Recipes · Uncategorized

Matcha Strawberry Smoothie

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With the exception of a few small projects, I’m taking a break from doing my usual Japanese-English translation work while I learn German for the first few months of living in Berlin. Learning a third language has been interesting – I’ve never had a problem with switching between English and Japanese, mostly because when my brain goes into second language mode it just defaults to the only one it knows. But now that there’s a new language in the mix, I’m finding myself mixing them up all of the time (leading to some awkward moments in grocery stores and cafes!), and feeling overwhelmed at times. Which is why on days I need to keep focused, I’m relying on tea to keep my mind especially sharp.

Here’s a recipe for a way to start your day off with a kick: matcha strawberry smoothies! This recipe is vegan, satisfying and has a rich matcha flavour. The wonderful thing about smoothies is that you can take a basic recipe and adjust to your taste. Want more sweetness? Add another banana or handful of strawberries. Not so sure if you’ll like the bold matcha flavour? Start with a teaspoon and keep adding until you reach the flavour you like. You can leave out the cashews if you don’t like the richness, I add it because the protein keeps me fuller for longer. If you like ice in your smoothies feel free to add a handful. I like to have a base recipe to start from before altering it, so I hope you enjoy the recipe below!

Vegan Matcha Strawberry Smoothie

(serves 2)

1/4 cup of cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours (you can skip the soaking if you have a high power blender)

1 tablespoon of matcha, or to taste (I used cooking grade matcha that I bought at Matchashop and it worked very well)

1 teaspoon of ground flaxseeds (optional)

1 cup of ‘milk’ (I used unsweetened soy milk but oat, rice, or any other type of milk would work great too)

1 small piece of vanilla bean or dash of liquid vanilla (optional but adds nice flavour)

-1 cup of frozen strawberries

2 frozen bananas

Instructions:

Place the cashews, matcha, flaxseeds, milk, vanilla, and strawberries in your blender. Blend on high until it reaches a consistency you like, and then add the peeled frozen bananas and blend again until smooth. I garnished mine with a dusting of matcha powder & red berry smoothie powder.

Hope you enjoy if you try this, and let me know if you come up with any extra ingredients or substitutions that you love!

 

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Kyūsu Workshop at macha-macha

Long time no post! Shortly after I made my last entry here, my husband and I began to prepare for our move from Vancouver to Germany. There was a lot of spending time with friends and family we loved, bureaucracy, and giving away of almost everything we owned. We landed in Berlin with our dog and cat in early October, and again had a lot of paperwork and other details to sort out. Things are slowly beginning to wind down and settle, so it was the perfect time for me to attend a workshop on traditional Japanese teapots (kyūsu) this past weekend at a great Berlin tea shop called macha-macha.

The workshop was sponsored by the Japanese Tea Instructor Association, which means it was free for participants. It’s a great way to spread knowledge to those interested in Japanese tea culture, so I’m grateful for the opportunity to have participated! Yumi Tanabe of macha-macha led the workshop, and was friendly and very knowledgeable on the topic of kyūsu.

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We started with two small teacups, a spoon for transferring the dried tea to the pot, and a kyūsu. The kyūsu was very smooth to the touch and had a nice comfortable weight when handled. Yumi explained that teapots of this size could be used for the types of tea we drink everyday, whereas tinier kyūsu can be used for more expensive teas that require longer infusion times. We learned that there are even some kyūsu that don’t have handles, because they are meant for higher quality tea that require lower water temperatures, so the teapot can still be handled without burning one’s hands.

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Yumi-san shows how to properly pour tea from a kyūsu when serving guests

Yumi told us about the factors that can affect tea flavour when brewing: temperature, amount of water, amount of tea, and steeping time. She recommended we experiment with what we like best, but in general we especially need to keep an eye on water temperature (too hot can bring bitter flavours in green tea to the forefront), and steeping time. One thing I found interesting was that when Yumi brewed her tea, she steeped her first pot for 30 seconds, but subsequent steepings could be poured out immediately after water had been added to the pot. She explained that once the tea leaves were opened it wasn’t necessary to wait for the water to unfurl the leaves before pouring the tea. Seeing how beautifully green her tea looked as she poured her second steeping was enough to convince me!

