1. About the cultivation area “Kirishima”
Kirishima City, which has a population of over 120,000, is located in the central part of Kagoshima prefecture, the southernmost part of the Kyushu mainland. In the north, there is Mt. Kirishima, Japan’s first national park with a group of more than 20 volcanoes, and in the south, there lies a plan facing Kinko Bay, which has Sakurajima, the pride of Kagoshima. Kirishima is the setting of Japan’s foundation myth, and Kirishima-Jingu Shrine, which is said to have been built in 540 according to one tradition, enshrines Ninigi-no-Mikoto, the main character of the foundation myth
This area is one of Kagoshima prefecture’s specialty production bases for tea, black vinegar, shochu, Berkshire pork, etc., and it is also a tourist destination with beautiful scenery in each season and hot springs with excellent spring quality.
2. About Kirishima tea
Clear air, clean water, rich soil, and thick fogs. In Kirishima City, which is an ideal place that fulfills the conditions for growing tea, in addition to climatic conditions with a large difference in temperature between day and night, fogs, which are also called a natural cover, can block sunlight, so tea cultivation that makes use of the blessings of nature is flourishing.
About Our Tea Products
1. Organic cultivation
All MATCHA Lab products are organically grown. Organic cultivation of tea is extremely difficult, and pests and diseases can cause large variations in yield, taste, and quality. With this in mind, MATCHA Lab’s contract farmers cultivate and manufacture as much produce as possible regardless of the weather and temperature. They carry out activities such as daily soil management and manufacturing technology through persistent trial and error as well as research that has been done over as many as 20 years. As proof of organic cultivation, we have obtained strict certification from RDNA and the Rainforest Alliance.
What is organic cultivation?
Organically grown agricultural products are defined as agricultural goods produced “using agricultural production methods that reduce the environmental burden stemming from agricultural production as much as possible, based on the principle that they do not use chemically synthesized fertilizers and pesticides, and that they do not use genetic recombination techniques.” Simply put, these are “environmentally friendly cultivation methods that do not use chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or genetic recombination techniques.”
Organic cultivation begins with soil preparation such as composting. It is carried out in healthy soil that has been used for more than two years without application of chemical fertilizers or pesticides. In order to be grown organically and recognized as an “organic agricultural product,” a crop must meet standards set by the country (the JAS standards).
There are many rules covering not only soil preparation but also the production process, and it is only if they are observed and recognized that products can be called “organic agricultural products” for the first time. I believe that you may have seen many labels saying “organic” in recent years, and it is proof that there is a definite standard and that production is based on that standard.
2. Collaboration between expert technique and nature
Agricultural products usually have different qualities that vary with the climatic conditions of every year, but the quality of tea used at MATCHA Lab is always maintained at a certain level. The ability to quickly respond to changes and keen observation of the weather, the nature of the soil, and the visual appearance of the tea plantations are exactly the craftsman’s skill. With a sincere approach to nature, we produce high-quality products that do not cause variations in quality.
3. Consistent quality control from vast tea plantations to factory
Our product is high-quality and safe tea grown with a thorough commitment to aroma, taste, and the color of tea liquor. All the tea plantations covering more than 70 hectares at the foot of the Kirishima mountain range are surrounded by native trees, and they are cultivated in a consistent way while being protected from strong winds and pesticides sprayed by other farmers.
Compost is 100% natural, fermented over a 5-year period with expertise. We also pump and use spring water from Yusui town, one of the 100 famed mineral waters in Japan. One cannot but be impressed by the thorough commitment to the process from cultivation to tea manufacture, such as removing pests that have infested the crops individually by hand without using any pesticides.
How to enjoy green tea
1) The color and ingredients of tea change with the brewing temperature. You can enjoy the entire taste range by brewing tea starting with a low temperature, so it is one of the pleasures to find your own favorite taste.
- Astringency: A taste derived from tannins and catechins, which can be enjoyed at 80°C or higher;
- Umami: A taste derived from the amino acid theanine, which can be enjoyed at temperatures below 40°C;
- Non-caffeine: Ice water below 4°C (about five minutes).
2) How to brew delicious tea
(1) Put tea leaves into a kyusu teapot.
As a rough guide, put:
- About 3 grams per cup (one rounded teaspoon per cup)
- About 8 grams for three cups (one tablespoon per cup)
(2) Pour hot water of about 50°C to 60°C.
- We recommend pouring hot water into a yuzamashi (water cooler) or a large teacup to cool it a little and then pouring it into a kyusu teapot.
(3) Do not pour all of it in one go, but pour it little by little, paying attention to the color.
- At the first pour, wait about a minute for the leaves to wake up (open).
- Pour in small portions down to the last drop.
- From the second brew, you can keep raising the temperature by about 10°C and brewing with it to enjoy a different taste.
