Japanese Cherry White Tea

WHEN YOU STEP into Michi, there is a particular scent in the air, like mimosa and leather and iris. It is yet to be established whether the scent is intentional ambiance or the result of the new leather furniture in this spanking new café: Michi Waffle and Espresso Bar is a Japanese dessert and beverages cafe that opened on Robson less than 3 months ago, in March 2010. Besides espresso and waffles, they also offer a nice selection of small desserts (Madeleines, tuiles, and the most amazing matcha shortbread I have ever tasted in my life), plus fascinating Japanese smoothies such as matcha with red bean, and fresh taro root. I only discovered it now and it instantly became a favourite spot for neither espresso nor waffles (which I am yet to try), but… tea!

And to be more precise, their organic Japanese cherry white tea. I picked that tea first for a reason - I thought it could serve as a good indicator of the quality of teas overall in that location. Cherry flavours (and cherry-flavoured teas are no exception) are usually very artificial-tasting with a fierce bitter-almond aroma that I’m not fond of at all. I was hoping the fact that it is labeled as “organic” makes for a high probability that there will be none of the artificial flavouring. Thankfully, I was not only spared the bitterness, but also pleasantly surprised: As it turns out, this particular tea is stunning!

The white tea leaves are lightly infused with the light aroma of cherry blossoms: a delicate floral aroma that is a little hard to describe, but has a transparent, floral-nutty and soft texture. There is no bitterness from either the tea leaf or the cherry blossoms. It’s exceptionally beautiful and I only wish I have discovered it earlier, as it would have made a wonderful way to celebrate the sakura season while it still lasted. Oh well, there is always next year!

The other teas at Michi all seem rather promising, or at least decent, including organic jasmine green tea, English Breakfast, Assam, Earl Gray, a few Rooibos flavours and a selection of herbal teas that includes the more obscure rose petals and osmanthus blossom. All teas are served in individual glass teapots that are re-steeped upon request up to several times (and must, because the tea becomes too strong after a while – so be sure to request for more water or remove the strainer before it gets to that point). In fact, I think that a teapot might be better for sharing with another person. Which is really how all teas should be served in, rather than a paper cup with a tea bag.

And there is something to be said about the atmosphere at this place –the décor is sleek and minimalist with dark leather furniture and hardwood floors, an whole spread of fashion magazine in English and Japanese, and a nice lounge by the front windows with couches that would make for a perfect spot for catching up with a few friends. And if you come here alone the staff is as friendly and helpful as you could ever hope for.

Michi is located on 1319 Robson Street, corner with Jervis. Tel. (604) 568-8750

P.s. this article was originally posted June 3rd but was accidentally deleted due to Blogger tech issues today. I have recovered it and posted it again.

Hanami: New Perfume from Ayala Moriel

Hanami Brings Together Poetry, Photography & Perfume at Blunda’s Natural Botanical Perfume Exhibition No. 2, April 18th 2009

April 14th, Los Angeles, CA & Vancouver, BC. In a unique exhibition of perfumery, poetry and photography, Ayala Moriel Parfums releases her newest perfume Hanami. Inspired by a poem by Ezra Pound, Hanami is a sophisticated interpretation of flower viewing in an urban landscape.

It all started with a poem: In March 2008, perfumer Ayala Sender was invited along with 14 other leading perfumers in the niche perfume industry to interpret a haiku-like poem by Ezra Pound, “In A Station of the Metro” for a project titled “Perfume In A Poem” Memory & Desire blog. One year later, Ayala Moriel releases the perfume at Bluda Aromatics in Los Angeles, in the 2nd of their 8-part Natural Botanical Perfume Exhibitions.

“As I was reading the poem, I envisioned a perfume that is subtle and urbane: flowers and dusty dirt”, says Ayala. She drew on her olfactory experiences in the metro stations in New York and Montreal, and the cherry blossom boulevard in Burrard SkyTrain station, which is the heart of the Cherry Blossom Festival (Hanami) in Vancouver.

“The challenge was to create the feel of concrete, asphalt and metallic surroundings using natural aromatics only”, says Ms. Sender, who used Haitian vetiver, cabreuva oil, French Cassie and Oleander to create the feel of metal, wet wood and concrete. These serve as a backdrop for the cheerful lightweight floral notes of sakura, mimosa and magnolia, creating a perfume that is ever changing, ranging from “sweet floral notes in the sunshine to cool dampness of concrete and steel”.

The exhibition at Blunda allows guests to experience Hanami with all their senses: you will experience the perfume, enjoy perfumed tea and chocolate truffles made by the perfumer; and view original photography of cherry blossoms that inspired the perfume. At 2pm, the perfumer will present the different notes of Hanami and demonstrate how the perfume was conceived and constructed. The presentation will be followed by Q & A.