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Genmaicha

We prepared genmaicha (or what many of my friends call ‘popcorn tea’ 😄) for our brewing practice during the workshop. The toasty flavour was a perfect choice for the cold, blustery day. We each placed two heaping spoonfuls of the tea into our pots. Yumi had given us water heated to a good temperature for genmaicha (I forgot to note exactly what temperature, but I believe it was between 80-90C), and we started by filling our small teacups up with the water and then transferring that to the teapot. This also helps warm the teacups to prepare for the tea. We timed 30 seconds, and then poured the tea into the cups. An important note was that when pouring tea from the pot into two or more cups, it is best to switch between the cups while pouring. This helps to disperse the flavour equally among the cups, and is so simple and yet something I’ve never considered before! I really enjoyed the balanced flavour in both cups of tea I tried after pouring this way.

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Casual pouring method

Yumi taught us a few different ways of pouring from a kyūsu. One can be seen in the picture of Yumi pouring her tea a few photos above, where she is holding the handle with her right hand and gently holding the lid in place with her left palm open flat and fingers together. I think this pouring method looks very elegant, and accordingly this is the polite way of pouring for guests. In the photo directly above, I’m demonstrating another more casual way of pouring that can be used when preparing tea for yourself at home.

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As the workshop concluded we were able to practice brewing and pouring tea while enjoying some delicious matcha chocolate made by Nazuna. I had a great time chatting with other participants, learning more about tea, and enjoying the relaxing space before going home. Thanks to Yumi-san and macha-macha for the fantastic workshop! I’m looking forward to going back next month for their Meditation & Tea event, and if any Berlin locals are interested in attending the Facebook link with ticket info can be found here.

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My Second Mom

Lynda (left), at afternoon tea with some of her good friends

Tomorrow we’re celebrating the life of my mother-in-law, Lynda. She passed away last week, and I wanted to write a short something to share a few memories about my wonderful second mom.

It feels natural to write some of my memories here, since a lot of our bonding happened over tea. The first time my then-boyfriend brought me to her house, one of the first things she did was offer to make me a cup of chamomile. I was really nervous and wanted to make a good first impression, so chatting over a calming cup of tea proved to be perfect. From that first meeting, she welcomed me with open arms and treated me like family. Her open-heartedness is one of the many qualities I already miss very keenly.

From then on, it became a tradition to meet at her house for tea whenever I visited the town where she lived. We’d hug, and then she would insist that I sit down while she made me a cup of tea. No matter how tired she was, she said it was her pleasure to make it for me, so she’d order me to the couch while she prepared our cups. It became a tradition for me to bring her a new tea to try as a visiting gift, so we often drank it together or fell back to a mutual favourite, chamomile. We’d sip tea, chat, and look at her beautiful flowers (she was an expert orchid raiser, which is a pretty difficult task if you’ve ever tried). The last time I visited her at her house, the scent of jasmine flooded my nose as I opened her door to leave. So many fragrances from tea and flowers will now be always connected to her memory in my mind. I’m relieved; they say that scent is the strongest sense tied to memory, and there are so many things about her that I don’t want to forget.

On our last family trip together, I had a quiet moment together with her. She wasn’t feeling so well at this point, and I offered to steep her some tea. She agreed, and I put a lot of care and worry into making that cup as delicious as possible. It probably sounds silly – it’s just a drink. But it became one way of expressing love for each other.

After I married her amazing son, our feeling of being family was solidified. I called her mom one day soon after, and enjoyed the flash of happiness in her eyes and her answering smile. So here are a few things I love about my second mom: her kindness, empathy, love of animals, her never-ending advocacy for my punky appearance, her deep understanding of who I am underneath that appearance, her listening skills, generosity, excitement at cooking vegan food for me and my husband (she even made us an entirely vegan Christmas dinner for us a couple of years ago!), her sense of humour, her thoughtfulness (she mailed me some gloves once – via Express post – when she heard I had lost mine), her smile, and so much more. Mom, thank you for everything.

