To obtain the best of the best in the world of matcha production, you walk an extra mile to gain an inch. The Heritage Grade label that Yunomi gives to the best and richest matcha products also requires a very specific set of production criteria:
- Leaves must be shaded for 4 weeks or more
- Leaves must be shaded under a canopy, not directly, preventing the shading material from causing damage to the leaves, and allowing the plant to grow freely.
- This also allows the plant to be handpicked, and the handpicking must occur in the spring.
- The picked leaves must be steamed and dried into leaf flakes called tencha using a tencha roasting facility.
- The tencha must be refined to remove leaf stems and veins, then chopped into small even pieces for grinding
- The grinding must be done on a stone mill.
There's another step we often don't talk about. That is, as a crop, tea leaves will inevitably vary from year to year. To consistently create the same amazing flavor profile year after year is the role of a master blender, and Shogyokuen's CEO Hiroshi Kobayashi is a blender whose ability to appraise tea leaves is matched only by a handful of industry professional in Japan.
Shogyokuen's Heritage Grade Matcha products utilizes leaves cultivated by the Kobayashi's themselves on a dedicated tea field.
Based on our own tasting, this product has the following profile. However, tastings are not conducted side by side, and different water, ambient temperature, etc. may affect the outcome. Please use this profile as a simple guide.
- Umami strength (5 = strongest): 5/5
- Astringency (5 = least astringent): 5/5
- Color (1 = yellow, 5 = brilliant green): 5/5
- Texture (1 = very grainy, 5 = very smooth): 5/5
- Name: Highest Grade Matcha, Zuisho
- Japanese name: 最高抹茶瑞祥
- Net Weight: 40 gram / 1.4 oz (can)
- Ingredients: Green tea
- Grade: Heritage Grade
- Cultivar: Okumidori
- Harvest: May
- Region: Wazuka, Kyoto. Refined in Kyotanabe, Kyoto.
- Name: Shogyokuen
- Type: Tea factory, family business
- CEO: Hiroshi Kobayashi
- Established: 1827
- Employees: 12
Hiroshi Kobayashi is an award winning blender, and one of 13 tea professionals in Japan who hold the top rank of tea appraisal, level 10.