What's Kuradashi TeaWhat's Kuradashi Tea
(We are planning to sell three limited edition Kuradashi Gyokuro, one Kuradashi Sencha, and two Kuradashi Matcha only available this mid-autumn. If you are a Japanese ta lover, you may know of Kuradashi tea. Like fine wine, it gains an enriched flavor and sweetness over time. Please wait and see.)

Managing the tea farm for Kuradashi Tea

(Fertilizing)
It is said that high quality tea farming starts with enriching the soil. Therefore, autumn is a critical season for tea farmers. Tea trees grow best in autumn, so farmers work diligently to enrich the soil in late summer and early autumn. This work promotes new root growth production in tea plants. The work includes enriching the soil by adjusting soil pH to the proper acid levels, soil aeration by deep mechanical tillage, and application of autumn tea plant nutrients.
There are many tea farms in Japan with acidic soil and fertilizing only makes the soil more acidic, so it is necessary to adjust the soil to the appropriate pH. To adjust the acidity, farmers distribute lime between the tea trees in the month of September, then disc or cultivate the lime deep into the soil.

Roots of tea trees grow best in autumn, so it is very important for farmers to fertilize during the autumn season. Generally they use eight to fifteen varieties of fertilizer about ten times per year. Most farmers fertilize mainly (30 to 50 percent of the annual amount) in the autumn so that the fertilizer can slowly enrich the soil over a period of six months.
Tea trees for Gyokuro and Matcha are fertilized two to three times as much as other kinds of tea, such as Sencha, in order to create the characteristic deep mellow taste. Fertilizers should be fed in small amounts, several times every ten days or more. This process starts around the middle of September and continues to the middle of November. Fertilizing is more important and tough work for Gyokuro and Matcha tea farmers.

(Struggle with Harmful Insects and Disease)
As explained above, autumn is the season when the most amount of fertilizer is fed to the tea trees. If tea trees are not healthy in autumn due to damage by harmful insects or disease, the tea trees can't absorb enough of the nutrition of fertilizer, and unhealthy tea trees will not produce a good crop next spring. Therefore, farmers must struggle with harmful insects and disease in July and August, when Harmful insects start buzzing around the tea farm, in order to keep tea trees healthy.
Tea farmers frequently check their crops to see if any problem is developing, and if so, they must immediately take appropriate action. Very strict management for preventing harmful insects and diseases is required for hand-picked tea which is the highest grade. As you know, tea trees for hand-picked tea and for machine-trimmed tea are grown in different ways, and tea sprouts of both types of trees grow differently. (For more information, click here.) If tea leaves of tea trees for hand-picked tea are damaged once, new sprouts will immediately appear from the root of the damaged tea leaves, and the sprouts will become branches. Under ideal conditions, tea trees for hand-picked tea should grow straight upward without any branches. Therefore, farmers must check the tea leaves for hand-picked tea almost every day.

Tea farm for "Honzu" canopy in Ogura area in autumn

Fertilized soil at the tea farm for "Honzu" canopy

Tea farm for tea hand picked under the "Tana" canopy

MAKI MUSHI (rolling insect) rolls tea leaves roundly and is resident in it.

Brown color parts are damaged by TANSO disease.

Tea trees for hand-picked tea under ideal conditions. They grow straight upward without any branches.

Three Methods to Enhance the Enjoyment of Kuradashi Tea

Here in Kyoto, the tinted autumn leaves are quite beautiful. To deepen your green moment at such time, we would like to introduce three different ways to enhance your Kuradashi Tea brewing experience.
  1. Brewing Process of Kuradashi Tea
    You can "slow-brew" Gyokuro or Sencha with lower temperature water for a longer time. Matcha may also be prepared with lower temperature water. In addition, this method can be used for Kuradashi teas. It enhances the soft and mellow characteristics of each tea and creates a more relaxing atmosphere as you wait for your tea to brew.

    - Gyokuro is usually brewed with 140-158F (60-70C) water for 1 1/2 to 2 min. For a softer, mellower flavor, use lower temperature water: 131F (55C) for 2 to 2 1/2 min.
    - Sencha is usually brewed with 176F (80C) water for 1 min. For a softer, mellower flavor, use lower temperature water: 167F (75C) for 1 1/2 min.
    - Matcha is usually prepared with 176F (80C) temperature water. For a softer, mellower flavor, use lower temperature water: 158F (70C).