3) A story within the story
Do not throw away used tea leaves—you can enjoy them sprinkled with bonito flakes or eat them with dressing. It is a technique where crops can be cultivated without pesticides.
MATCHA Lab products
These are products brought about through collaboration between Kirishima’s nature, expert techniques, and skillful masters who support them. These teas are exquisite blends of cultivars such as Saemidori, Asatsuyu, and Yabukita, taking account of the customer’s taste, picking time, component ratio that affects the aroma and taste, and suitable processing method. I hope that you will enjoy the refreshing aroma and exquisite taste with a good balance between umami and astringency which are characteristic of them and will lead a full life.
1. Matcha (sticks)
It has a little bitterness and astringency, but they are not so strong, so you can just dissolve it in cold or hot water and drink it with relish. Normally, stone milling grinds it too finely and it tends to get lumpy, but since it is mechanically ground, the fineness is uniform and it readily dissolves in cold or ice water. Of course, it is best to use a tea whisk. You can drink it as it is, or sprinkle it on vanilla ice cream to make matcha ice cream, or sprinkle it on yogurt to enjoy the harmony of sourness and bitterness.
2. Sencha (tea bags)
Tea bags are a blend of sencha and matcha. Pour relatively hot water (about 80°C) and allow it to brew one minute before enjoying it. Because matcha is blended in, you can get a beautiful green color immediately.
The first cup opens the taste and aroma of matcha, and the second cup opens the tea leaves, so you can enjoy a different taste from the first cup with a little bitterness and astringency. As it contains 3 grams, you can brew it three to four times.
3. Matcha and Sencha Assort
Assorted marchandise into which 15 sticks of Matcha and 15 tea bags of Sencha are put.
4. Sencha (green tea) (for business use, vacuum-packed, 1 kg)
This tea is harvested during the hottest months of July and August. Insects gather on the tea leaves during the hot season. Because MATCHA Lab products are grown by a completely organic method, it is a matter of course that no pesticides are used. We take measures to prevent insects from gathering using completely natural materials without chemicals, and repel them with water (using not tap water but pumped spring water, which is a gift of nature) and wind. This tea is a crop that has been harvested with so much labor and time.
Bits of tea knowledge
1) Classification by tea type
Looking at the world’s teas reveals that there is green tea, black tea, oolong tea, etc., and there are various colors, aromas, and tastes. What these various types of tea have in common is that they are made from an evergreen tree with the scientific name Camellia sinensis, which belongs to the genus Camellia of the family Theaceae.
However, if you take a close look at tea trees around the world and around Japan, you notice not only similarities but also differences. This is because the tea tree, which is a plant, can have various characteristics depending on the environment where it grows and natural or artificial cross-fertilization.
Tea trees are broadly divided into two types, the (large-leaved) Assam type and the (small-leaved) China type, based on characteristics such as leaf size and tree height. Then there are cultivars such as Yabukita and Benifuki identified by more fine-grained characteristics. Different cultivars vary not only in the size and shape of trees and leaves, but also in disease resistance, picking time, proportions of components that affect aroma and taste, and suitable processing methods.
2) Some facts about Japanese tea cultivars
There are tea cultivars suitable for making sencha, gyokuro, matcha, black tea, and oolong tea. Tea farmers select and grow cultivars according to what kind of tea they intend to make. Looking at the cultivated area for each cultivar reveals that Yabukita actually accounts for 75% of the total area. Yabukita is suitable for making sencha, which accounts for the majority of tea, and it is due to its overall superiority in cultivation, tea making, color, and aroma and taste. However, some producers have been replanting with new cultivars so as not to be completely committed to Yabukita, and growing rare cultivars in response to a movement for original teas.
At this age, I am fortunate enough to be able to meet so-called “masters” who take a serious look at themselves and are single-mindedly dedicated to manufacturing without compromises.
What I feel in common when I hear stories from these people is an insatiable spirit of inquiry. And purity, humility, and gratitude that are overwhelming. I still cannot forget indescribable freshness and emotions so strong that I had goosebumps.
We are fortunate in being able to deliver completely pesticide-free tea (sencha, matcha) that has been painstakingly cultivated by the families of such manufacturing experts over three generations to everyone in Japan and around the world. It is the only genuine pesticide-free tea we have been searching for.
The master is always modest, saying, “I am about the only person in the whole of Japan to grow such ridiculous tea.” The families are also really good people who convey a feeling of the archetypal image of agriculture that Japan prides itself on before the whole world and a spirit of hospitality that flows under the surface.
It is precisely because it is tea that is drunk every day. I hope that you will enjoy sencha and matcha, which are absolutely safe, of the highest quality, and have a refreshing aroma and an exquisite taste with a good balance between umami and astringency which reflect the personality of the creator.
Hikaru Kamachi, Representative Director, Matcha Lab