For the God of Tea -Shinno Festival-

The annual festival for “the God of Tea” has come this year too. You may think “A festival? For the god of tea??”

There is a small shrine called “Sukunahikona Jinja” a at a business district in Osaka. It is dubbed as “Shinno san”, which means “Mr. Shnnong”. He was regarded as the one who first tasted tea. The place is enshrined both “a God of Japanese medicine ‘Sukunahikona ‘” and “the Father of Chinese medicine and tea ‘Shennong’”. As you know, tea was considered to be one of medicine in the old time. The area is still known as the medicine district because some headquarters or branches of well-known pharmaceutical companies are located. Since tea is not regarded as a medicine anymore, we cannot find any remnants of tea such as tea-related archives or goods.

Every year, “Shinno Festival” is held on Nov 22nd and 23rd at the shrine. Lots of people visit there during the festival to pray for their health, but most of them don’t know the connection with tea. However, I want to say that  this shrine and the festival is for the god of tea.

frm 2013


What's Wakocha like???

I wrote about a wakocha event on my previous post. You may be interested in what they are like. Well, that’s difficult to describe it because there are so many, but roughly speaking, I think the tea can be divided into three different types. 

1) Umami flavor type: 
Made of same varieties as green tea including yabukita, sayamakaori and okumidori. Those varieties have less tannin, creating very mild taste, slightly sweet aroma and umami flavor.

2) Fragrant type: 
New types of varieties and hybrid are often used to create flowery and refreshing aroma.  

3) Body type: 
The hybrid between Chinese variety and Assam variety with more tannin are often used to produce more oomph than the other wakocha. The varieties like benihomare and benifuki give coppery red liquor with a good body.

This is just from my experience, not based on scientifically evidence, but some wakocha remains good taste even when cold. Some get better. The tea color also remains without becoming cloudy known as "creaming down" maybe it's because the variety has less tannin.

I've tried a lot so far, but wakocha still happily surprise me once in a while. .

"Kaga no Kocha" born in Kanazawa where the event was held this year.
The knot represents "isshin-niyo (one bud and two leaves)"
This is Umami type.



Wakocha, Wakocha and Wakocha in 2014

An event of Japanese black tea, known as wakocha, held in Kanazawa city was over. The city has prospered as a castle town and retains traditional and dignified atmosphere, which reminiscent of Kyoto. 

The event was full of Kanazawa taste. At the sampling site, we tasted about 20 different kinds of the tea gathered from all over the country with “Kutani ware” tea cup specially ordered for the event. We enjoyed the black tea with Japanese sweets at the very traditional villa of the feudal chief. Steeped in such an atmosphere, I remembered an expression of “wakeiseijyaku”, literally means “harmony, respect, purity and tranquility”. 

According to the survey, more than 500 farmers produce wakocha as of 2014. In my humble opinion, the quality has been much refined on average. Most of the tea used to be made from Yabukita variety or Benifuki variety, but now, Benifuji, Sayamakaori, Benihikari, Koshun, Mirai….to name but a few. Some tea have flowery aroma created by leaf hopper like some Darjeeling do.

Each tea has their own and one-and-only flavor and fragrance. Since more than 500 wakocha, I haven’t tried all yet. Some are reliable teas, and other are still newcomers for me. 

The event in 2015 will be held in Atami, Shizuoka. My pursuit of wakocha will be happily continued….

Kamairicha made by Mr Kajihara in Kumamoto

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