In Japan, discussions of what constitutes good matcha can become quite elaborate and detailed, and opinions among Matcha aficionados are apt to be entrenched and loyal to one tea producer or another, as Japanese consumers also tend to be loyal for life to their rice, soy, mirin, miso, and etc purveyors. After all, Matcha is the star of Chanoyu, the Japanese tea ceremony, and as such, the depth and intensity of conversations about the Matcha being used seem to be as limitless as is the study of what constitutes a proper chawan (tea bowl).
With this in mind, we offer our Premium Matcha – Traditional. Our Japanese colleagues advise us that the practices involved with proper matcha manufacture ensure that the following flavor profile is maintained:
The historic techniques that premium Japanese matcha purveyors espouse for their year-round matcha ensure that the flavor stays ‘consistent’ from batch to batch and prevents introducing ‘too much shock to the mouth’ from using all new-crop tea. Specifically, premium matcha in its traditional form is a combination of aracha (leaf that is not yet ‘finished’), blended from two time periods:
Autumn (September, October)
1st Spring Pluck Ichibancha (May, June)
So how does this work? Starting in the early summer, following the Shincha harvest, with the harvesting of the first of the year’s leaf (leaf that is specifically grown to become tencha and eventually milled into matcha), that aracha (leaf that is not yet ‘finished’) is combined with aracha from the previous autumnal harvest. Until the following year’s harvest, the Autumn and Spring aracha are blended (in a logical decreasing/increasing proportion of the two aracha) until the next cycle starts again the following summer.
Consistency in flavor from tin to tin and year to year is something that Japanese tea producers and their tea-buying customers appreciate and demand. For matcha drinkers who want a bolder, more pungent and changeable taste, we recommend our Matcha Premium – Shincha, which is made exclusively from the more vibrant-tasting new spring leaf, Shincha. For many Matcha enthusiasts in Japan, there can also be a preference for, or at least a seasonal interest in, the Kuradashi Matcha, which is released in the Autumn of the year and is for those with a more sophisticated palate or who prefer a deep, rich, complex flavor in their whisked bowl of tea. We offer our classic version of Kuradashi Matcha from approx October until spring. The manufacture of our Tea Trekker Matcha Premium – Kuradashi is described on its detail page. ..more info..
As is true for all quality Matcha, the tencha leaf tea bushes are grown under a shade covering for 20-30 days. This raises the level of theanine present in the leaves while reducing the amount of chlorophyll.
Further, four additional variables enable our Premium Matcha – Traditional to be sold as premium quality.
1. Tea Trekker Premium Matcha – Traditional is milled from a blend of 1st pluck spring tea leaves from both Gokoh and Yabukita tea bushes. This blend delivers fully-satisfying, rich flavor and abundant sweetness. In the tea bowl the emerald green tea liquor has a well-balanced amount of sweetness and piquant astringency.
2. These tea bushes are grown under a traditional tana covering (woven straw mats placed over a support structure). This type of covering is placed several feet above the tops of the tea bushes. This configuration allows the tea bushes to grow long, thin leaves, and also allows the least amount of sunlight to filter through the covering. Tea grown under a tana cover (as opposed to a jikagise style of covering which rests atop the tea bushes) is always more costly and tastier because of its more careful treatment.
3. Tea pluckers are able to work comfortably under the tana covering. The leaf is hand-plucked as it is for fine Gyokuro.
4. Lastly, Tea Trekker Premium Matcha – Traditional is true Matcha, which means that it is milled from shade-grown leaf that is first manufactured into tencha (de-veined leaf) and then ground in a granite stone mill to micron-fineness. Short cuts exist today in Matcha production, especially in Matcha that is produced in countries other than Japan. While these little details may seen insignificant, they combine to yield a sweeter, richer, more complex and deeply satisfying tea with a large amount of ‘umami’ due to the abundant amino acids present in the leaf.
We also request of our Matcha producer that they vacuum-pack our Premium Matcha – Traditional in the classic, small-size metal containers fit with a screw cap and an inner pull-tab seal. This provides maximum freshness before purchase and helps you to close the container tightly between uses. We think that this little bit of ‘above-and-beyond’ is worth it for our customers!
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