"Izumi" is a rare cultivar that is rarely encountered and is often referred to as a mythical cultivar.
However, its taste is outstanding. It has a distinctly different aroma from other cultivars, and once you drink it, you will never forget it. Here is an introduction to such a cultivar "Izumi".
A very rare "mythical cultivar"
"Izumi" has "Benihomare", a black tea cultivar, as its mother, and was originally created as a cultivar for Kamairicha(kettle roasted tea). This cultivar is also called "mythical cultivar" and it is said that only a few farmers are growing "Izumi" nowadays.
The reason for this is that right after the cultivar was born, the demand for Kamairicha for export declined drastically, and as a result, it did not spread to farmers and was half-forgotten.
However, the taste is extraordinary. Its aroma is so gorgeous that once you have tasted it, you will never forget it.
Because it is such a rare cultivar, it is rare for us to encounter "Izumi," and if we have the opportunity to drink it, our hearts would beat wildly with anticipation. It is such a special and delicious cultivar.
Characteristics of "Izumi"
A very rare cultivar for Kamairicha(kettle roasted tea)
As mentioned above, "Izumi" was originally bred as a Kamairichia(kettle roasted tea) cultivar for export. There are only 6 cultivars for Kamairicha(kettle roast tea) out of the 119 registered cultivars, and they are very rare.
In the 1950s and 1960s, tea exports were very active, and many teas were produced for overseas consumption, so "Izumi" was also a cultivar that was produced to meet the needs of those countries.
Today, it is mainly used for black tea.
"Izumi" was originally made for Kamairicha(kettle roasted tea), but after a long time since its birth, it is now very common to see "Izumi" processed into black tea.
It's no wonder." Izumi" has its roots in "Benihomare", a black tea cultivar, which explains why it is highly suitable for black tea.
"Izumi" is highly evaluated in tea contests, and its high quality of taste is widely known.
Low cold tolerance
"Izumi" has an excellent aroma, but it is susceptible to cold weather.
It is difficult to grow in mountainous areas or in the northern part of Japan, and most of the farmers we know are in the southern part of Shizuoka Prefecture or in Kyushu.
The "Izumi" is a very rare cultivar. What is its taste like?
Taste of "Izumi"
Tropical aroma like the fruits
When I first tasted "Izumi" black tea, I was surprised by its rich aroma. The aroma of tropical fruits such as mango, orange, and pineapple filled the air, followed by a refreshing minty aroma.
Of course, the flavor varies depending on the region and farmer, but the gorgeous aroma is common. It has a mellow aroma that is attractive in a way that other cultivars have never tasted.
The astringent taste is light, and its refreshing taste is one of its charms.
There are only a few farmers in Japan who grow "Izumi". The production of "Izumi" is quite limited, and it is literally a " mythical" tea. If you ever come across "Izumi" tea, you should try it first.
"Benifuuki" is one of the most common cultivars of "Japanese black tea" that has been attracting more and more attention worldwide in recent years.
We will introduce you to the cultivar "Benifuuki", which is famous as a pollen allergy remedy.
First Japanese cultivar for black tea and semi-fermented tea
We usually drink Japanese black tea from all over Japan, and "Benifuuki" is the one we encounter most often.
In Japan, there are only a few cultivars for black tea, and of the 119 registered cultivars, only 13 are for black tea. Even if we include cultivars for kettle roasted tea and those for green tea but with high quality as black tea, there are only about 20 cultivars.
Among these cultivars, "Benifuuki" has excellent quality as black tea and has contributed greatly to the quality improvement of Japanese black tea. We will introduce the characteristics of "Benifuuki", the most popular black tea cultivar in Japan.
Characteristics of "Benifuuki"
A cultivar descended from the Assam variety.
"Benifuuki" is a cultivar for black tea and semi-fermented tea. Its mother is "Benihomare", a Japanese black tea variety, and its father is a variety from India.
While almost all tea cultivars produced in Japan are Chinese species, this cultivar, which is descended from Assam species, is characterized by its extremely high quality when processed into black tea.
Cold- and disease-resistant, made for the Japanese climate.
As the first black tea cultivar produced in Japan, this cultivar is naturally designed to be easy to grow in the Japanese climate.
Because of the characteristics of the Assam cultivar, which is originally produced in warmer regions, it can be grown in most areas west of the Tokai region, although its cold tolerance is a little lower.
Because of its high disease resistance, this cultivar is easy to grow even without pesticides.
Tea for preventing hay fever
One of the reasons why "Benifuuki" has become famous is because of its effectiveness in combating hay fever.
