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.