Tag: Japanese Tea Ceremony

All about Japanese tea: types and how they are different from other teas

All about Japanese tea: types and how they are different from other teas

As you know, Matcha is one type of Japanese teas. However, did you know there are many other types of delicious Japanese teas? ٩(๑´0`๑)۶

Let me introduce you to the world of Japanese teas!

 

Japanese tea is ‘unfermented’, unlike most of other teas

Unfermented tea is made from tea leaves that have been heated in such a way as to prevent oxidization from enzymes, whether by steaming, roasting on a pan, drying out in the sunlight or other similar methods.

Almost all tea made in Japan is green tea, aka Ryoku-cha (緑茶), and the term Ryoku-cha refers to this unfermented tea. As the tea leaves have not been fermented, the tea becomes a brilliant green color. Thus, the green color of the tea gave rise to the name Ryoku-cha.

I will show you some of the most common Ryoku-cha!

 

Sen-cha (煎茶)

Sen-cha is the most widely consumed type of green tea (Ryoku-cha) in Japan. The usual method of preparing Sen-cha involves steaming fresh tea leaves before rolling and shaping them. The longer they’re steamed for the more the color and flavor of the tea will change, becoming darker, stronger and reducing the astringency. For that reason there are multiple different grades or varieties of Sen-cha.

 

 

Gyokuro (玉露)

Gyokuro is a type of green tea where the tea plants, shortly after they begin to sprout, are covered up in order to prevent them from receiving direct sunlight during their growth. By limiting the sprouts’ exposure to sunlight, astringency in the leaves is reduced and their flavor becomes richer. Its main characteristic is the resemblance in flavor to nori seaweed. As cultivating Gyokuro is a more painstaking process than regular Sen-cha, it is considered to be the most high class variety of green tea in Japan.

 

 

Matcha (抹茶)

Matcha is a type of green tea made from powdered ‘Ten-cha’ tea leaves. Ten-cha is much like Gyokuro in that it is cultivated with limited exposure to sunlight, but the main difference is that rather than being rolled up before drying they are left flat, and the veins and stalks of the leaves are removed. Also the way of making Matcha is different from other teas as Matcha is powdered, to make Matcha tea, you need to mix Matcha powder with hot water with a whisk, not steaming.

Related post: what is matcha? basics of matcha green tea from japanese people

Related post: matcha vs green tea. matcha is not just a powdered green tea!

 

 

Matcha is mainly consumed during Japanese tea ceremony, Sado, without being added any sugar or milk. But other than that, Matcha can be used for sweets or other sweet drinks such as Matcha latte.

 

 

 

Hoji-cha (ほうじ茶)

Hoji-cha is made from taking Sen-cha or other green tea and roasting it over a strong flame until it turns a light brown, resulting in a very fragrant brew. Due to the roasting process that gives Hoji-cha its brown color, the caffeine content is sublimated creating its distinctive flavor.

 

 

Genmai-cha (玄米茶)

Genmai-cha is a variety of tea where brown rice that has been soaked and boiled in water is roasted and then added to Sencha or other types of green tea in a roughly equal ratio. The aroma of the roasted brown rice mixed with the refreshing taste of the green tea is a delight.

 

 

Non-green-tea Japanese teas

There are not very common but there are some Japanese teas that are not green teas. For example: Mugi-cha, tea made from roasted wheat. Sakura-cha, tea made from salted petals of cherry blossom that is usually consumed in spring.

 

 
 

If you visit Japan, please try as many Japanese teas as you can and find your favorite one!

Matane! (in Japanese, means “see you soon!”)

My recommended 3 cafes in Tokyo where you can enjoy Matcha and high-grade Japanese sweets

My recommended 3 cafes in Tokyo where you can enjoy Matcha and high-grade Japanese sweets

In Tokyo there are many cafes you can have a delicious cup of Matcha , but there are only a few cafes where you can have Matcha together with high-grade Wagashi. Let me introduce you 3 cafes I recommend you to visit in Tokyo!(*´∀`*)

 

1. Tsuruya Yoshinobu, TOKYO MISE

Tsuruya Yoshinobu TOKYO MISE is a cafe located on the 1st floor of a department store called “Coredo Muromachi” directly connected to Mitsukoshimae Station. Tsuruya Yoshinobu is a well-known long-established Japanese traditional sweet brand in Kyoto. You can buy this high grade Wagashi at different department stores all over the country now. However, this café offer an artisan made beautiful high-grade confectioneries, called Namagashi. The café offers three different seasonal sweets options, and you can choose the one you like the most.

 

 

Since the artisans make the sweets on the spot, it is certainly fresh. You can take photos as well. Your eyes will be glued to the vivid hands of the artisans who create more and more sweets.

