Blog, Spring Food, Summer Food

International Tea Day May 21st

 


In 2019, the United Nations General Assembly decided to designate May 21st as International Tea Day. International tea day falls on the same date every year to honour the cultural significance of tea and its role in promoting health, wellness, and community. It also raises awareness about the importance of sustainable tea production.

Of course in Japan tea (, cha) plays an important and significant role. With its first introduction from China in the Nara period 710–794. With real development later, from the end of the 12th century and in the 16th century, the art of the “tea ceremony” was formalised (the practice of making and serving tea.) Which is closely linked to the country’s deep-rooted culture of omotenashi (hospitality/serving guests).
There are many varieties of tea grown in Japan and also specific methods of production from
煎茶 sencha tea leaves to Matcha 抹茶 made from ground green tea leaves, ほうじ茶  hōjicha, roasted as well as steamed tea leaves as well as 玄米茶 genmaicha a mixture of green tea and roasted genmai (brown rice) and more. 

Japanese tea is prized for its health benefits being packed with antioxidants, such as polyphenols, which help combat free radicals in the body. These antioxidants have been linked to reducing the risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease and certain types of cancer.

One place that is famous for tea cultivation is Uji (宇治) a small city situated between Kyoto and Nara, which has an unbelievable track record of producing quality Japanese tea. I can remember visiting Uji a few years ago, as you strole through the town you could smell the strong tea smell from the grinding of the tea leaves into Matcha powder.

Everything was flavoured with tea from ice cream to sweets.


There were also many shops selling tea and many places  you could take a rest and partake in tea and sweets.


To celebrate International tea day as well as enjoying a delicious healthy cup of matcha I wanted to also serve it with a matcha sweet.

I decided I would make matcha ichigo daifuku. Ichigo means strawberry in Japanese.

If you would like to make these wagashi for yourself this is what you will need to do.

Ingredient’s:

4-5 small strawberries washed and leaves removed (pat dry with kitchen towel)

100gm Joshinko flour

x1 tablespoon of granulated sugar

130ml of cold water

Koshian smooth bean paste

Matcha

Potato starch

You will need a round cutter (I used one 78mm diameter), a rolling pin, plastic wrap and microwaveable bowl.

Method:

Prepare your strawberries then take a ball of bean paste, flatten it out and put a strawberry inside then fold the bean paste around the strawberry. Do this to each one and put aside.

Add to a bowl the joshinko flour and sugar then add a teaspoon of sifted matcha powder and mix to combine. Add the water and whisk to a smooth paste.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and microwave for 3 minutes then remove the wrap. Wet the end of a rolling pin or pestle and begin to pound the mochi until it’s nice and elastic.

Turn it out onto a damp surface and dampen your rolling pin. Roll out and start to cut rounds.


With each round cut out, stretch the edges and place the round over the top of one of your bean paste covered strawberries.

Turn it upside down and gather the edges to seal, so that the gathered edges are at the bottom, that way you know where the top of the strawberry is when you want to cut it in half to serve.

Place each one on a baking sheet with a dusting of potato starch and give each one a dusting of potato starch before finally finishing with some sifted matcha powder.


They look really pretty when you cut them in half to serve.


What’s your favourite Japanese tea?