NOURISHING ESSENTIALS (May 2022) - Shokucha: The Cuisine of Japanese Tea (食茶)
MATCHA ARARE (RICE CRACKERS)
These bite-sized arare (crackers made from mochi or glutinous rice) showcase the beautiful bitter sweet flavors of Japanese matcha from Uji. The city of Uji is located just south of Kyoto and is the second oldest tea-growing region in Japan. Green teas from Uji, considered the most refined in Japan, became popular among Japanese nobility over 800 years ago and remain popular to this day.
In its third generation, Kuramaan was established in 1931 by a founder who apprenticed under the famous okaki maker, Masuda Eishodo. To ensure the freshest taste, Kuramaan polishes only the required amount of mochi rice each day. It’s then steamed and pounded using the same methods from almost a century ago. Because of this, the rice has a natural sweetness, is fluffy and airy, and maintains its natural flavor when baked. The crackers are then flavored with the highest quality ingredients. The entire process is done by hand with the condition of the rice dough being constantly monitored.
Ingredients: Mochi (Glutinous Rice), Sugar, Matcha (from Uji)
Suggested uses: Enjoy as is. Pairs well with a cup of houjicha or sencha (available in our Japanese Green & Specialty Teas: “Ryu” Care Package and as a single item purchase at our Market: Michi no Eki) or with the Matcha Mulberry Tea included in this Care Package.
MAGURO TUNA IN MATCHA AND OLIVE OIL
Producer: Honyama Seicha
Maguro (bluefin tuna) is perhaps best known found in sushi or as sashimi. You may be familiar with toro, the fatty belly of the tuna, or akami, the more common and less fatty center cut, but no part of the tuna goes to waste.
Honyama Seicha creates this special Maguro Tuna in Matcha and Olive Oil usingthe headmeat of tuna sourced from two of the largest ports for tuna in Japan: Yaizu or Shimizu port in Shizuoka Prefecture. The headmeat, known askashiraniku, is considereda rare cut given it comprises just 0.5% of the tuna. To this they add another Shizuoka specialty: Japanese green tea. Thematcha paste is made from 100% organic Motoyama Tea grown in the mountains of Shizuoka. Motoyama has been a tea producing region for 800 years and for a century, Honyama Seicha has been using a traditional charcoal burning technique to make their tea, all under the careful eye of skilled craftsmen with over 20 years of experience. The resulting tea adds a unique, sweet yet vegetal flavor to this maguro which is then combined with savory olive oil and a dash of salt.
Ingredients: Tuna (head meat), olive oil, green tea paste, chili pepper, salt
Suggested uses: Enjoy as is or with a dash of salt or soy sauce. Mix with pasta or dice and add to salads. Try it as a topping in the Cold Soba with Green Veggies and Ginger Dressing recipe provided.
Storage: Refrigerate after opening and use as soon as possible.
LUXURY MATCHA SOBA
Producer: Hatakenaka Seimen & Chakumi
Prefecture: Miyagi & Shizuoka
With a history dating back 123 years, Hatakenaka Seimen has been making oil-free noodles in Miyagi Prefecture since the Meiji period. They usehigh-quality flour instead of oil, while controlling the temperature and humidity during production to maintain the moisture in their noodles. Their hand-pulling technique involves repeatedly extending the noodle until it becomes extremely fine and then aging it to activate the gluten, resulting in a smooth and shiny texture.
These soba noodles are combined with a premium-quality matcha cultivated in the remote Southern Alps of Japan, 600m above sea level, in Shizuoka Prefecture. This is the highest altitude at which tea can be harvested, with the large difference in hot and cold temperature resulting in an enhanced color, aroma and quality of tea. At this high altitude, there is a natural fog which shades the plants and deepens the flavor of the matcha. Despite the intensive time, labor and skill required, Chakumi, the producer behind this “cloud-top” matcha, has dedicated themselves to reviving and regenerating these high-altitude plantations. The result is a nutty, buttery noodle with undertones of sweet, bitter matcha.
