Hon Yama greens

Non-oxidized tea
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LeoFox
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Fri Oct 22, 2021 6:21 pm

Hon Yama is an interesting tea growing area in Shizuoka, Japan. It's loosely defined as the highland tea gardens around the upper reaches of the Abe river and the Warashina river between Shizuoka city and the Japanese alps.

Here is a map I found online:
https://i0.wp.com/www.sommerier.com/wp- ... n_0016.jpg
Scan_0016.jpg
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Many of the gardens in this area are quite high for Japan - some up to 800 m.

Would love to hear other people's experience with the hon yama teas. Some great ones are offered by Thes du Japon: Hojo also offers a sencha and gyokuro from "Hebizuka" or snake's grave in Hon Yama. The grower is also named Mr. Nakamura. See

https://hojotea.com/item_e/g18e.htm

Previous entry on his gyokuro:
viewtopic.php?p=39589#p39589

I could not determine where hebizuka is but I suspect this is the same Nakamura as the the okawa oma Nakamura that produces TDJ's teas, though I cannot be certain. Nakamura is a common name but how many are making high mountain tea in this area? Also, Hojo but not TDJ highlights the extra withering step by this teamaster. I bought some tea from both and will try to do a side by side at some point.

Edit: it seems this Nakamura may be the same as described on this website, suggesting he is not the same person as the one from TDJ, and that his farm is in umegashima at the abe river headwaters
http://www.marumatsu-tea.co.jp/en/growers/#nakamura
Note this blurb also highlights withering.
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Finally, it seems based on these two pictures of nakamura, one from TDJ's blog ( https://japaneseteasommelier.wordpress. ... ival-2016/ ) and one from Hojo's page, they really cannot be the same person
Hojo's nakamura
Hojo's nakamura
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TDJ's nakamura
TDJ's nakamura
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Den's tea is another vendor that has several hon yama offerings:
https://denstea.com/search?q=honyama&op ... ix%5D=last

Teamania also offers hon yama teas from the garden of a Mr. Sato ranging from aracha to hand processed:
https://www.teamania.ch/en/?s=Hon+yama&submit=Search




History

https://japanesetea.sg/japanese-tea-pedia/honyama-cha/
The origin of Honyama-cha dates back approximately 800 years.

The first tea tree in the area what is now Shizuoka prefecture was planted by a high-monk of the name of Shouichikokushi. In 1241, he brought back a tea seed from China to Ashikubo, an area on Abe Mountain in Shizuoka. This is said to be the start of Honyama-cha, and also Shizuoka-cha as well.

 

In 1605, the beginning of the Edo Era, the first shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu decided to reside in Sumpu Castle, a castle located in the lower stream of Abe river. He is known to be an unparalleled lover of green tea, and he regularly enjoyed Honyama-cha to be delivered to the castle. The relationship between Honyama-cha and the Tokugawa did not end there. There are records that Tokugawa Tsunayoshi, the 5th Shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate, ordered Sencha to be delivered to the Edo Castle from Ashikubo. For 60 years thereafter, Ashikubo continued to gift green tea to the Edo Castle, cementing its brand in the meantime.

Until then, the tea in this area was not called the Honyama-cha. It was called Abe-cha, as it was tea produced near the Abe river. During the Taisho Era (1912 - 1926) the brand name was changed to Honmaru-cha. This name implies that it is the authentic and original Shizuoka-cha.

Although considered part of the Honyama-cha, tea produced in Ashikubo still goes by the name Ashikubo-cha. 
Last edited by LeoFox on Mon Nov 08, 2021 8:58 am, edited 6 times in total.
swordofmytriumph
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Sun Oct 24, 2021 3:45 pm

A couple years ago I got two senchas from Thes du Japon that were from hon yama, sadly I can only find record of one of them in my notes, but both were extremely tasty. The one I noted was labeled “sencha from Honyama, Takayama, yamakai cultivar”. It was good but the one I didn’t write down was better.

