Unsorted Aratsukuri - A Special Sencha - Chado October 2022
The Way of Tea, the Japanese Tea Ceremony, seems to be a complicated affair with many special requirements, etiquette and ritual. It can be very elaborate but at its heart, it are some basic truths that have stood the test of time.
Sen no Rikyu is a famous figure in the establishment of the tea ceremony in Japan, he is considered the father of the current Way of Tea that persists now. In the sixteenth century, as a prominent tea teacher, a pupil asked him what were the secrets of the Way of Tea. We paraphrase his response below:
- Make tea as your guest will enjoy it
- Place charcoal in the right position so it boils water well
- Arrange flowers in a way suited to the surroundings
- Keep the atmosphere of the tea room cool in summer and warm in winter
- Be ahead of time – be prepared
- Prepare an umbrella even if no rain falls
- Attune your heart to the other guests, everyone at the tea ceremony is equal
There are 4 underlying rules that work in conjunction with the principles:
The rules especially seem very apt for today and the principles are all aimed at making one’s guests comfortable and feeling at home.
We know from our own busy lives that an elaborate tea ceremony is something we can usually only strive for, but as the days get shorter as we head into winter a nice cup of tea either alone or shared with friends can bring a lot of calm to a hectic world.
A Special Sencha - unsorted Aratsukuri
Sencha makes up over 60% of all tea produced in Japan. There are many teas that come under the Sencha umbrella.
One tea we have that we think is an interesting variety is Sencha unsorted Aratsukuri. This tea is from a mountainous area of Shizuoka of Japan, renowned for its tea cultivation. It is an unsorted tea which indicates as well as the leaves, the tea stems and buds from the plant are included in the finished product.
This tea is classed as a Kabusecha which means it is shaded for a short time period. Shading is usually associated with teas like Matcha and Gyokuro, this tea is shaded for less time, but it still exhibits the sweetness many people enjoy.
Sencha Aratsukuri is grown from the Yamano Ibuki cultivar which is further known for its sweetness. The farming process used for this tea also uses a technique called Bud-weight cultivation The Bud-Weight method involves not cutting the plants back more than absolutely necessary, this leads to fewer branches but the branches that remain are thicker, with fewer buds but those bugs are larger. The yield of the plants is smaller, but the tea leaves are full of nutrients and have a rich Umami flavor.
This is a very satisfying Umami rich sweet premium quality tea that has been carefully selected from cultivation to finishing.
Matcha Is Popping Up Everywhere
Various companies contact us from time to time with tea products that they hope we will be interested in selling. We concentrate only on Japanese tea and have relationships with farmers we have had for many years, so we typically do not pursue these inquiries.
We recently got a rather interesting one from a company that provides Matcha flavored liquid for Vaping. We will not be pursuing that one, but it goes to show that Matcha is on the rise in lots of unexpected places. In our local supermarket here in Vancouver recently, they had a sample of worldwide KitKats available. Did you know there are now 300 varieties of KitKat worldwide? There are 200 varieties in Japan alone. KitKat was introduced in Japan in 1973 and is known as Kitto Katsu, which, happily for the brand, roughly translates to 'you will win,' which helped its popularity.
We tried the Matcha KitKat, which was nice but a little sweet, they also had a cough-drop flavor KitKat, but we gave that one a pass this time.
Strawberry Flavor KitKat from Tochigi Prefecture - where our founder, Fumi, says all the best things come from.