If you are anything like us, you are probably adapting the grand plans you had for 2020. You may be looking for some ways to keep your spirits up amid the challenges you are facing. If only there were something affordable...easy to make...that tasted delicious and refreshing...that could bring you comfort, help you focus, or even inspire you to explore a new place...Well, we have something for that! ;) This month, in the spirit of travel and exploration, we want to highlight a country that is very important to tea: Japan! You may not be able to visit at the moment, but you can take a journey from your own home with a great cup of tea. Many kinds of tea are cultivated in Japan. The majority of the tea exported from Japan is green tea. You may be familiar with the words sencha, which refers to green tea leaves, and matcha, which refers to green tea leaves that have been ground into a fine vibrantly-colored powder. Sencha is brewed just like any tea leaves--steeped in hot water. Matcha is whisked directly into hot water (or at your local café, hot milk). One thing we respect and admire so much about tea culture in Japan is the tea ceremony. The tea ceremony is an ancient ritual that involves careful, thoughtful selection of brewing and serving tools, intentional brewing, and slow appreciation for every moment of the process. A tea ceremony may take place in a specially designated room or building, or wherever all the necessary ingredients can be found--even at an outdoor picnic. From chawan tea bowls and bamboo whisks to ceremony-worthy tea, we have all your needs available on our website. Japan is also home to the originators of unique tea preparation techniques. Hojicha tea is produced by roasting green tea leaves, imparting a woody, caramel-like aroma to the brew. Genmaicha consists of green tea leaves mixed with toasted rice, which we find to yield a warm, nut-like flavor. (I like to call these "dinner teas" as I think they pair well with strong, savory meals.)In addition to the tea itself, Japanese artists produce breathtaking ceramic teaware, often inspired by elements from nature. Feel free to browse our available accessories if you are looking to spruce up the contents of your cupboards, or if you are on the hunt for a great "thinking-of-you" gift. This month, enjoy a sample of these beautiful teas with any online order:Kukicha SupremeThere is something about Kukicha that is so enticing. The color is a vibrant green and the aroma in your cup is the essence of freshness. This one is sweeter than others we have offered.Tama Ryoku ChaThe "gateway" green tea, excellent for curious tea drinkers who are new to this kind. From Kagoshima, this delightful tea has a balanced aroma and flavor, very typical of a classic sencha. The literal translation is round green tea. The leaves retain their round shape because they have not been rolled into a needle-like shape as is done when preparing other senchas. First produced for export over 80 years ago, this tea is now almost entirely consumed domestically. The best value of our Japan green offerings and the most intense.