In the recent years, Matcha has become a popular type of tea used for drinking and also for baking by people of all ages and backgrounds.
So what is Matcha? How is it different to regular Japanese tea?
Matcha is simply tea leaves which are steamed, dried, ground and processed to become tea powder.
According to domatcha.com, "it was in the 11th century that the Zen priest Esai initiated the cultivation of tea in Japan. His famous book about tea opens with the sentence: “Tea is the ultimate mental and medical remedy and has the ability to make one’s life more full and complete.” In saying that, Esai was referring to Matcha, later to become Japan’s most treasured kind of green tea and the only tea to be used in the traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony (Sadō)."
Not only does it taste good; green tea has great benefits like:
Tea Tasting w/ Yunomi
Last week, my friend Charles (my Japanese Tea Mentor) and I had a mini tea tasting session / ceremony. We had the tea which was delivered by yunomi, which is a Japanese Tea online store which delivers high grade tea directly from Japan to countries like the US. Not only do they sell tea - they also sell Japanese sweets to pair with your tea and provide users with information and knowledge about Japanese tea.They sell all kinds of Matcha powder so have your pick!
On our tea tasting day, Charles brought some of his tea equipment for the ultimate Japanese tea experience. For this Matcha tea tasting he used a mini-sift, chasen (the bamboo sift), chashaku (the tea scooper) and tea pot to drink from.
The Process and Experience
The way he used all the equipment with the tea powder was beautiful. He started off carefully scooping out the matcha powder and sifting it. By sifting the powder, you can get rid of lumps which leads to a better texture. He then poured a little bit of hot water into the pot with the powder and whisked it with the chasen. You may want to check out the video above to see this yourself. After whisking a small amount, he added a little more water and whisked again. He then said that we were then ready to enjoy the tea. We skipped the ceremonial "Sa-do" steps at this time :)
The tea was super rich, bitter, but also sweet at the same time. The soothing vegetal smell made me feel comfortable - almost like I was just about to end my yoga session.
Charles drinks tea on a regular basis - he said that it gives him a different kind of buzz compared to when he has coffee. I personally have decided to incorporate quiet tea sessions at home for relaxation purposes after this day :) Thank you Charles and Yunomi.us!
Don't forget to check out these Matcha recipes!
Special thanks to:
Yunomi.us (Use code "JPINSIDER" to get 20% OFF!)
Charles, my Japanese Tea Mentor!
Japanese Curry Bread, which we call "Curry-Pan" is a deep fried pastry doughnut filled with Japanese curry.
It's not soupy curry - It's more of a curry paste. Since Japanese curry is sweet, the doughnut and curry combined are a perfect match. These pastries are known to be a Japanese creation - A bakery in Tokyo thought of it in the 1920s.
You can get these beautiful pastries in most bakeries in Tokyo/Yokohama as well as conbinis (convenience stores)! They're affordable so you mustn't leave Japan without having a taste. One of my favourite bakeries in Tokyo/Yokohama is "Pompadour" - it is a popular bakery so you may find it at your closest station/mall.
My advice to you is to put the pastry in the toaster oven before enjoying it. This makes the dough crunchy again....Mm!
Yokohama city itself is also known for their curry-pan as well. My recommendation to you is to go to the "Red Brick Warehouse" in Yokohama to purchase one of these delicious pastries :)
My recent discovery of a heathy soda! (Finally!)
I've never really been a fan of carbonated drinks but since I've started working in SF, I've realized how refreshing it is and that it keeps me alert at 4pm when the evening mode kicks in. Oh, I don't drink coffee after 11am, so that's why I pick other types of drinks instead. Green tea is another choice for me but sometimes, you just need to spoil yourself with a tasty ol' soda!
So Obi, is a Probiotic Soda. They were kind enough to send me some samples so I got to try all their flavours!
Basically, Obi is low in calories (10-20kcal), organic, uses 0 artificial sweeteners, dairy free, caffeine free and vegan! It doesn't use odd chemicals like Coca Cola. Definitely worth trying! They come in 4 flavours (as shown above) but my favourite is the orange. It's a citrus-y fresh drink, not too sweet! The Root Beer flavour was a little bit challenging for me. It tastes like an organic juice with a little bit of bubble!
I also wanted to copy typical Japanese commercials marketing "refreshing" drinks like beer - hence the video I posted above :) I hope you enjoy!
I finally met a US based company who is super passionate about Japan: "Tatcha".
Their products are inspired by Japan and are most importantly "Made in Japan"!
While catching up on my Japanese TV episodes, I ran into 1 which concentrated on Japan's tomato industry. Japanese tomatoes (and vegetables in general) are very high in quality where ever you go. The colour, shape, shine and taste turns out to be perfect even without "picking" at the supermarket. How do they do this? This TV program asked Italian tomato experts to discover the "How" and here's what they found:
Super detail oriented - right?
But this careful Japanese detail results in great customer experience throughout the country. Customers know that they can trust Japanese tomatoes. I must say that this high expectation from customers can result in spoiled customers and in extreme negative comments if the products are not up to par, but this helps in a healthy competition! This may be why Japanese products are so high in quality. Passion coming from suppliers and trust coming from consumers..
More "Japanese quality" series comin' up! Let me know if you have a specific product/service you would like to learn more about in terms of quality.
