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Kihara-san's Naturally Grown Matcha is made from spring-harvested tencha leaves -- leaves that are shaded for four weeks before harvest, then steamed, dried but left unrolled. Because when drinking matcha, you are drinking the entire leaf, the drink tends to be bitter. To reduce the bitterness, farmers try to reduce the catechins as much as possible--one result of the shading process.
A second method, and used for very high quality matcha, is to age the tea leaves for 6 months or longer before grinding. The aging process, carefully managed by Kihara-san, requires storage of the leaves in temperature-controlled warehouses in large bulk quantities. This allows the bitterness-causing catechins to breakdown allowing the powder to become much rounder in flavor.
Finally, the tencha is ground into powder using stone mills and retains a strong flavor and aroma for approximately 3 - 6 months.
Tea farmer Shinichi Kihara inherited his farm from his father and follows an agricultural philosophy that prohibits the use of fertilizer and pesticides (synthetic, natural, organic or otherwise). This type of agricultural, called Shumei Natural Agriculture, aims to produce food that is as natural as possible.
Naturally Grown Matcha
100% tea leaves
TEA PLANT CULTIVAR
A blend of Yabukita (やぶきた) and Gokou (御香）
Shaded for 4 weeks before harvesting.
New spring leaves are steamed and dried without rolling immediately after harvesting to create tencha. The tencha leaves are then aged for half a year before being ground using a traditional stone mill into matcha powder.