2017/08/10

"Funmatsu" vs "Kona" Tea

There are two kinds of Japanese teas which mean very similar, but different. One is “kona-cha”, the other one is “funmatsu-cha”. Name-wise, both of kona and funmatsu mean powder in Japanese. Therefore, people get confused.

“Kona-cha” is dust tea. It is a by-product and the leaves are very very tiny, but cannot be dissolved completely into hot water. So kyusu teapot is required to make "kona-cha".
kona-cha by Wikipedia

“Funmatsu-cha” is powdered tea. Unlike matcha that shade-grown tea is ground by a stone mill, funmatsu-cha is usually powdered sencha, which is grown in the sun. Funmatsu-cha is dissolved into hot water like instant coffee. Sushi-go-round restaurants in Japan usually have this tea, so you may have had this tea if you've visited Japan.
 
funmatsu-cha
I heard funmatsu-cha has sold well recently.  Maybe, it is because that some media have been talking that the powdered tea is good for you since you can consume all the nutrients in tea. Also they say that you don’t have to clean up a teapot afterwards. That sounds attractive for some consumers.

"Funmatsu-cha" is powdered tea, while "kona-cha" is dust tea----- 

Even Japanese people get confused which is which, and some even don't know they are different. Also both “funmatsu-cha” and “kona-cha” are often translated as powdered tea in English. People recognize the teas, but unfortunately can't remember their names.

2017/08/05

The Pride of Shizuoka

In Shizuoka, there is a prefectural ordinance which bans on adding any additives like flavoring, coloring and so forth. For examples, if you want to add some dried flowers or fruits to produce flavored tea, you have to report it to the governor to get permission, whose procedure is said to be very complicated. 

Recently, some people had voiced concern over the future of their tea business, saying like "Amid growing the demand on flavored tea, this rule can disturb the business to expand." , “People’s demand have diversified. Shizuoka tea business will get left behind due to the rule.” "If “umami” additive is allowed to use for the second flush, even the tea can be sold at the higher cost, which can help the farmers continue their business in the long run." and the like. 

In response to those voices, Shizuoka government discussed if they should abolish this rule. Opinion seemed to be divided on it. Some say that abolishing this rule can help create more variety tea products, which should meet the demands and be good for the tea business to expand, while some say that it can lose customer’s trust in Shizuoka tea, and the quality of the tea can go down. 

After due consideration and discussion, the controversial issue is likely to be brought to a conclusion. The rule will not be abolished. Which means that, basically, they only rely on the taste of tea without adding any additives, although the procedure to get permission to use additives seems to be simplified to some extent as a compromise plan.

Delivering honest Shizuoka tea to customers------This is the pride of Shizuoka as one of the biggest tea producing areas.


2017/07/31

Rediscovery of Japanese Tea

I joined a seminar titled “The Charm of Japanese tea” lectured by Mr Oscar Brekell, a Swedish certified "Japanese Tea Instructor" in Japan. Actually, this certificate itself is not easy even for Japanese to pass. In the first place, he must’ve had a really hard time to learn Japanese, not just a spoken Japanese. This exam is done only by Japanese and has so many lingoes written in Japanese including Kanji characters, which is sometime hard to read even for Japanese. 

Anyway, during the seminar, he explained what makes Japanese tea “Japanese tea” while introducing us three different kinds of varietal teas, which are the cultivars of “Shizu 7132”, “Zairai” and “Koshun”. To me as a tea-lover, their tastes are familiar, but they are not for most of participants who are not really into tea. Usually, people don’t know the Japanese tea has so many different kinds of cultivars. 

Cold-brewed “Shizu7132” and “Koshun”, both of which have a distinctive aroma, are served with wine glass, which made the people surprised.

"Shizu 7132" has Sakura-ish aroma. It reminds us of Japanese spring.


"Zairai" (wild tea ) with a sweets. Wild but the scent of the mountain.


"Koshun" has a herby and floral fragrant, and a long finish.


In Japan, the blended tea is mainstream, and the trend of “single estate, single cultivar” tea style is still new. But these single origin teas make the Japanese tea world more attractive. Mr Brekell said, “Now is the best and the most interesting time for consumers to try tea.” I agree.

Besides him, I’ve seen other non-Japanese tea people who works for the Japanese tea industry, and they have been working on spreading Japanese tea not only abroad but home. 

Unfortunately, green tea means bottled one for many Japanese now. Many of them are forgetting what is the tea for them. Thanks to the people who love the tea and came all the way from overseas to Japan for the tea,  Japanese are re-discovering the charm of the tea they used to cherish more.