Thursday, December 31, 2009

Green tea, hangover cure

Regarding hangover cures, Keith Strickland of the B-52s says, "Green Tea is about the best one I have used."

I thought I would share this with you now, instead of tomorrow, when it might be too late.

Happy New Year's, everyone.

A nice, warm cup of hangover cure, waiting for you.

—Mellow Monk

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Aso's natural spring water drinking fountains

The people of Aso are proud of and particular about their tea and their abundant natural spring water. So much so that the area around Aso shrine has a dozen or so public drinking fountains that serve up naturally flowing natural spring water.

The video below showcases these beautifully designed fountains, including one I blogged about recently.

—Mellow Monk

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Sake basics

With New Year's just around the corner, now is a good time to learn the basics of sake.

As the video below shows, quality sake begins with the planting of quality rice.

—Mellow Monk

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Undokai time lapse

From Rocking in Hakata comes a two-minute time-lapse video of an undokai (sports festival) in Japan.

Note also the movement of the ocean in the background.

—Mellow Monk

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Alma, an excellent "Twilight Zone"-ish short

This has nothing even remotely to do with Japan or green tea, but I just had to share this amazing animated short with you all.

I may actually pay attention to the "Best Animated Short" category in the Academy Awards this time.

—Mellow Monk

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The Sorapot, an outside-the-box brewing concept

Here's an interesting approach to brewing loose-leaf tea: Joey Roth's Sorapot, available at Amazon (when it's not sold out).

—Mellow Monk

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Monday, December 21, 2009

The $2,500 bottle of green tea

That is a lot to pay for a bottle of green tea.

Not only are quality greens available for much less [hint, hint], but green tea's free-radical-fighting catechins begin breaking down soon after brewing, which is why freshly brewed tea is so much healthier for you.

(Bottled teas that tout their high EGCG content, for instance, have boosted the catechin artificially.)

Billed as "the green tea you enjoy in a wine glass."

—Mellow Monk

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Mellow Monk's Tea-Buying Trip to Japan: all six parts

Here are all six parts of the tea documentary "Kyushu, Where Japan's Green Tea Grows" (with English subtitles).

—Mellow Monk


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Handcrafted wooden bathtubs from Japan

Bartok Design custom-crafts top-quality traditional wooden Japanese bathtubs made from hinoki.

And remember: These tubs are for soaking, not washing. But what a soothing, stress-relieving, whole-body-rejuvenating soak it is.

A wood tub like this would be such a luxury. I promise to be an environmentally good boy all year if I can have one for Christmas.

—Mellow Monk

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Japan tea trip videos in high resolution and subtitled

I never tire of revisiting the spectacular scenery and the warm, wonderful people I encountered during the filming of "Kyushu, Where Japan's Green Tea Grows."

So posting the re-subtitled first and second segments to Vimeo was a more than adequate excuse to watch them again.

So let us brew up a hot, soothing cup of green tea, sit back, and enjoy the people and places together.

—Mellow Monk

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Green tea made with spring water

The residents of Aso (whence Mellow Monk tea hails) are so proud of their deliciously health natural spring water that the city installed public drinking fountains dispensing this natural spring water, free for locals and visitors alike.

In the picture below, we made some cold-brewed matcha using this water, an empty soda bottle, and some of our powdered green tea.

It was, needless to say, delectable . . . and so easy to make: Just add matcha powder and water, then put on the cap, shake vigorously and—voilà—a bottle of delicious, healthy, thirst-quenchingly cool matcha.

This fountain is named "Katarai no Shizuku," which can mean "murmuring drops" (a reference to the water's sound) but can also mean "water for talking" (referring to how a drinking fountain brings people together) or even "lover's vow water" (which would play well with honeymooners visiting the town).

—Mellow Monk

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Destress with green tea, suggests college columnist

Over at the University of Wisconsin–River Falls, columnist Laura Krawczyk suggests that her fellow students studying for finals add green tea to their stress-busting arsenal.

Speaking of green tea and stress, here's a video from the last Calm-a-Sutra contest:

—Mellow Monk

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Tea cookbook wins world award

"Cook and entertain with exotic teas from around the world," entices Tea with a Twist, winner of the tea category in the World Cookbook Awards.

