Thursday, April 28, 2011


Photo by Mitra
Kanten, cherry blossom floating in agar agar

So many times I have mentioned feeling really fortunate here in Portland because of the interesting and active network of tea people and tea events.  Well, here I go again!  The opportunities keep expanding.  Here's my most recent adventure - to a wagashi tasting at a newly-opened tea bar, the Jasmine Pearl

Wagashi is a traditional type of Japanese sweet.  It's served before the tea in the Japanese Tea Ceremony.  (It's also used at other occasions.)  These sweets are prized for their visual appeal and texture, along with taste.  (Read more here.)

Not only did I get to taste these gems, but I also got to chat with the confections maker!  Please meet the owners of the tea room, Heather Agosta and Chuck Bauman, (left and center) and the wagashi maker Gena Renaud.
Tea room owners and wagashi maker

From left to right, sea glass, kanten (from agar agar), mochi with toasted soy flakes, and baked manju.

Sweets enjoyed with a beautiful cup of whisked matcha.

Sea glass.  To the touch, it feels solid and hard, but a surprise awaits your first bite!
Photo by Mitra
Mochi, a pounded rice flour confection.  This was dusted with toasted soy flakes.
A lovely texture, soft and mildly chewy.
Photo by Mitra

Look at how lovely the cherry blossom floats in this see-through half moon.  The cherry blossom is pickled, so it's a pleasant contrast to the sweet gelatin.
Photo by Mitra

A sunny, spring afternoon with tea-loving friends, what could be better?

To those of you who will be doing the Royal Wedding festivities with tea parties, etc....enjoy!  I'm skipping out for other plans, but will look forward to reading your blog. Cheers!


La Tea Dah said...

What an interesting post. I love the blossom buried deep in agar agar. All the tea goodies were a treat to see, and I'm sure were delicate and delicious.

Today the Martha Stewart Show featured two young men who are experts in creating many beautiful things from gelatin. Your post reminded me of that, but I much prefer the agar version of gelatin to the animal based option.

Thanks for sharing!

sweetcakes said...

Wow! How interesting. I haven't seen anything like it before.

Georgia, another tea fan said...

WOW - Do you realize how lucky you are to have fresh wagashi in your area?

Anonymous said...

Those sweets look fabulous and so interesting. I look forward to an opportunity to try them.

Anonymous said...

May I just say I am officially jealous of all these wonderful opportunities you are enjoying in your new hometown? I had not heard of "Wagashi" but will certainly be watching for other references now. The "Sea Glass" would have charmed me for the name alone, and the half moon with the pickled cherry blossom ... so unique! Thanks for such interesting info!