Weekend Cooking: Lupicia Tea Happy Bag

So I’ve been wanting to get a Happy bag (or lucky bag or fukubukuro) from Lupicia Tea for a while now. Part of me (the stingy part) baulks at the price tag. This is despite knowing that the contents of the bag will actually be worth more than what you pay for it. So this year, I swallowed Ms Stingy and walked into Lupicia Tea at Mitsuwa supermarket in San Jose. And asked for the $50 bag. The other option was $30 for 9 teas.

Fukubukuro, by the way, is a Japanese New Year tradition. All kinds of stores, from Starbucks to Muji to Ikea,   and even McDonald’s, sell these mystery bags. The Mitsuwa supermarket too had some lucky bags for adults and for kids. I think they may have contained snacks for the kids? Maybe I’ll have to buy one next New Year! Even the Apple stores in Japan sell fukubukuro – last year’s was $300 and a few of them even contained a MacBook Air!

Lacquerfiend asked if I would share the contents of the bag so here they are! Links are to the Lupicia store.

Strawberry and Vanilla $6.50
Green tea with matcha is flavored with sweet fragrance of strawberry and vanilla.

Jasmin Mandarin special grade $10.50
Chinese green tea scented with jasmine flowers which have sweet aroma like spring breeze.

Tiekuanyin $11

Momo Oolong Super Grade $13
Savor the succulent flavor and aroma of Japanese white peach in this Taiwanese pouchong blend accented with pink rose petals.

Sencha ‘Matsuri’ $7.50
Distinctively mellow and full-bodied green tea. Ideal for those who like full-bodied tea.

Matcha Black Soybean Rice Tea $5
A genmaicha (rice tea) blended with black beans and matcha, to promote “healthy living”.
Tsugaru Green $6
Japanese green tea flavored with “San-Tsugaru” apples from Aomori prefecture in Japan.

Grapefruit Green $6
Green tea flavored with fresh grapefruits makes a refreshing taste.

Afternoon Tea $6
A blend of light-bodied Darjeeling and full-bodied Assam. Can be served with milk.

Good Morning $7.50
A blend of African tea and Assam tea. An uplifting tea to start a day. Best served with milk.

Darjeeling First Flush $8
A blend of spring-plucked Darjeeling with refreshing astringency and fruity aroma.

Muscat $6.50
Refreshing taste of muscat offers an interesting impression. Ideal choice for an iced tea.

Yume $6.50
Yume is “dream” in Japanese. Sweet strawberry, vanilla and cute pink rosebuds come together in a black blend making a tea you’ll be dreaming about.

Cookie $7
Black tea scented with an image of freshly baked caramel cookies. Best served with milk.

Sakurambo $6.50
Black tea flavored with Japanese cherries, which has a sweet and fruity aroma.

And yes, that is a pretty good deal for $50 (total value $113.50!). I may not drink all the teas, particularly the ones that sound a bit sweet like Strawberry & Vanilla. So those may go to friends and family as gifts. But there are plenty that I already do love like the Tiekuanyin, the momo Oolong, Darjeeling and the Matcha Black Soybean Rice Tea. Afternoon Tea is a pretty solid black tea and I like the sound of Muscat, which is apparently best drunk cold. I am also extremely curious about Cookie!

The Husband also got in the fukubukuro mood while at Mitsuwa and he picked up a $20 Lucky Bag from J Sweets, which turned out to be filled with cookies and chocolates from Royce.


Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, beer, wine, photographs

Weekend Cooking: Tea please



My mornings never feel right if I don’t start it with a cup of black tea with milk. These days it’s PG Tips, which I buy in big boxes from the Indian supermarket. As the day progresses, I may turn to green tea or Jasmine tea or Assam tea (no milk). And at the end of the day, I usually turn to my latest favourite, Rooibos and Honeybush tea (from, of all places, Trader Joe’s) which has no caffeine.

I have to blame my tea obsession on England!

More specifically, that one year when I lived in the UK and worked on my Masters at the University of Sussex. Almost ten years ago now! Before that I wasn’t a tea drinker. I occasionally drank English tea, say at high tea. Chinese tea for sure at Chinese restaurants, green tea at Japanese restaurants, sometimes at home, in Singapore. My parents are coffee drinkers. I tended to drink some Milo (a chocolate-y malted milk beverage) or milk in the mornings.

