I recon the Japanese have this great ability to turn all things into an art form, so I am always fascinated by the way they produce delicate and beautiful confectionaries called Wagashi. These are little sweets served with Macha(fine powder green tea) during tea ceremonies.
Early this year I attended a Wagashi demonstration hosted by the Japan Foundation in Manila. They brought in three very young chefs to introduce the art of making Wagashi. They are made from a clay like dough of Azuki red or white beans, kanten (gelatin from seaweed), and very expensive and refined sugar called wasambonto. The different design, décor and ingredients used reflects the different seasons.
If the British have High Tea, the Japanese also have their own version called “Way of the Tea”. Wagashi is served instead of petit fours, little tea sandwiches and lovely looking canapés. The Japanese tea drinking ceremony is a Zen experience of quietness, tranquility and a state that calms the spirit. It can last for three hours and has three stages: purification of utensils, serving the tea, then the purification and putting away of the utensils. The whole ritual has symbolic meanings from wearing the kimomo, kneeling on the tatami mat, the equipment used, the etiquette and manner of serving and drinking. The custom is a Zen state of harmony, respect and purity. Here’s another addition to the bucket list!