Tea is almost as synonymous with Japanese culture as kimono, bamboo, and ninjas. Green tea, in particular, is served at all times – with meals or without.
I learned quickly that my Western Belly was not accustomed to green tea after, deciding that I liked it, downed two cups worth and within five minutes had to pay a visit to the smart-toilet.
But I digress.
Green tea is also a popular flavor for ice cream, cookies, cakes, candies – you name it and they probably have a green tea flavor of it.
A surprising observation here is the plethora of sweets and candy stores. Azuki bean paste is a popular dessert as is mochi and a million types of pastries. On any given day there are queues of people lined up for sweets. Sweets from a truck, sweets from street vendors, sweets from a sweets store. I think being a dentist in Japan would be quite lucrative.
I’m partial to the bean paste. I think, if I can’t find the real deal back in the states, I may have to resort to mixing sugar and red beans together. Cross your fingers for me.
In Kyoto there is a beautiful street that leads up to the Kiyomizu-dera temple and, I kid you not, the only stores are for sweets. In particular is the Yatsuhashi – a stuffed doughy triangle that tastes like angels. Delicious bean (or custard, strawberry, matcha) filled angels.
I promise, it’s good.
Normally I’m not a sweets person – that department I leave to Adam – so he was thrilled when I literally couldn’t get enough of these sweets and the Japanese sweets culture. Walking down this sweet street in Kyoto and we’re bombarded with free samples.
But then I saw the crepe station. A crepe station where, using the dough from the Yatsuhashi, fill it with cream, green tea powder, ginger crumbles, and your choice of filling (I, of course, chose red bean paste), roll it all up, top it off with MORE cream and green tea sprinkles before handing it to you with a bow.
I ate the whole thing.
And only shared just a little.
My moment in angel filled heaven was short but sweet (I’m so funny).
My sugar laced mind was racing, I felt like I could conquer the earth.
And then I crashed. Hard.
My stomach hurt, my head was pounding. I think I was groaning audibly while waddling down the very small street.
Let’s just say I declined any more free samples.
How does everyone here do it? You can’t turn around without seeing everyone in sight devouring all of these sweets. No one is obese. And certainly no one is making these terrible groaning sugar crash noises that are emitting from yours truly.
It suddenly dawned on me. Green tea: the cure for what ails you.