1. Tamaryokucha :50gram
Tamaryokucha is a rare Japanese tea.
Many Japanese people do not know about this tea, and it is not easy to find it throughout Japan.
Here in Nagasaki, however, this is the “tea”.
When a person mentions “tea” in Western countries, it usually means “Black tea’. When a person here in Nagasaki mentions “tea”, it is Tamaryokucha.
Around 400 years ago, Chinese monk “Ingen” brought over to Japan a new way to process tea. Originally this green tea was pan-fired during processing to stop oxidation and keep the fresh, lively green character of the tea. This pan-fired style of tea processing is hardly used for tamaryokucha anymore. Farmers switched pan-firing for steaming in the processing to keep an even more fresh taste and colour.
Tamaryokucha means ‘curly/round green tea’, and you can see that the leaves are different from the needle-shape that is characteristic for Sencha. Tamaryokucha is at the origin of Sencha (the most common tea in Japan), before processing technique developed to create the needle shape.
Tamaryokucha is a green tea that has a vivid fresh green colour and refreshing notes. The colour of the tea liquid is a more vivid green due to the deep steaming. The taste is more umami (savoury) and has fresh grassy notes. An excellent reminder of springtime.
This Tamaryokucha is the results of long time efforts of many local tea producers in Nagasaki.
Please enjoy by all your senses: it is a delight for your eyes, nose and mouth.
2. Shiraore :50gram
Shiraore is a stem tea.
Stem tea has many names in Japan. It is also called: “Kuki cha”, “Karigane”, “Shiraore”, “Bo cha”.
The meaning of each term is slightly different, but it all means stem tea. (The difference comes from the sorting from different parts of the leaf or a different base of tea.)
During the first part of processing (of any Japanese green tea), the resulting tea is called “Aracha” (often translated as crude tea/farmer’s tea). Aracha almost always goes through a secondary processing to sort the leaves and often give it a light roast to bring out the aroma and bring the moisture content a little further down for better storage. During the sorting process of tea, the Aracha is sorted to leaf part and stem part.
The leaf part becomes “tea”, and the stem part becomes “stem tea”. Stem tea is basically a by-product of producing tea, but it is a delicious easy-drinking tea, with often a more round, milder taste and usually lower in caffeine.
This stem tea Shiraore is sorted from Tamaryokucha.
Tamaryokucha is a tea that is shaded like Kabuse sencha, Matcha or Gyokuro. The duration of shading is shorter than these other shaded teas, so we don’t really place Tamaryokucha in the shaded tea category. The short shading does give the resulting tea a rich umami taste.
Umami is also contained in the stem part, and so the Shiraore tea also has a full umami taste with fresh green notes and a fresh grassy fragrance.
3. Bohojicha :50gram
Bohojicha is also bit rare (we love to share these less common teas with you!).
As you might know, Hojicha is roasted tea.
Usually Hojicha is made by roasting the leaves.
Bohojicha however is made by roasting Shiraore (the stem of Tamaryokucha).
The word of “Bo(棒)” means stem, so the words of Bohojicha is stem roasted tea.
As we explained for Shiraore, the stem of Tamaryokucha has a rich umami taste, and you can also find this umami taste in the Bohojicha.
The umami taste is derived from amino acids in the tea plant. After roasting, the amino acids change to give a more flowery fragrance.
When you finish a cup of Bohojicha, please smell the bottom of the empty cup.
You can enjoy the fragrance like flower nectar!
4. Matcha :10gram
This Matcha is very special to introduce.
As you likely know, Matcha has been getting popular and famous worldwide.
The history of Matcha started over 800 years ago.
A monk named Eisai brought tea seeds and the way of drinking Matcha to Japan in the 11th century.
Matcha was then spread out all around Japan.
Although it is a really unknown fact, the first tea seeds in Japan were planted in Nagasaki by Eisai, because he first reached back to Nagasaki when returning from China. Eisai stayed in Nagasaki for a while and opened a meditation centre next to the first tea garden.
Somehow, the meditation centre and the production of Matcha disappeared from Nagasaki for a few centuries, while it was popular in the more central and eastern side of Japan.
Around 800 years after the first introduction of Matcha in Nagasaki, due to the current global interest, 4 young tea farmers united in 2018 and started (or re-started) Matcha production in Nagasaki.
The challenge for these farmers has just begun. Even local people here do not know the taste the local Matcha, as the journey has only just started.
This Matcha is not a blended version (usual matcha is blended from different plant varieties and harvest seasons).
The Matcha in this sample pack is a single origin from the variety “Sae-midori (さえみどり)”. Sae-midori has vivid fresh green leaves and it contains rich umami tastes.
This Matcha has a fresh green colour with mild bitterness and umami taste, the aroma is slightly similar to Tamaryokucha.
It’s really a Matcha with Nagasaki tea characteristics.
As you might know, the centre of Matcha culture is in Kyoto, the former capital of Japan. The challenge of producing Matcha has just began here in Nagasaki, even though it is the origin place of Matcha. We look forward to seeing and sharing the journey of these young tea farmers.
5. Wakocha (Japanese Black Tea) :50gram
Wakocha is Japanese black tea.
In other countries, black tea is often drunk with sugar and milk or with lemon.
Wakocha, though, can be drunk straight without sugar and milk or lemon.
The largest volume of black tea is made in more southern counties closer to the equator, which means the tea leaves are exposed stronger sunshine. This causes the tea trees to produce more Catechins, which result in a more astringent or sometimes bitter taste that mixes well with sugar and milk. Also the variety of tea tree is different as many black teas are created from the Assamica (or Indian) variety, whereas Wakocha is made from the Sinensis (or China) variety. Basically the Assamica variety results in a stronger, more robust flavoured tea.
Wakocha will break your standard of black tea if you are used to drinking Indian, Sri Lankan or African black teas.
This Wakocha is made from the Yabukita variety that is the most common variety in Japan. This Wakocha has been produced in a Tamaryokucha factory.
This results in the leaves being similarly shaped to Tamaryokucha: curly and winding.
The highlighting feature of the Wakocha is the fragrance. It has a flowery fragrance like an orchid. The taste is a smooth, light but pleasant bitterness when flowing into your mouth, and then the sweetness comes out.
The liquid colour is changed by the water hardness. It’s interesting to brew the tea with different waters to see the effect the hardness has on the colour and the taste. Black tea can handle harder water a bit better than green tea, which prefers really soft water.
6. Tamaryokucha (Competition winner tea) :10gram
This Tamaryokucha is the winning tea of the tea competition in 2020!
The competition is called “Norinsuisan Daijin Sho (農林水産大臣賞)”, and it is the award of Japanese Agricultural Minister which is one of the highest prizes in the Japanese tea world.
The tea was cultivated in special tea fields used for the competition year by year, harvested only the top delicate part of the leaves (“Isshin-ni-yo” = one bud+2 leaves), then processed in special small tea factory only for competition tea processing.
The leaves are really fine and small because only the finest pick has been used.
The colour of the tea leaves is dark green but shiny, and the size of leaves is quite even.
You should brew by warm water (60-70℃), not boiling water (100℃), and infuse for a minute.
If possible, brew with soft water if you can find it.
You can enjoy the dewdrops of the umami taste, and the smooth bitterness spreads your whole mouth. You can brew the tea many times.
Officially we would say that you can infuse the tea at least 3 times from same tea leaves, but this tea you can definitely infuse more times.
(I wrote this article with the winning tea, I infused 5 times and more 🙂
We recommend the tea especially for tea lovers who want to know more Japanese tea.
This tea will be your indicator of Japanese tea.