Liquid Jade No. 3 – Sencha Asamiya

10,7035,70

Liquid Jade No. 3 – Sencha Asamiya comes from a small, naturally cultivated tea garden at the southwest flank of Lake Biwa, in Shiga prefecture, northeast of Kyoto. When infused, the delicate, fir-green needles produce a characteristically light yellow to jade green shimmering cup. This, in turn, delights with a complexity of taste and a wealth of delicately tart vegetal facets that has become rare in view of the omnipresent umami hype and associated nitrogen fertilization of tea gardens in Japan today.

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Liquid Jade No 3 - Sencha Asamiya : traditional Japanese Sencha green tea from natural cultivation in "bushi-dani" ( = "warrior valley") tea garden in Asamiya, Lake Biwa, Shiga prefecture, northeast of Kyoto, Japan

Liquid Jade No. 3 – Sencha Asamiya

Liquid Jade No. 3 – Sencha Asamiya

Sencha Asamiya is brought to us 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 this tea a traditional, naturally cultivated Japanese Sencha tea.

Nicknamed “Liquid Jade Sencha No. 3”, Sencha Asamiya is part of Tea Crane’s “Liquid Jade Sencha” series. The eponymous Asamiya district is located on Lake Biwa, Japan’s largest lake, in Shiga prefecture, northeast of Kyoto. The region, along with neighboring Uji, is one of the oldest tea-growing areas in Japan. Thus, the first planting of tea seeds by monks returning from China could have taken place here as early as 800-900 AD. In the “Valley of the Warriors” at 350 meters above sea level, the early morning mist kisses the more than 100-year-old, seed-grown tea bushes on a daily basis. This gives the tea leaves a special suppleness and individual aroma, imbued with the energy of Lake Biwa. At this, the tea owes its natural purity to strict orientation to the principles of natural cultivation.

Liquid Jade No 3 - Sencha Asamiya : traditional Japanese Sencha green tea from natural cultivation in "bushi-dani" ( = "warrior valley") tea garden in Asamiya, Lake Biwa, Shiga prefecture, northeast of Kyoto, Japan

When infused, the delicate, fir-green needles produce a characteristically light yellow to jade green shimmering cup. This, in turn, delights with a complexity of taste and a wealth of delicately tart vegetal facets that has become rare today in view of the omnipresent umami hype and associated nitrogen fertilization of tea gardens in Japan.

The Tea Garden – “Bushi-dani” (= “Warrior Valley”)

The “Bushi-dani” tea garden is located in Asamiya’s eponymous “Warrior Valley” or “Samurai Valley”. The valley is part of the mountainous southwest flank of Lake Biwa. At over 4 million years old, this is Japan’s oldest lake and the thirteenth oldest lake in the world. In addition, the region is one of the 5 most important traditional tea-growing areas in Japan.

The over 100-year-old, seed-grown tea bushes are not assignable to any specific cultivar. That means they are locally native and have adapted perfectly to the local terroir. In favor of multi-branched growth and the sprout of many young shoots, the operator periodically cuts back the tea trees. In this way, the so-called “plucking table” comes about, which enables efficient and high-yield picking. Another great advantage of the tea garden is that is surrounded by dense forest and undergrowth.

Bushi-dani (= "Warrior Valley" or "Samuari Valley") tea garden in Asamiya, Lake Biwa, Shiga prefecture, northeast of Kyoto

“Bushidani” Tea Garden, Lake Biwa, Japan – click picture(s) to enlarge

The only foreign input to the tea garden are natural plant substances such as straw, pampas grass, etc. On the one hand, these serve to inhibit weed growth. On the other hand, their decomposition provides natural nutrients to the soil, which in turn benefit the tea.

The Operator – Takatomo Katagi

Takatomo Katagi is the 7th heir to the Katagi family in Asamiya, Shiga Prefecture, Japan. It was his father, Akira Katagi, who, in the mid-1970s, made a 180° turnaround back to traditional, natural cultivation. Back then, a nationwide trend towards what we now call “conventional” cultivation was about supplanting old traditions. Artificial fertilizers and keeping predators away with the help of pesticides was generally considered a blessing in Japan at the time. Accordingly, Mr. Katagi’s lonely stance made him a pioneer of natural tea cultivation at a time, when there were no role models for ecological cultivation methods. Therefore, Akira had to lay his own way. As a resulti, his tea gardens were initially plagued by vermin. But through perseverance and constant experimentation, he discovered natural ways of repelling enemies such as vegetation and other insects .

Meanwhile, Takatomo has followed in his father’s footsteps and runs the family’s tea gardens together with him. At this, he benefits extensively from his father’s decades of experience.

Takatomo Katagi, 7th heir to the Katagi family and successor of Akira Katagi, initiator of the natural cultivation principle in the family-owned tea gardens in Asamiya

Takatomo Katagi

The Processing

Due to the minimal fertilization, the leaves here grow rather thin. In addition, tea grown in mountain valleys receives less sunlight than tea gardens on plains or hillsides. This contributes to a soft and fragile leaf that needs to be handled particularly gently when steaming and kneading .

Apart from this, the processing of Sencha Asamiya adheres to the traditional standard of green tea processing in Japan. This means that the tea leaves are treated with hot steam 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%.

Liquid Jade No 3 - Sencha Asamiya : traditional Japanese Sencha green tea from natural cultivation in "bushi-dani" ( = "warrior valley") tea garden in Asamiya, Lake Biwa, Shiga prefecture, northeast of Kyoto, Japan

The Preparation

Unlike the typical modern Sencha, Sencha Asamiya unfolds its individual flavor profile best at an infusion temperature of 90°C. At this, 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 not last longer than 1 minute. For a second infusion, it is then advisable to shorten the steeping time to a maximum of 1/2 minute. Thereafter, a third infusion can steep for 1 minute again. Finally, a fourth infusion with a steeping period of 2-3 minutes will usually still be worth it.

The following blog article provides an overview of the history and basic types of green tea in Japan:

https://siamteas.com/siam-teabloid-2/siam-teabloid-vol-2015/march-2015-japanese-green-tea-history-and-present-face-an-overview/

For more (unshaded) Sencha teas at Siam Tea Shop, follow the link below:

https://www.siam-teas.com/product-category/tea-from-japan/sencha-tea/

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Weight

25g, 50g, 100g

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