Related post: nerikiri, an edible art! beautiful high-grade traditional japanese confectionery

Matcha is served at the same time when your Namagashi is made. The bitterness from Matcha tea match really well with the sweetness from the freshly made Namagashi.

 

 

Tsuruya Yoshinobu, TOKYO MISE

Address: first floor of Nihonbashi COREDO Muromachi 3, 1-5-5, Nihonbashi Muromachi-cho, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Access: Connected to Exit A6 of Mitsukoshimae Station on the Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line/Ginza Lines
Menu: Matcha and Wagashi: 1,296 yen

 

2. Mori-no-Chashitsu

Mori-no-Chashitsu is a Matcha café located 7 min walk from Nishi Sugamo station. Once you enter, the café will greet you with bar-like counter with a very calm atmosphere. Here, you can enjoy both high grade regular Matcha, as well as Koicha, which is thick Matcha tea, together with Wagashi that are made by an owner of this café. Wagashi may change every day and you can enjoy seasonal taste.

Related post: thick matcha tea, koicha? matcha tea you didn’t know

 

 

 

In the back of the café, there is a room for tea ceremony where you can watch the owner making Matcha tea for you in a way of Japanese traditional tea ceremony, Sado. If you want to experiment Japanese Sado tradition to a full scale recommend you to visit this café!

 

 

Mori-no-Chashitsu

Address: 2-33-11, Nishi Sugamo, Toshima-ku, Tokyo
Access: 7 min walk from Nishi Sugamo station
Menu: Koicha: 1,500 yen

 

3. Toraya Tea Room, Tokyo Midtown

Toraya is a well-known Japanese-style sweet shop; it is known by essentially all Japanese people. It is particularly famous for Yōkan, and you can taste the delicious red bean that has just the right level of sweetness.

Related post: what is yokan? traditional japanese sweets that can be very arty

Toraya sweets can also be purchased at famous department stores and other places, but if you want to enjoy the sweets with Matcha green tea, the Toraya Tea Room is recommended. Especially at the Tokyo Midtown store in Roppongi Tokyo, beautiful Japanese sweets including Jo-Namagashi and others are displayed.

 

 

 

Here, not only you can have Wagashi that are made with red bean paste such as Namagashi and Manju, but also you can have Japanese style shaved ice. Don’t forget to order Matcha tea together!

 

 

Toraya Tea Room, Tokyo Midtown

Address: D-B117, 9-7-4 Akasaka, Minato-ku, TOKYO (Tokyo Midtown Galleria B1F)
Access: Directly connected from Exit 8 of Roppongi Station, Toei Subway Oedo Line

 
 

Please let me know how you like them if you visit!

Matane! (in Japanese, means “see you soon!”)

Matcha utensils! What tools do you need to make Matcha tea?

Matcha utensils! What tools do you need to make Matcha tea?

In Japanese tea ceremony, you usually need specific utensils to make Matcha tea. Here, I will introduce you 4 Matcha utensils I recommend you have though some utensils can be substituted with kitchen tools you already have!

Related post: what is matcha? basics of matcha green tea from japanese people

 

Matcha bowl, Matcha Chawan (抹茶茶碗)

Matcha Chawan is a tea bowl for making Matcha. They are usually made from porcelain or ceramic, and have a wide mouth which makes it easy to make Matcha. There are many types of materials and patterns. Sometimes the patterns express seasonal designs or a lucky charm.

Chawan usually has a front, and it is the most beautiful part of the Chawan. In a ceremony, host faces the front of the Chawan towards guests when he/she offer matcha tea, and to show respect during the ceremony guests will slightly rotate the Chawan as to not drink directly from the front.

Matcha Chawan is most commonly available at stores that specialize in utensils for Japanese cooking. There are cheap Chawan available, but antique Chawan or Chawan that were used by popular designers can fetch a high price. Try searching for one that best fits your taste.

 

 

 

You can substitute Matcha Chawan with a cereal bowl or a soup bowl.

 

Matcha whisk, Chasen(茶筅)

Chasen, or Matcha whisk, is a tool used to mix Matcha powder with hot water when making tea. Normally Chasen has 100 thin bamboo prongs. Chasen is used to mix Matcha and hot water. Thanks to thin prongs you can make your Matcha drink very attractive looking and frothy.

 

 

When finished with using the Chasen, dip it in warm water and gently swirl it to get the Matcha powder to come off. Do not use any type of soap or dish detergent on your Chasen. After washing, hang it out away from direct sunlight in a place with good ventilation to prevent mold from growing on it. You may wish to use a Chasen holder to help preserve its shape.

 

 

You can substitute Chasen with a handy milk frothier.

 

(optional) Matcha spoon, Chashaku(茶杓)

Chashaku is a thin Matcha spoon made by bamboo. It is typically hand-made by professionals and very delicate. Chashaku is used to scoop out Matcha tea powder.