"Benifuuki" contains a lot of "methylated catechin" which has an anti-allergic effect, and it has been found that regular consumption of this ingredient can suppress allergic symptoms such as hay fever.
In the 2000s, "Benifuuki" became a well-known cultivar because of its ability to improve hay fever symptoms, for which there is no fundamental cure.
However, the composition of methylated catechins changes when the tea leaves are fermented.
Therefore, it is recommended to drink it as green tea without fermentation. Please note that "Benifuuki" is a black tea cultivar, and if you do not drink it as green tea, it will not be effective in preventing hay fever.
Taste of "Benifuuki"
Rich aroma suitable for black tea
This cultivar, which has the characteristics of the assam variety, produces a large number of aromatic components through fermentation in the tea processing.
The production of indole, linalool, geraniol, and other aroma compounds that most green tea cultivars do not have produces the rich and complex aroma of black tea.
Assam black tea is also characterized by its strong astringent taste (catechins).
Strong astringency unique to black tea
This cultivar is originally intended to be processed into black tea. The catechin (also called tannin), which is the astringent component of tea, tends to be stronger than in ordinary green tea cultivars.
If you drink it as black tea, the astringent taste is not so bothersome, but if you drink it as green tea to prevent hay fever, you may be surprised at the stronger astringeny than normal green tea.
"Benifuuki" is a high quality black tea!
As mentioned above, "Benifuuki" is the first Japanese cultivar for black tea with high quality. If you are looking for a delicious Japanese black tea, why not try "Benifuuki"?
An excellent cultivar for green tea with a strong popularity
"Asatsuyu" is a very old cultivar, registered at the same time as "Yabukita", but it is still very popular today.
Even those of us who drink hundreds of varieties of tea every year are excited when we hear the name "Asatsuyu" because it is such a reliable and delicious cultivar.
Commonly known as "natural gyokuro"
"Asatsuyu" is often referred to as "natural gyokuro" because of its strong umami. Gyokuro is the highest grade of green tea, which is grown under shade for more than 20 days, and has an exceptionally rich umami that is not found in ordinary sencha green tea.
Its name comes from the fact that it has the same umami as gyokuro, which is usually made with a lot of time and effort, but can be made naturally, which clearly shows that it is a cultivar with such a strong umami.
An early-ripening cultivar that does not tolerate cold temperatures.
Compared to "Yabukita", "Asatsuyu" is an early-ripening cultivar that can be picked 7 days earlier, allowing for a wider picking season, which helps reduce the workload of farmers.
However, it is not suitable for cold regions or mountainous areas, as it is susceptible to frost damage because its shoots emerge in the cold season.
Because of its low tolerance to cold and disease, it is only grown in Kyushu and parts of Shizuoka Prefecture, making it a rare cultivar.
It is a privilege to live in such a warm region, but how does "Asatsuyu" taste like?
The taste of "Asatsuyu"
As Asatsuyu is called "natural gyokuro", and its umami is the most important characteristic of "Asatsuyu".
Sencha is a tasty and gentle green tea
As a cultivar with high theanine (amino acid) content and low catechin (an astringent component), "Asatsuyu" has a mild taste with a strong umami.
In order to make the most of its umami, it is sometimes made by Kabuse(shading) or deep steaming, in which case the aroma is weakened.
"Asatsuyu" has no peculiar aroma, and is loved by everyone for its soft, sweet, grain-like flavor.
As mentioned above, "Asatsuyu" is a cultivar with the potential to be called "natural gyokuro". If you ever come across "Asatsuyu", please try it.
Single origin tea is one of the concepts of FETC. The cultivar "Kohshun" has the perfect personality for this single origin tea, which allows you to enjoy the individuality of each cultivar and farmer.
In this article, we will discuss the "Kohshun".
A remarkable aromatic cultivar from Shizuoka!
"Kohshun" is named after the aromatic cultivar produced in Shizuoka (Suruga country).
This cultivar is a crossbreed of "Kurasawa" and "Kanayamidori" and has a unique and attractive aroma, and is attracting attention as a new genre of Japanese tea.
As described below, because of its unique aroma, versatility in processing, and ease of cultivation, it was selected as one of the recommended cultivars by Shizuoka Prefecture in 2001, and farmers all over Japan have high expectations for this new cultivar.
Characteristics of "Kohshun"
A cultivar for single origin teas with a unique character.
"Kohshun" was registered as a cultivar in 2000, and since then it has been gaining market share mainly in Shizuoka Prefecture.
It has a completely different aroma from standard green teas such as "Yabukita" and is therefore unsuitable for blending, but on the other hand, it is good for enjoying a single origin tea with an appealing character.
