108th Nights Shincha Umegashima
Umegashima is located in the northern mountainous part of Shizuoka about a 90 minute drive from Shirakata Denshiro Shoten, Inc. (our parent company). Umegashima has a unique climate where the average daily temperature is less than other typical tea production areas and the temperature varies widely during the day – warm days and cold nights. Due to this climate, the first flush tea in Umegashima is the last to be harvested in all the tea production areas in Japan. Picking usually starts 20 days later after 88th Night Shincha and this is literally the 108th night after the first day of Spring in the traditional Japanese calendar.
The farming process for Mr. Sugiyama starts in late autumn the year before the harvest. He begins by cutting grass, drying it, and laying it on the tea garden. Many tea farmers have stopped this laborious procedure but he continues it because he thinks it very important that the soil stays moist during the winter. Wet soil can provide more moisture for the tea bush and the dried grass eventually becomes compost, making the soil rich. Tea plants will develop a strong root structure in moist, well-fed soil.
The species of tea plant at the Sugiyama Farm is called “Zairaishu”. Zairaishu is one of the first green tea trees in Japan and the name roughly means “It has always existed”. As you can imagine, it must be a hearty plant to flourish in the mountain climate of Umegashima. The leaves are thicker than plants grown in the popular areas of Shizuoka and the later harvest gives the plant more time to load the leaves with flavor.
Den’s Preferred Brewing:
Water: 2oz @ 180F
Leaves: 3 grams or 1.5 rounded teaspoons
Steep: 60 sec
2nd Cup: Water boiled; Steep 15 sec