New Year and new good fortune teas

I hope you had a wonderful holiday season! I know some of you work for A&E and other frontline services, so I hope you all had some time for a restful break.

Thank you for all your support last year. I love to see so many people with an interest in tea, as I believe that tea is a great tool for communication. You might have read ‘The Book of Tea’ by Kakuzo Okakura. Okakura used Japanese tea culture as a way to re-introduce Japan to non-Japanese people following Japan’s isolationist policy (1639-1854).

I am a tea lover and tea is a part of my everyday life. I also think that tea is a part of the Japanese lifestyle too. Kyoto’s most prestigious tea makers develop special teas to celebrate the new year called Obukucha, which is an old Kyoto tradition. Obukucha means ‘good fortune tea’ in English. We give this obukucha to our friends and family when we see them during the new year break. As I introduced in my previous newsletter Ippodo’s Obukucha is a genmaicha (green tea with roasted rice).

We just received MarukyuKoyamaen’s obukucha at the end of last week. Their good fortune tea is green tea with gyokuro. Gyokuro is the most expensive and elegant green tea and means ‘jewel dew’ in Japanese. Gyokuro is similar to matcha in terms of production as they are both grown under shade, but gyokuro is loose leaf tea, not powdered. Gyokuro contains a lot of umami and antioxidants too, like matcha. As gyokuro is very delicate, we use water no hotter than 60 °C brew it, so I recommend using 60 °C water when drinking our Marukyu Koyamaen Obukucha.

We’ve also just introduced very special Obukucha matcha from Marukyu Koyamaen as follows. It is a special matcha for new year cerebration only. My tea ceremony teachers are using this tea for their Hatugama (New Year tea ceremony) specially.

We’ve also received a very special matcha from Marukyu Koyamaen too. The International Tea Academy Awards ‘The Leafies’ widely regarded as the most prestigious tea competition was held at London’s Fortnum & Mason in November 2022. Kiwami Choan won the gold medal in the matcha category at these awards. I’ve visited Koyamaen’s Kyoto HQ a few times, and I know how much this gold medal means to them. They’re very proud of the tea they produce and work very hard to continue the traditions of their over 300-year-old business. I am so pleased they were awarded this gold medal, and that we can introduce this matcha tea to you. The production of this matcha was very limited and the global demand is very high, so we have a limited number of tins available. If you’d like to taste this award-winning tea, I’d suggest ordering sooner rather than later.

One of my New Year Resolutions is to get up 15 minutes earlier to avoid any unnecessary stress. Shunmyo Masuno recommends doing this in his book Zen.

Interestingly I found the following Haiku poem from Matsuo Basho’s book. Basho drank a lot on New Year’s Eve, and so didn’t get up until after lunch time on the 1st of January.

On the second at least

I will get up early

To give welcome

To the floral spring.

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