  2. Brewing Process for Deeper Flavor
    To intensify the depth of flavor, you can increase the quantity of tea leaves or Matcha. Add an additional 25 - 30% tea leaves or Matcha and follow the brewing temperatures and times listed above for "softer, mellower flavor." The enhanced deep and mellow flavor intensifies the differences between and unique characteristics of each individual tea. In this case, you can brew Kuradashi Gyokuro and Sencha 4 times instead of 3 times in regular brewing.

    You can enjoy an amazing deep and mellow flavor by following this special method. It is nearly impossible to over-brew Kuradashi Tea (causing a bitter taste) because it's enriched for 1.5 years. In contrast, regular teas can become bitter if brewed this way.

    Would you try this special brewing process? You will certainly enjoy the complex and versatile Kuradashi Tea flavor.

  3. Profound Effect by Tea Ware
    Special tea ware, such as handcrafted tea ware or Hohin teapot, also creates a different tea experience. The flavor and aroma of tea will subtly change, depending on the shape, size, thickness, and material (ceramic, porcelain, glass, etc.) of the vessel. In addition, the appearance of the tea ware has an effect on your perception of the experience. Handcrafted tea ware, especially earthenware is subtly different in individual details and has a special, personal warmth of the artisan. It is relaxing to gaze at handcrafted tea ware and enjoy Japanese tea leisurely. Hohin is a small size Kyusu teapot without a handle and is used to brew only the highest grade Uji tea. The size is usually 100ml (3.52fl oz) or more, and should be used together with small size Yunomi cups like 50ml (1.76fl oz) or more. It is a unique experience to brew high grade Japanese green tea by Hohin.

    In the case of Matcha, curious to say, the style of bowl has a profound effect on the tea drinking experience. The feel of holding the bowl in your hands, the texture of the smooth or rough ceramic on your mouth, and the visual appearance makes you experience the Matcha flavor differently. Would you try to prepare Kuradashi Matcha with a Matcha Bowl that differs from your everyday bowl? For example, Raku Yaki feels very soft and warm to the touch by hands or mouth, elegant painted Matcha Bowl soothes your eyes and heart, earthenware Matcha Bowl reminds you of the beauty and depth of clay, fire, and nature.

The three methods above can be tried separately or all together at once. The methods are not difficult to try, but the result provides a truly unique experience of flavor and atmosphere.




Hand picked harvest for Kuradashi Tea

Today most tea leaves are trimmed by machine and traditional hand picked Gyokuro, Sencha, and Matcha are rarely grown and is therefore very precious. The flavor and aroma of hand picked tea is much more mellow and smooth than tea trimmed by machine.

Tea trees for hand picked and for machine trimmed are grown in different ways, and tea sprouts of both types of trees grow differently. In the case of tea trees trimmed by machine, tea sprouts grow from the previously trimmed stubble. In contrast, in the case of tea trees picked by hand, tea sprouts shoot from the natural forks in the branches. The difference in sprout growth is the main reason why teas picked by hand vs. trimmed by machine have distinctly unique flavors. The flavor and aroma of hand picked tea is much more mellow and smooth than tea trimmed by machine and the leaves are of higher quality.

Even a skilled tea harvester can hand pick just up to 6 to 8kg of fresh tea leaves all through the day. The picked fresh tea leaves are processed and finished, at which point the total weight of the tea leaves is only about 18% of the fresh tea leaves. Even if about 20 skilled tea harvesters pick all through the day, we can only gather around 25 kg of finished precious hand picked tea.

From the time the sprouts appear to the time the leaves become too large to harvest is just a few days. So tea leaves must be harvested as quickly as possible in one long stretch. Therefore it is never easy to pick large amounts of tea leaves by skilled hands in just a few days.
Top grade tea, hand picked tea is grown only in quite a small amount. So, hand picked tea is very precious.

Our Kuradashi Gyokuro Pinnacle, Super Premium, Kuradashi Matcha Pinnacle and Super Premium are carefully picked by hand.

Tea farm for tea trimmed by machine under the "Tana" canopy

When tea is picked by hand, tea sprouts shoot from the natural forks in the branches. The sprouts create an excellent mellow and smooth flavor.

Machine-trimmed tea is harvested by only 2 or 3 people. In contrast, hand-picked tea is harvested by 10 to 30 people.

