Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Japanese Mandarin and Pear Expo

December 10, 2009, Japanese Mandarin and Pear Expo was held for the first time in the U.S. This expo was supported by Japan's Agricultural Ministry and intended to increase the volume of trade of Japanese Mandarin "Aoshima" and Japanese Tottori 20th Century Pear.

Did you know there has been Japanese Mandarin "Aoshima" imported to the U.S. for centuries? Furthermore, it is surprising for me that only Aoshima Mandarin from Shizuoka prefecture, where our teas come from, is allowed to be imported to the U.S. As I blogged before, Shizuoka is famous as No.1 tea producing prefecture, and also famous as a quality Aoshima Mandarin producing region.

At the expo, Chef Dean Shinagawa and his team demonstrated a variety of ways to cook Aoshima Mandarin and Tottori 20th Century Pear. When I was in Japan, I ate a lot of these mandarins and pears, but what Chef Dean made was completely different from what I had eaten before and super delicious! Right now, many of Aoshima Mandarin imported to the U.S. go to Alaska, very few to the mainland. I hope Aoshima Mandarin gets more popular in the mainland, and many local grocery stores start carrying it.

Because our teas and Aoshima Mandarin come from the same Shizuoka prefecture, I provided green tea samples at the expo. Eating a mandarin orange with drinking green tea is authentic Japanese way to enjoy the winter time. It was my pleasure that many people enjoyed the Japanese tradition at the expo.

At the end, I'd like to thank Market to Japan to organize this expo and provide us with this great opportunity.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Try Hoji Cha!

Since the last week, we have had cold weather in Seattle. It has been around 30F; you might say it's not so cold, but it's too cold for me because I am from Shizuoka prefecture, Japan, where the weather is nice and warm. It takes time for me to get out of bed every morning.

Every morning, I warm myself up by drinking Hoji Cha. Hoji Cha is a robust and bold full-bodied tea. It is roasted giving it a distinctive character. The tea's pleasing flavor, golden brown color and low caffeine content make it appealing to tea drinkers of all ages. To brew Hoji Cha, you can use boiling water. High temperature makes tea flavorful with a little bit astringency. Hoji Cha itself doesn't have much astringency, so high-temperature water doesn't make your cup of tea too bitter.

Hoji Cha also goes well with milk. Warm toasty notes of Hoji Cha perfectly harmonize with milk. Add warmed milk into dark-steeped Hoji Cha. OR, you can put milk and Hoji Cha leaves in a pan and simmer over low heat. A few drops of vanilla essence enhances the aroma. Add sugar as you like. To enjoy the cold winter, I recommend this Hoji Cha Milk Tea.

Shop Hoji Cha?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Teapot Bottle

Teapot Bottle is now available in the U.S.!!

Teapot Bottle provides you with innovative ways to steep your favorite loose-leaf tea. It's very simple, but there has been nothing like this before.

This Teapot Bottle can be used to make both hot tea and cold tea. There is a filter at the centre of the thermos, and it keeps tea leaves in the bottle, not in your cup. Picture is worth a thousand words. See how-to-use video (Japanese).

Now we are offering "Introductory Sale" for all of our new products including greeTEAing card. For more information, please visit our website.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Northwest Tea Festival 2009

Yesterday October 5, Northwest Tea Festival 2009 ended with a great success. People were highly motivated to learn something about teas, and tea experts were knowledgeable enough to answer all the questions asked. This event showed how deep the tea culture took a root in NW area.

Representing SA Japanese Green Tea, I had 2 sessions of the tea tasting and shared my knowledge of Japanese tea culture with tea enthusiasts. It was a lot of fun to talk with tea lovers and heard their feedback about our teas directly. Through the sessions, I found Japanese green teas were not appreciated enough yet and felt the need to provide more chances to learn about Japanese green tea.

