Monday, March 06, 2006

relaxing = tea & incense time

What do you do to relax? I usually turn off the TV, put in a CD and listen to something like "Josh Groban" or "Jake Shimabukuro", read a book/magazine or look through a glossy cookbook. Since coming to Japan though, I've added a few new things to do. Burn incense, have tea.

Living in Hawaii, I rarely had tea and rarely drank anything hot for that matter. Everything was iced this or that or just water. But one thing that I noticed in Japan is that a lot of women drink tea. All kinds of tea. I guess this is why my addiction to buying cookbooks is accompanied by buying all kinds of tea (among other addictions...). I had previously written about BOH tea here.

Well, while roaming an import grocery store this past weekend, I found 2 more flavored teas by BOH. Lime with Ginger & Lychee with Rose. Lime with Ginger has a very light lime-citrus taste, the spice of ginger comes to "zap" you awake towards the end of your cup. Lychee with Rose was also nice. The lychee fragrance is very delicate and doesn't overpower the rose flavor of the tea. They were both really nice cups of tea.

A little off this subject, my parents (who live on Oahu) are now travelling with a group in Okinawa, they landed in Osaka and left for Okinawa over the weekend. Although we didn't get to visit with them (you should see their itinerary!), my mom sent some cookies and coffee for my in-laws, my host-family & of course, some for us!
The cookies she sent to us were from the Honolulu Cookie Company. These shortbread cookies have pieces of dried fruit, or a coffee bean, some are dipped in milk or white chocolate. I like these cookies, but my favorite is the "king" of the dipped cookies, Big Island Candies. Big Island candies was the first in the Hawaiian Islands to come up with the idea to dip shortbread cookies in different chocolates (they have a dark chocolate dipped cookie!) When my grandmother lived on the Big Island (the island of Hawaii), we used to religiously stop at Big Island Candies to "stock up". Now that she lives on the island of Oahu (the island with Waikiki), we don't get to the Big Island as often. If only Big Island Candies would lower their shipping rates. (hint, hint!!) Anyway, having tea with a little sweet treat is definitely a way to relax and just "veg".

Another way I like to relax is to burn a little incense. Incense is called O-ko or senko here. Senko is usually what you see at Buddhist temples and is burned to "take your prayers up" through the smoke from the incense. O-ko is burned more for relaxation and fragrance (or that's how I understand the two). I looked on the internet to see how incense was made: they are often made with essential oils, plant matter and intended to release a fragrance for religion, therapy or aesthetics. There are different forms and uses for incense, coil shaped-the mosquito repellants, cone shaped, cored sticks-these have a piece of bamboo or sandalwood in the center and solid-sticks-these have no wood in the center but are made entirely of the incense materials. If you do try burning incense as a way to relax, please remember to watch where you burn it so that you won't have a fire on your hands. Also, try to have a window open, so that you won't breathe in the smoke from the incense. Still, it is a way to relax and clear your mind of things. I really enjoy the citrus-y and flowery fragrances such as freesia, lavender, rose and orange.

If you'd like, it would be nice to hear about how you like to relax.

Have a nice week.


bourgogne said...

omg i LOVE big island candies dipped cookies!!! YUM! i used to order those when i lived on the east coast. now i get them from my sister, who goes to hawaii with her family for vacation twice a year. those are the best!

on the other hand, i don't really like senko because we always had a shrine in our house and burned incense for the dead. plus they always burn that at buddhist funerals and all of my relatives are buddhist. what a downer i am!! i did like the little gong tho heeheehee.

however, i do like the non-senko smelling incense fragrances. they have to not at all resemble senko or i won't like them ;-)

anyway, i relax doing tai chi, yoga, drawing, playing music and taking walks in the forests around where i live. they are completely quiet. that scares some people but it is so safe because no one is here! when we're in open areas, it is so quiet that i can hear the "swoosh" of an eagle or hawk's wings fly by. it is so cool. i'm a bathoholic too, and i also love listening to music, not necessarily "calm" music, but any music i like - but really LOUDLY. that doesn't usually relax most people but i'm weird that way.

K and S said...

cool another fan of BIC, yeah I don't really like the smell of senko but do like o-ko that smell flowery. the area which you live sounds so peaceful! to be able to hear an eagle or hawk's wings, how cool is that!

thanks for sharing your relaxing tips and for stopping by, bourgogne!

kat & satoshi

Journal Actif said...

The cookies are really intriguing. How kind of your parents to treat you that way.
I used to burn incense when I lived alone in Paris. My husband doesn't like it at all so I stopped buying it since I am in Canada.
Now I burn candles and yes, tea is also an almost every evening treat for me (alone, nobody drinks it at home). Lapsang Souchong is my absolute favorite. I'm not much of a flavored tea drinker. The only way I drink a flavored tea is by making my own chai mix with cardamom, pepper, Ceylon tea, cinnamon bark and cloves.

K and S said...

Thanks for sharing Zoubida! Will look into the Lapsang Souchong tea. I have recently discovered chai, but do not make my own, I should try to.

Take it easy, Zoubida.

Kat & Satoshi

Anonymous said...

Ah yes relaxing. Key! I just got a big box from France, with my favorite teas (Mariage Freres!)
Lovely post Kat! Hope you are relaxed!!

K and S said...

Mariage Freres how nice! and directly from France.

Thanks for stopping by, Bea, and yes, I'm relaxed.

Kat & Satoshi