Higashi is a dry style of Japanese sweet, beautifully-shaped sugary pops of color that are commonly served during a traditional tea ceremony. Perfect to balance out the bitterness of Japanese tea, higashi sweets such as carefully-pressed Rakugan and Uchimono are made from finely ground sugars. Typically colored in an iconic pastel palette, these bite-sized pieces sometimes incorporate different types of flour into the recipe (like rice flour or soybean powder) and are then carefully hand-pressed into molds, traditionally carved from wood. Always intricately designed, the elegant shapes for higashi often take inspiration from the seasons, featuring assorted flowers, fruits, and other delicate motifs. Subtle in their sweetness and crumbly in texture, these tiny pops of color are like edible works of art made from sophisticated traditional techniques.
Sometimes the term higashi is used to cover a broader range of dry traditional snacks. This category of wagashi includes konpeito sugar candies and crunchy senbei rice crackers, but it most commonly refers to dry hand-pressed candies. Top-quality higashi is most commonly made from wasanbon, a premium, highly-refined Japanese sugar. The dryness of higashi allows them a longer shelf-life, particularly in comparison to “raw” style Japanese sweets such as mochi (pounded rice cakes). Amuse your taste buds and try some higashi by joining an authentic tea ceremony experience, or learn how to them for yourself during a cooking class. Made with basic ingredients, but full of sweet flavor, higashi are best enjoyed with a bitter cup of Japanese tea.