What's Kuradashi TeaWhat's Kuradashi Tea
At last, we have started the Pre-order sale of Kuradashi Tea!
We have been arranging three limited edition Kuradashi Gyokuro and one Kuradashi Sencha for pre-order sales. They are limited edition of 850 packages each ONLY AVAILABLE this autumn season.
Each pre-order item is anticipated to be shipped around October 4 or 6. It is just before the Kuchikiri no Gi ceremony, when people celebrate Kuradashi Tea in Kyoto on October 6.
To pre-order, please go through the order process as usual. (Gyokuro shopping category)

Coming of Autumn and Kuradashi Tea (Around Sep. 26)

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 73F or 81F (23C or 27C) 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 is one of the seven autumn wild flowers.

Cosmea blossoms beautifully.

Spider lily is one of representative autumn flowers in Japanese country side.

Murmur of a brook makes felt coolness in autumn.

Ficus produces fruits

Locust changes color to brown in late summer or early autumn.

Thistle flower is a relic of summerspan>

There is a still green color locust in green weeds. It is a relic of summer too.

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.

Kuradashi Tea

At last, we have started the Pre-order sale of Kuradashi Tea!
We have been arranging three limited edition Kuradashi Gyokuro and one Kuradashi Sencha for pre-order sales as described below. They are limited edition of 850 packages each ONLY AVAILABLE this autumn season.
Each pre-order item is anticipated to be shipped around October 5. It is just before the Kuchikiri no Gi ceremony, when people celebrate Kuradashi Tea in Kyoto on October 7. To pre-order, please go through the order process as usual.
Celebrate Kuradashi Tea and enjoy the remarkable enriched flavor and sweetness which can only be experienced once every year! We are certain that the fine enriched flavor and sweetness will captivate you.

Kuradashi Gyokuro and Sencha

[Limited] Kuradashi Gyokuro Super Premium (40g/1.41oz): US$24.00 (Now Pre-orders Taken)
The superb enriched and sweetened flavor and aroma lingers in the mouth for a while. The aroma is full, but not too strong. The flavor is rich and subtle. The taste is both mellow and enhanced...
[Limited] Kuradashi Gyokuro Premium (80g/2.82oz): US$27.00 (Now Pre-orders Taken)
All Gyokuro does not gain an enriched flavor but only specific kinds of Gyokuro. We have enriched this highest grade of trimmed Gyokuro for one and a half years...
[Limited] Kuradashi Gyokuro Pinnacle (40g/1.41oz): US$35.00 (Now Pre-orders Taken)
Tea leaves for this special tea grow in the Ogura area in the Uji region, which is known as one of the foremost production centers of the highest grade of enriched Gyokuro...
[Limited] Kuradashi Sencha (80g/2.82oz): US$24.00 (Now Pre-orders Taken)
Long time ago the quality and good conditioned Sencha in Autumn season must have been similar in taste and aroma to this fine Kuradashi Sencha. And that time, only few people could enjoy the excellent flavour...