Our top grade sencha from Kirishima. This tea is from the Asatsuyu cultivar of tea and has earned the nickname of "Natural Gyokuro" for good reasons. Although it is not shade-grown, it has a vivid green liquor and deep umami characteristic that is typically associated with gyokuros. The farm it is grown on is completely self-contained, bio-dynamic and the oldest tea farm in the region. The aroma of the dry leaves is compelling and rich and only grows as it is steamed. The resulting tea is out of this world and a gift to any sencha-lover.
Harvest: Spring 2020
Note: Due to closures of international shipping avenues during the COVID-19 crisis, we had to use alternative shipping methods this year. Unfortunately this has resulted in a substantial cost increase for us and we have had to increase our prices accordingly.
Here's a tea you won't find anywhere else. Awa Bancha is only made in one small prefecture in Japan, and is barely known even in Japan. It goes through a unique lacto-fermentation process that yields a tea like no other.
The uniqueness of this tea starts at the plucking, which takes place in the summer, when the leaves have grown large and hardened. Every leaf is stripped from the branches, so each year the whole plant re-grows and there is only one harvest each year. From there, the leaves are boiled to soften them and make them more pliable. They are then rolled, similar to an oolong, but then packed into fermentation jars, and covered with banana leaves and heavy rocks to soak in their own juices. Because the tea is harvested so late, the leaves have a higher sugar content, which increases the fermenation that occurs. About a month later, the leaves are removed and air-dried.
The result is a drink that is slightly sour, sweet, and tangy depending on how you steep it. It is incredibly versatile and can be boiled over a fire to get the medicinal properties, or steeped more delicately to extract the sweeter notes. Awa Bancha's nickname used to be "peasant's tea" because it was typically boiled and every leaf was used, unlike other teas.
The flavor is best suited for those who love pickles, sauerkraut and all things probiotic. It is great for the gut and the more you drink it, the more your body will crave its effects.
We have two types of ceremonial-grade matcha. Shohaku is best for making Usucha, (thin tea) while Kinrin is even smoother and can be used for Koicha (thich tea) or Usucha.
Shohaku is a great everyday matcha that is excellent prepared traditionally and still has a slight tannin characteristic so it won't get lost if you add it to a latte or smoothie. The color is vivid green with a deep seaweed-like base and bright grassy finish.
The Kinrin is a velvety-smooth matcha with robust umami flavor and offers rich notes of steamed kombu and a light sweetness. To prepare this as Koicha, use three times as much tea with less water and whisk with a chasen at least 200 times!
Both of our matcha offerings are produced and stone-ground by Marukyu Koyamaen, a family tea business that has been growing and producing tea in Uji for over 300 years.
If you're a fan of Japanese green teas and haven't tried Tamaryokucha yet, you're missing out. This tea has some of the most robust flavors out there. Grown in Ureshino, it is produced in a way that is a cross between Gyokuro and Sencha. The tea plants are shade grown similar to Tencha (for making Matcha) or Gyokuro. This step increases the chlorophyll and decrease the bitterness. Then the leaves are plucked, but much younger than even a Sencha. The result is an incredible tea with vivid green liquor and an flavor that excites the senses. The aroma is like seaweed and fresh cut grass and the flavor saturates your whole mouth with umami.
To get the most out of this tea steep it lower than usual (around 140°-150°) for 1 minute. When resteeping, pour after 10 seconds. This tea is great for over 4 steeps and the leaves can be eaten afterwards with the addition of a little salt, dashi or soy sauce.
This is the sister tea to the Tamaryokucha, grown in Ureshino. Both these teas are shade grown and harvested in the spring, when the leaves are still young and approximately 1/2"-3.4" long. The difference lies in the processing. While the Tamaryokucha is steamed, typical of Japanese senchas, the Kamairicha is pan-fired in a large wok, similar to certain Chinese teas. This method was adopted from mainland China in an area just north of Nagasaki, which is known for it's melting pot of international cultures.
The result of processing this robust Japanese tea with traditional Chinese methods is a completely unique experience. The aroma is both sweet and vegetal with notes of hazelnut and soft to. The mouthfeel is smooth and full-bodied has just enough viscosity to linger long past the tea is gone. Steeping to a soft yellow-green, the soup is both bright and grounding. The vegetal depth and umami characteristics balance perfectly with the warming toasty notes the pan-firing imparts.
This tea is made by a third generation tea producer and only a limited quantity is available this year.
Harvest: Spring 2020
Origin: Saga, Japan
This high-grade, pan-fired tea is a delicacy. Each tip is perfectly flattened in the wok by expert hands and the leaf integrity is undamaged as a result. The flavor is sweet, fresh, crisp and soothing. It's silky mouthfeel coats your mouth and throat and has a lingering flavor of asparagus and buttery artichoke. This tea is plucked in the early spring and is available for a limited time. Once we run out, it's gone until next year!
Region: Zhejiang, China
This highly unusual tea is plucked from Ai Lao Mountain in Pu-er. The family who tends to these plants operates a small organic farm and grow mostly Taiwanese cultivars. This tea is exclusively from the Ruanzhi (or Soft Branch) bushes, which are native to Taiwan and grown for making oolongs.
The leaves are hand picked in the spring from 30 year old plants growing in rich, mountain soil and processed as a Yunnan green tea. The result is guaranteed to intrigue even the most well-versed tea lover, while remaining accessible to newcomers.
The leaves are sweet with a magnolia blossom aroma, full body and silky mouth feel, notes of buttered asparagus with a lingering toasty finish. Good for many steeps, this tea is quickly growing in popularity.
Origin: Pu'er, Yunnan
Grown at the base of the Huangshan Mountains, this is an authentic Taiping, picked and processed completely by hand in Houkeng. The long leaves of the Shi Da Cha plants are unique in that they can grow to be quite large while still remaining soft and pliable. Once the leaves are plucked and withered they are pressed flat between two layers of canvas and baked into their final form. When steeped, the result is a smooth and clear soup with very little bitterness and notes of fresh cut grass, asparagus and a lingering hint of sweetness. This tea is very forgiving and can be steeped a variety of styles, without the worry of bringing out unfavorable characteristics. My personal favorite way to drink this tea is "grandpa style", leaving the leaves in a tall glass in hot water and drinking it slowly. This way, the tea is soft and delicate at the beginning and gradually develops more body and vegetal undertones. Re-steeping is encouraged.
Region: Huangshan, China