Chapter 19

Cha no Bu (茶乃部)
Teas


Although labelled “Teas”, by modern terminology these are a combination of herbal infusions and a “tea gruel” (aka chagayu) such as Nara cha. As with rice and sōmen it would appear that the making of plain tea was such that there was no requirement to write it down here, but nonetheless, some notes may be in order. For one thing, tea came in many different forms. The first tea to come over to Japan was likely a “brick tea,” in the 9th century. This style travels well, as the tea is fermented and powdered, but is generally considered a lower class of tea. It was supplanted in the popular culture of the elites in the Kamakura period, when a new style of powdered green tea came over from China, which you whisk up into a frothy blend. Matcha is still popular today, and the most common form of ceremonial tea. Finally, there is bancha, which refers to several types of tea that were generally of common origin. This type of tea could be prepared by roasted tea branches, with the leaves on them, over a fire, roasting them in a pot, boiling, etc. This was a type of tea that many could afford to do at home, as matcha was generally quite expensive. The tea from such a process tended to be thick and brown, as opposed to the green froth of matcha, and may have been more suited to a dish like Nara cha rather than being drunk directly.

It should be noted that sencha, a green tea made from unfermented, roasted tea leaves that are brewed in a pot, appears to have been made through a combination of matcha and bancha techniques, and yielded a more translucent beverage, which was very appealing. However, creation of this tea is attributed to Nagatani Sōen, in 1738, well after this current work was written.

The two herbal infusions (kuko cha and ukogi cha) are fairly straightforward, and are likely using methods similar to what may have been used for regular bancha, though it is unclear what is meant in this instance by “normal” tea in the recipes.


1. Nara cha 奈良茶 (Nara tea)

First, roast the tea, put it in a bag, and boil just the tea and azuki. Next, put in beans and rice, and roast half of them. Make sure to cut the beans open and discard the shell. Alternatively, add such things as sasage, kuwai, or roasted chestnuts. Season with sanshō powder and salt. Whatever you season with is very important.

2. Kuko cha 枸杞茶 (Gojiberry tea)

Pluck young kuko sprouts. Steam them and put them over a stove. You can boil them as well. When you draw the tea, add one third of normal tea.

3. Ukogi cha うこぎちや (Siberian ginseng tea)

Make this the same as kuko cha. Just as with mulberry tea, make it like kuko cha.

 

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