Persephenie Snyder, the curator of the exhibitions and founder of Blunda Aromatics in Los Angeles wanted to present natural perfumery as an art form. “Perfumery, like painting, gives you freedom to go in many different directions”, says Persephenie. “the natural botanical perfumers’ scented organ offers materials with diverse qualities (…) and a supreme authenticity and richness which needs to be understood in order to appropriately work with the materials”.. Persephenie will be hosting 7 other perfumers in the Blunda Natural Botanical Exhibitions. Each exhibition focuses on one perfume artist and their body of work, and allows for interaction with the perfumer and their aromatic creations in various mediums.

Natural Botanical Perfumery Exhibition #2: Hanami by Ayala Moriel

Saturday, April 18th, 1-5pm
Ayala Sender will speak at 2pm

Blunda Los Angeles
304 South Edinburgh Ave.
Los Angeles, CA, 90048
RSVP: (323) 658-7507 or email: rsvp@blundaaromatics.com

Following the exhibition, Hanami perfume will be available exclusively through Blunda and Ayala Moriel’s studio @ #314-1230 Haro Street in Vancouver, and the online boutique www.ayalamoriel.com

For media inquiries contact:
Ayala Sender
(778) 863-0806

Ayala Sender, the Nose behind Ayala Moriel Parfums creates perfumes that are inspired by her deepest emotions and memories from her childhood landscapes of the Mediterranean. “My art stems from my love and longing for the Mediterranean natural and cultural landscape”, Ayala says, “It is strongly rooted in those ancient and colourful aromatic traditions”.

Born in Montreal and raised in Israel, Ms. Sender’s work is influenced by her eclectic background in fine art, music, philosophy, psychology and education. “Perfumery is my means for self expression, and where all my interest integrate into a beautiful whole” says Ayala. “My perfumes tell a story. They capture a moment in time, an emotion, a memory, and entice you into their world”. Combined with an intuitive understanding of each individual’s need for self expression through personalized fragrance, Ayala creates customized Signature Perfumes as well as ready-to-wear perfumes. “My perfumes have their own personality and evolve with time almost like real living people” tells Ayala. “When I make a perfume for a person, I help them to translate who they are into a beautiful perfume that is as complex and multi-faceted as they are”.

Blunda means “ to close one’s eyes“ in Swedish. Blunda Aromatics specializes in a wide range of Natural Botanical Perfumes, Essential Oil Pharmacopeia, Exotic Perfume Materials, Education, and Collectible Treasures. Blunda’s founder, Persephenie Synder, is a certified aromatherapist, perfumer and a visual artist. The studio offers classes and workshops in natural perfumery, aromatherapy, candle and incense making and more. The studio store offers select lines of renowned natural perfumers and rare essences from around the world.


Cherry Blossoms, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Spring has officially begun this morning, and I'm glad to see that the cherry blossoms are cooperating with the calendar and start creating the beautiful atmosphere that makes this season special, regardless of how cold it may be.

I am busy these days getting interesting print materials for the exhibit at Blunda that will showcase the perfume I created last year for Perfume Inside a Poem project on Memory & Desire blog. I'm putting together a few things with my graphic designer - including a postcard with one of my cherry blossom photographs of last year. The rest of it you will just have to visit Blunda to see for yourself!

From olfactory point of view, the perfume I created for this project is about the contrast between the botanical and the urbane. The images that flicked before my eyes as I was reading the poem were the dusty Metro in Montreal and the humidity of New York City, and in contrast to that – the surprise of discovering the cherry boulevard in full bloom at Burrard SkyTrain station in Vancouver. And because of its stunning beauty at this time of the year it was also chosend to be the centre of the Cherry Blossom Festival in Vancouver.

After much thought, I've decided to call the perfume Hanami. Not so much because it is particularly Japanese, but because Hanami (flower viewing) is totally not what Westerners might expect. It's not about Geisha roaming around in bamboo flip flops and writing haiku about cherry blossoms and playing on koto as the blossoms dust their coiffed hair. Hanami is really more like a picnic where people sit under the cherry blossom trees and drink so much sake they can’t remember a thing. I have to admit that I liked how the name sounds all pretty and romantic but in reality isn’t so. Plus I like the sound of it, and it will be my first perfume starting with the letter “H”.

Tea Time on the North Shore

On a somewhat rainy and not particularly cold afternoon, three ladies of varying ages sat to have some tea at the stuffy Mariage Frères boutique/tea house in West Vancouver (Park Royal).
Tea service included cheescake with stilton and rhubarb and strawberries, pistacchio and sour cherries, and almond and pear tart. This was accompanied by the Sakura 2000 green tea, scented with cherry blossom and rose petals.
I have to say that while I enjoyed the company
And the scent for the day is Terre d'Hermes.
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