misadventures in jewellery making & everything else in between

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KUKICHA (茎茶)


“Karigane, or ‘cry of the wild goose’ is an old Kyoto name for kukicha, ( . . . ). Wild geese, while migrating,
will sometimes land on driftwood floating the the [sic] water, to take a rest. Some say that the stems of
karigane tea look like little rafts of driftwood while they’re brewing, and that is the origin of the tea’s name.”
– Obubu Tea


Indeed, it is the stems and twigs that make up this unusual and elusive tea called kukicha! You may have already
encountered it as either green (ryokucha), or roasted (houjicha). An interesting but lesser known fact, however –
even amongst the Japanese people, apparently – is that it falls under the category demono, which is a collective
name for post-production leftovers once the valuable types are sorted out.

That being said it’s certainly a more economical choice in comparison to its leafy counterparts; a sweet and mellow
introduction to umami-rich Japanese greens. Simultaneously easy on the pocket and the palate – no wonder
it’s been dubbed “poor man’s tea” in the past!

OTHER NAMES

Karigane Typically denotes higher quality kukicha, consisting of stems from premium green teas like gyokuro*,
kabusecha**, or also tencha. This month’s sample is a combination of the first two.
Shiraore A term used in the Kyushu region. Some sites suggest that it’s made from high quality senchas.
Boucha Roasted kukicha from Ishikawa; made with high quality senchas.
Kagaboucha As above, though this one in particular hails from the city of Kaga. The culmination of a quest to
make the best for Emperor Showa who was known to be fond of houjicha. (Check Maruhachi 丸八製茶場.
It’s supposedly the best, but I wouldn’t be the person to ask.

JUNE TEA SAMPLES


Listed below are the teas you received ordered from Berlin-based tea retailer Paper & Tea ,
provided with brewing receommendations as printed on the packaging. I did a write-up for
each of them comprising some of the things I learned in my own time – just click on the
names if you fancy reading more!

DEAR JANUS

January: a month of firsts, and of pledge renewals from New Year’s past. Ja-new-ary. Now that’s an alternative spelling befitting its origin. Did you know January comes comes from the Latin word ianua, meaning door or gate? I didn’t, but a quick Google search will easily tell you that. When I feel I’m scraping the bottom of a barrel for writing inspiration, I choose a word and look it up in the dictionary – a practice which enables me to approach a topic or idea from another angle.

PASSING OF SEASONS

Though I know in my heart that life is fleeting, I always thought transience would look me in the eyes on days when most people would expect it – a death in the family, an illness; perhaps even when there is cause for celebration. I have never been gravely ill, although when my father passed away in the beginning of winter eight years ago I spent a few years trying to survive the inevitable grief. I was too busy flailing my arms and legs in a deluge of tears to even ponder upon my own mortality.

JULY IN A NUTSHELL

Before and after: from wire to ring. July is the month majority of the tools I had ordered online arrived. Slowly, one by one, they are each finding a suitable and semi-permanent space to inhabit near my workspace (i.e. the kitchen), subsequently and exponentially expanding the scope of my experiments in ways even I have yet to find out. While this is in no way an implication that I have perfected the art of piercing and filing, I also feel it will be beneficial to learn a few things at once. We all have our own unique approach and switching it up is one of the things that helps sustain my willingness to finish a job.

FINISHED PRODUCT VS PROCESS

Despite my brief yet undoubtedly eye-opening foray into the world of jewellery making, I still find it hard to soften the disconnect between walking into a jewellery shop and working at a jeweller’s bench. It’s as though my mind refuses to collate these two things which are clearly two ends of a spectrum. (I’m sure my mind will get around to it eventually!)

SILVER LININGS

I have a confession to make: prior to my attendance of a silversmithing course, I had never once thought of metal crafts as something I would personally enjoy. In fact, it was one of the options I automatically relegated to my mental list of ‘Least Interesting Courses’ whenever I pored over college prospectuses. “It’s all manual, frivolous work,” I thought, instantly closing a door of opportunities for a long time to come—opportunities that may, or also may not have, expedited my journey of self-exploration.

THE MAKER ARCHIVE: CONCEPTION

I read somewhere that an inch of movement is better than a mile of intention—a powerful line which was instrumental in prompting me to finally carve out a presence, however small and ambivalent, in the world of blogs.

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