YAME GYOKURO, Limited Edition | Charcoal Finish Fired
Goosebumps. This tea is a rollercoaster ride. You think you can pin a few tasting notes; then it changes. Stone fruit, umami, sea asparagus, cane sugar, minerality...
We've been fans of Konomi San's work since 2019; he introduced O5 to the art of 焙炉製法 (Hoiro seihō, or 'finish firing' of green tea, using high-density charcoal and Japanese traditional paper).
In 2020, we had the pleasure of enjoying some award-winning sencha processed with this technique; this year, Konomi San shared this stunning gyokuro.
Coaxing Lingering Sweetness and Aroma.
Finish firing (火入れ) is a most important process when crafting Japanese-style, steamed green tea. Not only is it important to reducing moisture content (thus preserving freshness for longer), but as our friend Jared from Jagasilk says, finish-firing 'develops the sugars and curb the tannins.' By the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate, it was already a well-established custom.
Most artisans in modern Japan use a drum roaster; electricity or gas fuel the 'fire'.
Konomi San keeps an older tradition alive: 焙炉製法 (charcoal firing); it is a hands-on process that starts early in the morning, lighting a few chunks of charcoal and carefully supervising them until the artisan judges that they are ready. The inside of a 'firing table' (see below) is designed to contain these glowing embers.
Once the fire is ready, the shokunin (master artisan) covers the charcoal with a lid made of wood and finished with handcrafted paper. Then, with dance-like maneuvers, he carefully rolls the tea leaves, filling the room with a glorious aroma and developing the tea into a masterpiece.
TYPE GREEN TEA (Steamed)
ORIGIN Yame, Japan GPS 33.2ºN 130.6ºE CULTIVARS Okumidori, Yabukita, Yamakai PRODUCER Konomi Family
About the Producer
Konomi San's family started their tea business in the Edo period; they were the first family to become tea merchants in the Island of Kyushu. In that period, most of the local teas were kama-iri cha.
In the late Meiji period, Konomi's family were some of the pioneers that imported some production techniques from Uji; as a result of these pioneers, Yame is now famous for its stunning gyokuro and matcha.
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Location2208 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver, BC1.604.558.0500
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