 

 

If you don’t have Chashaku, you can use a regular spoon instead.

 

(optional) Matcha tea powder container, Natsume(棗)

Natsume is a jar that contains Matcha tea powder in Japanese tea ceremony.

There are many types of Natsume. Typically, it is lacquered and has beautiful painting or pattern on it to entertain guests during the ceremony.

 

 

It is not designed to preserve Matcha tea powder for long time, but it is used during tea ceremony. To preserve Matcha tea powder, please make sure to put Matcha tea powder in an air-tight container and save it at cool and dry place.

How to make Matcha tea

You will need Matcha powder, hot water, a bowl and a whisk.
1. First, put 2g (about 2 scoops of Chashaku, Matcha spoon) of Matcha powder into a Chawan, Matcha bowl.
2. Then, pour 60ml of hot (80℃/175℉ is the best) water into Chawan.
3. Whisk quickly for about 15 seconds with Chasen, a bamboo whisk, making “m” shape, until your drink gets frothy.

It is easy and simple. Of course, you can change the ratio to enjoy Matcha tea!

 
 

Matane! (in Japanese, means “see you soon!”)

Nerikiri, an edible art! Beautiful high-grade traditional Japanese confectionery

Nerikiri, an edible art! Beautiful high-grade traditional Japanese confectionery

Have you ever seen showcases of beautiful traditional Japanese sweets in Japanese confectionery stores?w(*゚o゚*)w

 

 

What are they? How are they made?

 

Edible art! What is Nerikiri?

Nerikiri is a kind of bean-jam-based confectionery, and is categorized as “Jonamagashi”. Jonamagashi is a name given to the most artistic and high-grade pieces of Japanese confectionery.

 

 

In Japanese tea ceremony, Nerikiri is served together with Matcha especially with Koicha (thick Matcha tea).

Related post: thick matcha tea, koicha? matcha tea you didn’t know

 

How is Nerikiri made?

Nerikiri is actually 90% Anko, Japanese bean paste. The beautiful outside layer is made with Shiroan (white bean paste) mixed with sweet and soft Mochi (called Gyuhi), colored and finally shaped. By adding Gyuhi, it becomes easier to shape. Also Gyuhi adds smooth and a little bit of chewy texture to it. Typically, Koshian (smooth red bean paste) is added inside for taste.

Related post: what is japanese red bean paste, anko? types and how to eat at home

So, most of Nerikiri is Anko. You may be surprised that it is sweeter than other typical Japanese traditional sweets. But if you eat Nerikiri together with Matcha tea, Matcha tea clears the sweetness from Nerikiri, so they really well fitting delicious combination!

 

How Nerikiri is different from other sweets

As Nerikiri has evolved as part of Japanese tea ceremony, it entertains people with both its appearance and taste. Here are some characteristics of Nerikiri.

Each Nerikiri has its own name:
First, the word “Nerikiri” refers to all Nerikiris, and each Nerikiri has its own proper name. These proper names are given by Japanese confectionery craftspeople when they make a new kind of Nerikiri.

 

Nerikiri represents seasons:
Next, Nerikiri comes in various shapes, most of which represent seasons. Many of them resemble seasonal flowers, and there are also some that symbolize winter mountains or a piece of classical Japanese literature that suits the season.

 

Every Nerikiri is a once-in-a-lifetime experience:
Finally, Nerikiri never stays the same throughout the year. That is because Japanese confectionery craftspeople get inspired by the changing seasons and make a Nerikiri that suit the time. Therefore, every Nerikiri is a unique and an “Ichigoichie” (Japanese for ”once-in-a-lifetime“) experience.

Nerikiri lasts only 1-2 days so it is hard to buy it as a souvenir but if you visit Japan, please try it!

 
 

Matane! (in Japanese, means “see you soon!”)

Thick Matcha tea, Koicha? Matcha tea you didn’t know

Thick Matcha tea, Koicha? Matcha tea you didn’t know

Matcha tea is a drink enjoyed at Japanese tea ceremony, but did you know that there are two types of Matcha tea? Matcha tea can be Usucha (thin) or Koicha (thick).(・0・。)

Related post: what is matcha? basics of matcha green tea from japanese people

 

 

Usucha (thin Matcha tea) and Koicha (thick Matcha tea)

Typically, Matcha tea is referred as Usucha (thin Matcha tea), because most of Matcha tea cafes provide Usucha.

However, there is another type of Matcha tea that is served at Japanese tea ceremony, what we call it “Koicha” (thick Matcha tea). There are only few places/cafes that provide Koicha and even most of Japanese people have not tried it.

