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Kawagoe Matcha (Kawagoe City)

 

 18 Mar 2018

The area of Kawagoe, Sayama, Iruma are called Kyūkagawagoeryō and are known to be one of the prominent places in Japan for tea production. Japan’s tea history began when tea seeds were brought back from China during the Heian period. There is a record of tea being drunk in the year 815. Shortly, tea was capable of being cultivated nationwide, however, in Isei-teikin-ōrai, a book written in the years 1356~76, Kawagoe is noted as the one and only location in the Kanto district to produce tea.

 

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Kawagoe-cha, a Tea Formerly Loved by the Commander of the Samurai Army

The founder of Tiantai and a follower of the buddhist priest during the Heian period, Ennin Shikakudaishi brought back tea seeds to Kawagoe from China. At the time, tea was used for medicinal purposes and were cultivated in temples and its surroundings. However, when Ennin opened the Muryōjyu Temple in Kawagoe in the year 830, he started cultivating tea in the precincts.

 

Documents report that by the mid-12th century, the powerful commander of the Samurai army, Mr. Kawagoe, tasted tea in the area and the unearthed building ruins of Mr. Kawagoe proves that he had Tenmoku teacups which were a rarity at the time, coinciding with the details from the documents.

 

The once historically present Kawagoe Tea has been revived by the Zikkichi (じっきち) corporation’s Mr. Hayashi and Mr. Nunome. Both from Kawagoe started this project to “be able to contribute to their community”. Following history, the name of matcha made confers “Kawagoe” and the city is doing more to have their new specialities known in different prefectures as well as the metropolitan area. “We want Kawagoe Matcha to be something loved by the area. In addition, we aim to make the matcha a culture that takes root in the area.”, states Mr. Hayashi, as he advertised for his brand through the implementation of historical facts, which I personally found impressive.

 

Process of Production

1. Steam & Cool

The tea tree is grown by covering and blocking it from sunlight and is then turned into raw tea which is then used as a raw material. The plucked sprout is steamed for 20 seconds under the steam of the boiler. After the tea develops its own unique fragrance, the tea leaves are blown up and refrigerated.

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  • 2. Dry
  • Tea leaves are placed on a meshed conveyor belt of the Tencha furnace and are rotated twice for 30 minutes. When holding the tea leaves afterwards, the leaves are dried to the point that they can be crushed. After the tea leaves are removed from the Tencha furnace, the leaves are then placed in the dryer again to be conditioned into a state of preservation.
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3. Sort Out & Dry Once Again

The leaves are placed into a machine to separate the leaves and stem. Then, the leaves and stems are dried separately.

 

4. Grind

Using a stone mill, the dried and steamed tea is grinded to be made into matcha.

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A Shop to Taste Kawagoe Matcha

▶HATSUNEYA GARDEN THE CAFE(Kawagoe City)

▶Kawagoe Pudding(Kawagoe City)