I’m 99.9% sure the other one I got was this one based on the description (I distinctly remember there being raspberry and wafer in the tasting notes) but can’t be certain because I didn’t write it down. https://www.thes-du-japon.com/index.php ... cts_id=485 That second was one of my favorite senchas I’d had so far. Unfortunately I don’t have a confirmation email to lean on because my dad was in Japan for work and kindly picked them up for me while he was there.

I’d reorder both in a heartbeat if I could remember, in fact I ordered the one in the link today in the hopes that it was The One (the order I was mourning the EMS prices for in my other post today). I can’t think what possessed me not to write it down considering how much I loved at the time. Oh well. Live and learn. I’ll let you know how it is when it arrives.
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debunix
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Sun Oct 24, 2021 4:36 pm

I know I enjoyed some Honyama sencha in the past. Thinking back, I’m pretty sure I had delicious Honyama tea from more than one vendor.
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LeoFox
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Sun Oct 24, 2021 5:32 pm

debunix wrote:
Sun Oct 24, 2021 4:36 pm
I know I enjoyed some Honyama sencha in the past. Thinking back, I’m pretty sure I had delicious Honyama tea from more than one vendor.
I'm trying to list them in the first post as I find more. Few are as transparent as thes du japon - but I guess that is part of his business model since his specialty is offering single origin, single cultivar.

Hojo has thrown me on a wild goose chase. No idea where "hebizuka" or "snake grave" is. Searches yield some shrine in Tokyo and then another near the main road next to abe river with no tea garden in sight based on google maps. Palais du thes also sells a hebizuka gyokuro at 2x the price of hojo also by a mr nakamura.
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debunix
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Sun Oct 24, 2021 9:15 pm

Norbu only did a one-off collection of Japanese teas And as long out of retail sales.; I think I got some from Yuuki-cha, fine tea but not the easiest to order from; and maybe one other source that I just can’t recall.
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LeoFox
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Mon Oct 25, 2021 6:18 pm

debunix wrote:
Sun Oct 24, 2021 9:15 pm
Norbu only did a one-off collection of Japanese teas And as long out of retail sales.; I think I got some from Yuuki-cha, fine tea but not the easiest to order from; and maybe one other source that I just can’t recall.
Yuukicha doesnt seem to do hon yama anymore. Prices seem very nice for their southern teas! Thanks for the mention
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pizzapotamus
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Mon Oct 25, 2021 10:07 pm

Unable to find the exact location of your Mr Nakamura but he does also do business with Marumatsu Teahouse http://www.marumatsu-tea.co.jp/en/growers/#nakamura , although oddly enough their online shop goes all in on deep steamed tea and I haven't even found gyokuro or anything from him so all there is to be gained from them is that incredibly unhelpful stylized map.

Hebizuka and tea into google did give me http://www.shizuoka-bunkazai.jp/folk_cu ... ost_1.html , brief news piece on tea farmer get together/ritual , opens with "清沢地区の蛇塚" aka the Hebizuka area in Kiyosawa. As my hobby during the never ending plague is apparently virtually driving Japanese mountain roads I started exploring the area and it really is something to look at on google maps https://www.google.com/maps/@35.1132348 ... 27!5m1!1e4 The tea fields continue up the mountain all the way till the end of the street view data
swordofmytriumph
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Tue Oct 26, 2021 12:02 am

Wow! Such stunning views!
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LeoFox
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Tue Oct 26, 2021 11:13 am

pizzapotamus wrote:
Mon Oct 25, 2021 10:07 pm
Unable to find the exact location of your Mr Nakamura but he does also do business with Marumatsu Teahouse http://www.marumatsu-tea.co.jp/en/growers/#nakamura , although oddly enough their online shop goes all in on deep steamed tea and I haven't even found gyokuro or anything from him so all there is to be gained from them is that incredibly unhelpful stylized map.

