Fetcha cup of Kuromamecha - Chado Newsletter January 2024
Raindrops keep fallin' on my head.
We mentioned last time that there was a distinct lack of snow in Vancouver. That changed pretty quickly, and Vancouver ground to a halt when the white stuff arrived a few days later. For a Canadian city from the Great White North, we just seem unable to cope with snow. A few years ago, the City Council had to admit that they had ‘forgotten’ to buy salt for the year, so the roads were not salted even a little bit.
A few days before the snowfall in Vancouver City itself, It was so cold that after just opening the ski hills, some of them had to close again because it was too cold to risk people being outside.
All is back to normal now, it seems, raining here, snowing in the mountains.
It is a quiet time for the tea farmers in Japan.
The tea plants are sleeping. Tea plants go dormant during the winter months. Cold temperatures and shorter days mean the plants protect themselves by not producing new growth in the winter months. If you happened to visit a tea farm now, you could but help but notice the fans working overtime to circulate the air to prevent one of the tea farmers' worst enemies – frost.
In a few months, the plants will wake up, and it will be time for them to work overtime by growing new leaves and buds ready for the new harvest that happens in April/May. Usually, at this time of year, when it’s a bit dreary, we start to think ahead to when the Shincha will be available, and it helps us tolerate the miserable weather.
As the farmers are taking a break, we would like congratulate the Japanese rocket engineers who are hard at it landing things on the moon.
Japan launched two moon landing vehicles recently. The first one hit the surface about a month ago; something went wrong, and there is not much left of it now.
The second one, named SLIM, just landed this week with pinpoint accuracy.
In 1977, NASA launched two spacecraft, Voyager 1 and 2, each with a gold disk containing information about the Earth.
We mention Voyager, hoping that the Japanese landing craft included some Japan-specific things in them. We obviously hope that some of it is tea. Tea keeps for a long time if properly stored, and it would be great to think of some future ‘friendly alien’ finding a packet of Gyokuro (We are sure it would be Gyokuro), opening it up and getting that great aroma, deciphering the preparation instructions and trying some, they would we are sure enjoy the green color and taste the sweetness, there would be something else there, they would likely dig deeper and come up with umami – they will think to themselves there is more to these earthlings than we thought.
News has just arrived that the ship that landed is somehow upside down. We are not rocket scientists here at Chado, but quite how the landing craft can have landed on its head is strange to us.
The good news is that if there is tea on board, it will be fine, and the scientists will sort the rest of it out.
Kuromamecha - Black Soybean Tea
We here at Chado Tea House are a conservative lot regarding tea.
We only sell Japanese Green Tea. Almost all of our tea is unflavored; we do make an exception for our popular Sakara tea, with cherry blossoms and our Yuzu teas.
So this month, to show that we are not averse to trying new things - meet our new tea, Kuromamecha.
This tea is not made from the Camellia sinensis plant.
"Kuromame" means black soybeans in Japanese. Soybeans are rich in protein, vitamins and minerals. They are one of the few plant foods that provide a complete protein, meaning they contain all the essential amino acids that the human body cannot produce on its own.
Not only is this one of the first non-Camellia sinensis teas we have carried, but the first was our Organic Japanese Herbal; it is also the first tea from the northern prefecture of Hokkaido, which is one of our favorite places to visit in Japan. We can now say that we have teas from northern, central, and southern Japan.
Kuromamecha tea is made from roasted black soybeans harvested in Hokkaido. This tea has a brown liquor and a savory mild aroma. The taste is a somewhat nutty and earthy taste with a light sweetness. This tea is rich and full-bodied and perfect for this time of year when a warming brew is welcome.
This tea is caffeine-free.
To prepare this tea, put 10-15 beans (3g~4g) /1 cup/ 80 °C/ 2-3 min, then remove the beans. For the second infusion, use a higher temperature.
One can leave the beans in the liquid to steep longer if a darker tea is preferred.
From a country that is famous for Soy Sauce and Tofu, we shouldn't be surprised to find that the versatile soybean is also used to make tea.
This is an interesting tea. We hope you are tempted to give it a try.
In the coming months, we are planning to bring you a more classic black tea from Japan - Wakocha.
Boston Tea Party - Part ii
As if there wasn't enough trouble in the world, the UK has decided to pick a fight with the US over tea.
A researcher in the US has claimed that adding a pinch of salt to a cup of tea can make it taste better.
The UK population are up in arms about this.
Now, like everything else regarding tea and, to a lesser extent, global international relations, there is more to this than meets the eye.
The researcher in the US is not a professional tea person but a chemistry professor. She describes herself as a keen amateur tea researcher and has written a book called Steeped: The Chemistry of Tea.
She said she only found that the salt helps if the tea has been brewed too long.
The UK press, though, never let facts stand in the way of a good story, so queue the outpouring of indignation and the uproar over the second Boston Tea Party.
The US Embassy in London tried to calm things down with this formal public statement:
Well done, the US Embassy. Hopefully, this matter is now closed, but perhaps not...
Happy tea-drinking where you are.