Tea is reborn three times – until a delicious green tea is made –
1. Everything starts from the tea plantation
Careful cultivation is directly linked to the growth of healthy tea plants and the unique expression of green tea. For this reason, tea farmers create tea fields using their own farming methods that match the characteristics of each land. In addition, it is essential to protect the new shoots from the cold, to cover the tea plants to block the light, and to bring out the sweetness of the tea. The work in the tea plantation greatly influences the taste of green tea.
2. Pride of the “steam”
The harvested tea is first steamed. After that, the kneading and pasteurization process follows. Mr. Noda says that in this process: “Steaming is the most important point.” The harvested tea leaves are first steamed and exposed to heat for about a minute. Be careful, a difference of a few seconds affects the color, taste, aroma and texture of the leaves (“fukamushicha”, mainly produced in the Kikuchi region, is steamed for as long as possible in this short period of time and it is difficult to adjust the length). For this reason, before beginning the steaming process, tea growers carefully determine the condition and size of the fields and leaves, determine the steaming time, adjust the machine, and create the tea that they imagine. The “steaming” process reveals the individuality of the steamer (tea master).
3. A roast that showcases individuality
Tea leaves that have undergone the processes of steaming, rolling, and heating are called ‘aracha’. This raw tea is roasted and finished as a product, but this roasting also changes the flavor of the tea. “I try to express the desired flavor and taste through roasting, such as a lightly scented tea in the cold season and a tea with the refreshing scent of new growth in early spring,” says Mr. Noda. He adds: “Tea is ‘reincarnated’. Green tea is reborn three times with the planting layout, the steaming, and then the roasting.”
Better than machines, experience
In recent years, it has become possible to read outdoor temperature and humidity with a computer and make tea at the set temperature and time based on the feedback. In response to this, Mr. Noda and Mr. Nakayama say, “We don’t think machines can understand what we’re looking for. The delicate and deep taste of green tea produced in the Kikuchi region is supported not only by modernized machinery, but also by the intuition and experience of tea growers for many years.
They have to focus on growing, steaming and roasting.
A single moment of inattention and all the efforts made from the fields to the production will have been in vain.
This delicious green tea with a deep flavor is nurtured by the effort and dedication of these artisans.