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Special Series! Focusing on the Delicious (Umanusugurimun)! “Kugani Imo Torori Tea” and “Black Sugar Syrup & Molasses Sugar Syrup”
post : 2018.10.31 23:00
Okinawa, a treasure trove of ingredients nurtured in the brilliant sunshine and bountiful land surrounded by the spectacular seas. Today, somewhere on the island is another new “something delicious” that’s introduced to the world. For you foodies out there, this is another episode of “Umasugurimun (A Delicious Pick)” using foods from the island. In this article, I will be introducing and recommending s the thick Torori Tea made with Ougon Imo potatoes, Black Sugar Syrup, and Molasses Sugar Syrup, which are some of the merchandise produced by Kaiho Shoji.
Kaiho Shoji is a brown sugar processing plant in Suzaki, Uruma City. The company buys brown sugar made in Okinawa and the other islands like the Yaeyama Islands, Iheyajima Island, Izenajima Island and others. They use their own methods in the production, unchanged from their founding, using their large cooker. They also produce items made from Sata-yu, or concentrated sugarcane juice, squeezed from sugarcane directly purchased from farmers in the central region of Okinawa Island.
(Kibi Taro, powdered brown sugar, a popular product)
(Great for souvenirs and snacks! The Muchi Muchi Brown Sugar Series)
The sugarcane grown on the islands grown on soils full of minerals carried by the sea breeze and they grow tall and strong in the bright rays of the sun. The brown sugar produced in Okinawa are very high in nutrients and they are nature’s gifts to the unique Okinawan islands. The product, Kibi Taro, a powdered form of the concentrated sugarcane juice, Sata-yu, is Kaiho Shoji’s top seller and was created with the intentions of introducing such a product to the market which was ‘easy and convenient for every day use’. The fresh sweet aroma of the sugarcane, the gentle sweetness, the fine flavor are what makes this product a popular item. In 2012, the founder of Kaiho Shoji passed the post of president to his daughter, Maki Saintlaurent, and since then, she has introduced many new and attractive products which were created with ideas from her point of view as a modern woman. Among them is a series of products developed for people to once again be more familiar with brown sugar in their daily lives, called Muchi Muchi Kokuto Series, bite-sized brown sugar confectioneries. These are some of the most popular products that you will come across at souvenir shops and others all across Okinawa. For this article, we asked Maki to introduce to us their newest products, the OugonImo Torori Cha (thick tea made from Ougon or ‘golden’ potatoes, the Black Sugar Syrup, and Molasses Sugar Syrup.
(CEO of Kaiho Shoji, Maki Saintlaurent, with a beautiful, brilliant smile)
Upon requests from a business in Uruma City, they collaborated efforts to develop a product much like the popular Muchi Muchi Kokuto, but an Ougon potato version of it, using Ougon Imo potatoes of Ikei Island, which is a specialty product of the island. However, when they were in the developing process, they found that the sticky “muchi muchi” texture was lost when the Ougon potatoes and brown sugar were mixed, and to their surprise, it was “kachi kachi” or very hard instead. They were at a loss as they were trying to create a “muchi muchi” product but had the “kachi kachi” texture instead. This is when Maki thought, “Perhaps the best form to bring out the high nutritional value of brown sugar and the texture of Ougon potatoes may be a liquid beverage form”. With this shift in creative idea, they though it may be close to the thick “genmai” drink, a thick and highly nutritious beverage that the locals love, made from brown rice. As they continued their development, they discovered the great combination of raw sugar and Ougon potato paste. From there they cooked the two plus starch, and processed the mixture to a powder form through drying and sublimation. Finally, their Ougon Imo Torori Cha was made!
(Ougon Torori Tea, with a cute packaging)
(Mug by Nana Akimoto)
Scoop the tea powder of the Ougon Imo Torori Cha, add hot water, stir gently, and you’ll have a thick, honey-like textured tea that when you sip while still warm, you’ll enjoy the gentle sweetness followed by a subtle touch of the Ougon potato. The texture and sweetness was reminiscent of something wonderful from a distant past. The beverage carried the warmth throughout my body both in taste and feeling. The product contains organic Ougon Imo potatoes, calcium, magnesium, iron and other various minerals found in the raw sugar, and potato starch. The goodness of the natural ingredients are blended nicely in this product which is safe and enjoyable for people of all ages, from babies to the elderly. Maki recommends the tea to be extra thick.
Next is the Black Sugar Syrup and the Molasses Sugar Syrup which were created with requests from customers wanting syrup made from brown sugar. The Black Sugar Syrup is made with brown sugar from Iriomote Island and water, only. This product is also worry-free for anyone and goes very well with milk, so for children, it would be great to make a yummy milk drink, while for adults, it would be lovely to enjoy in a café latte. You can also enjoy it added to a bowl of cereal, and of course, with pancakes. It’s great for Japanese dishes, like braised pork or Nikujaga stew. Once you try it you’ll see that it’s not just a simple sweetness, but in the sweet flavor, there is also a subtle bitterness of the minerals unique to sugarcane, adding great depth to any food you enjoy it with.
The Molasses Sugar Syrup is a sister product which is made only with the raw sugars extracted from Okinawan sugarcane and molasses. The aroma and depth of the cane molasses give it its signature rich flavors. It’s lovely to enjoy it poured on vanilla ice cream or yoghurt. Of course, Kuromitsu is familiar with many in Japan and is excellent with Kinako soy powder, Zenzai beans, Warabi Mochi, Anmitsu and other Japanese sweets.
Many people are familiar with brown sugar from Okinawa and they are common gifts and souvenirs. But the solid form of brown sugar may be a little challenging to use, so people enjoy them as they are. The minerals of the southern paradise are jam packed in the brown sugar and they are very nutritious for our bodies. The items produced by Maki, who’s busy with work and as a mom, were made with her hope of bringing brown sugar into the every day lifestyles with convenience. Maki tells me about the characteristics of the brown sugar from across Okinawa, saying, “The brown sugar produced in Hateruma Island has the authentic taste of brown sugar, and Iheya brown sugar is gentle. Yonaguni Island delivers a very strong, assertive taste.” I imagined how it would enhance the experience of enjoying brown sugar from various locations while recalling her words.
Created by a big fan and specialist of Okinawan brown sugar, you can also find the products, Ougon Imo Torori Cha, Black Sugar Syrup, and Molasses Sugar Syrup through the Okinawa CLIP Marche shopping website (only available in Japanese). Give them a try!
Address: 8-19 Suzaki, Uruma City, Okinawa
Okinawa CLIP photo writers, monobox (Tetsumasa & Kozue Kawano)