Kamairicha – Sakimidori 2012

Pan-fired Kamairicha green tea loveliness, 2012 Sakimidori to be exact, which is quite a newly registered cultivar in Japan as it was only registered in Miyazaki in 1997. It was developed partly from native Miyazaki zairai tea bushes. If you’ve studied about zairai tea bushes you know the score!

Let’s take a look at this kamairicha…

The leaves are a lovely shade of green and have an appearance of being impeccably dried by the grower. A sign of excellent production, and usually beneficial in terms of storing and aging of the leaves…

Sakimidori Dry Leaves.

Sakimidori Dry Leaves.

When added to a pre-heated kyusu these leaves let off a sweet slightly floral “Kama Kaori” (Kama Kaori, a term that refers to the delightful subtle roasted aroma from pan-firing). These aromas are a delight, not overemphasized, overstated, or superficial, rather virtuously natural and authentic.

Kamairicha leaves are quite the show off when water is poured over them in the kyusu. They will put on a nice little show before they start to unfurl. Many of them will rise and float just below the surface of the water, jig around a little bit, jostle for position, and then pose to show off their beautiful vivid shades of green. A visual delight…

Sakimidori leaves just starting to brew up. Yet to unfurl, looking so fresh and vividly green.

Sakimidori leaves just starting to brew up. Yet to unfurl, looking so fresh and vividly green.

Brewed Kamairicha of a top quality nature always has a praiseworthy clear bright shiny yellow liquor color sometimes with a slight green hue. The taste of this particular kamairicha is a combination of sublime natural tingly sweetness, slightly floral, and lots of aftertaste. A totally meritorious flavor profile…

Sakimidori first infusion.

Sakimidori first infusion.

The curly leaves haven’t completely unfurled after the first steep which causes them to take on a kind of adorable frilly appearance…

Sakimidori frilly leaves.

Sakimidori frilly leaves.

Second steep at a higher water temperature than the first really brings out a very bright liquor color…

Sakimidori bright liquor!

Sakimidori bright liquor!

A few steeps later and the leaves have fully opened up. A total contrast to the small curled up dry leaves…

sakimidori a few infusions later.

sakimidori a few infusions later.

Sakimidori leaves displayed…

Beautiful Sakimidori Kamairicha leaves!

Beautiful Sakimidori Kamairicha leaves!

This kamairicha will be available over in the Yuuki-Cha store in our Organic Kamairicha category hopefully throughout this year.

Uji Tencha Report 2012!

Last week our artisan tencha grower in Kyoto sent us a progress update from his farm along with a few images that we thought you might like to see.

By the way, these are genuine images of present day artisan tencha production tea gardens in Kyoto! We know it’s possible to find quite a few tea companies showing customers out-dated 20th century covered tea garden images or videos of Uji tea plantations, or using stock images, or even getting somebody who lives in Kyoto to snap a few images of one of these type of rare tea gardens to give the impression their matcha comes from one of them. However, the truth is there is very little tencha still being cultivated in tea gardens like as follows in Kyoto, and pretty much all tencha that is produced at these tea gardens is already reserved each year within Japan.

What you see in the following images are known as “Oishita Chaen” in Japanese, which are tea gardens that are covered from above by what is known as Tana which is black sheet coverage suspended above the tea bushes. There is not just one black sheet by the way. In artisan tencha production there are a number of black sheets that are used to cover the tea bushes in stages over a prolonged period of time. Second, what you see are “Shizen Shitate (sometimes written jitate)” style tea bushes. Shizen Shitate style tea bushes grow upright in the traditional style and the leaves are 100% handpicked.

For your information, this grower’s Oishita Chaen with Shizen Shitate style tea bushes are the only 100% certified organic ones known in Japan! They are totally authentic tea gardens and he is growing tencha to what is considered the highest standard in present day Kyoto.

