Rather than just drinking tea with health in mind, we want you to enjoy the deep flavor and rich aroma of the tea leaves. With this in mind, ALL GREEN carefully selects each tea variety.
The answer was arrived at after carefully comparing teas grown with care by tea farmers across the country. That is "Sofu", grown by Suzuki Cha in Shizuoka Prefecture. Who exactly grows this tea, which has a distinctive refreshing and clear flavor, and what kind of thoughts do they have? We actually visited the site and talked with them.
Shizuoka Prefecture is known as Japan's number one tea producing region.
Under the blue sky, we headed to a tea plantation where bright new buds were peeking out.
At the end of March, you can hear the chirping of the Japanese warbler, also known as the "harutsuge-dori", coming from everywhere. After getting off at Shin-Fuji Station and heading toward the foot of Mt. Ashitaka while admiring the blue skies of Mt. Fuji and the cherry blossoms in full bloom, you will arrive at a vast tea plantation.
This location is a little higher in altitude than the city, and if you turn around the way you came, you can see a panoramic view of the tea plantations and the Shizuoka cityscape that stretches out to Suruga Bay. The person who manages this beautiful tea plantation is Mr. Suzuki, the third generation of Suzuki Tea Tea . This is a tea farmer who grows ``Sofu'' from ``ALLGREEN''.
Mr. Suzuki exudes a gentle and gentle atmosphere. While showing us the tea fields just before the first tea is picked, we were asked to talk about various things related to tea and the details of how to grow it.
``Aofu'' has a scent similar to jasmine.
“All of the tea plants here are from Sofu tea plants. Sofu is a fruity tea with a jasmine-like scent.The color of the tea leaves is also distinctive.In general, tea leaves have a slight yellow tinge. It has a tamoegi color. In comparison, Sofu is a bright green color, almost like a fruit."
Indeed, you can see that the colors are more vivid compared to the surrounding tea plantations.
The color of tea leaves inevitably changes during the process of steaming, fermentation, and commercialization. However, with ``ALL GREEN,'' which allows you to drink all of the nutrients in the tea leaves, the color of the tea leaves is transformed into a powder. Only ``ALL GREEN'' can deliver this bright green color to our customers.
The timing for picking tea leaves is "one core three leaves".
“At this rate, we should be able to pick first-class tea by the beginning of April.”
When I asked them how they judge the timing of tea picking, I was told that it depends on the number of leaves.
``Today's tea leaves are still ``one wick and two leaves.'' In the case of Sofu, the ``one wick and three leaves'' have grown a little further, so it's the perfect time to pick tea.''
A “single core” is a bud that has not yet developed leaves. If there are two leaves just below it, it's called ``one wick, two leaves,'' and if there are three, it's called ``one wick, three leaves.'' If you pick it too early, it may not have enough nutrients yet. On the other hand, if there are too many leaves (4 or 5), the fiber content will increase and the tea leaves will become hard and the quality will deteriorate.
``The way the sun hits the tea and the wind blows are completely different between there and here.Therefore, the way the leaves grow will be slightly different in each case.Ichibancha is harvested at just the right time. I’ll go.”
Suzuki is pointing at a tea tree just a few meters away. I can't hide my surprise when I learn that even a small difference in distance can make a difference in the way children grow. It takes a skilled connoisseur to discern the slight differences and pick the tea leaves at the perfect time. Mr. Suzuki has grown up with the aroma of tea since his childhood, so perhaps this is a technique he can master.
"No, no. Every year, I keep studying and studying.Just because it grows fast doesn't mean it's good to pick it early.Whether one stem and two leaves or one stem and three leaves is better depends on the variety.Currently, at my house, We grow about 8 varieties of tea trees, but Sofu is a relatively new one.It takes about 5 to 6 years from the time a tea tree is planted until it can be harvested, so we have only been able to pick it a few times. Every year, we learn just the right timing, but this year we had colder-than-average winter temperatures, so we expect the tea to be better than ever."
During the cold winter, tea leaves go into a state of hibernation. The first new buds that emerge in spring from a tea tree that has been sufficiently rested and stored nutrients. This is Ichibancha, the highest quality of all teas.
