Day 2 of the Japanese tea marathon hosted by The Global Japanese Tea Association! For today’s marathon workshop we learnt all about Miyazaki. So just like yesterdays post, in this post I’m going to go through what we learnt about the region, the tea that grows there and what we learnt about the guest farmer and the tea they produce. Like I said at the end of yesterdays post there may be some days when I have to combine a few days but I’m going to try and do a single post per workshop to keep the info separate if I can.
Miyazaki – is located in the south of Japan; it’s a very mythical land and it is believed that the country of Japan started here as this was the origin of the first emperor. It has a lot of high mountains and the beautiful Takachiho river valley as well as beautiful beaches. it has been ranked the happiest place twice 2018 and 2020.
Tea in Miyazaki – Miyazaki was 27th in tea production across Japan, however by 2020 it had risen to the fourth largest tea producing area. Miyazaki is where Kamairicha pan fried tea was originated. Aoyagisei kamairicha – flat pan frying annual production of this can of tea is 200t, which is only 0.3% of Japanese tea. This region produces the biggest amount of this tea. It also has a tea research center who developed their own rare tea cultivars. Within Miyazaki there are many tea growing regions.
Akira Miyazaki is the president of Miyazaki Sabo is Gokase town. It was founded in 1930 and has a tea farm size of 11ha with an elevation of 1200-1600m above the sea level. Just like yesterday’s farm, it is all farmed using organic method. Though unlike yesterday it is all harvested using hand held machines. due to it being old, the hill side has to be farmed this way as the land is not flat. The climate of this region is perfect for organic farming due to the elevation. They will also hand pick the leaves as well.
Miyazaki Sabo produce Oolong tea which is not common yet in Japanese production and Sannenbancha, which is not so common either, along side black tea and many others. They have had lots of rain this year and as a result the harvest season has been extended with about 1 week left. The withering machine they use was created with the help of Miyazaki-san and there are only a few of them across Japan. He says the hardest part of organic farming is that you have to weed all year round by hand which takes a long time, the weather if it is not good can also cause the plants to get some diseases, so they have to develop cultivars that are much more resistant.
On their land they have teas farm teas from over 20 different cultivars and they have tried to make Oolong from each and everyone of them. however they found that the best results only came from a few of them as they were most suitable. Even though Oolong isn’t too common in Japan, most of their Oolong is sold domestically. They also grow blueberries along side their tea fields and they do this not only because they love them but also because it give they workers something to enjoy while they are working on farming the leaves, they also make blueberry leaf/stem tea infusions that have quite a sour taste, it is however caffeine free.
Their Sannenbancha is named so because it is farmed after 3 years, the tea seeds and flowers can been seen on the Bancha trees. It is harvested between December and January and the bushes are harvested using hand scissors. it is separated back at the factory to separate the leaves, steams, flowers and seeds, only the stems and the leaves are used. They don’t have to worry about the insects with the tea as it is harvest during the winter months. It is pan fried over fire wood at 300c and this roasts it giving it flavor profile with sweet notes from the stems, roasted notes similar to Hojicha and a subtle spice and wood notes. It’s naturally very low in caffeine and can be infused many times for long periods. They do use fertilizers with the Bancha and they also have to do a lot of weeding so the nutrients aren’t taken from the plant.
While most tea farms in Japan produce green tea, Miyazaki-san wanted to step away from that and explore other teas, they do not have all of the machines needed to produce the green teas so he wanted to find the teas that worked the best with the pan frying machines they have thus landing on teas like Oolong and Sannenbancha among others. They have to deal with a lots of frost in the region but they are used to dealing with it now and don’t worry about it too much, however it does sometimes push their harvesting season back a little bit. Sometimes the frost can actually enhance the next buds that come through making them more aromatic.
Miyazaki-san says that his most favourite activity during tea production is tea farming and harvesting as it allow him to see the tea leaves at their most beautiful with all of the bright colours and aromatics. In the future he wants to create a space where people from all over the world can go and enjoy his tea, which sounds like a great idea to me and I would certainly love to visit when I finally make it to Japan. He has done a lot of research into the tea plant and he says the most interesting thing he has found is that the leaves below the ones normally harvested are strongly aromatic and he found that they actually make great Hojicha, it seems like he does a lot of experimenting and is very innovate which is very refreshing to see.
It was another fantastic session today and i was again able to learn so much, for those of you who didn’t register for this marathon in time before it started, rest assured that each session is being recorded by the team at The Global Japanese Tea Association and I can imagine that after everything is finished that they’ll be uploaded them all on YouTube so you be able to watch them should you want to.
I’ll be back again tomorrow with day three and until then, Happy Steeping – Kimberley