Not only for Sencha, but also Black teas
"Kohshun", with its distinctive aroma, is suitable not only for sencha, but also for semi-fermented tea and black tea.
When processed into sencha, this cultivar undergoes a process called "wilting," which brings out its gorgeous aroma. Generally, sencha is made without wilting, but since this cultivar has an attractive wilted aroma, it is often made with wilting even in sencha production.
Of course, semi-fermented teas and black teas, which are made with more advanced fermentation than sencha, have more of the unique aroma of "Kohshun" and produce a wonderful aromatic tea.
In recent years, Japanese black tea growers have begun to pay more attention to this cultivar, and it is now being produced in many different regions.
High cold tolerance
Due to its high cold tolerance, "Kohshun" is a suitable cultivar for many tea growing regions in Japan.
It is more suitable for farmers in mountainous areas where its aroma can be used for tea production, and for farmers who have a sales channel for single origin teas.
As mentioned above, "Kohshun" has been highly anticipated all over Japan for its unique aroma and ease of cultivation.
How is the taste like?
The taste of "Kohshun
First and foremost, the aroma!
As we have mentioned many times before, the charm of "Kohshun" is its aroma. It has a refreshing aroma of herbs and jasmine, and the aroma changes little by little as the temperature changes. It is a cultivar that is so appealing that you will want to drink it again and again, as it shows a variety of expressions in a single cup.
It has a good balance of umami and astringency, and its mild taste on the tongue is the reason why it is loved by everyone.
In addition to the fresh aroma mentioned above, "Kohshun" processed into black tea has a fruity aroma like mango, and a green aroma like watermelon and vegetables.
Since this cultivar does not have a lot of astringency, it does not have strong tannins when processed into black tea, and many teas are refreshing and easy to drink.
The flavor of black tea varies greatly depending on the time of year when it is picked (spring, summer, or fall), so it is recommended to enjoy the aroma and flavor that changes with the season.
As described above, "Kohshun" is widely used for sencha, black tea, and semi-fermented teas. It is a cultivar that is sure to have a wide range of applications in the tea industry, so please keep your eyes on it!
"Tsuyuhikari" is a green tea cultivar that has been gaining popularity in recent years.
Let us introduce you to Tsuyu-hikari, which is excellent in every aspect.
Characteristics of Tsuyu Hikari
Shizuoka's star with "Asatsuyu" and "Shizuka 7132" as parents.
"Tsuyuhikari" is made from "Asatsuyu" also known as "natural Gyokuro," which has rich umami, and "Shizu7132," which has a characteristic aroma like cherry leaves.
"Tsuyuhikari" is a hybrid cultivar that combines the best of both "Asatsuyu" and "Shizu7132".
Generally, cultivars with a gorgeous aroma tend to have a strong astringent taste, but "Tsuyuhikari" overturns this theory and is a superb cultivar that combines both umami and aroma!
This cultivar, which was born in Shizuoka Prefecture. in 2001, it was selected as one of the prefectural government's recommended cultivars, and it spread widely in Shizuoka Prefecture.
It is now a popular cultivar throughout Japan for its flavor, and is truly the future of Japanese tea.
"Tsuyuhikari" is used not only for sencha, but also for Kamairicha, semi-fermented tea, and black tea. The "wilting" process brings out its gorgeous aroma and gives the tea a subtle sweetness.
Since it is a cultivar with low astringency, it is often processed into black tea with a light astringency and a clean, easy-to-drink taste.
High disease resistance and cold tolerance
"Tsuyuhikari" is a cultivar that is resistant to disease, pests, and cold, making it suitable for all regions of Japan.
Because of its resistance to cold, it can be grown in mountainous areas and in the northern part of Japan, and many farmers have adopted it because of its ease of cultivation and excellent flavor.
As mentioned above, "Tsuyuhikari" has only advantages, but how is its flavor like?
Taste of "Tsuyuhikari"
The taste varies greatly depending on how it is grown.
The taste of tea varies greatly depending on how it is grown and processed. Especially "Tsuyuhikari", which has two distinct characteristics, umami and aroma, is a cultivar that farmers have different concepts on which of these characteristics to develop.
①Sencha with a rich, nourishing umami
"Tsuyuhikari" is made by covering and deep steaming to maximize its flavor, resulting in a sencha that is truly rich in flavor.
Compared to "Yabukita", "Tsuyuhikari" has a cool, refreshing aroma rather than a green aroma, making it a tea with a strong umami flavor that can be drunk neatly.
It has a bright and beautiful water color, so when it is made with deep steaming, it becomes a beautiful bright dark green water color, which is also one of its charms.