During the event, my friend, Ken Rudee of Barnes & Watson Fine Teas gave me a cup of tea. That was Pu'er tea harvested in 1979!! The harvest was before I was born. I had never tried such a long-aging tea, and that was fantastic! Even 7th steep, it had strong flavor and deep body without any astringency. I'm not an expert of Chinese tea, but I could tell the tea was very high quality.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

greeTEAing card

I'm very pleased to announce here that our greeTEAing cardTM is finally ready to be marketed. If you want to put a little more thought into the card you are sending to someone special, our greeTEAing card can be your choice. The following is the brief description about 3 kinds of our greeTEAing cards.

greeTEAing card
"Thank You"

Tea Flavor: Sen Cha

Sending your appreciation with our exceptional quality Sen Cha. It surely show your gratitude and thoughtfulness.

greeTEAing card
"Happy Birthday"

Tea Flavor: Hoji Cha

"Happy birthday!" for tea lovers. Hoji Cha has much less caffeine, and it is loved by many tea drinkers of all ages.

greeTEAing card
"Thinking of You"

Tea Flavor: Genmai Cha

Sending hearty message with our award-winning Genmai Cha. This card can be used for any occasion.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Seattle Gift Show 2009

Seattle Gift Show was held from August 22 to 25, and this was our second year to participate in this show. Because of the bad economic time, this show got smaller than the last year, but there were many people coming from Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Oregon and Washington State.

In this show, we introduced a couple of new products - "Teapot Bottle" and "greeTEAing Card." These items are still prototype, but we received a lot of positive feedbacks from many buyers. The "greeTEAing Card" will be available next month, and "Teapot Bottle" is coming in October. I will make an announcement when these items are ready to be marketed.

During the show, we enjoyed meeting many of our existing customers and new customers. I want to express my gratitude to all of the visitors who came to our booth. We hope this show will be a good lead to our business growth in the future.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


7/29/09. I experienced Seattle's record-breaking moment. Heatwave hit Seattle and the temperature recorded 103 degree!! Yesterday was the hottest day in Seattle's history.

In Shizuoka, where our teas come from, rainy season isn't over yet, so it's hot and humid. The temperature is about 95 degree and humidity is about 80%. During this season, temperature inside of our tea factory gets very high if the roasting process is in progress. It will be 115 degree or sometimes more. My father and brother bear up under this extremely hot working environment to make gourmet green tea.

As many of you already know, tea leaves are weak against heat. So please do not store your tea under the direct sunlight and idealy store in a fridge.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Portland Japanese Garden

I will go to Portland Japanese Garden on this comming Saturday, July 25th to have a tea demonstlation. I'm going to make some iced tea samples as well as hot teas with introducing Japanese tea culture. If you live near Portland, please stop by.

Here is more detail.

Monday, June 29, 2009


All of our teas are grown in Shizuoka-prefecture, Japan. Shizuoka is rural area located at the middle of Japan's main island, and known as home of Mt. Fuji. Also, known as production center of quality tea, Shizuoka is to tea in Japan what the Napa Valley is to wine in the United States.

Today, almost half of green tea in Japan is produced in Shizuoka. As you can see on the photo, tea farms spread as far as you can see. Not surprisingly, there are thousands of tea farmers and producers in Shizuoka.

Our tea producer (= my father = Tea Maestro) only buys teas from 11 farmers. He believes "tea quality is determined by tea farmers." Therefore, he works with these farmers and makes sure their farming processes are expert enough. Most importantly, all of his farmers have tea fields on the mountain hills. Unlike other flat tea growing areas, plants grows on steep-sided hills become strong and rich in aroma. Why? The secret is dramatic temperature fluctuation between day and night. It makes tea strong and flavorful.

If you take West-bound "Shinkansen" bullet train from Tokyo, you will pass through Shizuoka. You can see beautiful tea farms from windows.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Summer Harvest

From the end of April to the middle of May, we had Shincha (literally means "new tea") harvest in Shizuoka prefecture. After the Shincha harvest, tea plants gradually grow its second shoots and about 30 days later, Summer harvest begins.

