Monday, July 11, 2011

Tosa Tea ③

Tea in Kochi

   What do you think of when you hear “Japanese tea?” Matcha, or powdered green tea, will probably come to mind first, though regular green tea is more commonly consumed in Japan. Yet, with the availability of a wide range of good bottled teas and tea bags, fewer and fewer people—especially those of the younger generation—are making green tea in kyūsu, or Japanese teapots. In particular, Kochi’s green tea consumption is relatively low compared to other prefectures, and many Kochi natives are unaware of the award-winning teas being produced in their own prefecture.
   To change this situation, the prefectural government has been making efforts to inform the public about Tosa-cha and promote it as one of Kochi’s fine local products. One project grabbing attention is the Tosa-Cha Café.

Kochi Made

   What better way to attract people than a chic café with a great atmosphere that serves healthy dishes and delectable desserts? If you take a stroll along the Obiyamachi shopping arcade in Kochi City, your eyes will undoubtedly be drawn to the café’s modern, yet somehow traditional looking exterior. Much of the café is built using beautiful Yanase cedar, another Kochi product worth boasting, and is decorated with paintings of Japanese goldfish by a local up-and-coming artist. There are table seats, zashiki (Japanese style tatami mat room), and outdoor seating available on the first floor. The second floor has the feel of an old Japanese home with old wooden beams and ranma, or decorative carved transoms.
   One of the Tosa Tea Advisors of Tosa-Cha Café, Ms Kyoko Nakano explains that Tosa-cha’s strong flavour (flavour, she stresses, is different from bitterness) goes best with sweet desserts. Therefore, the café offers a fairly large selection of desserts which are also made using Tosa tea. The dessert chef has experimented with tea in different forms—from powders to jelly—to create an alluring variation. These desserts can also be tasted at the Tosa-cha Festival scheduled to be held every autumn.

   In terms of food, the café offers daily lunch and dinner sets in addition to their appetizing menu. Dishes served at Tosa-Cha Café are made using an abundance of locally-grown ingredients including meats from local free-range livestock, ensuring freshness and quality.

   And what would Kochi be without some liquor? A few selections of cocktails made with Tosa tea are listed amongst the many drinks available. Yes, cocktails made with tea. Drinking tea is said to keep you healthy; studies have shown that catechin in tea has anticancer properties and helps control high blood pressure. It must be doubly effective to combine it with alcoholic drinks which are thought to be the best of all medicines in Japan!

Taken from vol.42  published in July 2011 Tosa Tea Edition

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