Liquid Jade No. 2 – Sencha Kasuga
€12,40 – €41,90
Liquid Jade No. 2 – Sencha Kasuga is in many ways not like any other Sencha… In addition to the fact that no agrochemical substances or fertilizers are used, outstanding properties are the traditional hand-picking of the tea leaves once a year in spring and their individual processing in small batches. In terms of taste and effects, the tea benefits in particular from the rich input of the roots of the native tea bushes, reaching up to 2 meters deep into the ground. The resulting gustatory complexity elevates this tea far above the mass of Japanese Sencha teas.
For more information and illustration, refer to the product description below.
Liquid Jade No. 2 – Sencha Kasuga
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Liquid Jade No. 2 – Sencha Kasuga
Sencha Kasuga is part of the “liquid jade sencha” series by Tea Crane, a trader specialized in naturally cultived teas by small producers in Japan. The operator, Tyas Sösen, is a Belgian by birth who has lived in Japan since his later adolescence. There, as the youngest officially certified tea master of foreign origin, he learned the tea trade from scratch. His love for traditional Japanese Sencha teas of regional character ultimately culminated in the founding of The Tea Crane. The underlying philosophy is a return to the original Japanese Sencha. This means that the cultivation is free of artificial fertilizers and pesticides and comparably low in nitrogen. In addition, it means processing that is free of the industrial mass processes that are often characteristic of tea production in Japan today. These are the features making also this tea a traditional, naturally cultivated Japanese Sencha tea.
Sencha Kasuga comes from the eponymous village in the south of Gifu prefecture, about 100km north-east of Kyoto. Due to its location amidst some notable elevations, the region is often referred to as the “Japanese Machu Pichu”. It has a special reputation as the “nation’s herb garden” since the 13th century. At this, the village of Kasuga in particular looks back on an equally long tradition of tea cultivation. Away from Japan’s larger tea-growing regions, where the industrial cultivation of cultivars and their mechanical picking and processing have long taken over, native tea bushes are still prevailing here today, as well as the hand-picking of tea leaves in spring and their individual processing in small batches. This also applies to Sayo Nakamura’s “Chabobo-En” tea garden, to which we owe our Sencha Kasuga. And just like in the old days, cultivation is still done in a natural way here. That is, without the addition of any agro-chemical substances or fertilizers.
Taste and Appearance
The exquisite character of Sencha Kasuge reveals itself to the connoisseur at the sight of the dry leaves already. Because there is little resemblance to the uniform appearance that is otherwise typical of Japanese Sencha teas. Instead, the rather irregular structure of the dry, fir-green “needles” often reflects the actual tea leaf. Likewise, the sight of the wet tea leaves after the infusion is similarly unusual. Because unlike what is typical for modern Sencha teas, the whole tea leaf unfolds in its natural form and beauty. The picking standard also includes branches, which, according to its producer, give the tea an extra portion of natural sweetness.
In terms of taste and effects, the tea benefits in particular from the rich input of the roots of the native tea bushes, reaching up to 2 meters deep into the ground. The resulting gustatory complexity elevates this tea far above the mass of Japanese Sencha teas.
Kasuga – the “Japanese Machu Pichu”
Thanks to its elevated location, Kasuga offers best conditions for tea cultivation. In addition to the high temperature gradient between the warm days and cool nights, these are in particular the favorable slope positionings of the tea gardens. Then, the dark topsoil on limestone that is typical of Kasuga is also ideal for the tea bushes’t thriving. Due to the cool nocturnal temperatures and the native nature of the tea bushes, they reach picking maturity comparably late in spring. On a “the earlier, the more expensive” market, this represents a significant disadvantage for local tea producers. For this reason, tea from Kasuga doesn’t yield prices that would be reasonable for naturally cultivated, handpicked tea. In addition, there is only one single picking per year (in spring), representing another disadvantage in terms of yield. The rural exodus of younger generations does one more thing to endanger the future of tea cultivation in Kasuga. As a result, the aging generation of active tea farmers is missing successors. This, in turn, leads to an increasing number of abandoned tea gardens. Other local growers try to improve their marketability by replacing the native tea bushes with higher-yielding cultivars.
