Oh, No! It’s already middle of December! The final month of a year. We have only two weeks before the brand new year starts. The time seems to pass more and more quickly every year. Is it the sign of aging? It has been quite a mild winter so far, but now the weather has become wet and cold which is the typical winter in England. Before it became this wintery weather I received an order of my sweets for a Tea & Sweet Tasting event held at a Tea shop My Cup of Tea. The tea shop ordered two types of ‘Wagashi’ Japanese sweets, so I decided to make one ‘Nerikiri’ and the other ‘Mochi’. I wanted them to be something pretty and also in autumn colour.
This is one of the sweets I made for this Tea & Sweet Tasting event order. Yellow Ginkgo ‘Icho’ and Red Japanese ‘Momiji’ Maple leaves are the most significant autumn colour so I thought serving sweets in Ginkgo design would be perfect in November. The sweets look quite similar to the sweets I made last year. Last year’s one was made with a different type of Japanese sweet pastry ‘Nerikiri’ which is easier to create shapes, but the sweets I made this time were made of ‘Mochi’.
Apparently it is National Tea Day in the UK today. Britain is officially one of the biggest tea drinking countries. People’s day starts from having a cup of tea for breakfast, morning and afternoon breaks and even after an evening meal. Any film or TV drama located in the UK will always have one or more scenes drinking tea with the famous phrase “Would you like to have a cup of tea?”.
Although more people have started having a taste for coffee, people’s love of tea will never dissappear in this country.
There are many types of tea around these days. What kind of Tea do you like? I wonder which tea should I have for this special day?
What I matched with this Rose Japanese Wagashi sweet is this herbal Tea. It is a Wild Berry herbal tea which has a wonderful rosy red colour and full of fruity fragrance.
Have a lovery Teatime ☕ on this special day!!
The Cherry tree for fruit in my garden is in full bloom too
We are in the middle of the full Cherry Blossom season in London. There is a traditional custom called ‘Hanami’ (‘Hana’ means flower/ blossom and ‘Mi ((Miru))’ means to look/ watch) that people picnic under a cherry tree and enjoy eating & drinking whilst viewing the beauty of Sakura.
We also have a proverb ‘Hana yori Dango’ which means ‘Food comes before Flower (Beauty)’. This describes that although viewing Sakura blossom is enjoyable, it cannot beat the delight of eating delicious food.
There is a sweet during this Sakura season called ‘Hanami-Dango’. It is composed of three balls of a ‘Mochi‘ type sweet in tricolour of Green, White and Pink stuck together with a skewer. But why these colours and why in this order? There seems several theories behind this colour scheme but the one I like is like this. ‘White’ is a symbol of ‘Snow=Winter’, ‘Green’ is the ‘New Leaves’ just about coming out from under the snow and ‘Pink’ is the colour of ‘Sakura=Spring’. So all these colours together explain the season which people have longed for the arrival during the long cold winter.
I made Hanami-Dango with Tofu this year. Why Tofu? You can use water instead but by adding Tofu the Mochi Dango becomes softer and bouncier texture and the softness lasts longer. You can make this in almost the same way as the ‘Shiratama Dango’ I introduced before.
So I finalised the perfect recipe for making soft and moist ‘Dorayaki‘ Japanese Pancake. I am so proud of the taste and the texture with silky finish. We traditionally have it by sandwiching some Sweet Bean Paste such as Azuki ‘Tsubu-An‘ or White Bean ‘Shiro-An‘ Paste between two pieces. It is very recent that people started to put all sorts of cream and fruit instead. For me anything can be OK as long as the Pancake is tasty. I like trying any new flavour combination.
This time I went to a fusion of Japanese and the Western for my perfect Dorayaki. It was Matcha Custard Cream. I love Custard and this time I added a hint of Japanese ‘Matcha‘ Green Tea to this Western flavour. It is a versatile tasty cream to have with any sweet & dessert and it goes so well with Dorayaki’s soft and moist texture as well. How can you resist it by seeing the Matcha Custard Cream is oozing out from the Dorayaki?!
Matcha Custard Cream
So I made this Matcha Soy Latte in exactly same way as my quite recent post: Iced Matcha Tea but just change Water into Soy Milk.
There are several grades in ‘Matcha‘ Green Tea sold in a shop. I normally use average grade of Matcha Tea for baking Cakes. That is because the delicate flavour of best Matcha Tea gets kind of lost during baking. However, for this Matcha Soy Latte because it is for drinking, tasting and admiring the intense Matcha flavour, I used higher grade Matcha Green Tea Powder.
I have been living in England for many years. During that time I have picked up several English customs such as having toast with Orange Marmalade and a MUG of Milk Tea for breakfast or Tea-time at 4:30 often with Earl Grey Tea. I also love Scones but it has to be with Clotted Cream and Raspberry Jam. However, I have never experienced having a set of Afternoon Tea in a Tea shop … until recently.
Last week I saw a friend of mine in Central London. We decided go to Patisserie Valerie for Afternoon Tea.
I like ‘Matcha‘ Green Tea. Actually since I was a child I really liked the taste. Although we had a set of Matcha making tools at home my mother did not make Matcha tea that often. Only when we had very good Japanese sweet ‘Wagashi‘ my mother brought out the set and made Matcha tea for us. Maybe that is why I thought having Matcha tea is something special. It was more like for ceremonial occasions and I still get excited about the whole process.
I think Matcha’s popularity these days is phenomenal. Western people knowing its Japanese name ‘Matcha’ was unthinkable to me until 5 years ago and it is unbelievable that there are several shops and cafés serving Matcha drink or food even here in London. Now we have been informed that there are great health benefits in Matcha and it is not just foodies but healthy food eaters are joining the Matcha drinking club.
Do you know ‘Houjicha’? It is Roasted Green Tea which is Japanese Tea with a marvellous aromatic scent. I enjoy having it when I want to relax and cleanse my body. Although it is Green Tea, it looks quite brown because it’s roasted.
I normally use loose leaves for making tea but recently I’ve got this lovely powdered Houjicha. The tea leaves were very finely ground and has kept the wonderful aroma and taste. This powdered type is quite a new thing for me and even in Japan (I think). I found it is great that you can add it into whatever you want to make without brewing tea.
Powdered Houjicha & Houjicha loose tea
I have been trying to use this powder in several ways and in order to enjoy its aroma at the maximum in the finished products I think it is the best using it without heating. The scent is so good that I don’t want to lose any during the cooking process. I think ingredients also should be limited. You know what they say; “Simple is Best!”
Melting Moments with Houjicha Cream
Did you know that all the tea is made from the leaves of exactly same tea plant, Camellia sinensis? They might be grown in different countries in different climates, but yes, English Breakfast tea, Japanese Sencha tea, Chinese Oolong tea or Sri Lankan Ceylon tea … any tea is from the same leaves. The difference is just the process of how to make them from leaves into a tea. I found it very fascinating that the same tea leaves can taste so different just by how it is treated.
In Japan we have several types of tea. Unlike Chinese tea most of Japanese tea is steamed and unfermented. That is why it has kept a clean green colour and aroma with lighter flavour. Some of the famous ones are as follow.