 

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Tea Adventures in NYC

I’m taking a break from translating on here this week to make a post about my tea finds in New York. As mentioned in a previous post, I was able to find recommendations for some tea and matcha places in NYC online before going, and fortunately I met some great people through visiting tea shops there who referred me to more places to check out. Without further ado, here are some of the places I was lucky enough to visit:

MatchaBar Chelsea

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MatchaBar opened their doors a few years ago and are located in Chelsea. I spent a lot of time in Chelsea, so I was able to swing by a couple of times. Their matcha mixed drinks were amazing – iced matcha with a layer of ‘milk’ (their default milk options are all dairy alternatives, which is pretty awesome – we’re not cows, so I prefer not to drink their milk 😉), and then a layer of amazing flavor on the bottom. I tried their peaches and cream (pictured above, peach juice below almond milk and matcha) and their chai matcha latte (pictured below). The flavor combos were imaginative and fantastic. The chai latte was my favorite and was simply unbelievable, I highly recommend it! One thing I loved about these mixed drinks was that although the bottom layer tended to be sweet, the iced matcha itself wasn’t overly sweetened, so you can enjoy the strong flavor of good quality matcha with some sweetness and complementary flavor added without it becoming sickeningly overwhelming.

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Did I mention their baked goods? They have an entirely vegan selection of yummy treats supplied by Brooklyn Whiskers. I had the matcha mini cupcake and matcha vanilla cookie, both were killer. Having refreshing matcha drinks with alternative milks and delicious vegan treats ensured that MatchaBar was one of my favorite tea places in NYC! This is a must-visit spot.

Greecologies

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Greecologies is primarily a Greek yogurt place, so since I can’t eat dairy it wasn’t on my list of places to visit. But one day I was walking by their shop in the East Village and their signboard let me know that they had Rose Matcha Lattes (!!), so I decided to go and ask if they had any dairy alternatives they could make it with. They happily told me they had at least two alternatives, so I ordered one. While I was waiting the friendly person at the counter gave me a sample of their rose petal preserve, which they use to make their rose lattes. It was so sweet and delicious! It tasted heavenly in the latte itself, and I was tempted to buy a bottle of preserves to bring home. I think it’s neat that they leave some rose petals in the preserve and add it straight to the matcha latte – I love floral flavors, so drinking rose petals is always a treat. If you’re also a rose fan I highly recommend Greecologies.

Tea Drunk at The Met

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Tea Drunk provides some very high quality Chinese teas, so I was excited to hear that they had opened a pop up shop at The Met to celebrate the fabulous exhibit Age of Empires: Chinese Art of the Qin and Han Dynasties. I tried some of the Gua Pian, Qi Shan, Lu An 2016 green tea pictured above. It had a pleasantly gentle flavor while still being very full-bodied.

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The above photo by Tea Drunk shows the gorgeous view guests can see while sipping away at their tea! Looking around at this beautiful architecture while enjoying a cup of green tea was one of the highlights of my trip.

Matcha Cafe Wabi

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Matcha Cafe Wabi is a fantastic little shop in the lower east side. My friend ordered the yuzu black tea and said it was one of the best teas he’s ever had 🙂 My iced ceremonial grade matcha was so smooth and refreshing on the muggy day I visited, I bought a tin to take home!

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They even had a few vegan goodies, like this super tasty homemade matcha scone! It was slightly crispy on the outside (perfect for dipping in tea or coffee), and had a great matcha flavor. Yumm 😋

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The nice person who was making matcha demonstrated some of his tea equipment and was very welcoming. The great quality teas, implements and goodies for sale are a great reason enough to drop by, but the amount of care that goes into each cup is a big bonus. This matcha shop was excellent and I miss it a lot!

Chalait

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Chalait has a few locations, and I visited the Chelsea shop. They have a number of more standard matcha drinks (straight shots, lattes, americanos, etc.) I liked the strong flavor of the matcha in my latte, and was impressed that they offered a house-made cashew milk as well as a couple of other dairy alternatives. I didn’t get a chance to try any of their steeped teas, but it looked like they had some nice options such as seasonal shrub and golden chai.

by CHLOE.

