New Matcha Definition

While Matcha has gained its popularity in the world, I have seen and heard that the tea called “Matcha” are sold here and there. I mean the quality is poor. To me, some of them seem even far from Matcha that I know.

Japan Tea Central Public Interest Incorporated Association says that they are going to renew the definition of Matcha for the first time in 26 years.

The current definition only says that Matcha is the fine powdered tea which is ground with stone mill.

The new definition is to mention about its cultivation method and specify the process of, what is called Matcha. If the tea doesn’t follow the new definition, it will be called “Funmactsucha (lit; powdered tea) and clearly distinguished from Matcha.  This new rule doesn’t have any legal power, but the Japanese Association is planning to approach this idea to International Standards Organization.


Ninja and Mt Fuji Tea Bag

What do you associate Japan with??
Sushi, sukiyaki, ramen, manga….How about Mt Fuji, Ninja, and Japanese green tea?
If so, you may like those tea bags called “Fujichan” and “Nincha”.
"Fujichan", which is named after fujisan (Mt Fuji), is shaped like Mt Fuji, and " Nincha", which is named after ninja, is shaped like a throwing-star (shuriken in Japanese) which is a must for Ninja. 

According to the company, the tea inside is from Shizuoka and selected very carefully by a traditional tea wholesaler.
Personally I prefer tea leaves,but they can be one of the good souvenirs.


Hojicha is drawing power

As you know, Matcha is not only a drink anymore. It is also popular as one of the flavors of sweets and food.

Now it seems to be “Hojicha” turn.

Hojicha latte, hojicha ice-cream, and other hojicha flavored sweets are already common.
Recently, you can eat Hojicha ramen in Tokyo. It doesn’t mean the ramen soup is Hojicha. Hojicha is used as one of the seasonings, which helps take away the distinguish smell of meat and make the taste deeper.

Also, even the perfume giving impression of Hojicha has been on the market. The amount of an initial shipment was sold out within one week.

Hojicha itself has a toasty aroma and less caffeine. I like drinking hojicha as it is but it’s interesting to see how Hojicha is “developing”.

Hojicha scent (frm LUZ-store)


Zairai - cultivar or not? -

Recently, we've seen lots of varietal teas (both green and black) in Japan. How many tea cultivars are there in Japan now? Yabukita, saemidori, okumidori, sofu, koshun, fujikaori, shizu7132, benifuki, beniihkari, benihomare....to name but a few. Too many to count. 

Among those, there is one which always makes me wonder what to say. That is "zairai". It's a cultivar, but it is not really a cultivar.  

Zairai refers to "native" or "wild", and the tree grows in the wild for ages. Unlike other cultivars, clones aimed for desirable characteristics or to suit for the climate, zairai is a unidentified tea, which is not a cultivated variety.  For convenience, I sometimes introduce zairai as one of cultivars, though. Whatever it is....if you happen to find zairai tea, enjoy its taste with living a wild life.    

Photos by Green Farm Kajihara
*Green Farm Kajihara


Time for TEA!!

The magazines featuring tea with catchy titles have been published one after another recently, which wasn’t seen before.

Also more tea events have been held here and there. Soon, another tea event hosted by one of the giant department stores in Osaka is coming. The event has a title that says everything: “World Tea Festival”. 

Tea didn’t attract people. Tea was a just like “garnish” for sweets. but now people are fascinated by tea itself. Still, coffee is more popular here, but tea’s popularity has been rising sharply! Hope it will last….:-)


Nagata Agricultural Method

This is the black tea (fujikaori cultivar) from Ota Family’s farm in Ureshino city, Saga prefecture.

Since Ureshino is one of the biggest producing areas for “tama ryokucha (lit: ball green tea)”, they also process steamed “tama ryokucha”. In addition, they are also known for a special agricultural technique, which is called “Nagata agricultural method”.

To put it very simply, the Nagata method, started by Mr Terukichi NAGATA (1926-2006),  rejects any agricultural chemistry, pesticide and herbicide, and only supplements the nutrients in the soil with minimum amount of water and vegetable-quality compost. This helps bring out the nature and power of tea. (according to my research) 

I am not a farmer, but I can easily imagine that it must require immense time and labor to grow tea in such a special way. They grow several cultivars including zairai, sayamakaori, okumusashi, fujikaori and yabukita with this method. Unfortunately, I don't have their green tea in stock now, but luckily their black is on hand. :-)

* Tama ryokucha
Like regular Sencha, the leaves are either steamed or pan-fired after they are plucked. Unlike regular Sencha, which is rolled into needle shape at the final stage, there is no rolling process for tamaryokucha. That’s why the leaves are curly like a comma-shaped bead. Steamed tamaryokucha is  also called “mushi guri” or “guri cha”

Kamairicha made by Mr Kajihara in Kumamoto

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