On Friday September 25, we had the pleasure of attending the inauguration of Sakura Bento with various workshops on the program.

At JapActu, we encourage people who are motivated and who set out to embark on new adventures with their business, they are courageous people who deserve to be talked about.

It is with pleasure that we found Julia the manager of the store that we previously met on other events such as that of her association France Japon Connexion.
Julia had the chance to spend 10 years in Japan before coming back to put down her suitcases in our beautiful southern city, Marseille. She decides to create initially a Franco-Japanese association in order to make Marseille discover Japan, a country that fascinates her, in all these ways / forms: language courses, furoshiki workshops, pastry making, calligraphy. She then decides to take over the old boutique on rue Breteuil, transfer it to rue Fortia and introduce new products there. At the same time, she took the opportunity to host the association at the back of the store.
When you enter the shop you discover a real Ali Baba cave in honor of Japan. From traditional items such as fans, crockery, chopsticks to decorative items such as Maneki Neko, Kokeshis, food such as candy, cookies, sake, bento boxes, ramone lemonades and textiles like kimonos, taxi socks, T-shirts and Furoshiki.

During this evening, we were able to taste different teas such as Matcha and Genmatcha and we were treated to a little historical reminder on tea, its harvest and its use. Small tasting very pleasant and very enriching for once.

In fact, in Japan green tea represents more than 99% of tea production.

What is green tea?
Green tea is a tea that has not oxidized, this natural process is stopped by neutralizing the enzymes with a hob or a steam bath in an oven.
Japan is the 10th country which produces tea (2%) while China and India account for 60% (40% and 20%).

Several important dates
The first written record of tea made its appearance in the 8th century. It would come from China and would have been imported by monks returning from their travels. In the 12th century, it developed even more under Chinese impulse and its consumption at the imperial court. Finally, in the 16th century, a tea master named Rikyu introduced the felted and delicate universe of the tea ceremony as we know it today with the wabi-sabi current (natural, sober, modesty) where the art of appreciating the beauty of all humble and imperfect things.

The components to take into account for tea are:
1- cooking
2- the terroir (sunshine, nature of the soil, etc.)
3- the cultivar (more or less strong note) which is to tea what the grape variety is to the vine. Research is long 15/20 years before being able to exploit.

The Tea Plant or Camellia Sinensis is a subtropical tree that needs humidity. The biggest Japanese production is in Shizuoka with 40%. There are hundreds of cultivars in Japan, the most widely used is Yabukita (75%).
Contrary to what one might think, harvesting by hand has become very rare and mechanized systems are preferred.

During harvest, the tea leaves pass on a mat for cooking, then rolling to break the cells of the leaves which will bring a more present taste and finally a light cooking.

There are two types of tea:
-the covered / shaded
-the uncovered / not shaded
Covering will disrupt the photosynthesis of the tea plant, so the root will seek more nutrients from the soil. No light gives lots of sweeter little white shoots, a thick umami flavor on the palate. We cover between 2 weeks and 1 month.

Matcha is for example a tea covered before being picked. The longer it is covered, the better and creamier it will be. You can grind the leaves coarsely: tensha or grind them with a grindstone: fine powder. We get the benefits of tea because we ingest the leaves (anti-oxidants, nutrients).

Preparation method
-Infusion in cold water all night long
-Hot between 70 ° C and 80 ° C (not too hot)
-Kori dashi: infusion made from ice cubes that is placed on the tea leaves, this retains vitamins in particular C, it is better for health and preserves the umami flavor.

Tea ceremony utensils
The Chasen: whip whose 100 strands are dipped in water to make it more flexible. It will be used to whisk the tea. If it is whipped too much it will become more bitter.
Le Chawan: textured bowl not straight.
The Chashaku: spoon for measuring and pouring the tea powder.
Hishaku: Bamboo ladle used to transfer water to the bowl.
Naoshi: Support to put the whip, we will put it upside down.

To choose the right matcha, it must be fluorescent / intense green, this is a guarantee of quality.
The most popular harvest will be that of spring because it will be very loaded with aromatic compounds. However, it will have to be left to mature and it can be drunk between September and October.
There are different teas: Gyokuro, Kabusecha, Sencha, Fukamushicha, Hojicha, Genmaicha, Matcha …

Afterwards, we were able to attend a Kokedama creation workshop.

What is kokedama?
The Kokedama is a sphere of moss in which a plant flourishes. This is a Japanese plant art that appeared in the 1990s. It is a simple but sophisticated production. The plant has a lifespan of about 2 years because it is not in a pot, therefore it has better drainage, which is great for its roots. At the end of the 2 years, we can repot it in a new ball or a pot.
During this workshop, we had the choice between two plants: ivy or dwarf palm. We chose the saw palmetto or Chamaedorea elegans.
Kokedama requires regular maintenance, it becomes dry and light when it needs water. To water it, just soak it in a bucket: every 3 days in summer and once a week in winter.
This workshop allowed us to discover the detailed fabrication of a Kokedama and getting all the tips to take good care of it, it was rewarding. You can also make a Kokedama by going to Leila’s workshop.

We then had the chance to taste delicious frozen mochi from the Mochiri house that we highly recommend to mochi lovers. We tasted several flavors like lychee, matcha, sesame and yuzu but we must admit that we really fell in love with the honey-almond.

Then, we had the right to a presentation and tasting of cold and hot sake. Japanese sake or Nihonshu is a rice alcohol produced by fermentation, it has 15 °. There are two families of sake: the traditional ones which have more earthy and dry notes and the modern ones which have a lot of aroma and are sweet. The more polished the rice, the more fragile and delicate the aroma will be.
We tested a Za Junmai sake that comes from southern Japan.

Finally to end this pleasant / delicious evening, we were able to taste the dishes of Hako + small Japanese restaurant during a buffet. Many dishes, each more attractive than the next.


We would like to thank:
Delphine for the organization of the event;
Julia for welcoming us to the heart of her warm boutique;
The various speakers of the various activities of this evening;
And to fellow journalists for the good atmosphere.

To find them:

Sakura Bento
15 rue Fortia 13001 Marseille

Pào Chá (teas and coffees)
Les docks village, 10 Place de la Joliette 13002 Marseille

The papa tree (Plant creations, Kokedama)
Leila Schuchewytsch

Oryzake (Sake)
Lucie Chatry (sommelier sake)

Mochiri (iced mochi)
43 Chemin Vicinal de la Millière 13011 Marseille

Hako + (restaurant, grocery store, caterer)
218 Chemin du Roucas White 13007 Marseille

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