Related post: my recommended 3 cafes in tokyo where you can enjoy matcha and high-grade japanese sweets

 

 

What is Koicha (thick Matcha tea)?

Koicha tends to be much thicker than Usucha. It doesn’t froth like Usucha and is prepared with more tea leaves and less hot water. Please think about Usucha as regular coffee, and Koicha is espresso! But the texture of Koicha is not watery at all, it is more like a rich and thick melted chocolate.

In tea ceremony, Usucha is a basic tea that beginners usually start with. Koicha is for advanced learners.

High grade Matcha is commonly used to make Koicha. Because of the high concentration, the taste of the tea tends to be strong and direct. If cheap Matcha is used, it can end up tasting too bitter. In proper Koicha, the umami flavors of the Matcha overpower the bitterness, making it quite delicious to drink.

 

 

Where can I try Koicha?

Places/cafes that you can enjoy Koicha are very limited compared to Usucha. Please find cafes that are specialized in Matcha tea or if you are in Japan, there are classes where you can have Japanese tea ceremony experience and try Koicha!

 

What Wagashi is good with Koicha?

Koicha is very thick so Wagashi (Japanese traditional sweets) that goes well with Koicha should be more sweet than typical Wagashi. Usually Wagashi that have a strong taste of red bean paste match well with Koicha, for example Yo-kan and Nerikiri (beautiful shaped Wagashi that is made of white bean paste mixed with sweet Mochi). Richness of Koicha in general match well with the sweetness from Wagashi!

Related post: what is yokan? traditional japanese sweets that can be very arty

 

 
 

You may be surprised at the first time when you try Koicha because it is very thick. But once you can have a really good Koicha, I bet you will be obsessed with it! (just like me!) It may be difficult to find places where you can try Koicha, but if you find it please give it a shot!

 

Matane! (in Japanese, means “see you soon!”)

Wagashi and Matcha – combination polished through ages!

Wagashi and Matcha – combination polished through ages!

Before talking about Matcha and Wagashi, we need to mention another important cultural tradition in Japan that significantly contributed to popularity of both. That is “Sado” (茶道・さどう) the Japanese traditional tea making ceremony. …φ(◎◎ヘ)

Related post: what is matcha? basics of matcha green tea from japanese people

 

What is Japanese tea ceremony, Sado?

In a tea ceremony, the host makes Matcha green tea and serves it to a guest or guests in a traditional Japanese manner. The guest(s) enjoy both the host’s hospitality and the tea. This ceremony is called ”Sado“. (or ”Cha No Yu“)

In Sado, there are various rules dictating how to make tea, how to drink tea, how to sit, how to bow, how to stand, how to walk, etc., but all these came into being so that the host can better serve the guest(s), the tea can be better prepared, and guest(s) can better enjoy the hospitality and the tea. There are different schools, which all have different rules, but the basic flow of the host making tea and the guest(s) enjoying it is the same in all the schools.

Related post: matcha utensils! what tools do you need to make matcha tea?

Sado embeds deep meanings and the ceremony is not only about making and consuming tea, but the goal is to morally and spiritually enrich participants. Initially, Sado was practices only by Buddhist monks and Japanese nobility, but by 16th century tea drinking and Sado spread throughout all layers of Japanese society.

 

 

The history of Japanese tea ceremony

Tea was introduced to Japan from China, initially as medicine. It slowly became popular as beverage, and by around the 14th century, entertainments involving tea had become widespread within the Samurai class. They included Cha Yoriai (chatting over a cup of tea) and Cha Kabuki (guessing the place of origin of tea leaves from taste and flavor). The tea drinking culture gradually spread nationwide.

Then, the Sado culture that we still have today was formulated by tea masters such as “Sen no Rikyu” .

 

 

How Matcha and Wagashi developed together

Wagashi was developed to complement Sado and Matcha drinking ceremonies, not only from taste (typical Matcha is unsweetened and bitter when you drink), but also from looks and sound perspectives.

First, Wagashi were designed in artistic manner to match Sado ceremonies to further enrich the procedure with the goal of enriching person spiritually and mentally (it has to look nice for you to feel nice, right? :)). Second, the names of sweets had to sound spiritually nice. That is why so many Wagashi are named after beautiful seasonal object or phenomenon, words from a famous poem, and other spiritually inspiring things for Japanese people. The last but not least is taste. Wagashi should not taste too sweet or too plain. It should well combine and blend with bitterness of unsweetened Matcha. If Wagashi is too sweet then drinker cannot enjoy rich taste of Matcha, if opposite than Matcha can appear too bitter. Wagashi makers follow their ancestor’s methods to recreate perfect taste balance between Wagashi and Matcha.

Related post: wagashi are unique sweets with more than 300 years of history

 

 
 

Matane! (in Japanese, means “see you soon!”)