Friday, August 19, 2016

Yunomi: Kobayashi Shoten Sakura Tea, A Culinary Extravaganza!

So here I sit with a sample package of salt pickled sakura blossoms from Kobayashi Shoten by way of my one stop shop for Japanese teas, Yunomi. I found myself pondering what to do with them, years ago when I looked at the other sakura tea they offer I tried different drinks and that was it, I thought this time I would take it a bit farther.

Iced Matcha Sakura Latte!

I got so angry, I saw so many pictures of people's lattes around the internet with their sakura blossom delicately floating on top, and mine sank like a stone, I assure you there is a sakura in there! Along with the water I used to soak it, to give it that extra bit of salty flowery goodness. First off, the combination of matcha and sakura is a match made in spring-time heaven, there is a reason it is so famous. The delicate flowery notes of the sakura play off the green notes of the matcha, the salty notes of the pickling play off the umami quality of the matcha, and if you sweeten it then all the tastes really pop and the milk is just that extra bit richer.

Hot Sakura Latte

So for this one I mixed milk, sugar, and a few spoonfuls of the sakura brine into my little sauce pot (it is a tiny vintage pot that looks so minuscule even on my smallest burner, it gets a ton of use) and heated the mixture until just boiling and then tossed it in a jar (wrapped in a rag, learned that lesson before) lidded it and then vigorous shaking. It is like a milk frother at a fraction of the cost! Even with the foam my sakura threatened to sink to the milky depths, so I draped the stem over the rim and then promptly guzzled it. There is real competition between this and the matcha, both are spectacularly tasty but I think the pure sakura wins because you get that undiluted salty, flowery, umeboshi taste with sweetened milk, the combination of salty and sweet work together in such a magical way.

Sakura Mizu Shingen Mochi

Like a sakura blossom frozen in an extremely large raindrop, these mochi are super mild, relying on the kuromitsu and kinako to really make the flavors pop. I did not have any kinako so I substituted kurogoma powder to get that nutty goodness. So my biggest mistake (other than not having molds and not having mineral water) is taking a recipe usually set up for 8 and reducing it to 1, even with my super precise scale that level of control when you are measuring things by a fraction of a gram is hard. This meant that my mochi was a little cloudy, but it still tasted great, I am happy for my first time making one of these. The taste of the mochi by itself is pretty much just sugar water, but mixing the rich kuromitsu and nutty kurogoma with the sudden salty floral burst of the sakura in the middle makes for a fascinating transition between tastes.

Steamed Matcha and Sakura Cake

What is more easy than mixing a bunch of ingredients and microwave steaming them for a single serve cake? Not much really! A standard steamed matcha cake but with an addition of sakura embellishments and soaking brine for extra taste. I think this would have turned out great had I discovered before I started eating it that apparently my culinary matcha had gone off, which sucked. It was not gross, but the taste of stale matcha is not a pleasant one so it made me cranky. The addition of the sakura was a fantastic choice though, it was mild enough that it was like the ghost of a blossom, I could imagine eating this as a way of closing out a viewing festival.

Layered Sakura Jelly

Man, I love me some agar, it is so versatile! This layered jelly is comprised of a sweet milk layer and a sweet translucent layer swimming with flowers and a bit of added brine goodness, because I love the way this salty sweet flower tastes!

This one was not only very photogenic, it also tasted fantastic, it was like the latte bit in wiggly jelly form! Combining the sweetness of the milk and the saltiness of the sakura with that lingering blossom quality, this might have been my favorite of the desserts and one I seriously recommend trying!

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

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