Japan boasts a rich history of tea cultivation, with green tea taking the spotlight for its remarkable variety. Today, we embark on a journey to explore one of Japan's lesser-known green teas: Sayama-cha.
What sets Sayama-cha apart is its unique place of origin. While most teas in Japan are grown in central and western regions, Sayama-cha is grown in a specific part of Saitama prefecture and a small part of Tokyo. The limited growing locations can be attributed to the weather conditions. Saitama, positioned further north than most tea-producing regions, experiences colder temperatures compared to western Japan. As a result of this harsher climate, tea plants had to be selectively bred for robustness and thicker leaves that would allow them to survive the difficult climate. Consequently, the growing season is notably shorter in comparison to the western prefectures, resulting in fewer harvests and a lower overall tea production.
One of the key steps to producing tea is the drying process, called hiire (火入れ). This step is essential in determining the taste and smell of a tea. Due to the thick and robust leaves of Sayama-cha, a higher heat can be employed during the hiire process, resulting in a distinctive and powerful fragrance.Unfortunately, due to the relative scarcity of sayama-cha harvests and strong local demand, this tea has generally been rarely found outside of Japan. Moreover, sayama-cha also has its own specific standards for certification. Only 100% pure Sayama-cha can be labeled as Sayama tea, whereas anything below that must be labeled as a blend.
If you are tempted to try this rare tea, Kokoro Care Packages offers Yume-Wakaba sayama-cha in our Nourishing Essentials care package!
About the author:
Michael is originally from Chicago, IL in the United States, but has lived in Japan for seven years in Niigata and Hokkaido. He is an avid home chef, baker, and coffee enthusiast, but his one true love is ramen. Ever in pursuit of the perfect bowl of noodles, you can always find him by listening for the tell-tale slurp of ramen being enjoyed!