Hand-picked tea harvest scene



Jidai Matsuri festival

The Jidai Matsuri festival is one of the three major festivals in Kyoto. It started in 1895 when Heian Jingu shrine was constructed on the 1,110-year anniversary of Kyoto's founding. Three religious ceremonies and opulent parades expressing culture, institutions and style of each era are held at the Jidai Matsuri festival. The date of October 22 when the festival is held is the date when Kanmu emperor founded the Miyako imperial capital in Kyoto in 794.

Tomoe Gozen, a famous military commander of the late Heian period (792-1185)

Parade of a military commander entering into MIYAKO capital at Kamakura period (1185-1333)

arade of Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537-1598) meeting with the Ten noh emperor

Foot Soldiers Parade at Edo Period (1603 to 1868)

Japanese Royalty and Women's Parade of Edo Period (1603 to 1868)

Meiji Restoration Soldiers Parade. Meiji Period (1868 to 1912)

Efforts for Kuradashi Matcha

Aged and enriched Matcha known as Kuradashi Matcha is very special to all those who engage in tea ceremony. In the Japanese tea ceremony, even today, people celebrate aged Matcha in the ceremony called Kuchikiri no Gi every autumn. Traditionally, a special tea jar filled with Matcha was stored in a cool place like the top of a high mountain or in the ground after harvest until autumn. People would first enjoy that year's Matcha in the autumn after the Kuchikiri no Gi ceremony. And it was said that when the jar lid was opened in autumn, the marvelous fragrant aroma was savored. Indeed, when we open a package of our special Kuradashi Matcha, here at Hibiki-an, that has been aged for more than one year, the aroma is so amazing that there are no words to describe it.

To correctly age Kuradashi Matcha, there are many rules and special procedures one must follow.
Tea leaves should be stored not in powder form, but as Tencha. Tea leaves before they are ground into fine powder, but after stems and veins are removed, are known as Tencha. For Kuradashi Matcha, the Tencha is ground into powder by a stone mill called Ishiusu just before it is shipped to the customer. The reason for this is because when Matcha is ground into a fine powder, it deteriorates more easily than tea leaves such as Gyokuro and Sencha due to the fact that there is more surface area exposed to the air. If one tried to age Matcha powder for more than one year, as we do with Tencha for Kuradashi Matcha, it would not enrich but just deteriorate.

In order to age and enrich well, tea leaves need air, oxygen. The Tencha tea leaves are stored in open, unsealed foil bags in a special refrigerator that is somewhat cool, but not too cold. We keep a flow of fresh air constantly circulating through the refrigerator, allowing oxygen to mix with the tea. In this way, the tea leaves are allowed to breathe over time and enrich.

When Tencha is ground in the stone mill known as Ishiusu, the temperature is 60 to 70C (140 to 158F). The moderate heat deepens the mellow taste of the Kuradashi Matcha. The stone mill can grind only 70g (2.5oz) per hour. It takes a long time to grind the Tencha into Matcha, therefore some tea companies have several stone mills, which are very expensive and require a huge space. Though today's stone mill is turned by an electric motor, not by hand, most parts of today's stone mill are quite the same as the traditional stone mill of many years ago. Even today, the grooves of the great stones used in the mill which grind the tea are hand-carved by skilled craftsmen.
Today many manufactures tend to use power disintegrator machines to create Matcha, as it is much more efficient than traditional stone mills. Middle and low grade Matcha is often made using a power disintegrator machine. Only high and highest grade Matcha, such as our Kuradashi Matcha, is ground by traditional stone mill to deepen the mellow taste.

As above, to create the unique and subtle mellow flavor of Kuradashi Matcha, which enhances in the mouth and lingers for a while, a great deal of time and care are devoted not only to growing tea at the tea farm but also to the special process to turn fresh tea leaves into perfectly-aged Kuradashi Matcha.

Tea leaves of aged Tencha just before ground

Matcha grinding factory

Today's stone mill turned by an electric motor

Traditional stone mill turned by hand

Grinding into Matcha with the traditional stone mill

Even today stone mills are hand-carved by skilled craftsmen

Traditional Storage for the Ceremony of Kuradashi Matcha

Many years ago in Japan, tea leaves were stored in a special ceramic jar for Kuradashi Matcha like the below pictures at early summer around June or July after the Matcha harvest was completely finished. The tea leaves stored in the jar are known as Tencha: tea leaves before being ground into the fine powder of Matcha. The jar was carefully stored following a specific process in order for the tea leaves to enrich and age in good condition. The jar was opened at Kuchikiri no Gi, a tea ceremony in mid autumn. Above is a series of the ceremony of Kuradashi Matcha.

