Skip to main content

玉露 Gyokuro: Jewel Dew

In the world of teas Japan is King.  Don't get me wrong here, I don't want to take credit away from big brother China.  I know they've been cultivating  tea for over a thousand years.  They are the great teachers of tea then and now.  But like most things, the refinement and aesthetic beauty handed down to us today by the Japanese is unmatched the world over, dating back as far as the 9th Century.  Jewel Dew is roughly what Gyokuro translates to.


This post is not about Japanese tea culture,though, but more about how teas pair well with traditional Japanese sweets.  When it comes to sweets the list is endless.  I could sit here for years and go down the list of Japanese sweets.  What I seek to do with this post is highlight I few very popular sweets along with a premium Japanese tea called Gyokuro.   In the world of Japanese tea this is one of the highest grades of tea you can drink.  It's quality is partly attributed to how long it's left to grow in shade.  Shade and sunlight have an enormous affect on a teas aromas and flavors; teas grown in sunlight tend to be a bit bitter whereas teas grown in shaded areas more sweet. 

The three sweets or Japanese confectionery that will be featured have all been considered by many as  some of the best sweets to pair  with this grade of tea.    Teas can have a positive or negative effect on Japanese confectionery.  Sometimes pairing a good tea with a these sweets may take time and experience.  Here is a list for tonight's tea and sweets:
tea1
(Middle bag)玉露 / Jewel Dew/(next to the tea pot)豆平糖飴/まめへいとう/mameheito/flat sugar beans.
(next to the tea bag)おとし文/otoshibun/「清(さやか)」/clear /Wakayama Prefecture.
(at the edge of the table next to the tea bag)羽二重餅( はぶたえもち )Fukui Prefecture

When brewing the tea you should be very careful about the temperature of the teapot and tea cup.  How Gyokuro is brewed is quite different from other sencha.  A good guide would be hereThe greatest appellation attached to this tea is called Yame.  More than 40% of Gyokuro is produced in this town which situated Fukuoka Prefecture.  Here is a great video
How to Bew Gyokuro
Remember, one pouring per steeping.  Never just let water remain and become cold.

The first confectionery I will try with this premium tea is called おとし文/otoshibun/「清(さやか)」/clear /Wakayama Prefecture.  The reason for the green color is because it's the summer edition.
otoshibun1
otoshibun2
Normal toshibun is brown on the outside, but because its summer it's green on the outside and pink on the inside.  This is a sweet bean cake type confectionery that goes very well with Gyokuro.  The pink bean paste filling has a sweet fruity texture which blends very well with the natural almost grassy green sweet aroma of this tea.
mochi
Next up from Fukui Prefecture is another confectionary called 羽二重餅( はぶたえもち/ Habutaemochi).  Another highly recommended sweet treat that goes very well with Gyokuro.  The wooden knife comes with it for easy removal of the layered confectionery.
mochi1
This soft mochi taste so good.  So soft and sweet and delicate with this tea.  Describing it to you would be unfair.  You have to try it for yourself.

This next delicious treat is called Mameheito 豆平糖飴/まめへいとう/mameheito/flat sugar beans.
mameheito
This is a very crunchy sugary sweet treat with flat beans in the center.  Slightly bitter but works very well with this premium tea.  All of these treats came highly recommended by dozens of tea experts in Japan and now I have tried a few choice selections of them and love them immensely.    Summertime, tea, and Japanese sweets are great!  

Comments

  1. My girlfriend's really into Japanese things and lately I've started to get hooked on the cutesy stuffs from the land of the rising sun. I have to agree with you about the sophisticated aesthetics of Japanese products, they really are second to none. China has its history but over the years their processing techniques has devolved instead of evolving and the truth is Chinese goods are not considered premium in any shape or form. Anyways, I think my girlfriend's going to be very excited about your blog and all the wonderful information you have here.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh my god you're killing me with these pictures... I know how good those soft mochis are thanks to my aunt who goes to Japan couple of times a year. I want them so bad! The mameheito look yummy and the toshibun looks yummylicious too. It's a torture to have to look at them without being able to eat them. You're so lucky to be in Japan to eat so many delicious things and also hang out in such great places.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love the textures and colors that are used in Japanese products. From the contents to the package they pay such meticulous attention that in the US you'd expect the same level of quality in luxury products only. But then the Japanese do charge premium for their products, still though, I think it's just the culture of perfection and cleanliness that make their products so desirable. I think I'm gonna make a run to my local Japanese supermarket right now.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Shin-Okubo: Little Korea

So I finally got around to going up there to Shin-Okubo,  the land of Seoul via the Yamanote Line.  Been putting this trip off for years for personal reasons;  I am not a fan of Hanlleyu.      I knew why I came up this way, and for none other reason than the food, and maybe to bask in the nausea of Korean romanticist who steal Japanese Jukujo's souls.    But honestly, I like spicy food and stews and pickled vegetables that challenge my taste buds.    I also love the little funky cafes that line the main thoroughfares and alley ways, each with their own little eclectic menus and interior decor.     This place is Korea.  





Shin-Okuba represents more than just a place to relish in Korean culinary delights and K-pop culture, but a place where Koreans can express themselves through their culture.    You can feel the local vibe in the air as you're walking down narrow walkways and footpaths.    I have personally been to mainland Korea six times, so a lot of the nostalgia was there …

August: The Return of Souls

August is peak summer season in Japan.  We can look forward to some of the most spectacular fireworks displays and festivals in the world, especially  in places like Tohoku and Kanto regions.  August is also  the most contentious month of the year in Japan; with the end of the war and war-related guilt.    Then there's the great exodus back home for millions of Japanese.   Obon season is what it's called in Japan, and it's  where families return to their hometowns to remember their ancestors and to spend time with loved ones.  Gravestones are visited, cleaned, and washed; rice or alcohol is often placed on  miniature altars next to a  headstone.  This is a way for Japanese to reconnect with their roots; a way for them to stay grounded and founded in the ways of tradition and cultural protocol.   

For the foreign tourist, some places will be overcrowded and expensive to reach; for Japanese, this is normal and can't be helped.   Wherever you go there will be lines and h…

Japan Board of Education: Amazing Grace...?

Japan Board of Education Textbook.
Amazing Grace
Shuken Shuppan  Polestar textbook English Communication

Preface:  Japanese / Japan is  one of the leading donors in humanitarian aid around the world.   They have donated billions of yen to charities, developing countries, and startup business to just about every country on the globe.  Some Japanese have even taken matters to the extreme  to the point of poking their noses into hotspot areas like Palestine and Isreal, things the Japanese may want to avoid.  Had Japan shared its borders with an ethnic minority with its own government, the relative peace and calm of this country would be questionable.   No other country can be like nor emulate Japan.   So, where does this spirit of charity and altruism come from exactly?   Why do the Japanese feel they need to save the whole world, while caring very little for its own people?   It's the Board of Education...?  The essay below is one such example of what Japanese kids learn in school,…