Reflections of Nature: The Art of Japanese Wagashi

MAGAZINE ARTICLES
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In association with the Embassy of Japan in the UK, we recently hosted an evening of “Wagashi and Tea Tasting” with award winning wagashi chef from Japan, Mr Takeshi Inoue and our Tea Master, Lalith Lendaora.

Wagashi is a traditional Japanese sweet made from uniquely Japanese ingredients such as adzuki beans and mochi rice dough. Mr Inoue, a wagashi artisan from Japan is the 4th generation owner of Baika-tei in Kagurazaka, Tokyo which was established in 1935 by his grandfather. In November, 2016 he was awarded the “Tokyo Artisan Excellence” status (Tokyo Master) by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

At The East India Company, we believe in bringing together the best that our world has to offer – the vibrant craftsmanship and skill from different cultures and customs. We are forever seeking out the new and bringing the far near. In this spirit, we were delighted to welcome Mr Inoue who spoke to the guests about the history of wagashi and treated them to a fascinating demonstration of wagashi making – a wonderful display of artistic skill using simple tools and his hands. Mr Inoue creates all his wagashi from organic ingredients and through his designs he expresses the four seasons and the beauty of nature.

The audience was enthralled by the demonstration and the level of precision and skill required to make one of these precious delicacies. Each guest was given fresh wagashi to taste which was paired with three of our finest teas selected by our Tea Master:

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The Campbell Darjeeling: The Campbell Darjeeling: This second flush tea has been named after The East India Company’s superintendent of Darjeeling, Dr Campbell. Our Tea Master monitored the best picking conditions during early June to get the ideal aroma and taste. It has the famous “muscatel” character from Darjeeeling, with mellow fruity flavours and spicy notes, brewing a wonderful amber infusion.

Rainforest Lumbini: Laced with gold tips, grown at the rainforest’s edge in Ceylon, this exclusive tea offers a rich and smooth infusion, finishing with complex notes of caramel.

Matcha: Our Matcha Green Tea comes from a garden run by the Hattori Family. Great Matcha provides a flavour and experience unique in the world of tea. The base ‘Tencha’ must be grown by alternating the time the tea is shaded and in sunlight, which gives our Matcha it’s unique character and fresh lime green colour. Hattori-san grinds the Tencha in a traditional stone mill just before shipping, ensuring freshness.

A delightful evening of culture, tea and charming company! We enjoyed ourselves very much and look forward to hosting many more such events in the coming months.