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Just a quick mention of by CHLOE. It’s a vegan fast food chain rather than a tea shop, but they’re open pretty late and during a late night burger face-stuff fest I noticed they have matcha lattes on the menu and had to try. It’s pretty standard for matcha lattes, good flavor and more decent than I expected for a non-specialized place. They have other tea related drinks on the menu, so if you’re looking for some fun veg food with your tea this is a great place to stop.

Franchia Vegan Cafe

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Franchia is another place that’s not specifically a teahouse, but in this case they have an extensive and unique tea list, so I wanted to make sure I mentioned them. Their offerings include persimmon leaf tea (above), which was rich and savoury with a nice hint of sweetness. Other interesting sounding teas are Korean plum tea, snow dew tea, and their red chili latte. I could go back 20 times and still not have tried everything I want to!

Kettl Tea

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Kettl Tea in Brooklyn was well worth the visit! Zach, the owner of Kettl, was highly knowledgable about tea and it was fantastic asking some questions about his tea journey. He made this fantastic bowl of Shinme matcha (wonderful bright color with a very smooth flavor, I loved it so much I bought some to take home) and shared some iced houjicha that he had brewed that was very refreshing.

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The tea selection at Kettl is a dream. Zach works closely with tea producers in Japan, building close relationships and travelling to help out and learn more about the growing and harvesting process.

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The design of the shop was wonderful, and the curation of pottery made me wish I had brought a couple of extra suitcases! Kettl is very worth a special trip, but even if you’re not in the area their web store is descriptive and kept up to date.

Cha Cha Matcha

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If you want a colorful matcha mixed drink, Cha Cha Matcha is your spot. They have so many fun, fancy and tasty matcha-based drinks that it’s tough to decide what to pick. I chose The Divine (pictured above): matcha, beetroot, ginger, turmeric, pepper, blue algae, spirulina, almond milk, coconut milk, and macadamia milk. It was a dark and cloudy day when I visited Cha Cha Matcha, but this colorful drink seriously brightened it up! Since this was enough to satisfy my sweet tooth I didn’t get any of their signature baked goods or soft serve, but I read a comment online that said that their soft serve was completely vegan, so if you’re avoiding dairy it might be worth asking about if you visit!

Ippodo Tea Co.

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Last but certainly not least, Ippodo Tea New York was as amazing as I knew they would be (I’ve been a huge fan since visiting their Kyoto flagship store and teahouse last year.) . The shop is small and doesn’t have a seating area, but it still has a warm and welcoming atmosphere. There’s a lot of tea on display that’s for sale, as well as some implements and books. The staff know their tea inside out, so they are terrific at answering all sorts of tea related questions. I was lucky enough to take a shincha workshop there and learned so much that I’ve decided to make a separate post about it! I’ll plan to have that up next week, but in the meantime I’ll be dreaming about their iced gyokuro (above) as summer progressively gets hotter.

Thanks for reading if you’ve made it this far. Please feel free to leave comments about your experiences at these places, and especially if you have other places to recommend – let’s build up a great guide to tea and matcha in New York City!

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Matcha Beer Garden

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Beer and matcha lovers, take note: two of your favorites together at last! The following article translated from Mynavi News may be of interest to some of you.

Green beer!? The beer garden with 10 different types of matcha beer is now open for business.

Summer is the time of year when we thirst for beer. There are a number of beer gardens where you can drink delicious beer, but surely only one where you can taste green beer. ‘Green Tea Restaurant 1899 Ochanomizu’ in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo opens a matcha beer garden during the summer months from June-September, complete with all drinks, food and sweets being made from tea.

The matcha beer garden is entering its third summer season this year, after being hugely successful last summer – around 7,200 glasses of matcha beer were served. Visually matcha beer delivers a strong impact, but customers have said that the beer has a mild and delicious flavour, and that it is ‘healthy even though it’s beer.’

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In addition to light and dark regular beers, the beer garden serves 10 types of all you can drink beverages such as matcha beer, hojicha dark beer, and matcha wine. Since they will still also have their regular beers on tap, it might be nice to try a regular beer with a tea flavored one to compare.

This year, two new flavors of original tea beer are being introduced: Japanese black tea beer and Japanese dark black tea beer. The natural sweetness and splendid aroma of black tea mixes harmoniously with the bitterness of beer to create a new and exciting blend of flavors. As it is also primarily a tea restaurant, the food and sweets are also made using tea. Sencha potatoes and matcha cake are just a couple of examples of the extensive tea-based menu.