②Sencha with a sweet cherry blossom aroma
"Tsuyuhikari" has a gorgeous aroma of "coumarin," which is reminiscent of cherry leaves. Sencha made with this aroma has a clear, delicious flavor and a sweet cherry blossom aroma that spreads softly.
In mountainous areas, where the sprouts grow softly, the tea is often made by shallow steaming to take advantage of the aroma, and this type of "Tsuyuhikari" tends to be more common.
As described above, no matter which aspect of Tsuyu-hikari you take out, it is excellent. If you like tea, you should definitely try this tea.
When looking for single origin teas, the "Sayamakaori" is often seen. This time, we would like to introduce " Sayamakaori", a cultivar for Sencha (green tea), which is sometimes processed into black tea due to its characteristic aroma.
An "aromatic" green tea cultivar produced in Sayama
"Sayamakaori" is a cultivar produced in the Sayama area of Saitama Prefecture. The name of the cultivar comes from a variety of sources, but cultivars with the word "Kaori" in their name, such as "Fujiedakaori," "Musashikaori," and "Yumekaori," tend to have a distinctive aroma. The "Sayamakaori" also has a fresh, green aroma, hence its name.
Characteristics of "Sayamakaori"
"Sayamakaori" has the following characteristics.
A farmer's best friend with an overwhelming yield!
The most important characteristic of "Sayamakaori" is its high yield. Even if you look at a tea farm, you can tell that it is "Sayamakaori" with a single glance because of the large number of buds.
The number of tea buds varies depending on the cultivar and the way it is grown. Some farmers focus on the number of buds, while others focus on the quality of the buds, and there are many different styles. This cultivar, which yields significantly more than other cultivars when compared on the same acreage, is a great cultivar for farmers, helping them to stabilize their production.
Excellent cold tolerance
Sayama is a relatively cool region among tea growing regions in Japan, and the "Sayamakaori" grown in such an area has a high level of cold tolerance. It can be grown in all regions of Japan, except in very high altitudes, and with the exception of anthracnose, it is resistant to disease and pests, making it a very easy cultivar to grow throughout Japan.
However, its quality in warmer regions is inferior to that of "Yabukita," so it is more commonly found in cooler regions such as the mountainous areas or nothern area than in warmer regions in the south.
A middle-ripening cultivar that can be picked a day or two earlier than "Yabukita".
"Sayamakaori" is a middle-ripening cultivar like "Yabukita", but it is picked a day or two earlier than "Yabukita". The harvesting season for tea is very short, and even if you pick sprouts every day during the first tea season, you may not be able to pick them in time for the best harvesting season. For such busy farmers, being able to stagger the picking time, even by just one day, is very important in terms of reducing the workload on the farm. The "Sayamakaori" has a combination of characteristics that are very attractive to farmers, including yield, cold tolerance, and picking time. How does it taste?
Taste of "Sayamakaori"
Dry aroma like soybean flour and sesame
"Sayamakaori" has a distinctive aroma. Its aroma is much stronger than that of "Yabukita", and some people find it a little peculiar.
In particular, "Sayamakaori" sencha made by "wilting" has a slightly sweet aroma like soybean flour and a savory aroma like roasted sesame seeds, giving it a somewhat dry impression.
Depending on the region of origin, it may also have a fresh herbal-like aroma, giving it a cool, refreshing flavor.
Compared to "Yabukita", "Sayamakaori" is a slightly more astringent cultivar.
Generally, the word "astringency" tends to give a negative impression, but astringency is an important component of the flavor of tea. Astringency adds depth to the flavor and gives it a lingering taste and sharpness.
Well-made "Sayamakaori" sencha has a refreshing astringency, and brewing it at the right temperature allows you to enjoy the taste of astringency.
Not only for Sencha, but also for black tea
"Sayamakaori" is a cultivar suitable for "wilting" and is used not only for sencha but also for black tea. The black tea made from "Sayamakaori" maximizes the aroma of the cultivar and gives a cool, refreshing impression.
Unlike Assam or Ceylon teas, which have a gorgeous, mellow aroma, this tea has a refreshing taste that is typical of Japanese black tea, so if you are interested, please give it a try.
"Sayamakaori" is a very good tea cultivar!
As mentioned above, "Sayamakaori" has many positive aspects for both farmers and consumers. It is a cultivar that we often encounter in our search for single-origin teas, so if you are interested in it, please give it a try!
"Okumidori" is the fourth most widely produced cultivar of green tea in Japan. This time, we would like to introduce this cultivar, which is popular for its powerful flavor and straight aroma without any peculiarities.