- First, Tencha tea leaves (*) for the highest grade Matcha like our Kuradashi Matcha Pinnacle are packaged in a bag made with Washi paper.
- The package is put into the jar in which Tencha (*) for high grade Matcha like our Kuradashi Matcha Super Premium is stored.
- Then the jar is filled with the Tencha (*) the high grade Matcha. And the mouth of the jar is sealed off with Washi paper and Japanese paste.
(*) Tencha: tea leaves before being ground into the fine powder of Matcha

Until around mid 19th century Japan, the production of Matcha was monopolized by seven tea merchants in Uji, Kyoto. So the above process of storing tea in this special jar was allowed to only the seven tea merchants.
(Kuradashi Matcha Pinnacle and Super Premium will start to be sold around late October.)




Maturation of Kuradashi Tea

It has been said since olden days that fine Gyokuro and Matcha gain an enriched flavor and deep noble aroma and sweetness over time, and so are best some months and up to two years after harvest. Not all green tea is suitable for this process, and only certain types of high-quality Uji tea produce the finest Kuradashi Gyokuro.
From a scientific standpoint, Japanese tea does not age in the same way as fine wine, and of course it does not become alcoholic. However, it is an indisputable fact that certain Japanese tea, specific breeds of high-quality Uji tea, gain an enriched flavor by a special traditional aging process.
We would like to explain more about Kuradashi Gyokuro. What flavor is created? What type of Japanese tea gains the flavor? And what is the aging procedure?

The features of green tea enriched and aged in good condition are:
- Deepened and gained smoothness and sweetness of flavor.
- Created and gained subtle enriched and noble aroma.
- Softened and rounded refreshing aroma, in contrast to Shincha's usual brisk and refreshing aroma.

All tea does not gain the enriched flavor. Only tea leaves which meet the following criteria can possibly gain an enriched flavor:
- Fresh, high-quality, and smooth-tasting tea leaves harvested at well-managed tea farms.
- Tea grown carefully in the shade by "Tana" (not "Jikagise"). With the "Jikagise" method, the tea plants are directly covered with a type of black fabric. "Tana" is not covering the tea tree directly but building a canopy.
- At processing, the tea must not be heavily steamed. However, farmers tend to steam tea leaves for Gyokuro more heavily to produce tea with a deep, smooth taste and vivid green color. Such Gyokuro can not be aged well.
Tea leaves meeting the above criteria are just a small portion of the highest quality tea leaves harvested in Uji, Kyoto. Tea leaves that do not meet these criteria just deteriorate when aged.

However, even with the correct type of tea leaves, it is not an easy task to properly age green tea.
Tea leaves are usually packaged in aluminum foil bags filled with nitrogen in order to keep fresh flavor through the year. And they are stored in a special refrigerator.
To create Kuradashi Gyokuro, the green tea must be allowed to "breathe". Over a period of time, the oxygen has an effect on the green tea which creates the enriched flavor. If the tea is aged by an inappropriate procedure or inappropriate type tea is aged, it will simply deteriorate.
In order to age and enrich well, tea leaves need air, oxygen. Though we put tea leaves in a foil bag, we don't seal the bag. The tea is carefully placed in a traditional wooden box (like below picture) in the special refrigerator. To enrich, the temperature in the refrigerator also should not be too cold. The air circulates in the bag, wooden box, and the refrigerator, allowing a flow of oxygen to constantly mix with the tea. In this way, the tea leaves are allowed to breathe over time.
However, because the bag is not sealed, and the temperature in the refrigerator is not so cold, tea leaves can easily deteriorate by absorbing moisture or odor. Therefore we always pay the closest attention to the tea leaves to ensure their perfection.

As above, it is not easy to enrich Gyokuro well, so many wholesalers and retailers these days are not willing to accept risks in order to enrich Gyokuro. However, the enriched flavor and subtle noble aroma and sweetness of Kuradashi Gyokuro are more than someone can dream. Would you enjoy it once?

