This month at Umami Mart, we are waking up to spring. That means many of the things that inspire us this month come from things that make us bright-eyed and bushy tailed. No, we aren't referencing Easter... but we are celebrating matcha (green tea) and sakura (cherry blossom).
Throughout the store and on our blog, we will be introducing all things matcha and sakura. For Sake Gumi Level 1, we are offering Miwaku no Matcha from Maruishi Jozo Brewery in Aichi Prefecture (home of Toyota). It is a sake infused with matcha, and we’ve even created a fun cocktail for it here. In Level 2, I’ve included a Junmai Ginjo from Muromachi Shuzo, whose moniker is a sakura. The other bottle for Level 2 is a limited edition sake that is made using a very ancient method of sake-making called bodaimoto. You can read more about it on the reverse side.
It’s hard to believe that it’s April already. As I write this, it’s raining buckets outside in Oakland. Although it’s great to get the rain we need, I’ll welcome the sun when it decides to stick around. Kayoko and I hope to enjoy some of that sunshine when we go to Japan this month. We’ll be visiting our glass and barware maker friends, not to mention a few sake breweries (and hopefully see some sakura too!). We have some exciting things up our sleeves (always!) for the latter part of the year that will take some time and planning. Follow us @umamimart to feel like you are in Japan with us!
YokoLEVEL 1: Introductory Membership (Two 300ml bottles)
Tsukasabotan Brewery (Kochi, Japan)
Seimaibuai: 65%, SMV: +7
A great representation of a dry junmai, this is a super drinkable sake that’s soft, mellow and clear with a dry bite and a hint of tangerine. It has enough structure (as a junmai usually does) to hold up against entrees that boast plenty of umami. It was a great pairing alongside a Margherita pizza or LSK Salmon. On a warm day, try chilled, but I really enjoyed the clarity of this sake at room temperature.
Miwaku no Matcha
Maruishi Jozo (Aichi, Japan)
Seimaibuai: N/A, SMV: N/A
This sake combines ceremonial grade matcha with junmai sake and lemon juice. Maruishi Jozo brewery, located in Aichi Prefecture, has a long-standing relationship with local tea makers in Nishio City, a city famous for matcha. Nishio green tea is also used in Japan for making Häagen Dazs green tea ice cream. Kayoko and I created the Spiked Matcha Latte with this sake. Combine 1 oz Miwaku no Matcha sake, 2 oz whole milk and ice in a Boston Tin and shake! You can also drink it chilled or on-the-rocks. Enjoy it alongside spicy papaya salad or by itself as a dessert.
LEVEL 2: Premium Membership (Two 720ml bottles)
Bizen Maboroshi Junmai Ginjo
Muromachi Brewery (Okayama, Japan)
Seimaibuai: 60%, SMV: +2
This sake tastes like it smells when you land in California from a long trip away – like honeysuckles and the warm sun. If there was a theme song for this sake it’d be San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair) by the Mamas and the Papas, which is fitting because the emblem for Muromachi Brewery is a cherry blossom (notice the motif all over the label). Along with the sakura emblems, the gold sticker represents that this sake won the gold prize at the Monde Selection in Brussels. I found that the nectar-like flavor in this sake pairs well with the sweet vegetables and particularly came to life alongside a carrot salad with a light vinaigrette or steamed asparagus. Recommended at room temperature.
Gozenshu Bodaimoto Junmai Nigori
Tsuji Brewery (Okayama, Japan)
Seimaibuai: 65%, SMV: -6
This nigori is made using an ancient method called bodaimoto. In the bodaimoto method, lactic acid is cultivated in highly acidic water with uncooked rice before the shubo (yeast starter) is made. 99% of all other sakes use a method using only steamed rice, and the cultivation of lactic acid occurs after the shubo is created. Bodaimoto tends to create a tart, yogurty, earthy flavor. Although I usually like nigoris chilled, I also enjoy drinking this one at room temperature to savor some of the underlying umami. The yogurty flavor contrasts well with curry and lamb.