A superior cultivar with the fourth largest market share in Japan!
After "Yabukita," "Yutakamidori," and "Saemidori," "Okumidori" is the fourth most widely produced green tea cultivar in Japan. It is rare to find a farmer who does not produce "Okumidori". Every year, we have many opportunities to see this cultivar because it is a very tasty and versatile green tea.
The reason is that "Okumidori" is excellent in every aspect, including taste, aroma, and ease of production. It is a very popular cultivar among farmers and consumers alike.
Characteristics of "Okumidori"
Excellent late-ripening cultivar
"Okumidori" is a late-ripening cultivar that is picked 7 days later than "Yabukita". Many farmers finish the first tea season when picking "Okumidori".
The picking season for tea is very short, and even if you pick sprouts every day during the first tea season, you may not be able to pick them in time for the best harvest.
For such busy farmers, this cultivar, which allows them to pick with a week to spare, is very useful in terms of reducing the workload on the farm.
Incidentally, as the word "Oku" means "late," all cultivars with "Oku" in their names, such as "Okuyutaka" and "Okuharuka," are late-ripening cultivars.
High cold tolerance and easy to grow throughout Japan.
"Okumidori" has high cold tolerance and can be grown in almost all tea-growing regions in Japan. It is susceptible to certain diseases and insect pests, so as long as you take care to use pesticides and other precautions, you can grow this cultivar all over Japan.
As described above, "Okumidori" is an easy-to-grow, valuable late-ripening cultivar that can be grown all over Japan, and it is easy to see why farmers love it.
So, how does "Okumidori" taste?
Taste of "Okumidori"
Rich umami and a fine aroma
The most distinctive characteristic of "Okumidori" is its rich umami.
It does not have a strong astringency or bitterness, and its high amino acid content (theanine) gives it an attractive mild flavor. The aroma has no peculiarities and has a clean scent of green leaves.
The sweetness is brought out by fire-roasting, and roasting aroma can also be added to create a strong, punchy sencha with a powerful flavor. It is one of the most popular teas for both single-origin and combined brews.
Beautiful dark green color
The beautiful light green color is one of the characteristics of "Okumidori". The beauty of this tea is further accentuated when it is grown with Kabuse(shading) or deep steaming, resulting in a tea with an outstandingly beautiful color as a sencha.
In the tea market, where color is important, "Okumidori" is a cultivar that can easily be highly evaluated.
As described above, Okumidori is produced in various regions of Japan and shows various flavors depending on the individuality and ability of the tea grower. Since there are so many cultivars produced in Japan, it is recommended that you compare different varieties depending on their production areas and farmers.
You can enjoy tea at any time of the year. However, do you know that there is a difference in the tea harvest time depending upon the tea cultivar and the growing area?
In this article, I’m going to introduce the tea harvest time.
When is the tea harvest time?
Tea harvest time is from late March to early October.
However, the time of picking tea leaves differs little by little depending upon the cultivar of tea, latitude, altitude, and hours of sunlight.
If all tea leaves are picked at the same time, farmers will not be able to keep up with their work, and there is a risk that the tea leaves will grow too much and lose their flavor, or the leaves will harden and become unmarketable.
By shifting the time of picking, the burden of farm work is dispersed, and tea leaves can be picked in the best condition for drinking.
Therefore, it is very important that the harvest time is dispersed.
What are “early ripening tea” and “late ripening tea”?
There are more than 100 tea cultivars, and the harvest time varies depending upon the cultivar.
Among them, there are “early ripening tea” and “late ripening tea ”.
Early ripening tea is a cultivar that picking time is early, and tea cultivars classified in this category are called early ripening cultivar.
Late ripening tea, on the other hand, is a cultivar that the harvest time is relatively late. Cultivars classified in this category are called late ripening cultivar.
Farmers can extend the harvest time by around 10 days by cultivating a combination of early ripening, medium ripening (a cultivar that is used as a standard for picking such as Yabukita) and late ripening cultivars.
That makes it possible to pick all the tea leaves at the best time.
Are there many “ early ripening tea” in Kagoshima?
Taking advantage of the mild climate, tea is picked at the end of March in Kagoshima. It is well known as “Hashiri-Shincha (Early-First picked tea)”, the fastest tea on the market.
In Kagoshima, it is customary to produce cultivars of early ripening tea and send them to the market as soon as possible. This is why many of the early ripening “Yutakamidori” are grown.
Representative cultivars of early ripening tea
There are many cultivars of early ripening tea, such as Sayamakaori, Tsuyuhikari, and Kuritawase, but the representative cultivars are Midoriyutaka and Saemidori.
