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sake and water

Posted on October 03, 2015 by Tomomi | 0 comments

 There's a Japanese saying that goes, "Wherever there is fine water, there is fine sake." And near any Japanese wellspring or groundwater reservoir known for its clear water, we'll find a sake brewery. The sake production is tied to the natural water resource.


 Sake production requires three key ingredients; rice, yeast, and koji that is the magical mold that makes sake brewing possible. However, the most important ingredient is water because finished sake is 80% water! Water for sake brewing comes from many sources such as wells, rivers and streams. Water in Japan is much softer than the water in the US that helps to brew delicious sake.


Water is not only the ingredient in sake but it is involved in almost every major process of sake brewing from washing the rice to dilution of the final product before bottling; rice is washed and steamed with, or sake is mixed with water to drink. Furthermore if you count the amount of water to wash glasses and other utensils we are talking about 50 times as much as the amount of rice used for sake brewing. That is the reason most of sake breweries are located in places with pure and great water.


What is great water in sake brewing? It is the water with abundance of mineral such as magnesium and potassium that nourish koji and yeast during fermentation and are considered desirable. On the other hand what great water should not have is some mineral such as iron that bonds with an amino acid produced by the koji to produce off flavors and a yellowish color.


Type of water determines sake taste. Hard water is rich in minerals. These provide nutrients for the yeast and speed up fermentation. This makes for a sharp and dry sake.


On the other hand, soft water has lower mineral content. This makes the fermentation slower, resulting in a sweeter drink.


Miyamizu is classified as hard water that is high in mineral content and the water hardness level is 6.5. Brewing with miyamizu, with its high mineral content, produces a relatively dry sake.


In contrast, the water found in the Fushimi area of Kyoto is softer water, relatively low in mineral content and hardness level is only 4. Because of that, the sake it produces is sweeter and has a mellow mouth-feel.


Tokyo area is 5.5, relatively hard water, and sake brewed in the area tend to be sharper. I’ve heard that Evian is hardness level 16.8 and just wonder what kind of sake we could brew with!


Of course water is not the only key factor for the sake brewery. However we cannot transport too much water to brewery in the area with less desirable water. It is safe to say the water often determine the taste of sake.


People tend to drink whiskey with water but did you know it is also great to have sake with water? I think the best ratio is 80:20 and then we make it warm. It will make the sake smooth and obviously less alcohol content helps you not to get drank easily. Sake is also great on the rock. If you pour sake on ices and sprinkle fresh lime juice, it is the best drink especially for summer!


If you insist you want to enjoy sake without mixing with any water you can still keep a glass of water while you have sake. It is the best practice for your health anyway and helps prevent from hang over. The key is to select high quality water!


Interested in enjoying sake in a beautiful sake cup? Check out our gorgeous sake set collections!





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Eating Sushi with hand or chopsticks?

Posted on June 01, 2015 by Tomomi | 0 comments

American people usually eat Sushi using chopsticks, but I see a lot of people use hand to eat sushi in Japan.  I would say 50% of people use hand.  In old days Sushi was just like fast food where people grab a few pieces of Sushi as snack so I can see why people decided to use hand to eat the sushi snack.  However once Sushi is no longer snack now I often wonder which way is the “correct” way to eat Sushi.


So I asked the Sushi chef the question when I visited our family favorite Sushi restaurant last summer.  His answer was … you can eat in either way.  OK, that’s not my favorite type of answer, but I pretty much guessed that would have been the case.


As long as we enjoy Sushi it does not matter how we eat it, the chef said.  However, he said the key point is you dip fish part of sushi into soy sauce and we should follow it.  I have seen people dipping the rice part into soy sauce ending up with entire piece falling apart. 


So if you think about it I think it makes more sense especially for those who are not used to using the chopsticks to use their hands to eat sushi so that you get the best result by flipping the sushi piece and dipping the fish part in soy sauce.  Doing all these with chopsticks is not easy.


Feeling like enjoying Japanese food?  Don’t’ forget our beautiful Japanese dinnerware collection!


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Aged Shochu

Posted on May 25, 2015 by Tomomi | 0 comments

I found Shochu in my kitchen cabinet yesterday.  It has been sitting there for about two years.  I typically toss old wine unless it is type of wine that adds values as it ages, but I definitely keep and enjoy Shochu because it does not get bad.


In case you are not too familiar with Shochu, Shōchū is a Japanese distilled beverage. It is typically distilled from barley (mugi), sweet potatoes (imo), buckwheat (soba), or rice (kome), though it is sometimes produced from other ingredients such as brown sugar, chestnut, sesame seeds, or even carrots. Typically shōchū contains approximately 25% alcohol by volume, which is weaker than whisky or standard-strength vodka but stronger than wine and sake.


Shochu is different from Sake that is a brewed rice wine.  It tastes a lot stronger and less fruity than Sake due to the nature of the distilling process.  You can drink Shochu on the rocks or mix with oolong tea or fruit juice.


Good thing about Shochu is there is no expiration date.  Because of the high percentage of alcohol content it does not easily go bad easily.  It does gets aged of course. It gets milder and softer taste as it gets aged.  I even like “aged shochu” better than fresh one.  


We can keep Shochu at home and you are good to go when you have unexpected important guests!  Don’t forget to serve the aged shochu in beautiful shochu cups!


Interested in serving aged Shochu?  Take a look at our Shochu and Beer cups collections!



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Chilled or Warm sake?

Posted on May 18, 2015 by Tomomi | 0 comments

Many of my non-Japanese friends often ask for warm or hot sake instead of chilled one. I think its because of the unique concept of making the alcohol beverages hot.  Hot sake is indeed the best in colder seasons as it warms up your body and nerve system and then you feel so much relaxed.


However chilled sake is the trend in Japan nowadays.  People prefer fresh taste of Daiginjo or Ginjo that are better served chilled.  Daiginjo or Ginjo do not have strong taste and scent like traditional ones and are easy to drink just like white wine.  People typically think enjoying Daiginjo or Ginjo in hot or warm is big no-no as it may kill the refreshing flavor.  However if you professionally know how to serve these fresh sake in hot it is unbelievably tasty. 


We have chilled sake called Reishu meaning cold sake and also the one with room temperature that is called Hiya translated to cool.  Even many of us use these two words interchangeably by mistake.  The same sake could taste very different in Reishu serving or Hiya serving.


In old days sake was only served in hot or warm.  It was considered to be the basic hospitality and it was even considered to be rude to serve it in cold.  Some thought if you cannot wait till sake is served hot and drink it with room temperature you are not sophisticated. 


Feeling like sake?  Please check out our extensive sake set collections!



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Japanese table setting

Posted on May 11, 2015 by Tomomi | 0 comments

Japanese table setting sounds difficult but it is quite simple. 


Before diving into detail the most important part is using small bowl and plate for each meal. 


The principle difference between the Japanese arrangement and the western arrangement is that in the American arrangement, the meat is always placed directly in front of the eater; in Japan, the meat is placed off to the right. Another difference is that chopsticks are placed directly in front of the eater, instead of off to the side like silverware in the western tradition.


We often add some seasonal accent to the table setting.  For example, maple leaf-pattern for the fall, cherry blossom-pattern for spring, and of course the type of food we serve would vary by season.

As for the color I figured that it looks stylish when you use black and red on the table.  However earthy colors such as green and yellow would also give you traditional looking that you may like.


Interseted in Japanese table setting?  You should start with looking around beautiful Japanese dinnerware!


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