Sencha White Leaf and Winter Sencha - Chado February 2022
White Leaf Sencha and Winter Kuradashi Sencha Toki-no-Kura.
We have some interesting Sencha teas to tell you about this month.
The first is Sencha White Leaf.
This is a very rare white leaf sencha, Hakuyo from Hoshino Village, Yame region in Southern Japan.
Some farms in Shizuoka prefecture produce “White leaf Sencha” by shutting off natural light completely by covering tea plants. In contrast however, our white leaf Hakuyo is naturally grown under the sun. It has a naturally occurring mutation that turns the color of leaves yellowish white. It takes at least 3 to 4 years to harvest by cutting propagation. Less than 10 farmers in the region are cultivating this white leaf Sencha which results in very small production and makes this a rare kind of Sencha.
This tea has a very low level of astringency. The liquor is thick and silky smooth with a mild and refreshing taste with pronounced Umami.
This is another unusual Sencha tea, this one differs from the more usual Sencha tea by its production method after harvesting. The tea goes through a process called Kuradashi and involves harvesting the tea and then storing in humidity controlled cold storage for six months. The process makes for a mature more rounded, mellow, and sweet with deeper umami. The tea has a noticeable fresh aroma that emerges when the package is first opened.
Sencha is the most popular tea in Japan, almost 60% of all tea produced in Japan is classed as Sencha. As one would expect this means sencha covers a very wide range of specialty teas. We have many Sencha varieties and are always looking for new varieties to bring you. The two above are just two examples of the many options we have.
Cherry Blossom Time
It is February already. We are based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on the West Coast. January always seems a long month, usually it is day after day of rain here. This year we got some snow which brightens things up a bit, but January is usually a bit gloomy. February has rolled in, and we are definitely seeing the signs of Spring. We have not noticed any daffodils yet but we are sure they are working their way to the surface and cherry blossom will follow.
Vancouver were gifted 500 cherry trees from Japan in the 1930's from the cities of Kobe and Yokohama. A further 300 were gifted in the 1960's and these gifts have resulted in beautiful cherry blossoms lining many streets in Vancouver in springtime.
Springtime is also when the first tea harvest, Ichibancha, begins in Southern Japan in prefectures like Kagoshima and toward Central areas like Shizuoka. We will be bringing these new year's harvest as soon as we can and will keep you posted.
Valentine's Day in Japan
As we are in mid-February, we thought you may be interested in Valentine's Day in Japan. February 14th has traditionally been the day when females give presents to their male friends and colleagues. Unlike in North America where a gift is given to romantic partners or potential romantic partners, these chocolate gifts called 'Giri Choco' (courtesy chocolate) are often given to several male acquaintances as a sign of friendship.
White Day which is celebrated on March 14th is when the receiver of the gift on Valentine's day returns the favor and presents return gifts.
Mostly chocolates are given as these gifts but in recent years flowers have become popular. In Japan's food stores in the weeks before these celebrations the displays of chocolates can be very elaborate. The Valentine chocolate business is worth over one billion dollars.