This competition grade saemidori cultivar gyokuro from Yame, Fukuoka was cultivated using traditional canopy shading and other techniques then handpicked in a micro-batch by tea farmer Masahiro Kuma (Yame Tea Kumaen). A small batch is submitted to the National Tea Competition each year. This gyokuro holds gentle and soft nuances of round fruits such as white peach and melon.
2023 harvest was handpicked on April 18 and won the Special “FORTNUM & MASON BEST IN SHOW” Award at the 2023 Leafies competition in the UK.
This field produced 2017's 71st All Japan National Tea Competition, Gyokuro Category winning gyokuro (Minister's Award). Tea farmer Masahiro Kuma's winning gyokuro submission in 2017 was the only tea that received a perfect 200 out of 200 points.
In 2019, this gyokuro won the Japanese Tea Selection Paris Grand Prix (shown in photo). This contest is judged by French food critics/scholars and they will evaluate not just the taste and aroma but also the compatibility with French cuisine as well as the packaging. Some of the comments Kuma-san received indicated that it goes well with chocolate. In 2020 as well Tenkaichi won the Bronze Medal, and in 2021 and 2022, won the Gold Medal at this competition. In 2023, Tenkaichi won the Fortnum & Mason Best in Show Award and a Gold Medal at the Leafies held in the UK
The name "Tenkaichi" means "number one under the heavens" and is used by many Japanese tea brands as their top gyokuro. But in Kuma-san's case in 2017, his gyokuro was truly the top in Japan, and fulfilled his son's Tanabata wish: "ocha de ichiban" --- "to be number one in tea" (Tanabata is the July 7th festival in which children place their wishes on bamboo branches).
Another interesting bit of trivia is that Kuma-san and our other Gyokuro specialist Akio Kurihara (from Kurihara Tea Farm) are high school classmates and frequently compete against each other. In 2017, there were 100 entries and of the top 30, 24 were from Yame, Fukuoka, 4 from Kyoto, and 2 from Shizuoka. The saemidori cultivar also made up 28 of the top 30 entries.
- Ingredients: Green tea
- Cultivar: Saemidori
- Harvest: Handpicked in April 18, 2023. Aged and released in September
- Region: Yame, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan
- Notes: Shading begins in late March, and increased little by little for 3-4 weeks. Then the approx 10kg harvest is processed carefully as a micro-batch.
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