Tea bushes and the habit of tea drinking were brought to Japan from China by Buddhist monks in the 12th century. The Chinese at this time predominantly enjoyed steamed green tea that had been pressed into a brick for storage; when drinking they broke tea off the brick, powdered it and whisked up into a bowl, much like Matcha. Inspired by this, the Japanese went on to refine these processes, also innovating by shading tea bushes to encourage rich, green growth. This created their unique Japanese green teas and redefined a tea culture they could call their own.
Translating to ‘Tranquil Hills’ the diverse plains of this Pacific coastline region are famed above others for their thick, velvety, and vegetal teas - specifically umami-rich flavours. It is not only the terroir that contributes to the taste here, but a series of refined processes that originated in China but, nowadays, are acknowledged as the core contributing factor to the unique taste of Japanese green teas.
Sencha green tea is particularly famed here and is steamed to fix fresh green tea leaves in a state that renders a full, fresh and grassy experience upon infusion - unlike the green teas of China that are often baked or fired, resulting in a nuttier, sweeter flavour profile.
This low-laying island combines volcanic soils with sunshine, rain and cooling breezes. While the region of Uji is most famed within Japan for Matcha tea, the tea bushes there often fall short of EU compliancy as regards the usage of pesticides. Taking our sourcing further afield, we have discovered beautifully floral and thick Matcha green tea in the agriculturally organic tea gardens of Kagoshima. Many of the gardens here are in conversion to organic - a costly process that takes up to three years to complete.
As well as steam-processing, teas such as Matcha and Gyokuro (from Shizuoka) are shaded during growth to encourage chlorophyll, creating unmistakable richness and complexity in taste. Our Matcha tencha tea leaves are then kept as fresh as possible and transported to Uji to be finely stone-ground with traditional mikage mills.