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Glossary of Asian Culture - T

Taiyaki: Traditional Japanese sweet cake baked in the shape of a fish. Typically filled with sweet red bean azuki paste, taiyaki can also include chocolate, custard or cheese fillings. Often sold from street vendors and snack shops, especially during festivals.

Takoyaki: Unique Japanese appetizer-style food usually consisting of grilled or fried octopus (tako) that is placed in a dumpling batter containing green onion, flour, tempura pieces and pickled ginger. Frequently served with thick sweet dark sauce and mayonnaise.

Tamago pan: Tamago is the Japanese word for egg. Tamago pans are specifically designed for the making of Japanese egg omelets. Usually shaped like a square or a rectangle, a tamago pan gives the egg shape for a perfect omelet.

Japanese-style omelet made by rolling together thin layers of cooked egg. Often made in special rectangular pans called makiyakinabe, tamagoyaki is typically cut into small pieces and served with breakfast, used in sushi or included in bento lunch boxes.

Tanuki: Japanese word for a native species of Japanese raccoon dog, and the name for the popular and mischievous raccoon dog figure portrayed in many traditional Japanese folklore statues and stories.

Tatami: The word originally meant “folded” and “piled”, and referred to floor mats that were traditionally made of rice straw and were a luxury item for the Japanese nobility. Today, tatami is used as flooring, bedding and in traditional tea ceremonies.

Tea: A drink greatly loved all over the world made from tea leaves, tea is the most popular drink in the world, second only to water. Today there are at least six different kinds of tea: yellow, green, white, black, oolong and pu-erh.

Tea ceremony:
Tea ceremonies are a formal, ritualized way of making and drinking tea. The Japanese tea ceremony was based on an ancient Chinese tea ceremony and influenced by Zen Buddhism. It involves the ceremonial making of matcha (powdered green tea).

Tea Canister: Popular containers used to preserve loose-leaf or bagged tea. Often are rounded with lids to protect tea from spoilage. May be made from various materials, including metal, plastic, clay or porcelain.

Tea Infuser: Typically made of metal, this container holds loose-leaf tea. Like a tea bag, infusers allow tea flavor to disperse in hot water without letting the leaves escape into the cup. Also known as a teaball or tea egg.

Tea Whisk: Usually made of bamboo, tea whisk is a tool used in the tea ceremony for the mixing of powdered green tea with hot water during the Japanese tea ceremony.

Temaki/Temaki sushi:
A kind of hand-rolled sushi where ingredients like sushi rice, fish or vegetables are placed into a cone-shaped seaweed (nori) wrapper.

popular Japanese cooking method involving the battering and frying of foods like shrimp and sliced vegetables.

Tengu: Japanese monster spirit with human and bird-like characteristics that is portrayed with folk legends, artwork and statues.

Teppanyaki: common Japanese cooking method involving the preparation food on an iron griddle (examples: yakisoba, or stir-fried soba noodles, and teppanyaki-style beef, shrimp and scallops.

Ti Kwan Yin tea: A specific type of Chinese tea, literally meaning “iron Goddess of Mercy”, Ti Kwan Yin is a kind of oolong tea associated with the Fujian province of China. It has a rich flowery and aromatic taste.

Tohoku: A region in Japan that is in the Northeast and includes the Honshu island of Japan: the homeland of indigenous Ainu people. A mountainous region, Tohoku is also famous for their traditional handcrafted kokeshi dolls.

Tokaido: Literally meaning “East Sea way”, Tokaido was an ancient Japanese region that included fifteen ancient provinces. There was also a Tokaido road that linked Edo to Kyoto (the capital of Japan) and was a major land route.

Toothpicks: A small stick made out of wood, bamboo, plastic, bone or metal, toothpicks are used to pick out food remains stuck in between the gaps of teeth after a meal.

Tsuzumi drums:
Traditional Japanese drum made of wood, characterized by its hourglass shape and two drum heads. The only Japanese drum that is played by hand instead of a stick, or bachi. Used in Japanese kabuki and noh theater.

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