Yunomi.us: Originally posted on 2011.03.21, Japanese black tea expert Hiroshi Okamoto of Creha visited?another one of our partners, the Kinezuka family (NaturaliTea), in March 2011, and wrote a fairly long post about it. We’ll be translating soon, but enjoy the photos in the meantime!
[product id=”” sku=”TEA-NLT-KC001″]Toshiaki Kinezuka is the president of the Society to Connect People, Agriculture and Nature (i.e. NaturaliTea) in Shizuoka. In one generation has expanded his farm to involve his neighbors, and create a local tea production culture.
You might say that the pioneering Toshiaki-san has tunnel vision. Inspired by Taiwanese oolong tea as a young man, he ventured to Taiwan to learn tea production there. And before anyone understood the value of agriculture without artificial, chemical-based pesticides and fertilizers, he was attempting to figure out how to produce delicious (what we now call) “organic” tea.
When he started producing black tea as well, to really learn it right, he invited a master producer from Sri Lanka, and built a small tea processing facility based on Sri Lankan design. To complete it, he even imported machinery from Sri Lanka. To tell you the truth, even I have never seen anything like it in Japan (Okamoto-san writes this after being in the Japanese black tea business for a decade).
Of course, NaturaliTea’s main business is green tea. But instead of black tea being a product spin off, if he was going to create it, he wanted to create it well. I can only tip my hat to such dedication.
Right now, daughter Ayumi-san is primarily in charge of black tea production at the Kinezuka’s farm. Ayumi-san, like her father Toshiaki-san, pays very close attention to details…recording data for each production lot. She’s very interested in seeing how each production creates a different flavor when she does her cupping later. Part of her research into creating Japanese black teas.
Black tea made from Yabukita tea plants are basically what we call 滋納 jina, or sweet / lacking in astringency. However, the Kinezuka’s Setoya Momiji is actually quite close to what we call a 望欄 bouran type – a black tea that is close to what is found in the Western tradition with a stronger flavor. So, don’t steep it too long to try to bring out the savoriness you usually find in Japanese black teas because it just isn’t there. I recommend a 3-4 minute steep.
The Shimizu family operates an award winning tea farm based in the village of Suizawa in Yokkaichi City, Mie, famous for its bankoyaki tea ware. Their tea fields span 10 hectare with a total production of about 600 kilograms specializing in Kabusecha Buy Kabusecha Shaded...
Matsumoto-san, VP of Obubu, shared with us a few photos of the tea fields in Wazuka. The main problem they are having right now is wind. Some of their plants are being shaded and the wind blowing the shading against the leaves may cause some damage...
Photographed during a lull in the rain, Yokota-san shared with us a few images of his tea fields. No problems up in Saitama as the brunt of the storm hit Western Japan (around the Kobe area). Heavy winds though aren’t good for these baby tea...