Shaded from sunlight by way of 'Tana' before harvest

Shaded from sunlight by way of 'Jikagise' before harvest

Processing factory using traditional machines

Tea leaves processed for Kuradashi Gyokuro by traditional way

Kurashi teas put in wooden box are enriched in the special cold storage chamber.

Enriched Kurashi tea just taken out from the storage chamber

Kuchikiri no Gi ceremony (Oct. 6)

Though today some Gyokuro lovers enjoy newly harvested Gyokuro, it is the traditional wisdom that Matcha and Gyokuro generally gain an enriched flavor and sweetness over time, and are best some months after harvest.

In the Japanese tea ceremony, even today people celebrate aged Matcha in the ceremony called Kuchikiri no Gi every autumn. Kuchikiri no Gi means the ceremony of opening a special jar of tea. Matcha and Gyokuro used to be placed in a tea jar. This tea jar was then sealed and stored in a cool place like the top of a high mountain or in the ground after harvest until autumn. People would first enjoy that year's Matcha and Gyokuro in the autumn after the Kuchikiri no Gi ceremony. And it was said that when the jar lid first opened in autumn, the marvelous fragrant smell was savored. It was said that the smell was so amazing that there were no words to describe it, and it had to be experienced firsthand.

Today the Kuchikiri no Gi ceremony is still held by the local tea industry and a school of Teaism at Kosho Temple in Uji on the first Sunday of October every year in order to honor the forerunners who contributed to developing Japanese tea culture.

The ceremony is thus followed:
- Water is gathered by ladle from the river at Uji Bridge in the way of Hideyoshi Toyotomi, kanpaku (powerful ruler) in Japan, who supported Rikyu Sen to indurate Teaism. He always used the water from Uji Bridge every day in order to prepare his Matcha.
- The water is solemnly and mindfully carried to Kosho Temple.
- The tea jar which was filled with tea leaves and sealed in the harvest season is opened according to traditional procedure.
- Matcha is prepared by the present head of the school of Teaism.
- A bowl of Matcha is offered before the tablet of the ancestors who contributed to developing Japanese tea culture.

Kosho Temple

The tea jar

Water gathered from the Uji river

Opening the tea jar

Grinding tencha into matcha

Prepared matcha by the present head of the school of Teaism

Offered matcha before the tablet of the ancestors


Traditional stone mill turned by hand

Coming of Autumn and Kuradashi Tea (Around Sep. 27)

The mornings and evenings are now getting cool here in Ujitawara, Kyoto. Summer flowers have finished blooming and autumn flowers are beginning to appear. The seven autumn wild flowers, loved by tea masters for generations, are blooming. Autumn fruit trees such as persimmon are starting to produce green fruits that will soon ripen to a beautiful orange color, a symbol of autumn.
Major insects at our tea farms have been changing too. Summer insects such as spider, ladybird, mantis, and so on, decreased sharply in number, while autumn insects such as red dragonfly and brown locust have made their appearance.

In Ujitawara, Kyoto, the low temperatures have been around 55F or 61F (13C or 16C) with high temperatures of 77F or 82F (25C or 28C) this past week. Though this year’s lingering summer heat was intense, recent cool mornings and nights suddenly make us feel a desire for Kuradashi tea.

Kuradashi teas, which have been enriched in wooden boxes in the granary for 1.5 years, since last May, are almost ready. Kuradashi teas have a deepened mellow and sweet taste and enhanced subtle noble aroma. We will begin to offer these limited edition teas within the next 10 days. Please wait and see! (We are now accepting pre-orders for Kuradashi Gyokuro and Kuradashi Sencha.)

Sky has changed to autumn tone

Silver grass, one of the seven autumn wild flowers

Wild chrysanthemum, one of the seven autumn wild flowers

Japanese orange is starting to produce green fruits that will soon ripen to a beautiful orange color

Red dragonfly is one of the charming sights of autumn in Japan

Wooden tea storage box, in which Kuradashi teas have been enriched

End of Summer and Kuradashi Teas (Around Aug. 29)

This summer, especially August, Japan experienced intense rain and sweltering heat. In some areas, the heavy rain that fell over a few days was equal in quantity to the typical average monthly rainfall for August. The August rainfall throughout Japan will likely be more than twice the average. Contrary to the original prediction that it would be a cool summer due to El Nino, the summer has been unusually hot.

