Thursday, March 3, 2016

Been Scribbling

Back in high school I would draw and paint all the time but during the last ~15 years the only art I've been involved with has been tea related or musical. 

Recently my family has been getting together in the evenings to make art which has been a really fun way to spend time together. 

My style is pen scribbles with random marker and crayon highlights added later. Here are a few pieces I made these last few weeks:

Band Camp





Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A Treasure Trove of Japanese Teas

Last Saturday I attended the event "A Treasure Trove of Japanese Teas" hosted by Northwest Tea Festival, Heather Porter of Hanamichi Blog, and Cinnabar of Phoenix Tea.

The Luminaries at Work

Some of the incredible teaware used during this event:

Heather has been to Japan many times and has some great tea connections. At the event, Heather told us charming stories from her latest trip to Japan while Cinnabar brewed and distributed perfect cups of tea. Below are my tasting notes on the 8 wonderful teas presented.

Kuradashi Sencha
This first tea was light, refreshing, buttery, and sweet. A great start to the tasting.

Kamigokoro kabusecha
From a family in Uji that has made tea since the 1500's. It was buttery, grassy, with a slight artichoke note. Super delicious.

Baisen Hiirecha
This tea had a rich toasty note. Very hearty and brothy compared to the first two. Loved it!

This is a super fragrant tea. It's a little floral and also crisp, clean and brothy. It was my favorite tea at the event!

Harigane Hojicha
This Hojicha was strong and fragrant. Most guests really loved it but I wasn't too into it. It was good, but I got a slight burnt popcorn aftertaste.

My second favorite tea at the event! It was like drinking pearls (in a good way :). Very brothy, nutty, and luscious.

Fukucha (good luck tea) sencha
This tea was cheerful and bright. I liked it, but compared to the other greens we tasted it was lacking complexity for me.

Wakocha (black tea)
I'm very into this tea! It's peachy, and floral with a note that reminded me of an heirloom tomato. I would drink this often if I could.

ありがとう Heather and Cinnabar!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Monday, February 8, 2016

Welcome the Year of the Fire Monkey

新年快樂 - Xīn nián kuài lè
恭喜發財 - Gōng xǐ fā cái
Happy New Year !

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Red Miso's Second Birthday!

On January 26, 2014, I started my first batch of red miso using the recipe in Sandor Ellix Katz's book Wild Fermentation. I'm sharing the process here for anyone who is also a fan of home fermenting!

First I cooked 4 cups of dried soybeans until they were very soft. I also boiled a clean stone to use as a weight.

This is the koji (rice with Aspergillus oryzae) that I purchased from a local Japanese supermarket.

After the cooked soybeans cooled, I mixed them and mashed them with the Koji and a brine made with 2 cups of the beans' cooking liquid and 1 cup of salt.

I'm fermenting it in my Rumtopf crock. I cleaned and dried the crock, salted the bottom, and then pressed the miso inside (taking care to eliminate any air pockets). Then I sprinkled more salt on the top.

I used a ceramic plate and a heavy rock as a weight.

Then I covered the crock with a thick tea towel, labeled it with the date, and stored it in a dark cabinet in my basement.

Exactly one year later (January 26, 2015), I checked on my miso for the first time. It had a tiny spot of fuzzy mold on top and looked a little bit redder than it had when it started. I scraped off the mold and tasted the miso. It was great but not as mellow as I would like. I sprinkled some new salt on top, replaced the weight and cover, and put it back in the cabinet. (Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures that day.)

Now it's time for my miso's two year check-up. Let's take a look!

Looks great. A wee halo of mold grew around the edge. Quick and easy to scrape that off and toss it in the compost.

Definitely looks redder than last year. Smells good too. My wife and I each took a little taste. Very nice flavor with a delicate caramel note. Mellower than last year too!

I'd say it's getting there! I cleaned it up, sprinkled in some fresh salt and put it back to bed. Sandor's book hinted that the third year (or maybe even later) is when the real magic happens. He teased that some 9 year old Red Miso he tasted was "sublime." Not sure I can wait that long but I will update you all again in 366 days! 

Monday, January 11, 2016

New Winter Baozhong!

Last week I treated myself to a couple ounces of Winter 2015 Wenshan Baozhong (文山包種茶) tea from Phoenix Tea in Burien, Washington. Today I'm trying it for the first time.

Beautiful, fragrant dry leaves.

For this session I used ~7 grams of dry leaf in my 100 ml gaiwan and freshly boiled spring water. Water was full boil (or very close to it).

You know how sometimes a cup of very fresh tea seems to sparkle with all those essential oils floating on the surface? This tea has lots of that, which I love!

The mouth-feel is thick and amazing. I can feel the tea coating my tongue and lips. The fragrance notes are: blossom, awesome, yum, and plum. My tasting notes are: clean, green, and nectarine. When the winter days are particularly dark and drizzly this tea will bring me a lot of good cheer. 

Thursday, December 31, 2015