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Green Tea Restaurant 1899 Ochanomizu is located on the first floor of the Ryumeikan main building, 3-4 Kanda Surugadai in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo. The first seating begins from 5-6pm, and the second seating from 7:30-8pm. The all you can drink service has a limit of 2 hours, and costs 3,500‎¥ (*approximately $40 Canadian as of this translation.)”

I certainly wouldn’t complain if my meal and drinks were all matcha flavored, so I’m adding this to my list of future places to visit. I really miss the amount of restaurants in Japan with all you can drink/all you can eat deals, too. Have any of you gone to this matcha beer garden, or plan to this summer? You can find the original article here if you’d like to see the original Japanese version.

Next week I’ll be making a post about matcha and tea shops in New York City, so stay tuned and thanks for reading!

 

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Matcha Shops in NYC

I’m very fortunate to be heading to New York City tomorrow, and so (of course) I’ve been researching the best places to grab some tea and matcha while I’m there. While looking around for info I stumbled upon this great video by Milkbox, who filmed a matcha tour of NYC! It was fun to get to see all the matcha stuff she tried, and gave me some inspiration for places to check out. Here’s the video – additionally if you’re into goth lolita or kawaii stuff she would be a great person to follow.

So far my only concrete tea-related plan in while I’m in NYC is to attend a Shincha preparing workshop at Ippodo, which I’m really excited about. I have a list of places I’ll be visiting now thanks to Milkbox, but if anyone has any other recommendations for places to check out, please leave a comment!

Next week I’ll have another article translation to post (hint: if you like both matcha and beer you won’t want to miss it!), and in two weeks I’ll be posting an extensive report of my own on NYC matcha/tea places. Thanks for reading 🙂  ❤

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Drinking the Last Sip: An Expression of Appreciation

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My first koicha (“thick tea”) at Ippodo tea room, Kyoto. 

Michiko Osawa runs a relaxed matcha classroom in Yokohama, and also maintains an excellent blog that delves into the deeper enjoyment that participating in a tea ceremony can bring. Her other objective is to bring that enjoyment into our daily lives, thus bringing the special experience of a traditional tea ceremony to our regular kitchen table.

Showing respect to the host who made your tea is an important part of the tea ceremony, and Michiko talks about a small but important detail that we might easily overlook: what to do with those last few remaining drops in our tea bowl.

“Have you ever been bothered by the bottom of your tea bowl after you finish drinking matcha? When someone has prepared matcha for you, it is courteous to drink the tea without delay and while it is still fresh and delicious. One other point: drinking your matcha to the very last drop is an expression of appreciation toward the person who made it for you.

As people aren’t machines, there may be times when the matcha has not been well mixed and dissolved. But once you realize this, you can still slurp in the last sip with some force and completely finish the tea. If you do this, the act of finishing your matcha is beautiful.

If you don’t finish your matcha to the last drop, your tea bowl may end up looking like this: 

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One last point: When there is some thick matcha left on the bottom of the bowl, the problem may sometimes be due to the person preparing, and other times may be due to the guest drinking in a carefree way.

Without worrying about who is to blame, it would be nice to drink our matcha to the last drop.”

This was interesting to read, because in many cultures slurping the last drop of liquid from a glass or bowl is considered rude, and it’s important to know that (at least in Japanese culture) it’s seen as a sign of respect and appreciation. If someone is going through the trouble of making me a delicious bowl of tea, I want to enjoy it to the fullest! So let’s slurp away, fellow matcha fans 😀

The original article is here, and you can find many other excellent Japanese articles by Michiko at her blog, O-Matcha Happylife. Thanks for reading!

Recipes · Uncategorized

(Vegan!) Matcha Cheesecake

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I’ve come across a number of matcha cheesecake recipes online, but this is the first I’ve seen with a layer of red beans between the filling and the crust! For those of you who haven’t encountered sweet adzuki beans in desserts yet, they’re used regularly in Japanese sweets – and I actually might love them more than chocolate 😮  Their rich and satisfying taste aside, adzuki beans are high in iron, protein, potassium, and a ton of other nutrients that are excellent for you. All the more excuse to try out this delicious plant-based matcha cheesecake!

