Filtering by Tag: Japanese tea

Halifax Tea Festival 2016

Added on by the ikebana shop.

Here's a collection of images from the Halifax Tea Festival held on April 9th, 2016 at the Halifax Forum.  Thank you to all who visited our booth!

The matcha cookies and cupcakes were a big hit!  We made 3 matcha intensity levels for the cupcakes: 

  • Level 1 = a hint of matcha (for those who love subtleties)
  • Level 2 = medium (for those who love balance)
  • Level 3 = intense and strong (for the die-hard matcha lover!)

We also brought Japanese teaware....and free hand-made coasters with every purchase!

And of course, tea tasting!

Here's our little matcha tasting corner.  We served matcha with imo-kempi (a Japanese snack made from sweet potato.)

...and some nice images from the Twitterverse.

See you next year! 

Gohonte: The Pale Pink Spots

Added on by the ikebana shop.

Have you noticed in some tea bowls pale pink spots showing up at random?

These spots are called "gohonte" (御本手).

They appear on the pottery due to the natural reactions from the iron found in the clay when being fired in the kiln.

The origin of the term "gohonte" dates back to the Azuchi-Momoyama period (late 1500's).  Tea masters ordered tea bowls to be made in Korea. Together with their order, they sent samples or diagrams of what they would like made. These  orders were called "gohon" or "gohonte".  When the ordered pottery were delivered, most of them came with the pale pink spots due to the clay used. Soon, this type of pattern came to be called "gohonte."

Originally thought of as imperfections of the glaze, gohonte came to be appreciated by tea masters.  They recognized the implicit beauty in the randomness, unevenness, and naturalness of the patterns.  Thus, the "flaw" was turned into another attractive aspect of the pottery!

Sometimes, we have some gohonte tea bowls available at the shop.  Please come and take a look!  Or see available tea bowls online here.


All photos by the ikebana shop.  Al rights reserved.

Our Tea Is Safe (Part 2)

Added on by the ikebana shop.

There has been recent news that radiation has been detected in Japanese tea leaves produced in Minami-ashigara City, Kanagawa Prefecture. Certainly a cause of concern but this place is still far away from Kyoto, where our tea is produced.  But to be prudent, the Kyoto Tea Industry Cooperative Association had this year’s new tea crop tested for radiation. Result: NO RADIATION DETECTED.  On top of this, our tea farmer went the extra mile and commissioned an independent test to check specifically the new tea crop produced in 2011 on their farm. Result: NO RADIATION DETECTED.

Copies of the certifications are reproduced here. 


We do our best to provide correct information.  But in the end, it is up to each individual to choose what to believe.  If one is not comfortable with Japanese tea at this point in time, we well respect that.  What we can promise is that we will not compromise safety and quality.

And by the way, at the time of writing, all the tea being sold in our shop are from last year’s harvest.  So far, we haven’t ordered any new harvest tea yet.  We will make it known to you when we start putting 2011-harvest teas on our shelves.  [See also “Part 1” of why our tea is safe: /theikebanashop/our-tea-is-safe-part-1]

Our Tea Is Safe (Part 1)

Added on by the ikebana shop.

Recently, customers have asked if our tea is "all right".  Many are worried that our tea supply might be disrupted due to the current troubles in Japan (Thank you for liking our tea so much!) and not a few voiced out concerns about elevated radiation levels affecting the tea...which I believe is a very valid concern.

First of all, all the tea being sold right now are from last year’s harvest. This year’s spring harvest has not begun yet.  (Normally it is around latter part of April.)

But will 2011 harvest be bad? No.

Our tea is farmed in Kyoto. Kyoto is about 670 km from Sendai and is about 600 km from the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant.  Kyoto did not suffer any damage from the earthquake.  Kyoto is not experiencing higher than normal radiation levels.  Our tea is shipped out of Kansai International Airport (in Osaka) which is also far from affected areas.

Our promise: If we hear of any kind of incident/news that will have an adverse affect on our tea supply, we will be the first one to pull the plug.   [See also “Part 2” of why our tea is safe: /theikebanashop/our-tea-is-safe-part-2]

We are monitoring the situation closely.  But please don't take our word for it.  The internet can provide almost real-time information.  The following links we found most useful to check on radiation levels in Kansai (the Kyoto-Osaka region).  We are sure there are still other sources out there.  (Japanese only)  (Japanese only)

Below are snapshots (taken on 3/29) of some data.


Below is what radiation levels measured in Kyoto looked like in the past month (from 3/29 back).  Note that the earthquake happened on 3/11. All six locations are on the northern part of Kyoto. The purple line graph is the radiation level measured in nGy/hr (the left Y-axis). The bar graph is the amount of rain measured in mm (the right Y-axis). For reference, on the left Y-axis, you’ll see some diamond marks.  The purple diamond is last year’s highest measured level.  The green diamond is last year’s average level.  The blue diamond is last year’s lowest level.  

Please note that 10~200 nGy/hr is the normal range.  Let’s do the math... 200 nGy/hr x 24 hrs x 365 days = 1.752 million nGy for a year...which is well within the 2 million nGy/year estimate of typical background radiation experienced by the average person.

Below is a chart of radiation levels measured in Osaka. (Please note that 10~200 nGy/hr is the normal range.)