japanese tea: 2 posts

Japanese Green Tea with Toasted Rice : Genmaicha

Andy explores toasted notes and green tea.

When I cook, I am always amazed at how some of the most harmonious flavor combinations arise by fusing seemingly incompatible ingredients. Strawberries and balsamic vinegar, blue cheese and honey, mangoes and cayenne pepper—all of these flavorful groupings work surprisingly well together. In perfumery, classical genres like chypre and fougère juxtapose fresh notes of citrus or herbs with rich woods, moss, and amber to create an exciting fragrant impression. Even in tea, where olfactory and gustatory pleasures meet, harmonious contrasts make for some of the most interesting and popular teas. Such is the case with Genmaicha, a Japanese green tea that blends the savory aroma of toasted brown rice with the freshness and delicacy of Sencha.

genmaicha

When you first open up a package of Genmaicha, the incredible fragrance immediately hits you. The scent of Genmaicha combines grassy sweetness with toasty richness, a cue to the exquisite flavor of the tea, as well as the unique ingredients. Unlike most teas, Genmaicha consists of a steamed green tea (usually Sencha, an early harvest green tea, or Bancha, a lower grade, later harvest tea) combined with kernels of toasted brown rice. Oftentimes, some of these kernels pop during roasting, resulting in pieces that look like popcorn mixed into your tea.

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Sakura Tea : Tasting Cherry Blossoms

Cherry blooming season is nearing its end in Japan, but our trees are just now bursting into bloom. “The cure for/This raucous world…/Late cherry blossoms,” wrote the great Japanese poet Kobayashi Issa, and as I walk to the subway each morning, I notice how the pink froth lights up the austere grey of the streets of Brussels. I take longer routes so that I can see more cherry trees and sometimes I take my lunch to the park where I experience my private hanami, flower viewing. Then I find stray petals tangled in my hair and clinging to my coat–reminders of our very late spring.

cherry-blossoms1

Don’t believe the perfumes named Cherry Blossom–real flowers smell nothing like the cherries we associate with cough syrup or flavored candy. They have a fresh, green scent, with an earthy rose accent. It’s as delicate as the pink confetti of cherry petals. Given the love the Japanese have for sakura, cherry blossom, it’s not surprising that during the spring season you also find all sorts of cherry blossom flavored delights, including soft drinks, chocolate, pastries, ice-cream and candy. Pierre Hermé, the renowned French pastry chef, even offers cherry blossom flavored macarons at his boutiques in Tokyo.

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