In the winter of 2023, the temperature was lower than usual for a number of days, so the nutritional status of the tea leaves was very good. By the way, in a warm winter, the tea leaves cannot rest properly and cannot store enough nutrients. If I have the chance, I would like to try the 2023 Ichibancha, which Mr. Suzuki also approves of.
The flavor of tea leaves changes depending on the slight differences in topography and soil.
Shizuoka is one of Japan's leading tea producing regions. There are many tea farmers, including Suzuki Tea . However, even if the tea fields are located within Shizuoka Prefecture, the flavor and taste of the tea leaves will vary depending on the climate and climate. For example, I asked them what the differences were.
``For example, in this area, the soil changes little by little from the Akabuchi River, which flows from Mt. Ashitaka.The soil here is black, derived from volcanic ash in the Mt. Red soil. It's not that either soil is better or worse, but even if it's the same variety, the flavor and harshness will be completely different when you drink it. I guess black soil is relatively hard to produce harshness. I think"
“It also changes depending on the altitude and the natural environment in the neighborhood.My tea plantation has a forest on the west side, so the trees provide relief from the harsh cold of winter.The cold winter is important for growing good tea leaves. However, it is not good for tea leaves to get frosty.In that sense, I think this area is very suitable for growing tea leaves.''
By the way, Suzuki says that you can judge to some extent how the wind will pass through the area, how the cold air will flow, etc. just by looking at the terrain. I am once again amazed by the sharpness of his intuition based on his many years of experience.
The clear taste of Ichibancha can be summed up in one word: ``delicious.''
Ichibancha, which is made by picking the first new leaves of the year, is a luxury item that has been chosen as a gift since ancient times. "ALL GREEN" is also particular about delivering first-class tea.
When I asked Mr. Suzuki again about the appeal of Ichibancha...
``The appeal of first-class tea is the refreshing feeling it gives you when you put it in your mouth.The deep flavor of the tea leaves is in a class compared to second-class tea or blended tea.New spring tea has a great flavor...what can I say? I guess so. I can't put it into words, but it's delicious,'' says Suzuki, looking a little worried.
Ichibancha is packed with all the charms of tea, and there is no better way to express it than by the word "delicious." It has a flavor that will amaze even the person who took the time, care, and sincerity to raise it. I would definitely like to try it.
``Sofu Ichibancha has a flavor that can be enjoyed regardless of the occasion.Among my customers, I get the impression that young people in particular like Sofu and buy it.I haven't drank much tea in the past. Even people who haven't had it before come back to buy Sofu over and over again, saying, "Only Sofu is delicious."If you like black tea, hojicha, or other aromatic teas, you'll definitely enjoy Sofu. I think you can have it.”
To enjoy the refreshing taste, we recommend drinking it chilled. If you want to enjoy "ALL GREEN", it seems best to dissolve the powder in room temperature water, then add ice to cool it all at once and drink it.
Today's techniques are the same as in the days of hand kneading.
To deliver the flavor of tea leaves to our customers.
Finally, he said, ``Would you like to take a look at the factory?The tea picking hasn't started yet, so the machines aren't working.''He gave me a tour of the factory.
Tea leaves begin to oxidize the moment they are picked, so they must be steamed immediately after being picked. The aroma and color of the tea leaves change depending on whether they are shallowly steamed or deeply steamed, so the process is changed little by little depending on the variety to maintain quality.
When deeply steamed, the tea leaves become soft and fall apart. This allows the tea leaves to flutter around when brewed in the teapot, resulting in a more vibrant green tea. On the other hand, Suzuki says that shallow steaming allows the aroma of the tea leaves to linger, allowing you to enjoy the natural aroma of the tea.
From growing it to picking it to steaming it to drying it. This factory gave a glimpse of Suzuki Tea's dedication to creating delicious tea leaves.
We hope that "ALL GREEN" will become a new culture of tea.
``There are still other varieties that I would like to increase,'' says Mr. Suzuki. The next new variety he wants to grow is also a tea leaf with a distinctive aroma.
I want to develop more and more products that make the time spent drinking tea more enjoyable. We also want more people to know the taste of tea. Mr. Suzuki's honest feelings were conveyed through his kind eyes.