January 2018 – Ōbukucha from Kyōto
2018 has come! We wish you a Happy New Year. For a good start, we selected a lucky tea, an Ōbukucha (大福茶) from the city of Kyōto (京都), in the prefecture of Kyōto (京都).
We already introduced you to Ōbukucha (大福茶), exactly 2 years ago. This name is old, abd can be found in the ancient archives of the Xth century. For more details, you can also read the blogpost of January 2016.
We often serve it with a pickled plum and a piece of dried and looped seaweed. Pickled plums, called Umeboshi (梅干し) in Japanese, have a lot of wrinkles, and symbolize the long life. Dried seaweeds, called Konbu (昆布) in Japanese, mean “to rejoice“ (yorokobu in Japanese) accordoing to a popular pun, thus symbolising happiness. Moreover, the looped seaweed also means connection to good fortune. In short, if we drink Ōbukucha at the beginning of the new year, we can live joyfully for a long time (until we wrinkle), and have luck in life.
The style of Ōbukucha varies according to the tea producers. This tea is made of green tea and brown rice. It is classified as a “Genmaicha (玄米茶)”. It is a daily tea in Japan and is usually served during meal, because of its simple and a little bit sweet taste.
I tasted it with a traditional Japanese cake, “Hanabiramochi (花びら餅)” which means “flower petal mochi“. We make it with mochi (paste made out of rice), white miso (paste made out of fermented soybeans) and a piece of the burdock root. It is a cake for the first tea ceremony of the year, in January.
The producer is IPPODO Tea Co. They have been established in 1717 in Kyōto, over 300 years ago.
Year of the dog: you can't not laugh!
According to the Chinese zodiac, following 2017, year of the rooster, 2018 is the year of the dog. It is at the 11th place of Chinese zodiac. As Chinese zodiac turns in cycles of 12 years/animals, we say that the Dog Year corresponds to the month of November, so it is the time of autumn harvest. It represents the fructification. It means that all the efforts in business, studies or family affairs will bear fruits.
Dog is also the symbol of fertility and it is popular as a guardian angel for pregnant women and babies. For Omiyamairi (お宮参り), when a new-born makes its entry in society, by making its first visit to a Shinto shrine in the month following its birth, we write the word of dog (犬) on its front. It means that we wish the baby to grow up without any issues, like a dog. Oops, “like a dog“ in English has a bad meaning, a very good one in Japanese!
Otherwise, the word for laugh (笑) consists of bamboo (竹) and dog (犬). That’s why we can’t not laugh for 2018! According to a Japanese proverb, happiness is brought upon those who laugh (笑う門には福来たる).
You should not not laugh.
The amount of tea leaves should be adapted according to the desired taste: it should be around 2 tablespoons (10 grams) of Ōbukucha for 240ml (8oz) of spring water. The infusion should last thirty seconds in boiling water. Up to 3 pots can be made using the same leaves!
If you have questions about Japanese teas, please do not hesitate to contact us!