Organic Kagoshima Sencha Shimofuri
This organic sencha comes from a grower who has been tea farming for over 40 years at a beautiful countryside tea garden in Shibushi on the east side of Kagoshima. The tea garden is encapsulated inside a forest in an unblemished natural environment, with pure water, plentiful sunshine, lots of mist, and excellent fertile soil. Needless to say, it is an excellent place to make high quality organic green tea.
Shimofuri, the name of this organic sencha, is a reference to the beautiful view of the tea garden from winter to early Spring when mist lands on spider’s webs that have been spun by the many spiders that live in the tea garden. The following image shows the tea bushes in their dormant state before Spring has come.It is important to understand that spiders, along with a number of other insects, are actually beneficial insects and are very important natural predators of many pest insects in organic tea gardens in Japan. Removing them or wiping them out with chemical pesticides would be like removing part of the heart and soul of the tea garden. Of course, once Spring arrives and the tea bushes come out of their dormant state they take on a totally different view then the image above (please see the image below).
The varietal that the grower uses for this sencha is the Yutakamidori varietal which is pretty extensively used to make sencha in Kagoshima. However, most of it is grown non-organically in tea gardens that are heavily reliant on nitrogen heavy chemical fertilizers in order to achieve the tea industries demand for “umami” taste. Furthermore, a lot of the time the final processing stage of the unrefined leaves (aracha) is conducted by tea shops across Japan rather than in Kagoshima which do not final stage process the tea leaves the same as an experienced grower does in Kagoshima and they do not know the leaf like them either. In addition, tea shops often buy cheaper lower graded batches of Yutakakmidori then blend the leaves with other varietals to alter the taste and liquor color, and roast the leaves to alter the aroma completely rubbishing the merits of the varietal. Of course these type of “Yutaka Midori” are not what one would call authentic, but they can be repackaged and rebranded, marketed at high prices, and have an unnatural thick “umami” taste. They therefore are often the most profitable and rewarding for vendors to sell.
This Yutaka Midori on the other hand is completely authentic. All steps in the cultivation and processing are managed by the grower himself at his tea garden. He never uses chemical fertilizers or chemical pesticides because they, of course, put the purity of the tea into question and the chemical fertilizers manipulate amino acid content in the leaves and force the tea bushes to grow faster. Instead, he prefers to use a traditional natural Japanese recipe for fertilizer consisting of natane, rapeseed, fish and bone meal etc. this allows the new growth to develop slower, nourishes the soil, and keeps the tea bushes vibrant and healthy which creates a much more pure, clean, delicious tasting cup of aromatic tea. The grower’s perspective on steaming is not to use deep steaming in order to try to achieve a murky green infusion because that can cause the dry leaf presentation to be excessively dusty and can diminish the quality of the taste and aroma, rather he prefers to use a steaming method that deeper steamed teas were once steamed by before the tea industry started to demand greener liquor color. The steaming method is known as kyomushi, which is shorter steaming than fukamushi, but longer than regular steaming. With this steaming method the leaf material remains pretty intact, the infusion is much clearer, and the liquor color is a strong bright yellow. Furthermore, the grower doesn’t excessively roast the tea leaves during the final drying stage. They are dried in order to reduce the moisture content which preserves the natural aroma and taste of the tea.
The tea when brewed has a highly aromatic sweet-smelling fragrance with an initial sweet taste followed by a mellow, smooth, and rounded mouthfeel that you might sense to be slightly fruity with notes of citrus or even muscat (green variety). The aftertaste is clean and settles on the tongue for a prolonged period of time after drinking. It’s a truly delicious organic sencha that we highly recommend to any Kagoshima tea lover that wants to experience the genuine and authentic taste and aroma of Yutaka Midori!