Friday, October 29, 2010

The dreamy footbridge

In the town of Kokonoe, in the shadow of Oita Prefecture's magnificent Mt. Kuju, is the world's largest pedestrian suspension bridge — the Dream Suspension Bridge:


















—Mellow Monk

 

blog feed, facebook, reviews, steepster, teas, tweets, videos

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Utaseyu — soothing, surging streams of hot spring water

One of the most invigorating ways to enjoy Japan's onsen is utaseyu — high streams of pelting water under which the bather sits for a heavenly, stress-relieving water massage.


Brian MacDuckston has these beautiful pics of Sujiyu, a small, traditional utaseyu in Kokonoe, not too far from Aso.


Historical records indicate that the site was first developed as a hot spring destination in the year 958 (in Japanese).


Brian also published these photos on his Japan Bash site.








—Mellow Monk

 

blog feed, facebook, reviews, steepster, teas, tweets, videos

Monday, October 25, 2010

Flavors of West Japan 5 : singing sand, floating temple

Foodies will enjoy scenes of making an honest-to-goodness onsen tamago (eggs soft-boiled in hot spring water) and okonomiyaki.


This penultimate segment opens with a Shinto procession through Miyazu, followed by views of Amanohashidate, the "singing" sand of Kotobikihama, and the hot spring resort town of Kinosaki. And on Miyajima, we see the world-famous Itsukushima (above), which sits on stilts to avoid touching the surface of the holy island.





You can also watch this video on YouTube.


—Mellow Monk

 

blog feed, facebook, reviews, steepster, teas, tweets, videos

Friday, October 22, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sneak preview of a new tea!

Everyone at Mellow Monk is super-excited about a new tea that is on its way — Crimson Grove, black tea made from green tea varietals.


"Crimson" comes from the Japanese name for black tea: koucha, which literally means crimson tea, from the brew's color.


To make the tea, the growers harvest leaves from the same varietal of tea plant used to make their delicious, exclusive green tea, then let the leaves oxidize just slightly before continuing with the teacrafting process.


The result is unlike anything you've ever tasted — a smokey aroma and a surprisingly sweet taste, with lightly nutty overtones.


This tea must truly be tasted to be believed. And you will all have your chance soon. Stay tuned!


Note the Eco Farmer certification sticker in the upper right.


—Mellow Monk

 

blog feed, facebook, reviews, steepster, teas, tweets, videos

Monday, October 18, 2010

Flavors of West Japan 4 : Kyoto : geisha, green tea & more

The 4th segment of the European documentary "Flavors of West Japan" — which features a Mellow Monk green tea grower–artisan in the segment on Kyushu — takes us to Kyoto.


There, we see such cultural highlights as Nijo Castle, Kiyomizu Temple, and the Gion district.


Also presented is the green tea of Kyoto, which, unlike our Kyushu-style green tea, is usually slightly roasted instead of steamed.


One of this segment's highlights is an interview with a demure maiko named Fumisono (above), who talks about her profession and its rigorous training.





—Mellow Monk

 

blog feed, facebook, reviews, steepster, teas, tweets, videos

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The World in Your Teacup

Just as its title promises, The World in Your Teacup: Celebrating Tea Traditions, Near and Far is a colorful, inspiring tour of tea around the world.


The author, Lisa Boalt Richardson, has a website with recipes and other tea information.


In addition to the reviews at Amazon, you can also read a detailed review at Blogcritics.



A sample page showing World in a Teacup's rich attention to detail.


—Mellow Monk

 

blog feed, facebook, reviews, steepster, teas, tweets, videos

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Flavors of West Japan — part 3 (Nara & Osaka)

The third segment of our France Channel 4 documentary on the culture of west Japan takes a look at Nara's free-roaming deer and the old and new of Osaka — Noh and pachinko at Dotonbori.


You can also watch this video on Vimeo.


The segment with one of our tea grower–artisans is coming soon — I promise!





—Mellow Monk

 

blog feed, facebook, reviews, steepster, teas, tweets, videos

Monday, October 11, 2010

A humble little kettle

Here is another rescue teapot of mine — found in a thrift store waiting patiently, like Corduroy the bear.


The only identifying information on it is the word JAPAN stamped at the base of the handle. But the many dents and scrapes tell me that this little aluminum teapot has a long and eventful history. Just as we all accumulate our own dents and scrapes over the years.





—Mellow Monk


blog feed, facebook, reviews, teas, tweets, videos

Friday, October 08, 2010

Green tea in and with a meal

Shannon over at The Messy Apron has a recipe for seriously yummy-looking sushi rolls made with matcha.


And even when you don't have the time to put green tea in your food, you can stil have it with your food:



Surrounding the tea are — clockwise from top left — mazegohan, tempura, and hijiki with beans.


—Mellow Monk

 

blog feed, facebook, reviews, steepster, teas, tweets, videos

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

A geisha painting

This mysterious beauty was rescued from a thrift store.

I say "mysterious" because the painting bears no artist's name or other identifying information. Still immensely pleasing, however.





—Mellow Monk

 

blog feed, facebook, reviews, steepster, teas, tweets, videos

Monday, October 04, 2010

Flavors of West Japan — part 2 (shrine wedding, Zen sand garden & more)

Continuing from the previous segment, we see a wedding at the Koyazan temple, followed by the meditation room, sand garden, and guest lodgings of the Rengejo-in Zen temple in the sample complex, and finally the quietly majestic Okuno-in shrine and cemetery:





In the next episode, we leave Koyazan and the Kii peninsula and see the ancient and beautiful aights of ... Nara!


You can also:


—Mellow Monk

 

blog feed, facebook, reviews, steepster, teas, tweets, videos

Friday, October 01, 2010

Brewing tips — serious and playful

After discussing his life with tea, James Norwood Pratt demonstrates how to enjoy a green tea's fragrance prior to tasting, then how to brew loose-leaf green tea with just gaiwan:





Next, Dr. Oolong exhibits the amazingly wide variety of simple, inexpensive accouterments now available to us for brewing loose-leaf tea:





And finally, the people who brought us such hilarious looks at Japanese culture as "Sushi" poke playful fun at the elaborate ritual that is the Japanese green tea ceremony:





—Mellow Monk

 

blog feed, facebook, reviews, steepster, teas, tweets, videos