The following image shows the Oishita Chaen where the goko (sometimes written gokou or gokoh) cultivar is growing. This is the tea garden that Tenkei Hana comes from (photo taken on the 24th of April 2012):

Goko Tea Garden 2012

Goko Tea Garden 2012

A close up of the goko leaves growing on the 24th of April 2012:

Goko Cultivar Close Up

Goko Cultivar Close Up

The following image shows the Oishita Chaen where the samidori (not to be confused with saEmidori) cultivar is growing. This is the tea garden that Tenkei Tori comes from (photo taken on the 24th of April 2012):

Samidori Tea Garden 2012

Samidori Tea Garden 2012

A close up of the samidori leaves growing on the 24th of April 2012:

Samidori Cultivar Close Up

Samidori Cultivar Close Up

The grower tells us this year he has already had his annual inspection of his Oishita Chaen and once again gained JAS certification. We therefore will most certainly continue to offer his Tenkei Hana and Tenkei Tori, and hope that our customers will continue to support him because what he is producing is true authentic artisan matcha for his customers. That is something really worth supporting!

First Shincha Of 2012 – Kagoshima Saemidori!

Kagoshima Saemidori 2012!

Kagoshima Saemidori 2012!

Our first shincha of the year has arrived and it’s so great to finally taste this years spring harvest! This year our Organic Kagoshima Shincha Saemidori is the first to arrive.

Today, with our order we received a hand written message from the grower. Here is a small part of it. If you can read Japanese then you will understand his sentiment:

Farmer's Message!

Farmer’s Message!

If not, then we can tell you that it basically reads, “This years Saemidori (referring to his Saemidori) is really delicious, so please savor it”. After tasting it today we can only agree!

For your information, this wonderful grower has been cultivating Japanese tea in Makurazaki since he was a young man, he is now past retirement age! He is therefore a very long established respected tea grower who you could say knows quite a bit about Kagoshima tea cultivation and processing!

For many years now he has been tending to Saemidori tea bushes, and has raised them organically from seedlings in the famous tea region of Makurazaki in Kagoshima. Incidentally, he tells us he farms his tea bushes organically because it’s his wish to provide his customers with the most authentic Kagoshima Saemidori taste, aroma, and liquor color out there! He knows through his many years of experience that it’s only organic cultivation which can ensure that level of authenticity.

For your pleasure, here are a few shots of this years Organic Kagoshima Shincha Saemidori:

The Leaf...

The Leaf…

The First Infusion...

The First Infusion…

The Authentic Green Second Infusion Color Of Deep Steamed Kagoshima Saemidori!

The Authentic Green Second Infusion Color Of Deep Steamed Kagoshima Saemidori!

If you are a regular customer of this tea, we are quite sure you’ll be happy with this years shincha offering, but as the grower wrote, please savor it! It will only be around for a short period of time this spring!

Sakura 2012

This year our Sakura (cherry blossom) images were taken at a park in central Chiba where there were some nice big cherry blossom trees that were blooming wonderfully!

The below image gallery shows the famous Somei Yoshino cultivar which is basically the most popular cherry blossom cultivar in Japan. Please enjoy viewing our 2012 Sakura images:

Next up Shincha 2012!

2012 Kawazu-Zakura (Cherry Blossom)

Today, while on a walk through Mobara Park, a well-known Sakura spot which is listed in Japan’s Top 100 Cherry Blossom Spots, we managed to capture the beautiful Kawazu-zakura an early blooming variety of Sakura aka cherry blossom.

The actual intention of the walk was to find out how the Sakura that blooms in April was coming along. However, while there, a kind old lady we bumped into told us there were a few Kawazu-zakura cherry blossom trees up on a hill still in bloom. Not to miss out on Kawazu-zakura, we trudged up a few hundred steps where we were greeted by a few wonderful Kawazu-zakura trees still in bloom:

Kawazu-zakura trees from the top of the steps

Kawazu-zakura trees from the top of the steps

A view of one of the Kawazu-zakura trees

A view of one of the Kawazu-zakura trees

Lush pink blossom of Kawazu-zakura

Lush pink blossom of Kawazu-zakura

The closer view of the blossom reveals the intriguing petals which are a deeper pink near the edges. Look closely at the middle blossom in this picture and you will see it:

Close-up of Kawazu-zakura blossom

Close-up of Kawazu-zakura blossom

And this is the view from under the trees. We climbed quite a few steps to get up here:

View from under the Kawazu-zakura trees

View from under the Kawazu-zakura trees

After coming down from the hill it was off to see how the April blooming Sakura was coming along. Sorry folks, still in bud, so not much to see:

Sakura still in bud 29th March 2012

Sakura still in bud 29th March 2012

But as you can see from the picture the sky was bright blue and it was warm and sunny today. Many more days like today and these buds will be open pretty soon! Hopefully we’ll get a chance to share some images when the Sakura finally does appear…