Category : Country : Japan

Matcha is crushed in a stone mill

In Japan, a special tea is served during the Cha No Yu, the famous tea ceremony. It is called Matcha.

Matcha differs in appearance from other Japanese teas in that it is ground into a powder. In any other tea-producing country, tea that comes in broken leaf or dust form would be a sign of poor quality, but in Japan, Matcha is one of the most renowned teas due to its high quality. It comes from a shade-grown variety of plant called Tencha. The tea leaves are ground in a stone mill which is filled from the top. The result is this very fine powder which, as you can see from my photo, collects around the edge of the two stones that rotate across each other and push the tea to the outside.

Posted in Country : Japan by François-Xavier Delmas | Tags : , , , , ,

Hattori Koji-San, a master potter in central Kyoto

In my previous post I spoke of the master potter Hattori Koji-San. I showed you his agile hands at work. Here he is in his studio in the centre of Kyoto. For the photo, he decided to sit where he would normally place his wheel. This year, Le Palais des Thés has asked Hattori Koji-San to make its raku bowls. The various colours are achieved by the use of different mineral pigments. Part of the craftsman’s skill is to achieve the desired crackled finish to the glaze, along with the black, red or white tones that can symbolise stars or seasons, snow or night.

Posted in Country : Japan, Places I like in Kyoto by François-Xavier Delmas | Tags : , , ,

Raku : a technique used to make tea bowls

Each tea accessory used during the Cha no Yu (the Japanese tea ceremony) is made using the methods of an ancient craft. Raku is a classic technique often used to make the “chawan”, the bowl used in the tea ceremony. This process involves firing at a very low temperature.

Here, in the Kyoto studio of Hattori Koji-San, I watched the master potter deftly work the clay and gradually shape the contours of a tea bowl.

Posted in Country : Japan, Places I like in Kyoto by François-Xavier Delmas | Tags : , , , , ,

In each country, people prepare tea differently

In Japan, they have the Cha No Yu, or “way of tea”; in Russia they prepare their brew in the samovar. The British have their tea time, the Indians drink chai. And when the Chinese prepare fine teas, such as rare Wu Longs, or Pu Ers, they follow the rules of the Gong Fu Cha.

Gong Fu describes an activity that is carried out slowly, with great self control.

Posted in Country : China, Country : India, Country : Japan by François-Xavier Delmas | Tags : , , , , , , , , ,

A happy year

Kyoto is undoubtedly a traditional city, but that does not exclude a certain sense of fun. I have chosen these happy Japanese women, who must sometimes wear less classic outfits than these, to be my ambassadresses in wishing you a wonderful year in 2011, a year in which we might allow ourselves to express our “joie de vivre” in front of a passing photographer, a year in which we might take the time to observe such delicate things as the petals of cherry blossom.

Posted in Country : Japan by François-Xavier Delmas | Tags : ,

The author

François-Xavier Delmas is a passionate globetrotter. He’s been touring the world’s tea plantations for more than 20 years in search of the finest teas. As the founder of Le Palais des Thés, he believes that travelling is all about discovering world cultures. From Darjeeling to Shizuoka, from Taiwan to the Golden Triangle, he invites you to follow his trips as well as share his experiences and emotions.

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