Sunday, July 29, 2012
JULY 2012 - NEW TEA & NEW MASHIKO POTS ARE IN!
New harvest 2012 teas are now in! We are excited about some new teas that have been added to our line-up. These include two new organic offerings from Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan’s four main islands. Miyazaki Organic Sencha is an asamushi (ligh-steamed) sencha from Koyu County on Miyazaki’s east coast, a premier tea growing region for Miyazaki Prefecture. From neighboring Oita Prefecture comes Oita Organic Sencha, another asamushi-sencha, this one from Usuki, an area famous for the largest stone Buddhas in Japan, the Usuki Sekibutsu. Both are flavorful, with low to medium astringency. Our third new tea is from Kouchi Prefecture on Shikoku, the smallest of Japan’s main islands. Even in Japan, Shikoku teas are fairly uncommon and I had not tasted one until recently. Our Kouchi Sencha is also asamushi, and comes from Tsuno Village in the Niyodogawa region. The clean waters of this area are essential to creating the famous Tosa Washi (handmade paper of Tosa) and also likely contribute to the favorable growing environment for this full flavored and slightly astringent tea. We’re also happy to bring back two of our popular teas from Shizuoka, Chashi Meijin Fukamushi Sencha from Kakegawa and Genmaicha from Kawane.
Although we did not purchase any tea from Shizuoka in 2011, the reports from 2012’s harvest were a great relief. Radiation levels in brewed tea from all regions of the prefecture came in as “Not Detectable.” A link to the report is here: http://www.pref.shizuoka.jp/sangyou/sa-340/cha/documents/2011result0717.pdf. However, due to the radiation findings last year in regions such as Okabe and Ashikubo, we did decide to wait yet another year to purchase tea from these areas. So unfortunately, we will not stock our Ashikubo Gold Sencha, Asahina Kabusecha, or Asahina Karigane for the 2012-2013 season, as well as our Sayama-cha from Saitama Prefecture. This year, Kyushu was also hit hard by heavy rain and flooding and one the areas worst affected was the town of Yame in Fukuoka Prefecture. This is where our Gyokuro comes from. And although our current stock is from the first harvest, prior to the rains, we are hopeful that the later summer harvests will continue to be available and delicious. We hope our other old & new offerings will give you plenty of variety to choose from and enjoy!
I’m also very proud to offer some wonderful pottery from the Tagami Family in the town of Mashiko, Japan. Mashiko was also hard hit by the earthquake last year (and a tornado this spring!) and has been rebuilding ever since. I met the Tagami Family when I lived in Mashiko in 1999-2000. They currently represent the family’s 4th & 5th generation of potters in Mashiko and carry on a traditional of producing functional ceramics with Mashiko aesthetics taught to the 3rd generation potter Sudo Takeo by National Living Treasure Hamada Shoji. These wares for tea and sake can be found on our WaSabiDou website, www.mingei-wasabidou.com, as well as two tea cups on our Charaku Fine Japanese Tea website, www.charaku-tea.com, go to ‘shop’ pages under “tea ware.” We hope you will enjoy these fine examples of contemporary mingei (folk craft.)
In addition, we have several pieces available from good friend, George Gledhill of Payette, ID. These are mostly wood-fired, tea-related works from this spring’s firing of his newly built climbing kiln (noborigama) and are really exceptional. Again, please visit our WaSabiDou site to see the full inventory.
We still send our thoughts and prayers for a continued recovery to the tea farmers, potters, colleagues, friends, relatives, and residents of Japan. Many thanks to all of you who are doing the same.