Today’s recipe comes from Peaceful Cuisineand you can find the original Japanese recipe here. The author of Peaceful Cuisine, Ryoya Takashima, has a number of other creative and delicious looking recipes (with some recent ones in a great bilingual video format) involving matcha on his site that can be found with a quick search.

Recipe notes:

The original recipe is intended to be made in a traditional cheesecake shape, but I made mini cheesecakes. The ingredients came out to equal 12 mini cheesecakes exactly.

★For readers not familiar with recipes using weight, please note that some of the measurements are in grams so you’ll need a kitchen scale. The equivalent in cups has been listed when possible.

★Due to differences in the amount of water that cashews absorb while soaking, try to make sure that the total weight of the cashews (after soaking) and the water for the filling weigh 340g. This ensures that the filling will have the same texture every time you make it.

★I substituted maple syrup for agave, since I’m a stereotypical Canadian and that’s what I had on hand 😀

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Vegan Matcha & Sweet Adzuki Cheesecake

Ingredients:

Crust:
Almonds  120g
Agave     30g
Shredded coconut  30g
Salt    ¼ teaspoon (or to taste)

Adzuki layer:
Adzuki beans  50g (½ cup)
Water 400g (2 cups)
Salt     a pinch
Beet (or any other type of granulated) sugar   35g

Filling:
Cashews   150g
Water   190g
Agave or maple syrup  110g
Coconut oil  100g
Matcha  1.5 to 2 tablespoons, depending on your preference

Directions:

1. Soak the almonds in water for at least 8 hours, then place them in a colander for about a half hour to allow water to drain. Place the almonds in a food processor and mix until they resemble a powder-like consistency, then add the rest of the ingredients for the crust and mix again until well combined. Place the mix into a cake pan (or cupcake liner in a muffin pan, if using) and press down to compact it into a crust.

2. Make the bean paste. Add the adzuki beans, water, and salt to a pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling lower the heat and let simmer. When the water has reduced to the point where it’s just barely covering the beans, add the sugar a little at a time and stir after each addition.  Continue to let the mixture boil down until it becomes a soft paste, stirring constantly as it becomes less watery to avoid burning.

3. Soak the cashews in some water for about an hour. Then, add all of the ingredients for the filling to a blender and blend until the mixture is completely smooth.

4. Spread the bean paste on top of the crust and distribute it evenly. Pour the matcha filling on top of the paste, cover the pan and place in the freezer. It will be ready to eat within 2-3 hours!

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I could have made the bean layer on the mini cake above a bit more even, but otherwise they turned out delicious and I highly recommend this recipe! If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment, and don’t forget to check out Peaceful Cuisine for more fantastic recipes.

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Welcome from Meigetsu Tea & Translations/ 明月和英翻訳よりのようこそ

(日本語版は下にあります)

Hello everyone! I’m Lindsey Gould, a Japanese to English translator currently based in Canada. While I translate articles, documents and books on a variety of topics, my passion lies with tea and tea ceremony. This blog will give me a chance to translate Japanese tea and lifestyle articles by talented bloggers into English to share with a broader audience. If you like what you see, please leave a comment – I’d love to hear your feedback and what you’d like to see more of! If you’re interested in hearing about my general translation services, please feel free to contact me to see how I can provide an accurate and elegant translation for your project: lindsey@meigetsutranslations.com

こんにちは皆さん。カナダ人の和英翻訳、グールド・リンジーと申します。色々なテーマの翻訳をしていますが、私はお茶、抹茶、と茶道に情熱を感じています。このブログを使って日本語のお茶とライススタイル記事とブログぽストを英語に翻訳して皆さんに紹介したいです。このブログを気に入って貰えたら、是非コメントをお願いします。私はもちろんお茶についてだけではなく、一般的な翻訳も行っています。例えの専門は旅行記事、環境科学、自殺予防、音楽、料理本なども翻訳しています。もし興味がありましたらご遠慮なくこちらにメールをお願いします: lindsey@meigetsutranslations.com