A friend just returned from Japan and brought me this lovely tea:
She told me it’s a “spring” tea. It contains cherry blossoms (Sakura) that are symbolic of springtime. Houjicha (also spelled Hojicha) is a green tea, but it’s been roasted, so it’s darker, richer, and more complex than regular green teas. I’ve heard it called “tea for coffee drinkers,” which I think is a good description. Anyway, it’s delicious. I’m not sure if I was supposed to save it for Cherry Blossom season though, so I’ll try to keep some until April, if I can.
The best part is that it came with matching flower-blossom-y looking sugar! They’re actually more star-shaped, but their colours suggest cherry blossoms, so that’s what I’m going with.
They’re called Kompeito (or Konpeito) and are traditional Japanese candies that are sometimes served at outdoor tea ceremonies. They are pure sugar, like minuscule versions of ye olde fashioned rock sugar on a stick that you buy from gift shops or chi-chi coffee shops. They were initially brought to Japan 400 years ago by the Portuguese, whose own word for them was confeito or “confetti”.
If you’ve ever seen the anime film Spirited Away, there’s a scene where the the little soot sprites go crazy when a character throws handfuls of Kompeito at them. I totally get their enthusiasm. So pretty and tasty!