Last summer, Japan experienced record breaking intense heat and some areas suffered from lack of water. Some years ago, the intense summer heat injured tea trees, even permanently damaging some trees. This year's generous amount of rain is a blessing for tea trees.

It typically starts getting cool in early morning and night in Ujitawara, Kyoto around August 15, after the OBON religious festival. This year, it started getting cool in the early morning around August 21 or 22. The lingering summer heat is expected to remain intense.

Autumn is on its way and so are our seasonal autumn Kuradashi teas. Following traditional methods, our Kuradashi teas have been enriched in wooden boxes in the granary for one and a half years, since last May, and will be ready in some more weeks. The deepened mellow and noble flavor of enriched Kuradashi Gyokuro and Kuradashi Matcha will be available in mid-autumn. Please wait and see!

To prevent damage from intense heat, straw, fallen leaves, or grasses are placed around the base of the tea trees.

Tea trees under the TANA canopy are shaded sparsely to avoid intense heat.

Rain is godsend for tea trees in sweltering hot summer

Shade-grown tea and "Honzu" the traditional reed and straw canopy

Tea leaves for Gyokuro and Matcha are grown in the shade for 20 to 30 days before harvest. There are two ways of creating shade for growing tea trees. One of them is "Tana" and the other is "Jikagise". With the "Jikagise" method, the tea plants are directly covered with a type of black fabric. "Tana" is not covering the tea tree directly but building a canopy-like structure at the height of about 6 to 7 feet (1.8 to 2.1m) covering the whole tea growing area as in the below picture. It requires skillful technique and great care, and is managed only in the Uji region. Excellent noble aroma and elegant sweetness are created by the "Tana" technique.

"Tana" is superior to "Jikagise" for a few reasons. "Tana" is much less of a burden for tea leaves and tea trees than "Jikagise" because "Jikagise" is placed directly over the tea leaves. "Tana" is a superior way to provide protection from the heat and intense sunlight. It is not completely understood why "Tana" produces such an excellent flavor in Gyokuro and Matcha, but tea producers in Japan are currently conducting research to find an answer to this question.
If you visit a tea farm in Japan and step under the "Tana" canopy, you are immediately aware that the air under the "Tana" is quite brisk and invigorating, which refreshes your mind and body. This is due to the "breath" of the tea leaves under the canopy.

"Honzu" is a very special way of building "Tana". It is the traditional way of diffusing sunlight from long ago, and these days it is very rare to see, even in the Uji region. In the "Honzu" method, tea farmers build a structure to provide shade to the tea trees using only reeds and straw. Old-style reeds and straw provide the ideal shade for tea trees. And it is said that the constituents exuded from the straw through the rainwater exercise good effects on the tea leaves.
However, it is not easy to build this structure of reeds and straw, to gather so much reeds and straw, and to manage to keep the "Honzu" in good condition throughout the growing season. For example, if a strong wind blew just after placement of the straw, the straw would be blown away and ruined. If it rains once after the placement of the straw, the rainwater firms the structure.
As above, "Honzu" requires skillful technique and much great care, so that only less than 10 farmers in all of Japan manage "Honzu" (only in Ogura and a few other areas in the Uji region). However, the shading with reeds and straw of "Honzu" provide tea leaves with the very ideal conditions.

Our Kuradashi Gyokuro Pinnacle and Kuradashi Matcha Pinnacle are grown in diffused sunlight under the reed and straw "Honzu" which provides an ideal growing environment for top-grade Gyokuro. If you are a Japanese Tea lover, would you once enjoy the excellent and subtle flavor grown with the traditional technique and much great care?

"Jikagise" shading from sunlight

"Tana" made with modern building materials

"Honzu" made with reeds and straw is a traditional style of "Tana"

Building "Honzu". Placing straws on the reed frame



What is Kuradashi Tea?

Do you know Kuradashi Tea? In contrast to Sencha, which is enjoyed for its refreshing aroma immediately after harvest, Gyokuro and Matcha gain an enriched flavor and deep noble aroma and sweetness over time, and therefore are best some months after harvest. A long time ago, people celebrated aged Gyokuro and Matcha in autumn, just as Shincha is celebrated in spring. It was called Kuradashi tea meaning tea taken out from the granary.