The Tea Garden – Chabobo-En / The Producer – Sayo Nakamura
In the above-described backdrop, Kasuga’s “Chabobo-En” tea garden appears as one of Japan’s last bastions of ancient tea tradition. From a bird’s eye perspective, the centuries-old seed-grown tea bushes display the pattern of a turtle’s carapace. The resulting “plucking table” offers good conditions for manual picking, but is completely unsuitable for machine picking. Nevertheless, replacing the old tea bushes with more productive cultivars is out of question for Sayo Nakamura, the tea garden’s operator. Instead, she trusts in the vitality of her native bushes, whose centuries-old roots draw nutrients from the ground’s deeper layers. In her opinion, this contributes indispensably to the inherent power and energy of a tea authentically reflecting its origin. Unfortunately, the economic pressure on the tea farmers in Kasuga has lead to many of them not sharing this view any longer.
Handpicking @ Kasuga
When the tea bushes were sown in Kasusa, the method of propagating tea bushes by cuttings did not exist yet. Back then, there were also no picking machines which are standard in Japanese tea production today. Accordingly, the tea bushes do not form even rows here, as would be a prerequisite for machine picking. Instead, from a bird’s-eye view, they form the pattern of a tortoise shell. In addition to the resulting difficulties for the use of picking machines, the tea garden’s slope positioning futher discards this option.
Now hand picking may be commercially inferior to machine picking, but qualitatively it is not. This is why even conventional tea producers will usually pick small batches of tea leaves for competition purposes by hand. However, the human eye, combined with human judgment, will generally be superior in selecting tea leaves to be picked. For example, humans pick whole leaves, while we see a lot of broken leaves from machine picking. The difference is by no means only of visual nature. This is because oxidation processes with the ambient air will set in immediately at fracture points. These are undesirable in the production of green teas because they adversely affect the flavor of the tea.
The “Cultivar” – Native Kasuga Varieties
To understand what a “native cultivar” is, one must internalize what we said above about tea plant propagation. A “clone” is always an exact genetic copy of the mother plant. This also serves to achieve consistent taste characteristics with offshoots growing in the same place as the mother plant. However, if you take seeds from the same tea plant and replant them, the effect is similar to human reproduction: we share many characteristics with our parents, but we are not completely alike. Accordingly, seed-raised tea plants will inherit traits from the mother plant, but may also develop individual traits.
The processing of Sencha Kasuga in principle follows the traditional standard of green tea processing in Japan. This means that the tea leaves undergo hot steam treatment at first right after picking. This serves to stop the enzymatic oxidation processes in the tea leaf. Then the tea leaves are rolled into the characteristic needle shape in 2 consecutive processing steps (kneading and rolling). This takes place using dedicated mechanical devices, serving to fix the actual state achieved by the oxidation stop. After this follows the final drying, reducing the residual moisture in the tea leaf to about 5%.
As Chabobo-En does not have processing facilities of its own, processing takes place in a small local tea factory. This is designed in such way that individual producers can also process smaller batches there individually. After their return the tea farm, the fully processed tea leaves undergo a final round of quality selection.
Unlike the typical modern Sencha, Sencha Kasuga unfolds its individual flavor profile best when infused with boling hot water (90°C-100°C). The recommended dosage is about 2-3g of tea leaves per 100ml of as-soft-as-possible water. The first of up to 4 tasty infusions should steep for 1 minute at the max. For the subsequent infusions, a gradual increase in the steeping period from infusion to infusion is recommendable.
The following blog article provides an overview of the history and basic types of green tea in Japan:
For more (unshaded) Sencha teas at Siam Tea Shop, follow the link below:
25g, 50g, 100g
Stephen Govier –
Brewed Gong Fu there was no bitterness at all. Incredibly soft Unami with a wonderful taste. Each steep brings a majestic progression, a deep after taste and long-lasting sweetness. Rich and complex – both sharp, flowery, and herbal – with a most calming Cha Qi. Simply delightful.