Our friends in Kirishima are 5th generation farmers. Over 100 years ago, the first Hayashi brought tea seeds from Shizuoka Prefecture 静岡県 - the major green tea producer of Japan. Those trees are still alive now!
In the 1950's, the Kirishima growers were pioneers in the use of pesticides. In the 1980's, they were the first farm in the region to go organic, and have remained so since.
Having inherited a historical culture of tea cultivation and production, the current generation growers are nonetheless innovative and unorthodox. They experiment with non-traditional tea production, such as various single-cultivar sencha; matcha made of special samidori leaves; and green tea paste that tastes awesome in nitro.
TEA FROM THE SENPAI:
GOKOU SINGLE CULTIVAR MATCHA
UJI, KYOTO, JAPAN | 35ºN 136ºE
ABOUT THE TEA
When we went to visit Tsuji San, this was the matcha he served first.
Knowing we came from North America, he wanted to grind the matcha in such a way that it would express familiar, creamy flavours (the flavour profile changes dramatically when you adjust the grind). Specifically, he knew that this matcha could express notes of sweet bananas on top of fresh notes of cedar.
This was Pedro & Michael's first experience trying the luscious, highly awarded single cultivar Gokou matcha, and it was love at first sip.
Tasting notes: Cedar tips, banana bread, and kale.
ABOUT THE GROWER
Tsuji Kiyoharu is often called Senpai (loosely translated as ‘mentor’) in Uji. He is one of the most consistently awarded growers and matcha shokunin (artisans) in the region; if you’ve tried his glorious matcha, you would know why. When Pedro and Michael travelled to Tsuji San’s farm, they were aware that they would meet a tea eminence, used to receiving acolytes from tea masters and high ranking politicians in Japan. But what stood out the most was what a wonderful human being Tsuji San is. Tsuji San laughs easily and is very generous with his time, sharing a wealth of knowledge and good tea. Matsubayashi San is also an eminence, from the family that has crafted Asahiyaki (very famous pottery) for centuries.