Black and oolong, or wūlong, teas are crafted using similar processes of withering, rolling, shaping and firing but it's the amount of oxidation that helps to give each tea its unique character. Oxidation can range from 8 - 85% for oolong and typically higher for black tea.
It's said that after a long day of picking tea leaves, a man named Wu Liang was distracted by a deer and forgot about his harvest. By the time he came back to his basket, the leaves had begun to oxidize thus, the origins of oolong tea.
The bowl, chawan, or cup, yunomi, you drink your daily tea from is a highly personal choice. Whether it be a simple, unadorned cup or a one of a kind bowl, made and signed by the craftsperson, you feel it when you see one that is right for you.
Four hours by train from Wakayama, following the mountainous coastline where fishing is the obvious industry, you'll arrive in Nachikatsuura, a short drive from Minamiōi. Dai Oizumi came here in 2006 seeking, like many people, a return to the land and a simpler life of farming and self-sufficiency. Although not a well known tea producing region, there are a number of tea gardens tucked into the mountains, like the one in Irokawa I visited this past year.
Since 2012, Dai-san has been crafting a number of high quality teas with a natural ability, that are a true expression of himself...Unassuming but with great depth. He produces naturally grown, chemical free tea under the name Dokodemosora or Endless Sky, meaning a world without boundary.
Embrace a new sense of well being with authentic, loose leaf Japanese green teas, organically grown and crafted by artisan producers. Japanese green tea is steamed just hours after harvesting to retain all the freshness and vitality within the leaves. Treat yourself right.
The first tea seeds were brought from China to Japan in the early 9th century by the monks Saicho and Kukai and the positive effects of tea on the five vital organs were later written about in the Kissa Yojoki by Zen priest Eisai. 1200 years of experience now brings us some of the finest Japanese green tea to be enjoyed. Sugoi!
"Each batch of completed tea is a once in a lifetime experience. This is why we want to be thorough" Igeta Seicha
This sentiment embraces the concept of Ichi-go ichi-e, 一期一会. Every meeting is a totally unique moment of our lives. 'Living in the moment' as we like to say in the West.
The highest quality is a core value of Igeta Seicha and the reason they oversee every aspect of tea production, from the cultivating healthy soil to final packaging of the finished tea. Multiple top Nihoncha Awards placings are evidence of this commitment to excellence.
It was at their tea garden at Mt. Kuroyama, where the humidity, fog and abundant southern sun create truly perfect conditions for tea, that they became the first tea company in Miyazaki Prefecture to earn JAS organic certification.
Matsumoto-san and family still produce tea on the Makinohara plateau where their ancestors began, about seventy years ago during the Edo period. Their innovative use of various wood smokes have won them a number of awards overseas, most recently at the 2018 Concours de The Japonais in Paris.
They continue to this day to use the traditional chagusaba, or tea-grass farming method, to nourish the soil and grow superior tea plants. Chagusaba, a UN recognized agricultural system, are semi-natural grasslands, interspersed between tea fields, that help maintain biodiversity and endangered habitats.
Matcha is a finely ground powder of specifically grown green tea leaves. Shading of the tea bushes three weeks prior to harvesting reduces the bitterness and imparts a sweetness not typically found in sencha.
Originally developed in China, it grew in popularity between the 10th and 13th centuries and was subsequently brought to Japan. While it fell out of favour in China eventually, it took hold in Japan to become the essence of Japanese green tea.
Gokase is the premier region for the relatively rare, pan-roasted green tea, kamairicha. It’s here, tucked in mountainous highlands of NW Miyazaki prefecture, using only organic seed meal and manure that Akira Miyazaki crafts multi-award winning, JAS organic kamairicha, sannenbancha (aged bancha) and wakoucha (black tea).
Miyazaki Sabou’s tea fields are found at a relatively high altitude, around 650m, and, although located closer towards the tropical belt, summer evenings are cooler and winters are cold. This contrast hardens the plants, concentrating their essence much the same as harder conditions can enhance the flavour of wine grapes.
1985 - Returned to organic farming methods
2001 - Granted JAS organic certification
2002 - Emperor’s Cup honour at Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Festival
2003 - Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) award for kamairicha at All Japan Tea Ceremony
2006 - MAFF Award for kamairicha at Kyushu Tea Exhibition
2008 - UK Great Taste Award Gold for wakoucha, black tea
2014 - Nihoncha Award Grand Prize and Platinum award
2016 - Nihoncha Award for kamairicha
2017 - Nihoncha Award Platinum award for kamaircha and Special award for hojicha
2018 - Special award for wakoucha, black tea
The Nakai family have some experience crafting exceptional tea. For over 350 years they have cultivated the hillside soils in Wazuka, Kyoto, where the foggy conditions help to create a distinctively aromatic and sweet tea.
Traditional farming techniques have, of course, always been organic but during 1950's, as was common around the world, modern agro-chemical methods were slowly adopted. It was in 1980, when Mr. Nakai attributed his health problems to pesticides, that he began traditional organic cultivation once again. Through persistence and experimentation, Nakai's tea gardens have developed a natural strength and hardiness able to produce about 70% of the yield of modern techniques. Mr Nakai hopes the health and happiness of organically grown tea spreads through the world.