Today's Japanese tea lovers favor both fresh Gyokuro and Matcha, and enriched Kuradashi Gyokuro and Matcha. It just depends on each person's individual taste and preference to know which kind will be their favorite. However, it is more and more difficult to find real enriched Kuradashi Tea even in Japan. It is not easy to enrich and sweeten Gyokuro and Matcha. If one doesn't keep a close watch over their Kuradashi Tea, it will easily deteriorate. Like a fine wine, aged tea can easily pass from a state of being deliciously enriched to a state of being deteriorated.
Besides, all Gyokuro and Matcha do not gain an enriched flavor but only specific kinds of Gyokuro and Matcha. It depends on some factors, such as the breed of tea leaves, how the sunlight is shaded, management of fertilizer and nutrients, the processing procedure, and so on.
Therefore many wholesalers and retailers these days are not willing to accept risks in order to create Kuradashi Tea.
Since we at Hibiki-an, understand the traditional way of aging Kuradashi Tea properly, we are happy to be able to provide you with Kuradashi Gyokuro and Matcha. We would like Japanese tea lovers around the world to be able to experience the remarkable and noble enriched and sweetened flavor and aroma of true Kuradashi Gyokuro and Matcha.

Kuradashi Gyokuro and Matcha are different from ordinary Gyokuro and Matcha in aroma and flavor, so it may be enjoyable for you to compare this tea with regular Gyokuro and Matcha. The superb enriched and sweetened flavor and aroma of this special tea lingers in the mouth for a while. The aroma is full, but not too strong. The flavor is richer and subtle. The taste is both mellow and enhanced.

Kuradashi Gyokuro and Matcha can best be described in the same way a fine wine is described and enjoyed by connoisseurs. Like Pinot Noir red wine, Kuradashi Gyokuro and Matcha are amazingly full flavored with hints of woody spices, sweet fruits, and nuts, as well as oak, earth, leaves, and grass. It is difficult to describe this remarkably delicious tea and just must be experienced firsthand!

Harvest in May




Enriched by the traditional way




Tasting





A Tip to Enjoy Kuradashi Teas

Kuradashi Teas are enriched in the granary like fine wine. The superb enriched and sweetened flavor and aroma lingers in the mouth for a while.
Usually Kuradashi tea is prepared the same way as regular Gyokuro, Sencha, and Matcha. Another way to enjoy Kuradashi tea is to prepare it so that it has a softer, mellower taste. In this case, we recommend you prepare Kuradashi tea with a little lower temperature water.

1. Brewing Process:

- Kuradashi Gyokuro
Kuradashi Gyokuro is brewed using the same method as regular Gyokuro: 140-158F (60-70C) water for 1 1/2 to 2 min. For a softer, mellower flavor, use lower temperature water: 131F (55C) for 2 to 2 1/2 min.
(For 2 cups) Tea leaves: 1 1/2 tablespoons (7 - 8g), Water amount: 200ml (7.04fl oz)

- Kuradashi Sencha
Kuradashi Sencha is brewed using the same method as regular Sencha: 176F (80C) water for 1 min. For a softer, mellower flavor, use lower temperature water: 167F (75C) for 1 1/2 min.
(For 2 cups) Tea leaves: 1 1/2 tablespoons (7 - 8g), Water amount: 200ml (7.04fl oz)

- Kuradashi Matcha
Kuradashi Matcha is prepared using 176F (80C) temperature water, the same as regular Matcha. For a softer, mellower flavor, use lower temperature water: 158F (70C).
(For a bowl of Matcha) Matcha: 2 Chashaku or 1 teaspoon, Water amount: 70ml (2.46fl oz)

2. Brewing Process for Deeper Flavor:

- Kuradashi Gyokuro, Kuradashi Sencha, and Kuradashi Matcha
Add an additional 25 - 30% tea leaves and follow the brewing temperatures and times listed above for "softer, mellower flavor." In this case, you can brew Kuradashi Gyokuro and Sencha 4 times instead of 3 times in regular brewing.

You can enjoy an amazing deep and mellow flavor by following this special method. It is nearly impossible to over-brew Kuradashi Tea (causing a bitter taste) because it's enriched for 1.5 years. In contrast, regular teas can become bitter if brewed this way.
Would you try this special brewing process? You will certainly enjoy the complex and versatile Kuradashi Tea flavor.