It ripens 0-2 days earlier than Yabukita. Characterized by its rich aroma, it is grown mainly in Shizuoka, Saitama and Mie Prefectures. Contains a lot of catechin, so it has a relatively bitter taste.
It ripens 2 days earlier than Yabukita. The tea leaves are bright green and beautiful. It is grown especially in Shizuoka. It features a refreshing taste that brings out the flavor and sweetness in the astringency.
This is a cultivar called “very early ripening” and, its picking season is particularly early among the cultivars of early ripening tea. It is grown in warm regions such as Tanegashima (an island of Kagoshima). It has sharp bitter and fresh sweet tastes.
Yutakamidori is fertile and has a high yield. It is the second largest cultivar in Japan. It is especially grown in Kagoshima because it is sensitive to cold. The unique cultivation and processing method produces a rich and sweet taste with less bitterness.
This is a premium cultivar that combines “Yabukita” which is easy to grow and has a well-balanced flavor, and “Asatsuyu” which is also called natural Gyokuro and has a strong sweetness and flavor. It has elegant taste with well-balanced taste of “Yabukita” and sweetness and umami of “Asatsuyu”.
Representative cultivars of late ripening tea
Cultivars of late tea ripening include Kanayamidori, Harumidori, and Okuhikari, but the representative cultivars are Okumidori and Benifuki.
It ripens 4 days later than Yabukita and is mainly grown in Kagoshima and Shizuoka. It has a characteristic milky aroma.
A cultivar born from Kanayamidori that ripens six days later than Yabukita. It is a high-class tea with extremely high quality as Sencha (steeped green tea).
This is a rare cultivar that can be grown in cold regions such as mountainous regions. Its scent is strong and the taste is clear.
It has the third largest cropping area in Japan, mainly in Kagoshima, Mie, Kyoto and Shizuoka. Okudmiori has a natural sweet and mild taste. Its aftertaste is refreshing.
It also has a good fragrance, so it is recommended for people who want to enjoy the aroma of tea.
It is the cultivar registered in 1993, which is short in history compared to other cultivars, but it is famous not only for green tea but also for Japanese black tea. It contains a lot of methylated catechin, so it has become a hot topic as a green tea with an anti-allergic effect.
In this article, I’m going to introduce “Saemidori”, a cross cultivar of “Yabukita” and “Asatsuyu”.
Characteristics of “Saemidori”
The characteristic of Saemidori is its excellent quality.
Cross cultivar of “Yabukita” and “Asatsuyu”
Yabukita is easy to grow, excellent in both yield and quality. Asatsuyu is called “natural Gyokuro” because it is sweet and has a good flavor although the yield is small.
Saemidori is a cross cultivar of these two excellent cultivars.
It is the highest quality cultivar and is sometimes used for Gyokuro. In addition, Saemidori can be said a masterpiece because it has as much yield as Yabukita.
Although the cultivation area is the third largest in Japan, it still accounts for about 2% of the total. Saemidori is a cultivar that has great expectations for the future.
Resistant to cold but vulnerable to frost
Saemidori is strong against cold but weak against frost damages, and it is not so strong against diseases.
Saemidori prefers warm regions, so it was grown mainly in Kagoshima and southern Kyushu at the time when it appeared, but recently it is also grown in Shizuoka and some other region.
Early ripening cultivar
The plucking time of Saemidori is about 5 days earlier than Yabukita, and Shincha (First picked tea) is often picked from late April to early May.
However, Saemidori which is grown in warm southern areas such as Kagoshima, is sometimes picked in late March. If you want to buy its Shincha(first picked tea), you should start checking tea shops from the end of March.
Taste of Saemidori
Saemidori is well inherited the good balance of taste of Yabukita and the taste of Asatsuyu with strong sweetness and umami.
Its fragrance and taste are relatively refreshing. Its taste is less astringent and strong with sweetness and umami. The elegant taste of Saemidori can be a real luxury for those who drink it.
In addition, Saemidori is a beautiful green with a bluish tinge, so it is also recommended to serve important guests.
Tea is divided into “unoxidized tea,” “semi-oxidized tea,” “oxidized tea,” and “fermented tea” according to the degree of oxidation/fermentation.
Green tea, which Japanese people drink, is “unoxidized tea.” It can be produced by “the steaming method,” which uses steam, or by “the roasting method,” which uses a pan. Today’s mainstream is the steaming method.
Kamairicha, a tea produced by the pan-roasting method, has very little production volume in Japan. The rare tea is called “illusory tea.”
What is Kamairicha?
