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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!  

3 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.

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  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.

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  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.

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