A Parcel From Kyoto!

Got a rather big parcel from Kyoto a couple of days ago. Actually it’s four parcels taped together:

A Parcel From Kyoto

A Parcel From Kyoto

The contents is not a bear as one of our Facebook fans suggested, although we do quite like bears, we can safely say that we have not investing in one just yet. We have instead invested in four different cultivars of Japanese tea plants!

Four Japanese Tea Plants

Four Japanese Tea Plants

From left to right the cultivars are saemidori, sayamakaori, okumidori, and meiryoku. All labeled up nicely, so we know which one is which.

Very happy to get these! I bet the tea bushes feel very happy too, being in the hands of such amateur tea farmers as us! Anyway, here’s some images of each cultivar. All of them have new spring growth on them.

This is Saemidori which is nice and green and has lovely new growth…

Saemidori Cultivar

Saemidori Cultivar

Saemidori Close-up

Saemidori Close-up

This is Sayamakaori which seems to have very upright new growth…

Sayamakaori Cultivar

Sayamakaori Cultivar

Sayamakaori Close-up

Sayamakaori Close-up

This is Okumidori which is usually a late budding breed (oku breeds are late), but has nice new growth showing anyway…

Okumidori Cultivar

Okumidori Cultivar

Okumidori Close-up

Okumidori Close-up

This is Meiryoku which seems the most unique looking of them all. A hairy bud just showing on the close up image…

Meiryoku Cultivar

Meiryoku Cultivar

Meiryoku Close-up

Meiryoku Close-up

We plan to try to put these in the ground pretty soon and see how they go. If (that’s a big if) successful we might invest in some more cultivars. Perhaps we might even make a little tea for ourselves as long as we don’t cause them to perish before we get the chance to.

Organic Kagoshima Shincha Magokoro 2013

It’s been a great start to our 2013 shincha season! The first three shincha that we have already released and were harvested prior to the recent cold snap are really excellent shincha that we are very happy with. How the recent cold snap has changed things since, only time will tell.

The third shincha to arrive this year is the lovely Magokoro Shincha. This year, it’s the earlier of the two yutakamidori culitvar to arrive, the other being Shimofuri. Magokoro has come in a bit earlier this year because the Shibushi Bay area where the Magokoro plantation is roughly located had a very warm early spring. The good weather certainly resulted in an excellent harvest.

Anyway, here are some images of Magokoro Shincha which we have been enjoying the last few days.

Here are the dry leaves which have been deep steamed, yet are very well presented, super silky to touch, and are a kind of shiny blue-green leaf color. Very nice quality this year…

Dry Leaf

Dry Leaf

Dry Leaf Warming In The Houhin

Dry Leaf Warming In The Houhin

Here are the leaves brewing up in a favorite little Tokoname houhin with an impressive spout design that pours out great. The lovely green color of fresh spring green tea makes one feel happy the first flush has come around again…

Steeping Leaf

Steeping Leaf

The first steep which is full to the brim with tastiness. Sometimes yutakamidori comes across a little like citrus, muscat, of even a little herbaceous. This year, we’re tasting muscat…

Magokoro First Infusion

Magokoro First Infusion

No holding back on the second steep here! Full to the rim with some fine quality spring water (no soap included)…

Houhin Full To The Rim

Houhin Full To The Rim

Pouring the second steep into the pitcher down to the very last drop. Not the deep green of saemidori, rather a very pretty lime green liquor that is a pleasure to view…

Pouring out the very last drops!

Pouring out the very last drops!

The second steep resembles the first in taste, but has a bit more pungency…

Magokoro Second Infusion

Magokoro Second Infusion

More shincha on its way soon for sure!

Organic Saemidori Shincha 2013

The last couple of days have been pretty cold in Japan, so really hoping it passes by with no problems to the rest of this year’s first harvest. It’s been so cold here in Boso today that the winter jackets have been out. Not exactly the optimum weather to be enjoying shincha, but is it really possible to resist freshly harvested organic saemidori shincha even on a cold spring day? Don’t think so…

Today, just used a simple set-up to brew it for the first time. A pitcher, a Happa Banko Yaki Houhin Teapot which has a nice quick pour and pretty fine mesh filter that works well for deep steamed sencha. In addition to that, decided to use a Hana No Mai Arita Yaki Teacup which is blue-green porcelain which showcases the green liquor color of deep steamed sencha very nicely. Totally recommend one of those!

Dry leaf has a very potent aroma in the nose. Lovely! The leaves are deep green and pretty much all broken down into smaller particles which is of course the result of deeper steaming. The smaller particles are actually the buds which are too delicate to withstand the processing. The leftover intact needles are not rolled leaves as they might appear to be.

Dry leaves In the Banko Houhin

Dry leaves In the Banko Houhin

First infusion, and as you can see the blue-green porcelain works it’s magic to produce a lovely looking green liquor color. Not only that, it’s also way too delicious. Sweet, smooth, succulent, and full of fresh spring flavor and lifted aromas. It’s Saemidori from Makurazaki without a doubt!

Saemidori liquor in the pitcher

Saemidori liquor in the pitcher

First Infusion of Saemidori

First Infusion of Saemidori

Second infusion, it’s so green. The taste of this second infusion was so sweet that is took one by surprise…

Second Infusion of Saemidori

Second Infusion of Saemidori

Infused leaves of Saemidori

Infused leaves of Saemidori

The grower has certainly worked wonders with this shincha again this year. It’s a pleasure for us to purvey it for him. Available over at our online store for a limit time only: 2013 Organic Kagoshima Shincha Saemidori

Those that pre-ordered it without any other non-released shincha, it’s already shipped today. Enjoy!

