What's Kuradashi TeaWhat's Kuradashi Tea
At last Kuradashi Tea is now available!
The Kuchikiri no Gi ceremony was solemnly and mindfully held at Kosho Temple in Uji and people celebrated Kuradashi tea on October 2.
At the same time, our Kuradashi Gyokuro which has been stored for over a year was taken out from the granary. We have arranged three limited edition Kuradashi Gyokuro teas and one Kuradashi Sencha, as described below. They are limited edition of 850 packages each ONLY AVAILABLE this autumn season.
Celebrate Kuradashi Gyokuro 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 Tea category)

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

Gyokuro Processing factory using very traditional machines

Tea leaves processed for Kuradashi Gyokuro by traditional way. Traditional processing way amazingly takes a lot of time.

Just one person operate modern processing facilities which capacity is about four times as large as this traditional facilities. In contrast that, five to seven persons work in the traditional factory which capacity is small.

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

Coming of Autumn and Kuradashi Tea (Around Sep. 23)

The mornings and evenings are now getting cool here in Ujitawara, Kyoto. Curious to say, the first hints of autumn coolness indeed make the flavor and warmth of hot tea even more inviting and desirable.

Two summers ago the weather was quite severe for the tea trees because the temperature was extremely hot and there was little rain. In contrast, there was plentiful rain this past August, similar to last year's summer. We had 13 or 14 rainy days in August. Therefore, the weather was relatively comfortable for the tea trees. We farmers expect a heavy crop of tea next spring.

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 64F or 73F (18C or 23C) with high temperatures of 77F or 87F (25C or 31C) 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 part of autumn seven flowers which have been loved by tea masters for generations.

Murmur of a brook makes felt coolness in autumn.

Persimmon fruits will ripen soon.

As soon as coming Autumn, many kinds of insects appear.


Tea flowers bloom in autumn.

Cosmos flowers blossoming near by our tea farm.

Kuradashi teas have been enriched for 1.5 years.

End of Summer and Kuradashi Teas (Around Aug. 25)

Though this year's TSUYU rainy season started around the middle of June as usual, the announcement of the end of the TSUYU rainy season came around the end of June, which is 3 weeks earlier than usual and the shortest in the past 50 years. We farmers really worried about the lack of rainfall this summer. However, fortunately, we had many rainy days in July.

In August, the summer heat was intense all over Japan. In a few areas, the temperature reached more than 40C (104F) and broke the record for the highest temperature. Even Kyoto reached above 38C (100F).
However, there were about 9 to 11 rainy days during that time in August in Uji, Kyoto. As a result, the tea trees received enough rain throughout the whole summer, so they fortunately weren't damaged from the intense heat and avoided HAYAKE leaf scorch.

Overall, this summer was not too severe for tea trees. The conditions were actually rather good for tea trees, though tea trees are innately strong against bad weather conditions.

The weather typically starts getting cooler in the early morning and at night in Ujitawara, Kyoto around August 16, after the OBON religious festival. According to forecasts, it is expected that the autumn weather will be typical. Farmers pray that the much anticipated autumn rain will bring vitality to the tea trees.

Autumn is going to be on its way soon 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 a few 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!

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


These tea leaves are unfortunately partially damaged by the intense heat. Yet, new sprouts will grow vigorously, even on these tea trees, next spring because of their innate hardiness, and appropriate management from the tea farmer.

Tea trees, which are innately strong against bad weather conditions, overcame this severe climate.

Taking a break near by our tea farm

Orthetrum albistylum speciosum. End of summer is approaching.

Autumn is almost around the corner.

Our Kuradashi teas have been aged in the granary by the traditional way since last year's May.

Kuradashi teas enriched in wooden boxes.

"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. This special autumn tea was called Kuradashi Tea, meaning tea taken out from the granary. Our Kuradashi Tea is aged in the granary for more than 1.5 years.

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, which are aged in the granary for more than 1.5 years, 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





Kuradashi Tea: Now Available!

At last Kuradashi Gyokuro is now available!
The Kuchikiri no Gi ceremony was solemnly and mindfully held at Kosho Temple in Uji and people celebrated Kuradashi Gyokuro on October 2. (For more information, please see above 'Kuchikiri no Gi ceremony.')
At the same time, our Kuradashi Gyokuro which has been stored for over 1.5 years was taken out from the granary. We have arranged three limited edition Kuradashi Gyokuro and one Kuradashi Sencha as described below. They are limited edition of 850 packages each ONLY AVAILABLE this autumn season. Two Kuradashi Matcha will start to be sold around late October. Please wait and see.
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 Available)
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 Available)
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 Available)
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 Available)
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...