But living in the UK, you can’t really escape tea. My British classmate Becky introduced me to Earl Grey tea. It was something she always ordered when we had a break between classes, and the perfume-y smell of the bergamot intrigued me. Styrofoam cups aren’t the best thing for drinking tea but that’s what the cafeteria provided and that’s what we drank from. When I visited my cousin in London for a weekend, she introduced me to the smokey gorgeousness that is lapsang souchong.

Another classmate was confused when I asked for tea, no milk, when we were working on a presentation at her flat. She returned from the kitchen with the blackest of black tea I had ever seen.
“Sugar?” she asked hopefully.
I declined her offer of sweetening the tea which I later regretted. And I believed that marked the point of my learning to drink black tea with milk.

And so I left England with not only a Masters degree but also with a newfound appreciation for tea.

Today I cannot imagine going a day without drinking tea of some sort. I even carry teabags with me when we’re on holiday!

So I am a tea drinker. (I also like my coffee, usually in the form of a latte, in case you’re wondering).

And this is just part of the contents of my tea drawer.

My Japanese flatmate was the one who introduced me to Lupicia tea, a Japanese tea company. We send each other Christmas presents and some years ago she started sending me different types of tea from Lupicia and not long after that, Lupicia opened a small store in the Mitsuwa supermarket in San Jose, which we regularly make a trip to for some Santouka ramen and sashimi. And I love to pop in to see what new teas they have available, and sometimes make a purchase. The last tea I bought from them was a watermelon barley tea, which can be cold-brewed and is perfect for a hot day. I have a variety of green teas as well as black teas from Lupicia. And during the New Year, the store celebrates with Happy bags, which are mystery bags full of tea, often worth twice the price you pay (i.e. a $50 bag is filled with $100 worth of tea). Here’s an example from this year, over at Lacquerfiend. Lupicia in Japan, judging from the gifts my Japanese friend Yukiko has sent me, has a large variety than over in North America. They even sell cookies and sweets! Yukiko once sent me an unusual New Year tea that had black beans and some other beans in it. And last year, a tea that looks more like twigs than dried leaves, it’s called Kaga Bocha.

As I was typing all this, I was wondering, what exactly is my favourite tea. It’s hard to say. I love green tea for its clean taste, Jasmine tea too. Assam tea is for something a bit stronger. Barley tea for a refreshing cool drink in summer. Rooibos as it doesn’t have caffeine. But I also do like Darjeeling and Earl Grey (a bit less nowadays), Oolong and TieGuanYin. I’m always happy to try a new tea as long as it isn’t too flowery (with the exception of Chrysanthemum tea) and sweet!


If the tea isn’t in a tea bag, I use the Finum brewing basket for the loose leaf tea. Otherwise, I use a little teapot that I got from Daiso.

Anyway, it is the start of autumn, and while we seem to be in a bit of an Indian summer as usual here in the SF Bay Area, I’ve been breaking out my tea more often! As I’m typing this I’m drinking an Earl Grey that I bought from a stall at the farmers market. It’s not bad as it’s not too Bergamot-y!

Well, I hope you liked my little meander through my tea drawer. Do you like to drink tea? What’s your favourite tea?




Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, beer, wine, photographs


Lost bread and green tea

I loved today’s Writer’s Almanac poem, French Toast by Anya Krugovoy Silver

Pain perdu: lost bread. Thick slices sunk in milk,
fringed with crisp lace of browned egg and scattered sugar.
Like spongiest challah, dipped in foaming cream
and frothy egg, richness drenching every yeasted
crevice and bubble, that’s how sodden with luck
I felt when we fell in love. Now, at forty,
I remember that “lost bread” means bread that’s gone
stale, leftover heels and crusts, too dry for simple
jam and butter. Still, week-old bread makes the best
French toast, soaks up milk as greedily as I turn
toward you under goose down after ten years
of marriage, craving, still, that sweet white immersion.

“French Toast” by Anya Krugovoy Silver, from The Ninety-Third Name of God. © Louisiana State University Press, 2011.


I then started wondering (it was 5 am and I couldn’t sleep), so I browsed Poetry Foundation for more poems on food and drink and fell in love with this one, Green Tea by Dale Ritterbusch.

There is this tea
I have sometimes,
Pan Long Ying Hao,
so tightly curled
it looks like tiny roots
gnarled, a greenish-gray.
When it steeps, it opens
the way you woke this morning,
stretching, your hands behind
your head, back arched,
toes pointing, a smile steeped
in ceremony, a celebration,
the reaching of your arms.

Source: Far From the Temple of Heaven (Black Moss Press, 2006)

(ok it’s not for green tea but it’s a gorgeous Peranakan-style tea set that my mom brought for me from Singapore).