Sunday, August 06, 2017


 Tosa Han (Tosa Province) is the feudal era name of the region comprising present-day Kouchi Prefecture, on the island of Shikoku. It covers a good portion of the southern and western ends of the island; facing out to the Pacific Ocean, but also with considerable mountain and valley area in the interior. It is not well-known, even in Japan, as a tea growing region; but I was surprised to learn that even during the Edo Period (1600-1868,) under the rule of the Yamauchi Clan; tea was produced and sent as an export item of the province to Osaka as part of the growing merchant economy of the time.

Much of Tosa Tea is grown in the Niyodogawa River Valley, in western Kouchi, and I have carried tea from this region, grown in Tsuno,  before. Lately, I haven't been able to acquire enough due to low production.

This tea, however, is grown on the eastern side of the Prefecture in an area called Nyugauchi, east of the city of Aki, at the upper basin of the Ioki River. This mountainous region has the prerequisites for good tea growing in Japan; river valleys that have appropriate climate changes from morning to evening, good rainfall, and rich soil.

The tea comes from Maruya Cafe, whose parent company distributes local products of the area such as Tea, Yuzu Fruit, and other items. The company CEO's mother in-law is the grower of the tea.
At age 89, she is still a young and healthy tea farmer!

Fortunately, a friend living in Kouchi Prefecture came to visit the U.S. recently, and brought me some of this fine Tosa Shincha (new harvest tea) to sample. It is of the Yabukita varietal, and like most Japanese teas is steam processed. There are Tosa tea producers are using pan-firing (kamairi) processing as well.
1st infusion, 90 sec @ 175F (80C) 

What surprised me most about this tea were two points: the variety of flavors produced in the individual infusions, and the number of infusions produced. This is also due to the fact that I have yet to become fully acquainted with this tea and its personality. More practice will probably lead to more consistency in flavor, but may also lead to new discoveries.

All infusions were done with the same 3 gram sample and 60 ml (4 oz) water. The first infusion brought out the marine air notes, both in aroma and taste, that I associate with Tosa Tea. This is one of the things I like best of teas from this region. My first cup, at 175 F (80 C) for 90 seconds had a pleasant taste and aroma, but was too light and will need more time in the next tasting.

2nd infusion, 60 sec @ 180F (82C) 
The second infusion, at 180 F (82 C) for 60 seconds brought out too much astringency, and a slightly rough taste. Less time and less heat were needed to bring about something more ideal. But the bell cannot be un-rung when brewing tea, and you just have to move forward.

Here's where I was pleasantly surprised. Many Japanese teas usually start showing an optimum flavor profile in the 2nd infusion, after the leaves have opened up. In this tea, after opening in the 1st, and releasing some shibumi (astringency) in the 2nd, produced some fine mellow notes in the 3rd and 4th infusions, and even in the 5th, although much more subtle. Each infusion showed slightly different characteristics of sweetness, umami, grassiness, but the marine component had dissipated quickly after the 3rd. 

The tea continued to produce some flavor even in a 6th and 7th infusion, albeit very subtle, and was no more astringency. The almost tasted like warm versions of mizudashi (cold-water infused) tea that has little to no astringency, but still some hints of the original hot tea flavor.

All on all, this was a very pleasant tasting experience, and I look forward to further experimenting with this tea, hot and cold, to get to know it better. I also look forward to trying to get my hands on Tosa-cha next year to share with my Charaku Tea family.

3rd infusion, 30 sec @ 185F (85C)

4th infusion, 15 sec @ 190F (88C)
5th infusion, 12 sec @ 180F (82C)

6th infusion, 12 sec @ 180F (82C)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017


In Japan, we drink hot tea ingot weather to cool down. I know this sounds counterintuitive, but trust me, science proves it ( as do the millions of tea drinkers in South, SE, and East Asia.)
But temperatures in the Seattle area hit 95 F (35 C) this past weekend, and I was doing some traveling where it was not convenient to stop and make tea. It was time for some Mizudashi-cha.

Mizudashi (cold-infused, literally "cold-extracted") is so easy to make. It's just tea and cold water. Depending on the tea, I usually use 10 to 15 grams of tea (about 1 to 2 heaping tablespoons) and 1 liter (about 4 cups) of cold water. Combine these in a glass jar, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Strain thoroughly (but don't squeeze the tea leaves) and enjoy. You can get an additional infusion out of this, and when I want to make a large batch I just repeat the process and mix the infusions to make 2 liters worth of mizudashi-cha.

This works well with almost any Sencha, Gyokuro, or Kukicha (Stem Tea.) One of my favorite teas to use in the method is Karigane, the stems of Gyokuro. It has that slight Gyokuro sweetness to it, as well as the mild woodsiness of stem teas.

So, hot tea or cold tea, we have you covered this summer! Charaku Fine Japanese Tea.


SHINCHA (New Harvest Tea) is in! Website updates are still underway, but teas are now ready to order at
Due to cold weather in Japan this past winter and spring, the new tea harvest was extremely late this year. However, we secured our orders as soon as teas were available and are now excited to share this year's tea with you. New tea offerings this year include more Organic Sencha and Gyokuro offerings from Kirishima in Kagoshima Prefecture. This area has been expanding organic farming methods in recent years, and some good organic teas are now being produced there. We look forward to continue offering you the finest variety of Japanese teas as we begin the new tea year!

Saturday, June 03, 2017


Summer greetings from Charaku Fine Japanese Tea. 2017 Shincha (New Harvest Tea) is due in next week! 
Due to cold weather in Japan, the new tea harvest was extremely late this year. However, we secured our orders as soon as teas were available and expect the 2017 shincha to arrive next week.  In the meantime, our remaining inventory of 2016 teas are currently available at 20% to 30% off! These are our steepest discounts ever, so it's a good time to stock up. All of our Genmaicha, Houjicha, and Kukicha are 30% off, and remaining Sencha and Gyokuro are 20% off while supplies last. Remember that Charaku teas are always small-packed and nitrogen-flushed for maximum freshness and longevity, so 2016 teas are still good well into 2018. 
New tea offerings to look forward to are more organic Sencha and Gyokuro from Kirishima in Kagoshima Prefecture. This area has been expanding organic farming methods in recent years, and some good organic teas are now being produced there.
Visit to see our selection of teas, tea accessories, and tea ware. If you would like to combine shipping on orders of 2016 and 2017 teas, just let me know in the comments section and I'll hold current sale order and refund any shipping difference of combined orders.
We are also discounting items by 15% to 20% of the listed prices on our WaSabiDou site,, in preparation of a showroom move this summer. There are lots of antique & contemporary crafts, including: ceramic tea wares, Japanese art and craft books, wood-block prints, folk toys, and more. Please visit and ask any questions.                
    Thank you so much for your past support and I look forward to continue providing you the finest variety of Japanese teas as we enter the New Tea Year!