Wintry greetings from the Northern Hemisphere! With the excitement of the World Cup behind us, I hope you may be relaxing into the holiday season with family and friends, or enjoying as you please, perhaps taking a pause from the hustle and bustle of your day-to-day life. Along with the comfort of a warm cup of tea, this time of year I am often appreciative of the silhouettes of trees, which remind me of our arteries and veins, the bronchi of our lungs... We are a part of nature.
It's been a while since I’ve spent the holidays in the United States — but doing so has made me (re)cross paths with eggnog, sparking curiosity in me to know a bit more about this holiday drink. And, to do a bit of exploration with it! To my surprise, I found out eggnog dates way back to 13th century Britain (making it much older than the Japanese sencha). Although its exact origins are debatable, it is said the medieval monks in Britain drank “posset”, a warm ale punch with eggs and figs.
Well, I won’t get into the history of eggnog here for Yunomi, but sharing eggnog with family brought up how some coffee shops will mix it with espresso or have an eggnog latte available to try during the holiday season. Which, of course, got me thinking whether it would fare well with Japanese teas… Upon further examination, I was shocked to discover people have even tried mixing eggnog with matcha, and while my personal preference is simply to enjoy drinks just as they are, I felt eggnog could potentially go well with a Japanese black tea. Specifically, Kaneroku Matsumoto Tea Garden’s smoked black teas. Matsumoto-san’s smoked teas are wonderful just as they are, but from previous explorations, I’ve discovered they pair quite well with some French cheeses. So, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to try mixing with eggnog.
The Experiment: Eggnog with Smoked Japanese Black Tea
On Christmas eve, to spice things up during dinner preparations, we tried adding Matsumoto-san's Sakura wood (cherry blossom) smoked black tea to eggnog.
Does eggnog dance well with smoked Japanese black tea? The answer is simply, yes! Especially for those who sense eggnog to be too thick and creamy, I would say adding the smoked black tea makes the eggnog more accessible. Even after adding the smoked black tea, I found this mixed drink to be on the sweet side but with a nice smoothness to it that perhaps cannot be found simply with the eggnog. You can also adjust the ratio of black tea to eggnog based on your liking. Unfortunately, the eggnog seems to overpower the notes of sakura, so I must add, to fully appreciate Matsumoto-san's various types of smoked teas, drinking them straight would be my recommendation.
At first, when you add the eggnog to the black tea, the two liquids do not mix well (we simply mixed with a spoon). It actually looks nice, kind of like custard pudding.
Given that I’m posting this past Christmas day, it could well be that there is no more eggnog in your household. I’m hoping however that it will give you something to look forward to trying for the next holiday season. And just a note that although eggnog is an American/Western drink, there is also a similar drink in Japan called “Tamago-sake”, a cocktail of tamago (i.e., eggs) and sake. Back in the days, it was utilised as a drink to fight off colds. Well, I’ve sort of deviated from Japanese tea but that’s it from me, on eggnog explorations!
With the long nights, cold weather and holiday spirit, we hope that you may be able to take a pause with a mindful cup of tea. Not sure about the smoked black tea eggnog? There are numerous mixed drink options for one to explore from Sachiko-san, who regularly posts recipes on the Yunomi site. My personal recommendation for this time of year would be a kancha, a tea harvested in the cold winter months or tea farmer Ayumi-san's Wha-ha-ha Three Year Bancha (a pure woody delight!). And if you’re looking for a special drink for the New Year, don’t forget, there is the celebratory obukucha!
With good intentions from the Yunomi team.