The book's back cover. Note the exquisite-sounding recipe on the top: "Scones with Crystalized Ginger and Green Tea."

—Mellow Monk

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Mellow Monk's tea-buying trip to Japan: grand finale

Here it is, the final segment of "Kyushu, Where Japan's Green Tea Grows," a European documentary in which a Mellow Monk tea procurer is prominently featured. (When watching the video, there will be no doubt as to which one is him.)

We have more videos at YouTube, too. You can also watch this video at Vimeo.

—Mellow Monk

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Xitang, land of mellow

Xitang seems like such a peaceful place.

One of the canals for which Xitang is famous ... and mellow.

—Mellow Monk

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Green tea biscotti

The recipe for green tea shortbread that I posted recently proved popular among us foodies, so here's another yummy-sounding one—for green tea biscotti.

Perfect for dipping in a cup of hot green tea.

—Mellow Monk

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Monk is listed ... again

Once again, Mellow Monk is listed in Green America's directory of green businesses, the Green Pages.

Click to join Green America and get your copy of the Green Pages. You can get one with a donation of only $20, and that gets you other membership benefits, too.

—Mellow Monk

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Monday, December 07, 2009

Happy 1,300th, Nara

Japan is preparing to celebrate the 1,300th anniversary of the country's ancient capital in Nara City.

For 1,300 the old gal looks pretty good.

The deer of Nara Park, with the Kofukuji Temple pagoda in the background.

—Mellow Monk

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Sunday, December 06, 2009

Teaching the yout' the calming art of tea

A nice story about a tea ceremony teacher and her pupil—who said she used to be stressed out "like a spinning top"—demonstrating sado to a group of 8th graders in Pittsburgh.

Learning a skill—mellowness—that will come in handy later in life.

—Mellow Monk

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Saturday, December 05, 2009

Delectable natural natto

I was recently fortunate enough to try Megumi Natto, a brand of naturally made natto crafted in California by Japan Traditional Foods. I was completely knocked out by the fresh, fragrant flavor. Good natto truly is a culinary delight, and Megumi Natto is truly the real deal.

This natto is also such a wonderful change of pace from the made-in-Japan natto I usually have, which, by the time it reaches my shores, just isn't the same after weeks of cold storage aboard container ships.

And that mass-market natto also contains MSG, whereas Megumi Natto doesn't.

The Megumi website is chock full of scrumptious recipes, including natto soba salad, shown below in all its mouthwatering glory.

—Mellow Monk

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Thursday, December 03, 2009

Uniquely Japanese Christmas cakes

In Japan, Christmas is a relatively recent import, but like any country does when importing a new custom, Japan has made its own tweaks to the holiday.

For instance: small, elegant, and for the most part absolutely scrumptious Christmas cakes.

From Mitsukoshi in Nihonbashi. Price: ¥3,150 (about US$36). Did I mention that these super-elegant cakes can also be super-expensive? Cakes from less swanky shops are much more affordable but still very tasty—and they all go great with green tea, naturally.

—Mellow Monk

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Green tea shortbread recipes

This article in Canada's National Postgives us three tea recipes, including one for yummy-sounding green tea shortbread made with matcha:


Green tea turns these cookies an elegant shade of green and the sparkling sugar makes them glitter. For more green tea flavour, use up to 2 tbsp (30 mL) powdered green tea.

- 1 cup (250 mL) butter

- ½ cup (125 mL) granulated sugar

- 2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour

- 1 tbsp (15 mL) powdered green tea (matcha)

- ½ tsp (2 mL) salt

- ¼ cup (50 mL) coarse sparkling sugar (optional)

1. Cream butter with granulated sugar until light.

2. Combine flour, green tea powder and salt in a bowl and add to butter mixture. Mix only until combined. Divide into two parts, flatten slightly, wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

3. Roll out each piece of dough on a floured surface, ¼-inch (5 mm) thick. Cut out with your fave cookie cutter. Place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with sparkling sugar and press in slightly. Bake 12 to 15 minutes in a preheated 325°F (160°C) oven. Do not let cookies brown. Cool on racks. Makes 36 to 40 cookies

As always, the Monk is willing to sample the results of your culinary experimentations—especially sweet ones.

Click the pic to see another scrumptious green tea shortbread recipe.

—Mellow Monk

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