Japanese Green Tea: Aged, Roasted, Fermented

Non-oxidized tea
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Victoria
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Thu Sep 13, 2018 6:13 pm

I’ve been thinking about Japanese green tea aging and roasting for a while now. Bok’s recent post about his having a 1940’s Japanese aged green tea in Taiwan, got me thinking once again about this topic. Since posting this topic I have come across a few traditionally fermented green teas, so have decided to include them as well. Some of these teas use traditional processing methods that are quite rare, and at times have been on the verge of extinction, to then be revived by a younger generation. Here are a few aged, roasted and fermented Japanese greens that I know of;

Aged:
  • Gyokuro: 6+ months
  • Kuradashi Gyokuro, Matcha: +-1.5 years. Kuradashi means ‘remove from the storehouse’. Teas are aged in cool storage for +- 1.5 years. The Kuro (storehouse) were built out of stone or brick in cool locations, before refrigeration.
  • Sannenn Bancha: 3 years. Dry leaf, into cold storage for 3 years. Roasted after taking out of storage. The tea oxidizes slightly during cold storage, breaking down tannins, smoothing out flavor. Macrobiotic.
Roasted:
  • Hojicha (Basic Roasted Bancha), Tenbone Houjicha (Roasted Tencha Stems). Yunomi’s list.
  • Roasted Matcha
Fermented:
  • Goishi-cha, Kochi, Shikoku Island. Double fermentation. pedants post.
  • Ishizuchi Kurocha, Komatsu town, Ehime prefecture, Shikoku Island. Double fermentation. Description.
  • Tengu kurocha, Saijo, Shikoku Island. Created by villagers to keep Ishizuchi tradition alive. Double fermentation. Description.

I’ve been doing my own experiments with cold storage and aging that I first wrote about here, since then I continue to taste a few greens I’ve had in the refrigerator for 2-5 years with good results, especially with gyokuro. With sencha I’ve found that the tea needs to be consumed within the first few weeks, with gyokuro less so.

I’m wondering if there are other aged or fermented Japanese green teas that I missed in my list? Curious also, if anyone else has had roasted sencha, or other roasted Japanese greens?
Last edited by Victoria on Sat Sep 15, 2018 7:40 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Reason: Update: added Fermented Japanese Green Teas, and modified text.
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Bok
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Thu Sep 13, 2018 8:04 pm

Interesting! I wasn’t aware of any of that. Thanks!
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Tor
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Fri Sep 14, 2018 8:57 am

Florent currently has 2 aged gyokuros;

http://www.thes-du-japon.com/index.php? ... &cPath=1_4
.m.
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Fri Sep 14, 2018 9:14 am

I've had a Nadeshiko fermented organic tea in the past, which is worth tasting, and while it can definitely be stored for prolonged time, i cannot say whether or how it would actually benefit from it.
I'm also currently aging some Hojicha which was tasty but too rough for my stomach, currently about 3-4years old, still too rough. Might need to wait another decade or two. :D
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Victoria
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Fri Sep 14, 2018 2:16 pm

.m. wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 9:14 am
I've had a Nadeshiko fermented organic tea in the past, which is worth tasting, and while it can definitely be stored for prolonged time, i cannot say whether or how it would actually benefit from it.
I'm also currently aging some Hojicha which was tasty but too rough for my stomach, currently about 3-4years old, still too rough. Might need to wait another decade or two. :D
Interesting, reading about this fermented green tea, it seems that further aging won’t enhance the tea;
“Opposite to Pu Ehr teas, another naturally fermented type of tea, the Nadeshiko fermentation time is quite short, depending on the evolution of the yeast. Moreover, and unlike Pu-Ehr teas, Nadeshiko tea will not further age nor improve with time. “

It is possible that its processing halts further fermentation by drying the tea after fermentation;
“In a completely sterilized and controlled environment, clean and safe for tea, the leaves of a completed finished green tea – Yabukita cultivar- are sterilised, then moisten before inoculating them with a black microscopic fungus, Kuro-Koji-kin or black Aspergillus Oryza. Following the fermentation process, the tea will then be stabilized by drying and final sorting.”
http://dansmatasse.com/en/2015/09/nades ... a-is-born/
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Victoria
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Fri Sep 14, 2018 2:21 pm

Tor wrote:
Fri Sep 14, 2018 8:57 am
Florent currently has 2 aged gyokuros;

http://www.thes-du-japon.com/index.php? ... &cPath=1_4
Good to know they carry it. Wonder why the 2009 is more expensive than the 2004 gyokuro. From what I understand these Japanese green teas for aging are stored in temperature controlled rooms set at -20C /-4F.