Ingredients:Wheat, soba (from Nagano prefecture), matcha (from Shizuoka prefecture), salt, wheat protein
Suggested uses: Add the noodles to a pot of boiling water for 5 mins, stirring occasionally. Drain and rinse with cold water. Enjoy as is with a simple dipping sauce by combining 1 cup of dashi with ¼ cup of soy sauce (both available in our Creative Beginnings: Redefining “Wa” Care Package of Japanese cooking essentials or as a single item purchase at our Market: Michi no Eki) or in the Cold Soba with Green Veggies and Ginger Dressing and Honey and Soy Glazed Spring Rolls recipes provided.
Storage:Room temperature or in the fridge.
GENMAICHA (BROWN RICE TEA)CANDY
Producer: Iwai Seika
Genmaicha (lit. brown rice tea) is made from unprocessed brown rice that is soaked, steamed, roasted and popped before being combined in an equal ratio with green tea. The brown rice adds a toasted, nutty flavor, which is delightfully noticeable in these hand-made candies.
Iwai Seika’s candy is made in a small candy factory in Uji, Japan. For 60 years they have been hand-making their candy one by one in traditional pots that are carefully boiled over an open fire. Unlike candy made in an automated factory, no artificial additives or colors are used, allowing for the true flavor of their high quality ingredients to shine.
Ingredients: Granulated sugar, starch syrup, brown rice tea
Suggested uses: Enjoy as is.
HOUJICHA (ROASTED GREEN TEA) KANTEN JELLY
Producer: Natural Attorait
Instead of just steaming green tea leaves, houjicha is made by first steaming then roasting the leavesin aporcelain pot over charcoalat 200°C,resulting in a teawith a nutty, roasted flavor.The leaves have a distinct earthy color andthe tea is less bitter compared to other green teas. Here it’s used to flavor kanten, a firm, jelly-like wagashi (traditional Japanese sweet) made from seaweed. Kanten has no flavor and is the perfect base to highlight the different ingredients it’s combined with. You will notice the strong caramel-like taste of the houjicha in this treat that is not overly sweet.
To make thisHoujicha Kanten Jelly, Natural Attorait usesorganic green tea from Wazuka Town in Uji, Kyoto. Their organic green tea meets the rigorous and strict organic requirements set forth byJAS (Japanese Agricultural Standards), covering everythingfrom cultivation to processing and bagging (Eg. their tea leaves are cultivated on a farm that has not used pesticides or chemical fertilizers for more than 3 years). This produces a higher quality tea leaf with a deep flavor you will savor.
Ingredients: Sugar, starch, organic houjicha (from Kyoto), agar, konjac powder
Suggested uses: Enjoy as is. Best served cold. Pairs well with a cup of sencha (available in our Japanese Green & Specialty Teas: “Ryu” Care Package and as a single item purchase at our Market: Michi no Eki) or with the Matcha Mulberry Tea included in this Care Package.
Storage: Refrigerate after opening and use as soon as possible.
MATCHA MULBERRY TEA
Mulberries (known as kuwa) are flowering plants that look similar to blackberries. One of Japan’s oldest herbal medicines, they were an important crop as far back as the Edo period when their leaves were used as silkworm food in sericulture (silk farming). Harvesting of mulberries declined in Japan after World War II, as the technology for cheaper artificial fibers replaced the demand for silk. However, in recent years, mulberries have reappeared in the spotlight particularly for their potential health benefits and high nutritional value (with many nutrients found in higher amounts than in kale!).
Kuwanosato grows and harvests 100% domestic mulberry leaves in Ichikawa Misato-cho, Yamanashi Prefecture. Yamanashi is known as the birthplace of “ichinose mulberries” which have large leaves, thick flesh and won the top award at the 5th Mulberry Garden Fair in Taisho. They do not use any pesticides or herbicides in their soil and the mulberry leaves they harvest in the morning are made into tea that very day. The whole mulberry leaf is used and blended with sencha and matcha to provide a refreshing, high-quality tea that is nutritious, flavorful and embraces Kuwanosato’s philosophy of living each day with a full heart.
Ingredients: Mulberry leaf (from Yamanashi Prefecture), sencha powder, matcha
Suggested uses: Combine one packet with 30ml of water. Mix thoroughly. Then add 200 cc of water (cold or hot). Adjust to desired strength.