Why We Love Japan (a very brief introduction to tea in Japan)

Japan is, as many of you know, the mecca for all things well made. Quality and Craftsmanship lie at the center of daily life. The island nation excels in so many areas one can be overwhelmed quite easily: Food (more Michelin stars in Tokyo than Paris, New York and London combined), clothing, cars, service, home wares…and of course Tea. When we were brainstorming the beginnings of our company, it was important for us to find a place that reflected our belief in highlighting something truly exceptional. While eventually we aim to carry products from all over the world, it was a no brainer to start in Japan. 

The county’s commitment to the process of tea making stood out to us. From Japan’s first encounter with tea in 805, generation after generation has continued to experiment with the plant, refining the drink from something coarse and bitter (early matcha) to one of the most complex and refined tea’s currently available today (Gyokuro). Tea farming in Japan is a marriage of specialized hands on skill and futuristic technology. Tea farmers learn the craft over the course of many years. The keen know-how involved in planting, harvesting, blending, finishing and packaging takes decades to master. A pursuit most farmers say continues for an entire lifetime. The farmers mastery, combined with Japan’s revered technology  elevates the quality and consistency of Japanese tea to pinnacle status.

While Japan has many tea growing regions, the notable five are (in order of production value) Shizuoka, Kagoshima, Mie,  Uji and Yame. Like wines, each growing region has unique soil, microclimate and local farming methods that affect the flavor of the finished product. All regions produce superb tea but Uji and Yame have a reputation for their commitment to consistently producing teas of the highest order.

Currently our offerings come from a small village in the Yame region of Fukuoka. Year after year Yame produces award winning teas. The warm days and cool nights coupled with slight elevation and fog add richness and complexity to the tea. The family who runs our farm has been hand crafting tea since 1946. Our master blender is revered in Japan, scoring an unheard of 100 out of 100 in the All Japan Gyokuro Competition. We work directly with the family to select the finest the farm has to offer. We frequently to Yame, ensuring a committed relationship with the Tea Maker while allowing us to continue learning the intricacies of Japanese Tea. Currently we are offering several varieties of the following types of tea:

Sencha. Japanese whole leaf green tea grown in full sunlight. Accounts for 80% of tea grown in Japan.

Matcha. Shaded green tea milled in to a super fine powder which is whisked in bowl. This is the tea of Cha-No-Yu or Japanese Tea Ceremony.

Gyokuro. A special high grade whole leaf green tea which is shaded 20 days before harvest. This tea is very refined with less the 1% of tea in Japan being produced as Gyokuro. Brewed differently from Sencha.

Houjicha. Stems and/or leaves of sencha, which after processing are roasted producing a carmel colored liquor. Known for its heady aroma.

We are proud to be showcasing the finest Tea of Japan and look forward to sharing our teas with you.

Please check back for more artisan interviews, classes, and events we have planned.

Thanks for reading,

For more info, please contact zach@kettl.co