My father, Tea Maestro, just finished the purchase of the Summer-harvested tea leaves. Just like Shincha purchase, his tea farmers brought their tea every morning, and my father tasted every samples and decided how much he wanted to buy. Tea leaves from different farm has different characteristics, and interestingly even the tea leaves harvested from the same tea farm vary its flavor from day to day. My father tries every sample carefully and seeks which tea will have good chemistry when it's blended to other teas.

Nutritiously, tea leaves harvested in Summer have more Catechins than Spring harvest. Catechin is the healthiest nutrition of tea and has astringency of taste. Many studies say Catechin helps you to prevent cancer, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity. For more detail, please visit the "Health Benefits" page of our website.

Our ENRICH series of green tea are mainly made of Summer-harvested tea leaves. If you like astringent taste of green tea, I recommend this series of teas.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

World Tea Expo 2009

World Tea Expo 2009 was held from May 2 to 4 at Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. This year, 228 companies gathered from all over the world, and about 5,000 people had been expected to attend to this show. The first year of the World Tea Expo was 2003, and within 6 years, this show has grown more than 7 times bigger.

This year was our 2nd consecutive year to participate to the show under SA Japanese Green Tea. We really enjoyed to meet some of our customers and to talk with them. For new customers, we explained how Japanese green tea was different from Chinese green tea and especially how our tea was different from other Japanese green teas. Just like other trade shows, I made more that 800 cups of teas as a sample and got many positive feedbacks from customers.

World Tea Championship was also held during the World Tea Expo. And our Genmai cha was selected as 3rd place of blended/flavored green tea category!! I'm very pround that our Genmai cha received such a honor 2 years in a row.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Shincha Season Began

Following to the Temomi Shincha event, Sugimoto Seicha Japan began 2009 Shincha season. Our tea farms are changing its color to bright yellowish green. I'd like to share some photos of our tea fields.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Temomi Shincha is now ready!

An event to make Temomi Shincha was held on April 19th at Sugimoto Seicha Japan. Unlike other years, we invited only 7 experienced Temomi artisans to the event because 2009 Temomi Shincha are sold onto the market. (Last year, about 60 people were invited to the event because the purpose of the event was introducing the Temomi Shincha to the public.)

There were a lot of "specials"for 2009 Temomi Shincha.
First of all, this year's raw leaves came from our own tea field. We usually buy the leaves from our contract farmers.
However from 3 years ago, we started cultivating our own, small tea field and this year's leaves were the first harvest from the field! You may wonder what is so special for our tea field? Tea plants in our tea field are grown in its natural form. Usually tea farmers prune the tea plants to make their production volume large. Unpruned tea plants called "Bara-ki" doesn't have much production volume but has much more sweetness and nutrition.
Second, for a week before the harvest, we covered the tea field by a black cloth just like Gyokuro and Matcha do. By doing so, we cut the sun light off the field, and it allowed tea plants to stock up the natural sweetness.

We started the hand-pick harvest from 8AM with 10 helpers of local tea farmers. The hand-pick harvest continued until 11AM and about 3 kg (6.6 lb.) of raw leaves were gathered. From 10:30AM, Temomi artisans started their preparation and the first step "steaming" took place. After the steaming, hand-kneading started and it continued until 4:30PM. The kneading process was took place on the hot plate called "Hoiro," and wet tea leaves were drying up along with the kneading. At the end, 1.8 kg (4 lb.) of beautiful Temomi Shincha was created by the artisans' hands.

Now the Temomi Shincha is comming to the U.S. by air. Probably we can ship the Temomi Shincha from Seattle within a week!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Touch Leaves!

My brother started working with my father about 10 years ago, and now he is in charge of the production part (mainly roasting and packaging process) of our tea factory. The most important process in the tea production - BLENDING is still my father's job; 10-year experience is not enough to master the secret of blending.

"Touch leaves"

This is the words my father is always saying to my brother. "When farmers bring tea leaves. Before and after the roasing process. Before the packaging. Always touch the leaves. Otherwise, you cannot understand the nature of tea." Following his advise, my brother is now climbing the ladder of Tea Maestro.
Among the hundreds of tea leaves, choose right leaves, decide proportion of each leaves, and blend in the right procedure. These artistic processes bring chemistry to our teas, and it's the only way to supply quality tea leaves to customers.

