all men.

Ordinary ceremony is usually held in a tatami room and people sit on the tatami mats.  Tea for guests is also placed on tatami, as well as all other utensils.  But, at Koubei-gama, the place for the ceremony was at a tiled hall of a classic Japanese building.  There was a low table for the host and all the utensils were placed on it.  We, guests had benches and long tables.  This ceremony style is called ryurei.  You don’t meed a tatami room.  There was not tokonoma-alcove, either.  But still, they had flowers and an art to welcome the guests.  I always have tea lessons in a tatami room so I feel the ryurei style very casual and novel.

Most of the tea ceremonies that I’ve attended were hosted by women.  I guess female has more population in The Way of Tea (sado).   However, the host and the assistants at Koubei-gama were all men.  They wore a formal kimono and hakama skirt.  The color of their outfits was dark and subdued.  The movements were slow and stable.  The atmosphere was totally different from a ceremony by ladies.  The ryourei by men was really cool.  I thought it was not polite to take photos during the ceremony, so I don’t have any.  Please refer the photos at Koubei-gama’s webpage. >>>

I was inspired with this ceremony and someday I want to host a ceremony like that with nice outfits^^  Jah!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tea and radiation in Japan

Even after the nuclear accident, I have not stopped drinking Japanese tea.  I understand that tea in the market is basically regulated and safe.

Konnichiwa, it’s Kohei(^^)  The other day, I attended a workshop about “Tea and radiation”.  It was lectured by Mr. Nakamura from the Shizuoka prefecture chagyo-kenkyu center (  This workshop included some scientific information and technical data, and it was difficult for me to follow those parts.

However, the overall main idea is …

l  The radiation exists in our daily lives since before the incident and we are exposed to it at some level.  You can’t make it “0” zero. 

l  At the moment, nobody can tell that you'll get cancer just by the number of radiation you are exposed to.  What you can only say is that less is better.  The risk of getting cancer with radiation is quite the same as getting one by smoking.  You can’t exactly tell how many cigarettes does one have to take to develop cancer.

l  The government set a very low maximum contamination point for tea so most Japanese tea is perfectly safe.   It is indicated that tea can only have the maximum of 500 Bq/kg of radioactive cesium.  Anything beyond that is rejected.

One of the data that I was interested in was the difference of the regulation at each organization.  It appears that even on this date, Japanese regulation is quite strict among those organizations.

Regulation for radioactive cesium in tea

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1250500(since Apr8 2011)




3000 (Cs134:1000,  Cs137:2000)





This data is from the workshop.