Sunday, January 21, 2007

A Good Night for Tea and Anime

Yesterday the Valca family took some serious "down-time."

For most of the morning I relaxed by doing some blogging and light household chores. Lavie slept in, while Alvis watched pre-teen shows and coped with her stuffy head.

It was chilly and wet and kinda dreary.

We had to venture out to take the ladies to their hair-dresser appointments. We stopped by a bookstore in the mall, but nothing really struck our fancy.

Then we got soaked with a blustery downpour on our way out, and dropped into a local Mexican restaurant for a mid-day snack of frijoles a la charra and fajita nachos. Yum! Just the thing to warm up on. It was relaxing and nice and really fun sharing a grande-sized plate of nachos together.

Anime Overload

Back at the house we knocked out three episodes of Eureka Seven I had taped on the VCR but haven't watched yet....

Big revelations! Talho is preggers with Holland's child (yeah!), Renton's sister (Diane) was actually Holland's girlfriend (wow!) and then disappeared while continuing research started by her dead father, and Col. Dewey (boo!) is Holland's (yeah!) older brother and Talho was his ex-girlfriend! I'm still trying to digest it all. In an added moment of sweetness, Eureka decides she wants to make Renton happy and experiments with makeup for the first time--with disastrous results, until Talho saves the day. And Holland and Renton finally bond.

Then we moved on to watch the six remaining episodes of Oh My Goddess! (TV) that I have on DVD and wrapped up that series. It had quite a bit of action but the last DVD was filled with lots of tender, tear-jerking moments. It is such a sweet series at heart. I just can't wait for the second season to be released now! I believe TBS aired a second season of Oh My Goddess! (TV) in Japan in 2006, so hopefully we will see it over here on DVD release in the states this year.

Nothing like cuddling on the couch under a Megatokyo "sad girl in snow" blanket, watching anime and laughing and crying together. Family bonding at it's finest!

Still on tap--the Tenchi Muyo! Ryo-Ohki! series I've just completed collecting.

Once we were done, it was getting late and the girls were looking to bed.

Teatime with the Girls--Japanese Style

Lavie and I decided this would be the perfect time to actually attempt to use the Japanese tea-set she got at Christmas from Japanese Green Tea hibiki-an and I was up to do the brewing.

I used my little 4-pot coffee maker to heat up some hot water. Checking the temperature, it was at 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Close enough!

So after carefully reading the included guide on green-tea brewing several times, I was ready to begin. Ominously, a driving rain-storm began pounding the windows....

I measured out the fresh green tea leaves into the kyusu and then filled each of our cups with hot water from the carafe. Then I poured the water in them into the kyusu and let it brew the tea for about one and a half minutes.

Once done I poured a bit of tea into each teacup, alternating until the kyusu was empty and the cups were filled. This method spreads the brewed tea evenly in the cups and keeps the flavor even among the cups.

We enjoyed Lavie's Sencha Superior blend while we chatted, listened to the rain and ate fresh cherry's. I thought their sweetness nicely accompanied the flavor of the tea. Lavie needed a bit of sugar in her tea. She was quite surprised on how mild but clear the flavor of the Sencha blend was. The dried fresh tea-leaves are quite strong smelling. Nothing at all like the supermarket varieties of tea she is used to.

When we had emptied our cups, it was time for the "second pour." We repeated the process of filling the cups with the hot-water, then transferring them into the kyusu again. Less than two minutes later we were drinking our second cups. The flavor seemed a bit stronger as the leaves had had time to fully hydrate after the first pour.

One last time...we had a "third pour" Lavie passed, but Alvis took her cup instead. Wonderful flavor and a relaxing experience.

While I was cleaning up, I showed Lavie the hydrated tea-leaves in the kyusu before tossing them out. She and I both were surprised to find they were nicely shredded, and had a bright green color like defrosted frozen spinach. I nibbled at some and they had a very mild and pleasant taste.

I'm not a tea-connoisseur but it was very clear to me that this is some high-quality tea!

What a perfect ending to a fun family day.


Michael said...

Ah, a perfect day to relax with some extraordinary Sencha. A third pouring no less - you are brave but when you start with this high quality tea, you can see how a third pouring is always possible with non-bitter results. Can I be so bold as to suggest you try another tea - Genmaicha. I love the added sensory experience of the puffed rice.

Happy tea sipping!


Michael said...

Claus - I know you have the perfect tea pot but I thought you might like to see this one from Joey Roth.