Before Pocky, before Royce chocolate, and before the million flavors of KitKat, Japan had wagashi. They are traditional sweets that are served alongside tea, especially during the formal Tea Ceremonies. Their sweetness acts as a counter to the bitterness of the tea.
While some wagashi are quite simple in appearance, others are painstakingly created into miniature works of art for the Tea Ceremony. Wagashi also often have poetic names like “young grass waiting under snow.” The NY Times recently wrote about wagashi and said their haiku-like names had the purpose of “[plucking] out of the stream of time one beautiful, fugitive moment and [holding] it still.”
Kyoto is considered by many to be the heart and soul of traditional Japan. Therefore, I really wanted to seek out wagashi there. This one is from Tsujiri, a popular tea shop. It had a red bean filling and was so incredibly soft. It also had a soft floral note as well, which was both surprising and incredible. And it really helped balance the grassy earthiness of the matcha.