Kinokuniya in Japantown, San Francisco is my saviour!
Small books, large books, magazines, origami and all sorts of little goodies.
I go here on a monthly basis to pick my favourite Japanese fashion magazines. I have a subscription with them - so they e-mail me when the most recent publication is delivered.
The photograph above is one of Japanese travel books. The ones above are for LA and San Francisco.
Colourful, aren't they?
Japanese magazines contain a lot of information. Blurbs, comments, images, you name it!
Additionally, the Japanese language itself can portray information more than English given it's Kanji characters.
The photograph below shows bilingual Japanese books, mostly on food.
Have you read any of them?
Don't forget to enter my first ever giveaway here!
In Japan, "Donburi" is what we call a bowl of rice with goodies on top, it could be shortened to "-Don" too.
If it's Chicken on a bed of rice, we could say "Chicken-Don".
With just 4 ingredients, here's what I whipped up for dinner. It took less than 15 minutes.
I promise - it's going to turn out delicious!
This is not a *special* scene in Tokyo, Japan. This is very normal, actually!
You see employees line up to welcome customers in the morning just as the mall opens.
You also see the same when the malls are closing.
If you pass by, employees will bow and say "Irasshaimase" (welcome!), or "Arigatou Gozaimashita" (thank you!).
This is your chance to feel like someone important!
Photo taken@Queens Square, Minato Mirai, Yokohama, Japan
People, people and more people. My personal definition of Shibuya, a ward in Tokyo.
Known to be filled with lots of young people, Shibuya is a very crowded city from morning to night. Also popular for the "Hachi-ko" dog by the station, and the "Scramble crossing" (in the pic above). Both of these iconic locations are right by Shibuya station exits.
If you like to shop or want to take a look at the young trendy clothes in Tokyo, you might want to stop at 109, a popular shopping mall full of different types of styles & wardrobes. You'll experience a very different mall atmosphere there.
There are lots and lots of restaurants, cafes, bars and fast foods in Shibuya, like any other ward in Tokyo. Quite dense though. I highly recommend the standing sushi bar in the "Center-gai", a.k.a Center Street. Super casual, affordable but delicious & worthy.
Another recommendation is LoFT, a shop spanning 7 floors with anything from beauty goods, travel goods to pens and paper. If you are looking for gifts and good quality goodies, you must visit!
If you go to Shibuya, be prepared to walk! Through the alleys, through the streets....You'll forget the time passing by since there is so much to experience and look at! If you want to see all the lights, young vibe and be surrounded by lots and lots of people, this is a place you must visit :)
Let me know if you have any recommendations in Shibuya!
I've always wanted to share the touching, emotional and beautiful Japanese lyrics to my friends in the US.
I covered one of my favourite songs, originally sang by Ai, called "Story". Ai also sang an English version of this for the super popular movie "Big Hero 6"!
You're not alone, I'm by your side
Teriyaki Chicken is not an American dish!
"Teriyaki" is a way of cooking in japan: To grill a piece of protein (whether it be chicken or fish) with the sweet soy sauce. It has been a popular way of cooking in Japan since centuries ago; for example in the Meiji period (1800s), Teriyaki fish was very popular as it went perfectly with Japanese sake. These dishes then became popular in the army as well; they started to get packed in cans so that it could be saved for longer periods of time during the war.
jpinsider did this....
I served this dish to go with some drinks at a home party. The great thing about this dish is that I was able to prepare it the morning of the party so all I had to do when I got home was to grill it! The sauce had soaked in the meat by then - delicious!
You can use this sauce with fish, veggies, tofu and any type of ingredient you can think of.
You can make this in advance and take it for lunch with you for a savoury satisfying meal. The possibilities are endless!
Ingredients: (serves 2-4 people)
Full of iron, fiber, calcium and VItamin A.
It's a superfood which will help us for a better blood flow, healthier skin and a superb intestine!
What is it?
It's a brown sea vegetable, much like seaweed but chewy.
For those of you who have not had a taste of it, and those of you who have, this recipe is a super-easy-must-try. All you do is throw in the following ingredients into your rice cooker. It'll turn into a savoury, warm Japanese rice dish.
Delicious vegan thumbprint cookies I stole from WholeFoods.
As always, I made my Japanese-y adjustments so you may find my recipe less sweet. But hey, you taste more of the natural ingredients - isn't that better?
I'm not vegan but these cookies are too cute and delicious looking not to try!
It took me 5 minutes to make (excluding the oven time)....And the taste?
Nutty, chewy, goodness.
What you need (makes 15 cookies):
Kamaboko is a popular way to eat pureed fish in Japan. They are just like fish cakes, fish jelly (though that may sound a little gross). They have a rubbery texture and the taste of fish can be very appetizing. Its history can go back to the 1000AD, when they were treated as luxury items (seafood was a luxury item in general) - thus are included in Osechi for New Years.
There are different ways you can eat this: Raw, steamed, grilled, baked....I ate mine raw this morning w/ some Japanese mayo, rice, miso soup and some entree. Mmmm!
In Japan, they can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner as a super mini side dish (more like serving pickles).
Give it a try when you visit a Japanese supermarket next time!
Throwback to my first ever unboxing video which I posted last year in March.
I still use this Nikon Coolpix P340 for all my pictures used on my blog. Loving it still! ...But is it time for an upgrade?
Why I love this camera:
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