From the mountains of Gokase Town in Miyazaki comes this very special organic san nen bancha. Very special because it has been totally hand processed from start to finish with no automated machinery being used at all.
It comes from a plantation that has been allowed to grow freely and wildly and contains rows of tea bushes with either one, two, or three years of wild growth. After the three years of growth the tea bushes are harvested for tea. This is what the grower tells us is meant by “San Nen” (three years) in the case of his organic san nen bancha offered here.
After the three years of growth they cut the long vertical branches off by hand with cutters then take all that was harvested away to be sorted and cut. The sorting involves first handpicking all of the leaves from the harvested branches followed by cutting the remaining branches into small lengths that resemble stems to make them suitable for firing. After the sorting and cutting, they then roast small batches of the leaf material in an iron pan over a wood flame (please see the images below for this entire process). This whole process is repeated a few times from around the end of autumn through winter each year, but due to the amount of hand processing involved, and the fact that the processing is very time consuming, the grower can only make a small amount each year.
What is included in the packet is totally wildly grown leaf material. That includes large main branches cut into stems, the smaller shoots coming out of the branches also cut into stems, the leaves (which, by the way, become brittle during the firing, therefore are broken into smaller pieces), and also in the mix it's sometimes possible to find a few dried out tea flowers and even the odd tea seed.
This San Nen Bancha is true healthy traditional Japanese green tea, that has a lovely smooth, sweet-roast, soothing taste, is low caffeine, easy on the stomach, brings a sense of well-being and welcomed warmth brewed hot during the deep winter months, and would be lovely cold brewed in the summer.
Tea Garden & Processing Images...
Tea garden showing tea bushes growing wildly. One side of the tea bushes has already been cut back:
Three years of wild growth (on the right):
Separating the leaves from the branches:
Tea leaves sorted into trays, and branches ready to be cut into stems, all of which is a very time consuming process when done by hand:
Once all of the branches have been cut into stems they are fired in small batches in a big iron pan along with the sorted leaves. Each time they take a portion of the leaves and a portion of the stems:
No gas, no electric, fire wood is used to heat the pan:
How to Brew...
San Nen Bancha can be prepared in a big kyusu with boiling water, however the actual traditional way to prepare it is on a stove top in a kettle Just put some leaves in the kettle's infuser basket, fill the kettle up with water to cover the leaves, bring the water to a boil, then turn down the heat to low and simmer the leaves for around 5-10 minutes then turn off the stove. After that, remove the kettle's infuser basket which contains the leaves and it is ready to serve. If you make a big kettle full of it, you can continue to reheat it on the stove top or even just drink it at room temperature throughout the day. It can also be prepared and served cold in the summer months. (Note: If you do not have a stove-top kettle a pan and a strainer for pouring the tea through will work just as well).
|Origin||Gokase Town, Nishiusuki District, Miyazaki, Kyushu, Japan|
|Harvest Date||2016 (Harvested through the end of autumn and winter months)|