When you start wearing summer clothing instead of your winter wardrobe, you likely put aside your wool and Gore-Tex® for cotton and linen. The same approach should apply to your table. Using natural, summery table linens in- brighter, cooler colors––such as blues or greens––and light, translucent fabrics s- will give your table a refreshing look. A wooden, unpainted table will make you k feel as though you are in a forest shaded from the sun. If your tabletop doesn’t look like this, you could use a wooden tray that is unpainted or painted in a light color, or a lattice mat. This will bring a forest-like ambiance to your table.
As for drink-ware, you might naturally choose glass. Ceramics are not really summery, so glassware is recommended even for sake cups. Translucent items not only let in light but also reflect it to brighten up your table.
When writing haiku, you should use at least one kigo, a seasonal word. You can apply this concept to your table setting––in other words, you should add some subtle seasonal touches. For example, table linens with patterns and objects that evoke water, plants, and summer events will give your table a summery feel. Yukata and kimono patterns often cleverly incorporate these visual motifs. To translate this to your table, try to find tenugui (traditional Japanese cotton towels) and furoshiki (traditional Japanese wrapping cloths) with seasonal patterns––you can use these as table linens. A tenugui featuring a goldfish swim- ming in a stream (shown below) suggests coolness. Hydrangeas in the rain, morning glories, willows, and waves are other typical summer patterns.
If we hear the sound of a stream or wind chime, we instantly feel cool, even if the temperature does not actually drop. This is an effect of Pavlovian conditioning, and it can be utilized to create cool table settings. Use items that make you think about winter, such ones featuring snow, icebergs, frost, and icicles. If you have frosted glassware, that’s perfect. In Japan there is glassware that has a cracked appearance, which reminds people of cracking ice. Chopstick rests made of glass can be an effective table accessory, too.
Following this approach, you could use snow-patterned fabrics, but make sure to avoid Christmas-themed ones in red and green because they focus more on the warm aspect of the season than the chilly side. (You must use your imagination in working with the seasons.) If you incorporate some of these suggestions into your summer table, you’ll be amazed by how much cooler your drinks will seem!
This blue and green sake cup sits atop leaf skeletons, which can be used as coasters as well.
This slate coaster with rough edges evokes nature and complements the half-frosted glass with rough, iceberg-like carvings
A bamboo makisu is used in making sushi rolls, but here you can use it to give your summer table setting a natural feeling.
Using this tenugui with goldfish swimming through a stream can bring a refreshing feeling to your table. Glasses with cracking patterns will also help you imagine breaking ice and its accompanying cold weather.
Sake and shochu are the two most popular Japanese native liquors, and both of them can be enjoyed hot and cold. It’s preferred to drink them chilled during summertime, but here we share some of the coolest ways.
With more or less 15% alcohol content, sake is usually drunk as is, but you can tweak this custom in the hot season. Add a little bit of soda to full-bodied or higher alcohol content sake to make it light and sparkle. When you do this, you do not want to spoil the beautiful and delicate flavor of the sake. So, it is recommended to try sparkling sake that are available in the market. There are different kinds; one with natural carbonation through fermentation, one with carbonation added later, and one cut with soda. Some of them also have added fruit flavors to give a little more refreshing impression. Shochu, with higher alcohol content (about 20-35%), is usually enjoyed on the rocks or by cutting with cold water, and it naturally goes with soda as well. Fruit liquors such as ume-shu and yuzu-shu are also great when mixed with sparkling water.
Sake with remaining rice sediment, Nigori-zake, coarsely filtered sake, has a beautiful milky color. It also has enough body to play with unconventional styles. Toshiyuki Koizumi, Wasan Brooklyn’s owner and sake sommelier, shared how to incorporate nigori into summer drinks in non-traditional ways. Nigori and Frozen Fruits is super easy to make, just pour nigori over your favorite frozen fruits, such as bananas, peach, mango, and berries. Flavor varies depending on the fruits, but bananas and mangos with nigori has a tropical flavor while berries with nigori boasts a refreshing taste. With a snow-white color and a sparkling sensation, Nigori and Seltzer, just like regular sake and soda, can be a great summer drink. Nigori Affogato is something you might have never thought of. It’s also super easy to make, just pour nigori over your choice of ice cream or sorbet. Nigori is perfect for this style, but aged sake and aged shochu can also make tasty affogato.
There is a variety of nigori-zake from high alcohol content to lower, dry to sweet, more rice sediment to less. Nigori with more rice sediment adds a frosty look to this dessert/cocktail.
Mango sorbet and nigori-zake affogato style is a summery choice. You are free to use any ice cream flavors like vanilla, chocolate, and matcha, but fruit flavors are recommended for summer.
*Nigori-zake drink recipes courtesy of Wasan Brooklyn
(440 Bergen St., Brooklyn, NY 11217 / TEL: 347-725-3550 / www.wasan-ny.com)
The summer drink that Japanese people enjoy most regularly is perhaps cold mugicha, barley tea. The nutty aroma of this mineral-rich and caffeine-free drink is particularly enticing. Every household keeps mugicha in the fridge in warm months to quench thirst and keep people hydrated.
Green tea is rich in vitamins and polyphenols, so drinking some green tea each day––either hot or cold––is quite nutritious. Japanese people like to drink green tea hot even in summer. Drinking too many cold drinks could lead to excessively low body temperature and lethargy and sluggishness in an air-conditioned room. It makes sense, then, to drink hot green tea during the summer, but if you don’t really buy this idea, try cold-brewed green tea. Cold-brewed green tea pro- duces a sweeter taste profile than green tea made hot and then chilled in the fridge. You can just soak loose green tea leaves in cold water, let them sit for a couple of hours, and then strain the tea. A straining paper bag (shown in the photo below and available at Japanese grocery stores) allows you to avoid making a mess when discarding the tea leaves. If you don’t have loose leaves, you can also use a couple of green tea bags.
How to Make Cold-Brewed Green Tea
1. Put 2-3 tablespoons of green tea leaves into a straining paper bag and fold the top of the bag.
2. Soak the bag in a jar filled with 3 cups of cold water.
3. Let it steep it in the fridge for 2-3 hours.
In Japan, matcha green tea is usually enjoyed warm because it is believed to be the best way to experience the features of high-quality green tea. Cold matcha is not as common as its warm counterpart, but it still brings out the exquisite taste of matcha. There are two ways to make cold matcha.
1. Put 1⁄2 teaspoon of matcha powder in a small bowl. (You can use a café au lait bowl.)
2. Add 3.5 ounces of warm water (about 175 °F), and whisk quickly until the matcha powder has completely dissolved in the water.
3. Put ice in a serving cup or bowl and pour the warm match a gently over it.
1. Put 1⁄2 teaspoon of matcha powder in a small bowl.
2. Add 4 ounces of ice-cold water, whisk quickly until the matcha powder has completely dissolved in the water, and serve.
Cold matcha A has a mild taste, while B is sharp and dry.