This competition grade saemidori cultivar gyokuro from Yame, Fukuoka, was handpicked and micro-batch processed by tea farmer Masahiro Kuma one prior to the winning micro-batch he submitted to the 71st All Japan Tea Competition. His winning gyokuro submission was the only tea that received a perfect 200 out of 200 points, and he will accept the top Minister's Award for this achievement.
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, 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, see little Kuma-san's wish in the photos).
Another interesting bit of trivia is that Kuma-san and our other Gyokuro specialist Akio Kurihara are high school classmates and frequently compete against each other. This year, 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
Region: Yame, Fukuoka
Notes: Shaded for 3 weeks prior to handpicked harvest and processed as a 10kg micro-batch.