Shizuoka tea regains the top spot for the first time in two years !? Tell us about the "Aracha" manufacturing process!
According to the agricultural output amount announced by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on December 24, 2021, the tea from Shizuoka prefecture, which had been pushed by Kagoshima prefecture in recent years, has returned to the top position for the first time in two years. Although maintaining the top position in Japan in terms of production volume, Shizuoka Prefecture has regained the top spot this time after surrendering the top spot to Kagoshima for the first time in 2019. However, the amount of tea produced in the prefecture peaked in 1992 and has been on a downward trend. We must convey the deliciousness, charm, and safety of tea in Shizuoka Prefecture and here in Higashiyama. Also, according to Mr. Toshishi Sugiyama of "Higashiyama Ippukudokoro" (Higashiyama Co., Ltd./Director), what is the difference between the ingredients of tea grown by Higashiyama's tea-grass farming method? Is currently under investigation. I will let you know when the results are available.
By the way, the agricultural output of the above-mentioned tea is expressed by the total of the "raw leaves" picked by the growers and the "Aracha" processed from it. "" Means tea that has been processed to the stage before it becomes a product for sale in stores. The tea leaves are picked in the field and processed into "rough tea" for about 4 hours from steaming to drying on the same day. The basic pattern is to pick fresh leaves from early morning to noon, process rough tea from afternoon to night, and prepare for the next day at midnight. Although the process is becoming more computerized, the state of natural fresh leaves changes every day, so the characteristics of the natural leaves change with the human eye in detail, and the tea leaves being processed can be picked up or smelled for processing time. We are making fine adjustments to the temperature and pressure. This time, let's introduce the process of making this "Aracha".
Aracha manufacturing process1. Delivery: Acceptance of fresh leaves
Check the weight and quality and transfer to a container for fresh leaves.
2. Steaming (steaming machine)
Steam the fresh leaves with steam to stop the oxidative fermentation.
The temperature of the tea leaves is close to 100 degrees, and the steaming time depends on the type of tea.
Even a slight difference in the degree of steaming will greatly affect the quality of the tea that follows.
3. Cooling (cooler)
Allow the steamed leaves to cool and remove any water on the surface.
The temperature of the leaves drops to about 34-36 degrees and prevents discoloration.
After this, the temperature of the tea leaves is human skin until the process of kneading.
4. Coarse kneading (soju) (coarse kneading machine)
Knead the leaves while applying hot air to further remove the water (95 degrees / 40 minutes).
In a tubular rough kneading machine, lightly knead the tea leaves using a fork shaped like an open hand and a wavy inner wall.
5. Kneading (Junen) (Kneading machine)
Knead the leaves while applying force to even out the water content of the leaves and stems (normal temperature / 25 to 50 minutes).
It is the only kneading process that does not apply heat.
As the machine, which looks like a bowl lying down, turns on a swirl-shaped table, "twisting" occurs in the leaves.
6. Chuju (middle kneading machine)
Knead the leaves with hot air and let them dry (exhaust temperature 36 degrees / 35 minutes).
The leaves are further rubbed and the wrinkles become clearer.
At this stage, the weight and water content are reduced to about one-third of the fresh leaves.
7. Seiju (Kneading machine)
On a heated plate, reciprocate while applying force to the leaves to shape and dry (100 degrees / 50 minutes).
Tea leaves dry and harden in a needle-like, tight shape.
Fine tea has a dark, glossy color at this stage.
8. Drying (dryer)
Dry thoroughly with hot air (90 degrees / 25 minutes) so that the moisture is suitable for storage.
The weight of tea leaves is about 23% of fresh leaves and the water content is about 5%.
9. Gougumi / Packaging
Put the finished rough tea in a combination machine like a large tank and mix it evenly.
The finished tea leaves are placed in a large bag called Daikai and wait for shipment.
Which process is different for Fukamushicha?
Shizuoka Prefecture is said to be the birthplace of Fukamushicha, but the tea leaves harvested here in Higashiyama are thick, deep-tasting tea leaves suitable for the production of Fukamushicha. And Higashiyama's Fukamushicha won the "Producing Area Award" at the "National Tea Fair", the most prestigious tea show in Japan. Ten Years in a row 20 Wins many times We are proud of the highest quality in Japan. So how is this Fukamushicha different from ordinary Sencha in the manufacturing process?
Fukamushicha has a difference in the process of "2. Steaming heat (steaming machine)" above. Sencha is steamed for about 30 to 40 seconds, but deep-steamed tea is characterized by a long steaming time of 60 seconds or more. am. This steaming work not only stops the action of oxidase, but also determines the shape of tea leaves, the color and taste of tea.
In Kakegawa City, now About 1,400 houses Farmers are producing tea. And even if the tea factory that finishes the picked tea leaves into "rough tea (raw material for tea)" is only a large-scale joint factory. About 30 houses .. It is supported by tea farmers who are enthusiastic about making tea using traditional tea-grass farming methods and the latest technology while protecting the tea plantations that have been passed down from generation to generation and interacting with nature.
In addition, tea farmers in this area are characterized by a relatively young average age, and young people to veterans are active throughout their lives. The farmers are close to each other, and all of them are working together to produce better tea. The goodness of this teamwork must be one of the factors that make tea delicious.
▼ 2020 Tea Production Data from Shizuoka Shimbun