TeaMania in Japan: Shincha Harvest at Obubu

After a long time, I have now come to write another report of our tea trip in Japan. After a short visit to our friends from Obubu in Wazuka, we decided to attend Obubu’s tea harvest event two days later. Wazuka is located near Uji, the cradle of Japanese tea, and is surrounded by picturesque hills covered with tea fields. This is thanks to the mayor who wants to turn Wazuka into a kind of Teatopia. I am sure that with the help of Obubu this will succeed!

Wazuka Teefelder
Wazuka – Das Teetopia

We have a special relationship with the Obubu team because they were our first suppliers of high quality Japanese teas. In addition, they have always been there for us with advice and support. Therefore, we were especially pleased to meet the whole team in person.

Obubu Tea Farms
The Obubu headquater

The conditions on day X were ideal. No dew on the tea leaves and sunny weather. Since we were early, we had the opportunity to meet the rest of the Obubu team, including many interns from different countries. Jasmin, our daughter, was especially fond of Chase from the USA. Later, she diligently took pictures and also actively helped with the harvest and, later the processing of the tea leaves.

Traditionelle, japanische Kleidung
The first tea of the year is often harvested in traditional dress
Jasmin pflückt Teeblätter
Jasmin already figured out how to pick the leaves

Usually, two or three newly grown tea leaves plus one bud are harvested. The tea pickers intuitively feel the predetermined breaking point of the stems with their fingers. This results in less damage to the tea leaves compared to mechanical harvesting. Damaged tea leaves start to oxidize at the damaged spot. This is later noticeable in the taste.

Frisch geernteter Shincha
However, the yield is modest
Frisch geernteter Tee
These are Yabukita tea leaves

A total of 4.2 kilograms of tea leaves were harvested. They were immediately heated to prevent oxidation. After all, today we want to make green tea and not black tea.

Ernte eines Tages
harvest of a entire day
Yasuharu Matsumoto "Matsu"
Matsu explains each step of tea processing
Teeblätter werden geröstet
the tea leaves are roasted in a wok

The tea leaves are heated in a wok. This is the method used in China and in parts of Japan. The tea produced in this way is called Kamairicha. Usually, tea in Japan is steamed, not roasted, but for demonstration purposes, the Kamairi method is more suitable.

Teeblätter werden geknetet
The tea leaves are kneaded

To get the moisture out of the tea leaves and to break the cell walls, the tea leaves are kneaded after roasting. The rolling into needle shape is waived due to time constraints. Actually pity since Akky and the Obubu team won the second place at the Uji tea rolling competition and can be called masters of their art.

After rolling, the individual tea leaves must be separated
Frischer Tee wird geröstet
After roasting is before roasting
Jasmin knetet Teeblätter
Kneading again…
Jasmin röstet Teeblätter
and roasted…
Frisch verarbeiteter Tee
Until the tea is ready (here in the shape of 茶 for tea).
Frisch produzierter Shincha
The finished tea

A small bag of tea for each participant to take home. The freshly made Shincha was tasted at the subsequent bento lunch. The tea is characterized by a very floral aroma which is probably due to the freshness. This aroma then changes, with increasing storage into umami.

Bento Lunch
Bento Lunch

Between the individual processing steps, there was also always a little time to further educate oneself in Matcha production and preparation. Tencha is filled into the top of the stone mill and finely ground by constant rotating. Subsequently, the freshly ground Matcha is whipped.

Matcha Steinmühle
Tencha is grounded into Matcha
Matcha Mühle
Matcha trickles out the bottom

The tea harvest event of Obubu was a great experience which we can recommend to every tea enthusiast. Wazuka itself is also recommended for a day trip or even for a longer stay.

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