Friday, March 20, 2009

SFIGF09 & Natural Product Expo 09

It has been a while, but there were two trade shows which my company participated to.

The first one is San Francisco International Gift Fair (SFIGF) held in February at the Moscone Convention Center. It was our second time to participate to the gift show - the first time was Seattle Gift Show 08. Compared to the Seattle's show, SFIGF was huge, and I could meet many buyers from famous companies such as Deans & Deluca.

This time, our sales rep. Xcidia had a booth and our products was a part of their products. I was very pleased that many customers came to the booth and tried our tea. There were many people prefer Sen cha and Hoji cha, but mostly Genmai cha was the top favorite during the show.

The second show was Natural Product Expo 2009 held in March at Anaheim Convention Center. Just like Fancy Food Show in January, Shizuoka-prefecture (the area where our teas come from) had a booth at the show, and my company was selected as one of the two companies helping them at the booth. Because green tea is the most famous agricultural product in Shizuoka, they chose us to intrduce authentic Shizuoka green tea. Another company exhibiting at the booth is Tamaruya, which is very traditional Wasabi company. Combination of green tea and Wasabi received a lot of favorable comments from customers.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Pre-Order Starts!

Now I'm very pleased to announce that we have just started the pre-order of Temomi-cha & Shincha. Since I blogged about Temomi cha last year, I have received many inquiries and purchase requests from my customers, but I couldn't supply the tea for them.
I have discussed with my family (our tea producer) how we can provide the Temomi cha to customers in the U.S. and finally found enough collaborators to produce Temomi cha with us.
Because the production volume of Temomi cha is very low, pre-order is requested for the purchase, but I believe it's worth trying our Temomi cha if you are tea enthusiast.

Also,we will introduce our Shincha to the U.S. customers for the first time. Shincha, "new tea" in Japanese, is the first-harvested tea in spring and the most sought-after green tea. During the wintertime, tea plants absorb and stock nutrients from soil. When the spring arrives, tea plants, full of energy and nutrients, begin to sprout andshow the amazing color of vibrant green.
Shincha is technically equal to Sen cha, which is made of only young tea leaves. But only the ta harvested in early spring is called "Shincha."

Here is our 3 kinds of seasonal offers!
Ingredient: Young Tea Leaves
Net Weight: 10g (0.35oz.)
Price: $15.00
Order Deadline: April 15, 2009

Ingredient: Young Tea Leaves
Net Weight: 50g (1.76oz.)
Price: $20.00
Order Deadline: April 20, 2009

Ingredient: Young Tea Leaves
Net Weight: 100g (3.53oz.)
Price: $20.00
Order Dadline: April 30, 2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Fancy Food Show 09

This is our first time to participate to the Fancy Food Show. This show is very famous in the food industry, and I've been very interested in the show for a long time. This time, we had a booth under the name of Saitama/Shizuoka Prefecture, which were two prefectures in Japan come to introduce their local industry.

Because of the depression of the global economy, other exhibitors said the number of attendees was less than previous year. However, I believe there were more sophisticated attendees because companies cannot afford to send inconsequential employees now. Person attending the show must have had clear reasons and high motivation to develop their business through this show.

Throughout the show, I made more than 1,000 cups of tea as a free sample, and there were a lot of people showing their interests in our products. I was very pleased to meet many decision-making persons and explain about our teas. Mostly, customers were very interested in our Genmai cha, which won the blended/flavored category of the World Tea Championship 2008. Of course, Sen cha and Hoji cha had received many positive feedback, but I felt a lot of potential of Genmai cha during this show.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year 2009

Happy New Year from SA Japanese Green Tea.

Hope you all have wonderful holidays with your family, friends, and loved ones. In 2009, we continue to work hard to serve more tasty and flavorful tea for you.