Kamairicha is a tea that is produced, as its name literally suggests in Japanese, by roasting in the pan. While over 95% of Japanese tea is produced by the steaming method, Kamairicha, which requires long time and high technique, accounts for less than 1%. It is indeed illusory tea.
It is said that Kamairicha originated in the mid-15th century and came down from China to Kyushu. Tea of that time required great care before drinking; steaming, hardening, and powdering to drink or simmering, drying, and boiling to drink.
However, the tea produced by roasting leading to today’s pan-roasted tea just required pouring hot water to drink. The easy-to-prepare tea quickly spread and established its popularity. Kamairicha is rare in Japan, but most of the tea produced in China is this kind.
Features of Kamairicha
While steamed tea leaves are slender, pan-roasted ones become round and are called “Tamaryokucha (round green tea)”. Kamairicha is featured by an aroma called “kamaka (literally pan aroma in Japanese).” A pleasant aroma that arises from pan-roasting stays on the leaf. A green tea’s distinctive light flavor is less bitter and astringent.
Features of Kamairicha ingredients
Unoxidized tea has not undergone the oxidation process, so its ingredients and nutrients remain almost untouched. The tea leaf keeps a great deal of original nutrients almost as they are.
In addition to vitamin C and amino acids, the leaf contains full of nutrientive ingredients such as tannin for antioxidant effect, beta-carotene for immune enhancement and cancer prevention, etc.
Features of Kamairicha manufacturing process
Kamairicha undergoes “roasting” instead of “steaming” unlike usual green tea. Fresh tea leaves are roasted in the pan for deactivation. Pan-roasting is done by an expert because it requires considerable experience and high skills.
Production areas of Kamairicha
Kamairicha is produced mostly in Kyushu. Even famous tea-growing areas such as Shizuoka and Kyoto rarely produce it. As present, Saga Prefecture, Kumamoto Prefecture, Nagasaki Prefecture, and Miyazaki Prefecture produce it in mountain areas with abundant nature. Why does Kyushu produce a lot of it? They say it is because Kamairicha first arrived in Kyushu when it came from China.
How to drink Kamairicha
You can drink it as you drink green tea or Sencha (steeped green tea). Brew it in hot water of about 80 degrees C. Otherwise, cold brew Kamairicha also tastes good.
Matcha is used for a drink and also for a snack. It is so popular not only in Japan but also abroad. This article guides you through the wide use of Matcha, from tea ceremony to dessert, and its material Tencha.
What are Matcha and Tencha?
Even if you know Matcha, you may not know about Tencha. Tencha is a tea to make Matcha and not usually sold in the market. As with Gyokuro, Tencha undergoes cover culture for about 20 days, which lends a green-laver-like distinctive aroma and a mild, rich flavor to the tea. It is often confused with another Tencha of Chinese tea, but they are completely different teas.
Matcha is a finely ground Tencha. It is also used for tea ceremony. It is in 1783 when Sencha (steeped green tea), which is commonly consumed by Japanese people, was invented. Before then, tea exclusively referred to Matcha. In addition to the original use of drinking, there is an increased demand for other uses such as making snacks nowadays. Tencha does not need to be covered to make the Matcha for food processing.
Features of Matcha and Tencha
Matcha is the finely ground particles of Tencha and so susceptible to humidity, temperature, and light that it needs to be treated gently. Its drinking manners are different from other green teas. There are very few opportunities to see Tencha because it seldom comes on the market, but it looks very much like green laver. Its original cultivation method requires cover culture as a rule, but the covering process can be skipped to make the material of snacks.
Features of Matcha ingredients and Tencha ingredients
The ingredients of Matcha are mostly similar to Gyokuro. However, by swallowing the whole leaves that are finely ground, you can consume even the ingredients that usually remain in the leaves and are hard to take in when you brew the leaves of normal tea such as Sencha. It is called “Superfood” both domestically and internationally nowadays because you can take in a great deal of fat-soluble vitamins, catechins, and other ingredients that are good for health and beauty.
Features of Matcha process and Tencha process
Tencha is produced through cover culture as a rule. The tea farm is covered to avoid sunlight before about 20 days prior to plucking so that the leaves grow gradually. In this way, with less bitter and astringent flavors, the tea gains a lot of sweetness and umami. The manufacturing method does not have the process of rolling (i.e. kneading leaves). It just dries the leaves. Sencha’s cultivation process can be applied to Tencha if it is to be processed into snacks.
Productions areas of Matcha and Tencha
Matcha and Tencha are produced across the country. Let us focus on famous areas here.
