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Let’s Try “Buku Buku Tea” at an Old Folk House Cafe “Rakucha Tobo Churara” in Shuri, Naha City
post : 2018.06.13 18:00
This is an old folk house cafe called “Rakucha Tobo Churara” in Shuri Tounokura near Shurijo Castle (Naha City). You can try “Buku buku tea” at this café, and it was a popular tea in Naha especially Shuri area between Meiji – early Showa era before the World War 2. It is also known as “phantom tea.”
The wooden café is located on a path near Ryutan Pond, and it is good-old café that serves coffee and sweets. It is also a studio / gallery of Tousei Yasuoka, the manager of café and a potter, and you might recognize the unique potteries that are in theme of “blue of the ocean and space!” Live music performance also takes place at the café, so this is the unique place to experience “music,” “tea,” and “pottery.”
Yasuoka’s wife is originallly from Okinawa, and her name is Kaoru. Actually, she received a license of Buku buku tea instructor from “Ryukyuan Tea Ceremony Buku Buku Tea Akeshino no Kai.”
Speaking of “Buku buku tea,” it is a blended tea with jasmine tea, brown rice, and white rice. The way to drink this unique tea is to drink with raised fluffy foam on top of tea. The history of Buku buku tea has started about 600 years ago, and it was served when Chinese envoys visited Okinawa, beginning of journey, or celebrations. However, there was no successor to teach Buku buku tea for about 40 years after WW2, so that is why it is called as “phantom tea.” Since Kaoru is a member of “Akeshino no Kai,” her and rest of the members serve Buku buku tea by following a traditional rule to represent “Shurei no Kuni – Land of propriety.” Also, they offer a space to try tea, kanpuu (traditional hairstyle), weaving, dyeing, woodworking, pottery, and classical music to visitors at once.
Kaoru offers 2 kinds of trial courses. “Buku buku tea trial course” (about 30 min.: 1,500 yen w/ tax *reservation required) and “Buku buku tea basic course” (about 10 min.: 700 yen w/ tax). This time, we chose the first course that teaches history and manner of tea.
As for the traditional manner of tea ceremony, the outfit is important. First, put a Ryukyuan traditional dress and pay attention to the brief instruction. Next, Kaoru shows you a demonstration of making Buku buku tea.
After the demonstration, now it is your turn to make tea. “Mix of tea” includes fried and brewed white rice, roasted brown rice, and jasmine tea, and these are in a bowl 40 centimeters / 16 inches in diameter. Also, brewed brown rice called “brown rice soup” is prepared on a table. Then, mix “Mix of tea” inside the bowl and beat with a tea whisk.
“Mix it against inside the cup and mix it speedy and rhythmically by using wrist. It is better to do it roughly and quickly until making rustling sound. The key to make a foam is to keep moving a tea whisk while putting it against the bowl. Also, the reason why it can foam is because spring water of Shuri is hard water.”
After mixing it for few minutes, you can see when the foam starts to come out!
Wait for the right time, scoop the foam with the tea whisk, and put it in a tea cup with brown rice soup is in.
And then, it is time to drink the tea. Before drinking it, try the sweets first. Next, after show appreciation to the God, hold the cup with a left hand, put a right hand lightly, and rotate it a little clockwise on the left hand.
Finally, drink tea and foam like “sucking” them. According to Kaoru, “foam is a creature.” The key to drink tea is “to drink with foam elegantly while making a bit of well-balanced sound.” Feel the foam you made on a tip of your nose, and drink. The foam might tickle you, too. You might be surprised when the foam spreads on your tongue at first, but the tea also has simple but rich bitter flavor. Also, a bit of aroma of jasmine tea makes you feel comfortable…
We did follow the traditional manner until this strictly. After that, we just chat with friendly Kaoru while drinking tea lol
If you want to drink just Buku buku tea (without joining any trial courses), how about “Buku Buku Tea Set (700 yen)?” It comes with Okinawa zenzai as well. A mascot dog “Secom” welcomes all of you at the café outside trial course hours, so you might feel comfortable being at this cafe lol
It must be a good time to learn about the traditional manner and tea at the old folk house style of café near Shurijo Castle. Let’s experience the historical moment unlike the ordinary sightseeing to Okinawa!
Rakucha Tobo Churara
Address: 1-14 Shuri Tounokura, Naha City
Business Hours: 10:00-18:00
Closed: Tue & Wed
Fee: Buku buku tea trial course: about 30 min. / 1,500 yen w/ tax
Buku buku tea basic course: about 10 min. / 700 yen w/ tax
Okinawa CLIP photo writer Kiwamu Ogawa (Qey Word)