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An Introduction to Green Tea

Japan, Traditional Japan

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The tea ceremony requires years of training and patience, yet the whole of this art, as to its detail, signifies no more than the making and serving of a cup of tea. The supremely important matter is that the act be performed in the most perfect, most polite, most graceful, most charming manner possible”

Lafcadio Hearn

Green teawas introduced to Japan in the 13th century and has become an essential component of traditional Japanese cuisine. Green tea powder, or matcha, is also used as a flavoring for many desserts and sweets, while hot tea is sometimes poured over rice as a snack.

This is a quick introduction to the most common varieties of Japanese green tea with instructions on the correct way to brew them. However there are many more varieties, not to mention all the types of Chinese green tea, so look up whatever is in your cupboard and try brewing it correctly. Traditionally green tea is never served with milk and sugar, but contemporary tea houses now serve treats like matcha milkshakes and green tea espresso’s, so I’m also including a few fun recipes here for you to try.

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J-Rock Spotlight: The Pillows

Japan

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The Pillows are an alternative Japanese rock band with a bit of an indie feel. Formed in 1989 they’ve released more than a dozen original studio albums, but are best known internationally for the soundtrack of the anime FLCL. To me the Pillows don’t sound particularly “Japanese”, and they certainly don’t have the sugary sweet and overproduced sound associated with J-Pop.

Unfortunately since their official website is mainly in Japanese so I couldn’t get much out of it. However I did learn that the band’s new album, OOPARTS ,  is scheduled to launch on the 14th of this month. You can listen to samples of the songs online, which would be pretty exciting if it was actually possible to buy it here.

If anyone out there is familiar with The Pillows and knows more about music than I do, which is really not hard, I’m curious about the proper terms to describe their sound. I’d use just one: excellent. Go check them out.