The 2004 Uji Gyokuro from Kyô-Tanabe, ‘Dejima’ Kyô-midori sounds really interesting, intense :) “The long maturing and the characteristics of this cultivar combine to produce a tea that seems to push the boundaries of the typical characteristics of gyokuro and shows great individuality. An “extreme” experience.” I’d like to try that.
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debunix
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Sat Sep 15, 2018 10:21 am

That does sound interesting. I'm trying to remember which unusual aged/fermented Japanese tea I ordered from Norbu one year--Greg had a slate of interesting one-offs that year from Japan, must have made a visit or deal with a local producer. It was quite interesting stuff, I remember that much distinctly.
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Victoria
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Sat Sep 15, 2018 4:24 pm

debunix wrote:
Sat Sep 15, 2018 10:21 am
That does sound interesting. I'm trying to remember which unusual aged/fermented Japanese tea I ordered from Norbu one year--Greg had a slate of interesting one-offs that year from Japan, must have made a visit or deal with a local producer. It was quite interesting stuff, I remember that much distinctly.
Maybe it was Awabancha from Shikoku Island. I see Norbu sold it. It’s another interesting fermented green tea. Or the Goishi-cha (go stone tea, 碁石茶) pedant posted about? These two fermented teas both come from Shikoku Island (different prefectures), except Awabancha is boiled, while Goishi-cha is steamed before fermentation.

Awabancha fermentation process is fascinating, from Norbu’s description on Steepster; “First, mature/large tea leaves are hand stripped from the branches of the tea plants under the care of the community cooperative. After picking, the tea leaves are submerged in boiling water (instead of steaming) to kill the enzymes in the leaves that would otherwise cause oxidation. After their 10 +/- minute boil, the leaves are then rolled in a rolling machine and packed into large wooden barrels for the fermentation process. As the leaves are added to the barrels, they are pounded/mashed with a big weighted plunger to further crush the cell walls and distribute the juices evenly. When the barrels are almost full, the leaves are covered with the cooled boiling liquid and the barrels are covered with banana leaves before the cover is sealed and weighed down with stones.

After the barrels are sealed and weighed down with stones, they are left outside to ferment for approximately 3 weeks, usually on the shady side of a building or under a shed to avoid overheating under the direct summer sun. After the fermentation process is complete, the leaves are removed from the barrels and dried in the sun before they are ready for consumption.”
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Victoria
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Sat Sep 15, 2018 7:07 pm

I’m going to add fermentation to this topic since it includes a few other lesser known, low production, rare traditional Japanese green tea processing methods that this topic covers. These fermented teas have such low production that many worry the tradition will be lost. It appears that there are at least 5 traditionally fermented teas in Japan, 4 coming from Shikoku Island, the 5th from Toyama’s Birudan village in Asahi.
  • Goishi-cha, Kochi, Shikoku Island. Double fermentation. pedants post.
  • Ishizuchi Kurocha, Komatsu town, Ehime prefecture, Shikoku Island. Double fermentation. Description.
  • Tengu kurocha, Saijo, Shikoku Island. Created by villagers to keep Ishizuchi tradition alive. Double fermentation. Description.
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wave_code
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Mon Dec 17, 2018 12:50 pm

I'm on the lookout for some nicer and/or high-end hojicha recommendations since my current bag is almost empty. I had a very nice one a friend brought back from Japan for me but I can't remember the name - I believe it was a storefront in Tokyo selling their own brand and that the logo was a face styled like a carved seal. I wish I had the bag still since I really liked it. While higher end hojicha seems to be a bit of a contradiction I have seen some places selling from producers who are using higher quality leaves or earlier harvest material for it, but I'm curious where it is or isn't worth putting any money into.

I really enjoy kyobancha and am hoping to try some new ones soon. Not that I have a ton to compare it against but the organic one Yuuki-Cha sells in 200g bags I think is a really good deal. I drink it a lot in the evening and keep it iced in the fridge in the summer. I also have tried the Obubu Winter Kyobancha (got it from Yunomi) which is also really nice. Usually I use a small kyusu and stack 2 or 3 brews up in one bowl. The Obubu has a bit more of the fermentation/sour note on the nose while the Yuuki-Cha one comes out a bit sweeter and lighter - both very enjoyable in their own way. I should compare them again both boiled.
Henk
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Tue Dec 18, 2018 5:29 am

I'm enjoying Hojo's hojicha these days. I don't have any comparison to place it against but it's a very enjoyable tea.
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Victoria
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Tue Dec 18, 2018 3:12 pm

Henk wrote:
Tue Dec 18, 2018 5:29 am
I'm enjoying Hojo's hojicha these days. I don't have any comparison to place it against but it's a very enjoyable tea.
wave_code wrote:
Mon Dec 17, 2018 12:50 pm
I'm on the lookout for some nicer and/or high-end hojicha recommendations since my current bag is almost empty.....

...I really enjoy kyobancha and am hoping to try some new ones soon.
Well Hojo is top of the line so you started with very high quality. Thes du Japón and Ippodo also have some very good Hojicha and Kyobancha.
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