Fascinating Yakushima Shincha 2013

Organic Yakushima Shincha 2013!

Organic Yakushima Shincha 2013!

Every year since memory serves we have really enjoyed shincha from an organic plantation in Yakushima Island and every year we never quite seem to get around to contacting the grower to ask about the availability of his tea. This year however we did, and we are happy to say he was keen for us to purvey his tea for him to our customers.

If you don’t know Yakushima Island it’s time to get to know! It’s on the UNESCO World Heritage list, located south of Kyushu Island under the southernmost tip of Kagoshima. It’s very famous for its protected ancient forests (Jomon Sugi). For more information about Yakushima go here.

As far as we know there is only this grower, and perhaps one other grower, making certified organic tea on Yakushima Island. This grower has a small plantation on the east side of Yakushima where he is cultivating various cultivars of tea bushes. One of the most interesting is Kuritawase cultivar which is the main cultivar used in this shincha along with Yabukita.

The natural fragrance of Kuritawase cultivar is very distinct (exotic springs to mind). The grower has done justice to it by leaving it totally intact and not doing excessive roasting on the leaves during the final stage of processing. Hence, the aromatics of this shincha are really wonderful during shincha season.

It’s futsumushi which means it’s been normal steamed, a far cry from the deep steamed teas of most of mainland Kagoshima. If we had to say it reminds us of something from there then perhaps it’s a little reminiscent of some of the organic lighter steamed teas that come from the elevated areas of the Kirishima region.

Dried leaf is, as mentioned above, exotic and highly fragrant. The leaves are small yet intact. No real dust in the packet.

Dry Leaf

Dry Leaf

Prepared pitcher style for full viewing pleasure. One of the nicest ways to enjoy shincha!

2013 Organic Yakushima Shincha

2013 Organic Yakushima Shincha

Aroma, totally in the tropics! Taste is full and strong on the palate, not sweet, but strongly fragrant with clean astringency that gives a lasting impression in the mouth. It’s an exotic taste. Color of the liquor is pretty clear yellow-green, yet mainly yellow under most lighting conditions.

Tea liquor

Tea liquor

Infused Tea Leaves

Infused Tea Leaves

Second Infusion

Second Infusion

Tea leaves Brewing

Tea leaves Brewing

Organic Yakushima Shincha 2013!

Organic Yakushima Shincha 2013!

Leaf Display

Leaf Display

This organic shincha is not like any other that we regularly drink and is wonderfully priced. It’s now in stock at our store and is our very first shincha of 2013 available for shipping! It’s available in very limited amounts here: 2013 Organic Yakushima Shincha

Kyoto Oishita Chaen 2013

A pleasure to present some spring 2013 pictures taken at the organic Oishita Chaen plantations in Kyoto where our most prized organic tencha is produced. All very highly graded tencha which we feel very honored to be able to offer to our customers directly from the grower himself.

The images below were taken around the beginning of April at three of the grower’s small Oishita Chaen plantations containing a different cultivar in each. Notably, Saemidori, Sakimdori, and Yamanoibuki. The grower has a number of small plantations and grows a number of cultivars, but these ones are the first to bud.

Btw, we hope to include all of these cultivars in our shincha matcha pre-order offering that we will hopefully start on the 1st of May.

First Saemidori Oishita-Chaen…

Saemidori is one of the early budding cultivars, so you can see the buds and new leaves are already progressing nicely. The leaves that are hand picked from here are made into what is currently the grower’s highest grade organic tencha.

Saemidori Cultivar

Saemidori Cultivar

Saemidori Cultivar

Saemidori Cultivar

Saemidori Cultivar

Saemidori Cultivar

Saemidori Cultivar

Saemidori Cultivar

Next, Sakimidori Oishita-Chaen…

The grower tells us this is perhaps the greenest of all the cultivars that he currently cares for and has a specific fragrance which is unique to the cultivar. In the first image you can just see the Tana coverage which appears to be in the first stage of shading…

Sakimidori Cultivar

Sakimidori Cultivar

Sakimidori Cultivar

Sakimidori Cultivar

Last, Yamanoibuki Oishita-Chaen…

This cultivar is very rare for tencha production in Kyoto at present. It’s a breed that was originally released in Shizuoka. However, the grower adopted it in Kyoto and is now making very good quality organic tencha from this breed.

Yamanoibuki Cultivar

Yamanoibuki Cultivar

Yamanoibuki Cultivar

Yamanoibuki Cultivar

Yamanoibuki Cultivar

Yamanoibuki Cultivar

Other cultivars we hope to have available in our pre-order shincha matcha offering are Asahi, Goko (sometimes spelled Gokoh or Gokou), and Samidori (not to be confused with Saemidori) which are the more traditional breeds used in tencha production in Kyoto. They are all from the grower’s true Oishita-Chaen plantations where all tea leaves are hand picked from tea bushes kept in the traditional Shizen Shitate style. All organic of course!

Here’s hoping for a successful harvest in Kyoto at our grower’s plantations, and we hope that our customers will continue to support these authentically produced organic matcha!