Christmas is usually my favorite time of year. But this year . . . I simply wasn’t feeling it. And it wasn’t for lack of trying.
A week or so before the impending, I found a green bow on the floor of the parking lot at my work. It pretty much summed up how I felt. I tried to find yuletide joy in the little things around me, but even that proved difficult.
I’m not entirely sure if it was because I had to work through the majority of it, or because my finances were severely depleted—thus not allowing me to buy gifts for close family—or some combination therein. As December rolled around, I simply wanted it all to be over. Even Christmas music couldn’t lift my “bah humbag”-ish demeanor.
Then it hit me.
If I couldn’t buy presents for people, perhaps I could make them. Not some arts-‘n-crafty sorta thing, either. No, I’m not that artistic, and I’m not a DIY lifestyle blogger. I’d leave that to more talented hands. Nor did I want to just hand off leftover tea samples to family members. (Besides, I already did that a few years ago.) No, the answer lay in blending teas.
Now, I’d already tried my hands at blending before. Sometimes to . . . mixed results. I even staged a video of my “process”.
(Coincidentally, that video turns six years old next week! Wow. . .)
This time, I vowed to show more care in blending. I would adhere to stricter measurements, ingredients, and come up with blends that matched [what I thought were] the palates of the tea present recipients. I had a fairly good idea where their palates lay. And, lucky for me, none of them were completely averse to the idea of tea. While I had most of the ingredients and equipment I needed, I did have to pick up a few things to round it out.
Chiefly, a scale for proper measurement.
I meant to buy one years ago, but this finally gave me the excuse I needed. The same day I fetched that, I also stopped by six other places—two of which were tea shops—for the remainder of my ingredients and packaging. The day after, I got around to blending and tasting.
For the tasting portion, I also broke out a tiny gaiwan. The endeavor called for ten blends total, and that translated to a lot of taste-testing. Portion control was crucial, if only for my bladder.
The process literally took the entire day (with “union” breaks). The results—at least, to me—far exceeded even my most skeptical of expectations. I suppose you’ll want some recipes, now, fair reader. Well, this isn’t that type of blog. However, I will highlight one in particular.
What you are looking at is hojicha (roasted green tea) and genmai (roasted rice). Anyone who knows me, or who has followed this blog for some time, knows that I absolutely loathe genmaicha (green tea with roasted rice). I’m not sure why. Other people like it just find, but I never developed a palate for it. I think the same part of my brain that despises peanut butter is the culprit. But I had a relative(-in-law) who did like it, and he had a predilection for coffee. That got me wondering: what would a genmai-hojicha be like?
In all my years I had yet to run into a vendor who sold one. Although, granted, I never really sought it out. Perusing teashops for genmaicha ran countered to my palatial programming. So, I decided to make one. I bought some genmai at a Japanese grocery store, as well as some hojicha, and—when fused, half-‘n-half—the results were . . .
I guess, to most, roasted green tea and roasted rice obviously would work well together. It never occurred to me. But the results spoke for themselves.
At the time of this writing, only one relative has dipped into the blends I made for them. It appeared to agree with them. Others have yet to report back on my attempted blending success. Whether they dip into them or not, I do think they appreciated the effort that went into it.
After all, if you aren’t feeling the joy of the holiday season, you have to make your own joy. And, of course, spread that joy to others. The ingredients are already there.