Hebizuka and tea into google did give me http://www.shizuoka-bunkazai.jp/folk_cu ... ost_1.html , brief news piece on tea farmer get together/ritual , opens with "清沢地区の蛇塚" aka the Hebizuka area in Kiyosawa. As my hobby during the never ending plague is apparently virtually driving Japanese mountain roads I started exploring the area and it really is something to look at on google maps https://www.google.com/maps/@35.1132348 ... 27!5m1!1e4 The tea fields continue up the mountain all the way till the end of the street view data
Thank you so much!

Based on the description, it seems Hojo's nakamura is the same as the one highlighted by marumatsu, since they both practice withering and are from "hebizuka". Based on that website, he is at the head waters of Abe river, suggesting some location in umegashima. Also, this is the tea, which is quite a bit cheaper than Hojo.

https://www.san-grams.net/?pid=89889252

In contrast, the google map location seems to be in okawa-oma, where TDJ- nakamura farms his tea.
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LeoFox
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Sun Nov 21, 2021 9:18 am

Enjoying the beautifully dynamic hon yama yabukita from okawa oma from tdj.
https://www.thes-du-japon.com/index.php ... cts_id=275
This has a higher firing for sure- but one that unveils itself in the second infusion (not the first). Very interesting - and wonderful for the cold weather

I am starting to recognize a common "unctuousness" that seems to be present in many of these higher elevation hon yama productions.


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debunix
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Sun Nov 21, 2021 9:33 am

That both sounds and looks delicious.
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Baisao
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Sat Nov 27, 2021 12:51 am

@swordofmytriumph, I had the Honyama, Takayama, yamakai cultivar recently and thought it was very tasty. It’s on my re-order list.
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wave_code
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Sat Nov 27, 2021 5:14 pm

Related but also not question: in the description of the Nakamura tea above when they say it is "fermented" for 24 hours... I feel like I see fermentation used quite often, particularly in the context of Japanese teas, where I would expect what they actually might mean is oxidation. Such as rarer tea processes like this or say Japanese blacks or oolongs. Is this just the result of translation, or is it actually that in some contexts they do mean more of a short-term fermentation via piling rather than say bruising/processing and/or exposure to oxygen? Its a far cry from goishicha, but I am curious where in processing style tea makers switch terms, or if this is just something that gets lost in translation.
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Baisao
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Sat Nov 27, 2021 9:03 pm

wave_code wrote:
Sat Nov 27, 2021 5:14 pm
Related but also not question: in the description of the Nakamura tea above when they say it is "fermented" for 24 hours... I feel like I see fermentation used quite often, particularly in the context of Japanese teas, where I would expect what they actually might mean is oxidation. Such as rarer tea processes like this or say Japanese blacks or oolongs. Is this just the result of translation, or is it actually that in some contexts they do mean more of a short-term fermentation via piling rather than say bruising/processing and/or exposure to oxygen? Its a far cry from goishicha, but I am curious where in processing style tea makers switch terms, or if this is just something that gets lost in translation.
It’s an older expression. Most people said fermentation but meant oxidation 15-20 years ago. And 15-20 years from now people might think it quaint that we say oxidation but mean enzymatic reactions. All these tea norms/conventions evolve over time. I imagine translations are last to catch up.
faj
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Sun Nov 28, 2021 8:29 am

Baisao wrote:
Sat Nov 27, 2021 9:03 pm
It’s an older expression. Most people said fermentation but meant oxidation 15-20 years ago. And 15-20 years from now people might think it quaint that we say oxidation but mean enzymatic reactions. All these tea norms/conventions evolve over time. I imagine translations are last to catch up.
I know nothing about biochemistry, so out of curiosity I went and checked the definition of "fermentation" from a few sources. Here is an exerpt from Merriam-Webster, which is representative of what I found.
the enzyme-catalyzed anaerobic breakdown of an energy-rich compound (such as a carbohydrate to carbon dioxide and alcohol or to an organic acid) by the action of microorganisms (such as bacteria or yeast) that occurs naturally
Is "fermentation" technically wrong because the actual enzymatic reactions are actually aerobic? If not, why is it not a proper term for what happens to tea?
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