Historical Background of Kuradashi TeaHistorical Background of Kuradashi Tea

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 on front side is 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.

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

Hand-picked tea harvest scene



"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



Kuradashi Tea: Now Available!

At last Kuradashi Matcha is now available!
The Jidai Matsuri festival will be held at Kyoto city on October 22. For more information, please see above 'The Jidai Matsuri festival' after October 22.
Our Kuradashi Matcha which has been stored for over 1.5 years was taken out from the granary. We have arranged three grades of limited edition Kuradashi Matcha as described below. They are limited edition of 850 packages each ONLY AVAILABLE this autumn season. And Kuradashi Gyokuro and Sencha teas are still available.
Celebrate Kuradashi Teas 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...

Kuradashi Matcha

[Limited] Kuradashi Matcha Super Premium (40g/1.41oz): US$34.00 (Now Available)
For this Kuradashi Matcha Super Premium, tea leaves just after harvest, are steamed and dried in a special fire pit. The smooth and mellow taste is uniquely brought out by the special drying process...
[Limited] Kuradashi Matcha Super Premium Refill (120g/4.23oz): US$85.00 (Now Available)
This Kuradashi Matcha Super Premium Refill package is an excellent value. The price is actually discounted 17%. For this Kuradashi Matcha, tea leaves just after harvest, are steamed and dried in a special fire pit. The smooth and mellow taste is uniquely brought out by the special drying process...
[Limited] Kuradashi Matcha Premium (40g/1.41oz): US$26.00 (Now Available)
Tea leaves for Kuradashi Matcha Premium are highest grade tea trimmed by machine and grown in Uji region, Kyoto. The smooth and mellow taste is uniquely brought out by the special drying process...
[Limited] Kuradashi Matcha Premium Refill (120g/4.23oz): US$64.00 (Now Available)
This Kuradashi Matcha Premium Refill package is an excellent value. The price is actually discounted 17%. Tea leaves for Kuradashi Matcha Premium are highest grade tea trimmed by machine and grown in Uji region, Kyoto. The smooth and mellow taste is uniquely brought out by the special drying process...
[Limited] Kuradashi Matcha Pinnacle (30g/1.06oz): US$40.00 (Now Available)
The traditional canopy used to shade tea plants from sunlight known as "Honzu" is unique and different from others. They are also important factors in creating the noble flavor and sweetness of the highest grade enriched Matcha...
[Limited] Kuradashi Matcha Pinnacle Refill (120g/4.23oz): US$128.00 (Now Available)
This Kuradashi Matcha Premium Refill package is an excellent value. The price is actually discounted 21%. The traditional canopy used to shade tea plants from sunlight known as "Honzu" is unique and different from others. They are also important factors in creating the noble flavor and sweetness of the highest grade enriched Matcha...

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