Kyoto boasts the largest production volume of Tencha. Above all, Hamacha from Kozuya, Joyo City won the first prize of the Tencha section at the National Fair of Tea, 2017. Its landscape of tea farms is declared as a Japanese Heritage site. It is said that the cultivation method of Tencha, “cover culture,” was developed in Kyoto.
Especially Nishio City in Ehime Prefecture has a suitable environment for Tencha cultivation with a rich soil mixed with sand, good humidity, etc. They have been growing Tencha for a long time. In Nishio City, many farmers take time and effort to hand-pluck fresh buds. Tea farms of approximately 150 hectares are growing high-quality Tencha.
How to drink Matcha and Tencha
To drink Matcha, the tea is made with a tea whisk. A freshly-made tea is the best. Drink it up while it is warm.
Even if you don’t know much about tea, “Gyokuro” perhaps sounds like a high-class tea. Let us get to know more about Gyokuro, such a high-end tea also called “the king of tea.”
What is Gyokuro?
Gyokuro is a top-quality Sencha (steeped green tea). Its manufacturing process is the same as Sencha, but they differ in cultivation methods. Gyokuro is featured by the process in which the growing leaves are kept away from sunlight for about 20 days before plucking. In this way, Gyokuro gains full of umami. While the annual tea leaf production volume in Japan amounts to 86,300 tons, the production volume of Gyokuro is only 240 tons, or one four-hundredth of the nation’s output. Some of the highest-grade ones are plucked only once in a year and appreciated as an extremely rare tea.
History of Gyokuro
Gyokuro is a tea invented originally to develop a “high-grade Sencha” based on research. In 1835, the 6th head of the famous tea merchant “Yamamotoyama” applied the cover culture method to Sencha. There are several views on the story afterward, but it is said that the tea was named “Gyokuro (jewel dew in Japanese)” because its young buds were appraised for “a flavor like Kanro (dew from heaven in Japanese).”
Features of Gyokuro
Produced through time and effort, Gyokuro’s flavor and price are far above the others. A high-end Gyokuro, if it is hand-pluck Ichibancha (first picked tea), can be priced 20 times more than Sencha. The tea leaves produced through the special cultivation method called cover culture make a beautiful, deep-green liquid color. They yield rich sweetness and umami and tasty, mild flavor, and also entertain you with a distinctive aroma called “ooika (covered aroma in Japanese).”
Features of Gyokuro ingredients
Besides vitamins, caffeine, and catechin contained in Sencha, Gyokuro has a great deal of theanine, a kind of amino acids. Theanine serves as umami and also acts on nerve functions and psychology to provide various effects such as relaxation, sleep improvement, and even dementia prevention.
Features of Gyokuro process
The manufacturing process of Gyokuro is the same as Sencha, but they differ in cultivation methods. Gyokuro undergoes a 20-day cover culture to avoid sunlight three weeks prior to plucking. The purpose is to keep the leaves from gaining astringency with sunlight and let them store full of umami. Plucking is often done by hand. The cultivation of Gyokuro takes more time and effort than the other teas.
Production areas of Gyokuro
Gyokuro is produced across the country. Uji in Kyoto and Yame in Fukuoka are well-known producers.
Uji in Kyoto Prefecture
Kyoto has the largest production volume of Gyokuro and also of Tencha, the material of Matcha. Especially Uji, as a famous tea-growing area, has many domestic and international visitors seeking tea. It is said that Gyokuro’s unique cultivation method “cover culture” was developed in Uji. Many brands of Gyokuro are there. “Uji Gyokuro” is a synonym for high-grade tea. The time-and-effort-taking Gyokuro from hand-pluck ichibancha (first picked tea) is recognized as the top-quality tea across the world.
Yame in Fukuoka Prefecture
Fukuoka Prefecture has the second largest Gyokuro production. Fukuoka Prefecture started making Gyokuro in 1879. Fog arises easily in Yame, moderately shielding the growing tea leaves from sunlight so that they can contain a greater deal of amino acids. For this reason, Gyokuro in Yame has been appreciated as “Natural Gyokuro.” Its quality is one of the highest in Japan. Yame Gyokuro won the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Prize for 10 years in a row and has swept the first 26 places in the Gyokuro section at the National Fair of Tea. It has been receiving a high reputation.
How to drink Gyokuro
The best temperature to brew Sencha is about 80 degrees C, but Gyokuro should be brewed at around 60 degrees C. As with Sencha, you can enjoy only the umami of Gyokuro by brewing at low temperature. In the case of high-grade Gyokuro, you can take a sip in the mouth and slowly enjoy, or savor its flavor and aroma.