2021 Sencha Saito Fukumidori Song of Spring green tea

Sencha Saito Fukumidori Song of Spring


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Green Tea


Sencha Saito Fukumidori


Organic: Shizuoka Organic Tea Farmers Union (SOTFU)

completely individual-farmer-made and processed tea
Tea Farmer:
Mr. Saito


Grade: Ichibancha
Oxidation: none
Manufacture: steamed and oven-fired (baked)
Steaming Method: Asamushi (light)


Appearance: Medium forest green color; classic chopped, dark & elegant leaf
Flavor: hearty and pleasantly astringent style
Aroma: refreshing aroma of clear, cold water in a forest stream
Liquor: pale green liquor, with silver highlights





Honyama Tea Harvesting Area
Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan

2021 1st Spring Pluck Ichibancha



Japan makes many styles of green tea, and each type requires its own steeping parameters. It is easier to mis-step with Japanese green tea than it is with Chinese green tea because Japanese green teas are more sensitive to water temperature and length of time in the water. Sweetness/astringency in Japanese teas can be influenced by steeping technique. It is important to know for each tea you have what water temperature and steeping time is appropriate.

The reason for this is that premium, spring-plucked Japanese green tea contains a large amount of amino acids and a lesser degree of tannin, which is what makes a tea bitter. Steeping Japanese green tea in cooler water encourages the amino acids to release into the steeping liquid, but not the tannins.


We follow our mentor Mr. Saito’s instructions for steeping his tea and he has been spot on.


However, we decided to see if we could come up with two different measurements of tea – one for those who like their Japanese green tea lighter and another for those who prefer a fuller dimension of flavor.

What was interesting is that the tea did not become astringent when we used 4 grams of leaf (twice the usual amount).  In fact, the larger quantity of leaf brought a more complete fullness of flavor to the liquor without any bitterness. We tried this test with all the tea from the Shizuoka Organic Tea Farmers Union, and found that across the board these two measures worked beautifully.


And for us, Bob preferred the tea steeped with 2 grams of leaf while Mary Lou always preferred the same tea when made with 4 grams of leaf.


Steeping Instructions:


Use 1.5 teaspoons (2 grams) or 3 teaspoons (4 grams) per 4 oz water

Steep 1-2 infusions at 1 minute each
Water temperature should be 170°F – 185°F
(depending on your preference)




Japanese green teas can generally be re-steeped with delicious results.

We recommend:

4 ounces of water cooled to 160°F
1 minute re-steep
Steep as many times as you can until the flavor is diminished.


This tea is classified as Jien-cha, a term that means that it has been grown, processed and packed by a tea farmer.

This is an uncommon situation in Japan regarding tea. Most Japanese tea is manufactured in a small or large tea factory by a company that does not own its own tea gardens. Instead, the factory purchases aracha (stable, semi-processed leaf) from various tea farmers and blends different lots of aracha together to arrive at the flavor that they want. These teas are sold under the label of the tea company and the origin of the tea is usually unknown to the consumer.

While it is unusual for a tea farmer to process his own tea, this is an accomplishment that Mr. Saito and the other members of the Shizuoka Organic Tea Farmers Union are proud of. Jien-cha gives them total control over the finished tea, and also allows them to put all their years of knowledge about tea cultivation and manufacture into making truly delicious artisan tea.

This is the classic Sencha that a traditional Japanese tea enthusiast would choose to drink.

This tea is offered to us by our dear friend and tea producer Mr. Saito. His tea gardens are in Honyama, which many believe to be the area that produces the finest senchas in Shizuoka Prefecture. Because we are able to offer several stunning teas from particular gardens within Shizuoka Prefecture, we tend to think that he is correct in a ‘big-picture’ way, although our delicious offerings from several other famous regions within Shizuoka Prefecture, compel us to temper our agreement with a few caveats! Saito’s tea fields are located in the mountains near the Warashina River. The environment of these tea fields is pristine and filled with natural beauty, healthy plants, birds, insects and all the good components of a thriving tea garden. Indeed it is a magical place for tea gardens and families who strive to farm sublime Japanese Sencha, Gyokuro, and the other cultivars that call this region ‘home’.

We are indeed honored to be among the few select tea vendors to whom Mr Saito offers his tea (which sells out every year) and we eagerly look forward to the arrival of his samples every year. This season’s tea, 2021, is exquisite, an excellent example of a traditional Fukumidori Sencha.

This sencha is made with leaf from a classic tea bush cultivar that has been tweaked by Saito over the years (approx 30 years) to produce his vision of what this cultivar should exhibit. Because he prefers organic growing methodology, he has at the same time been constantly experimenting with new organic fertilizers that allow the soil to encourage the development of rich amino acids in the tea, which results in lots of tasty and desireable ‘umami’ in the cup.

For those unfamiliar with umami, this term combines the Japanese character for ‘delicious’ with the one for ‘taste’. Umami is the name for the fifth basic sensation of taste, along with sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. It is an otherwise difficult-to-describe kind of savoriness associated with many food items such as seared meats, miso soup, aged cheese, mushrooms, tomatoes, soy sauce and green tea. A high percentage of certain naturally occurring amino acids in these foods is responsible for the chewy mouth-feel of umami-rich foods.

Tea farmers such as Mr. Saito spend a lot of time figuring out how to make better and better tea without resorting to artificial fertilizers and pesticides. We think that you will agree that his hard work has paid off with this tea, which delivers a hearty and pleasantly astringent cup of tea that flirts with the tongue and is quite satisfying. There is none of the often-found sencha ‘kelpy-ness’ in the taste nor is there an excess of sweetness – but the overall taste and aroma is clean and vegetal with a suspicion of mint in the background. A truly exceptional Fukumidori Sencha.

This tea has the traditional, medium-large length, thin leaf of a high quality Sencha. It is medium forest-green in color. The dry leaf has the cool, refreshing aroma of clear, cold water in a forest stream.

Fans of Mr. Saito may recall that he suffered the loss of most of his tea in the spring of 2015 when he had a fire in his warehouse. We received a small first order that year and then nothing else until the following year. We are pleased to report that his garden has suffered no serious damage from the warehouse and living quarters fire of several years ago, and he is back to full production. Saito’s tea gardens are thriving, and his tea is as tasty as, or even better than when Mary Lou first met him in the autumn of 2012.

Want to know more?

Shizuoka Organic Tea Farmers Union