Mountain area– Miyazaki, Nukata, Okazaki
Natural environment of Miyazaki district and Miyazaki tea
Miyazaki district where Miyazakien locate is located in former Nukata-cho in Okazaki-city, east of Aichi Prefecture, Japan. Miyazaki district is about 45 km southeast of Nagoya, a famous mega town at central Japan, and it takes about an hour from Nagoya, and also from Central Japan International Airport (NGO). The area of the town is about 160. 27 kilometers, of which more than 80% are forests, the rest are field, but in the field there are tea, flowers, horticultural crops etc cultivated. In the main production area of tea, Old Nukata Town · Miyazaki area, valley bottom plains are formed by many rivers flowing in town, the mountains surrounding the village district and tea fields are very steep slopes. It is a region where the temperature difference between days and nights are high. Even on a day the daytime temperature exceeds 30 degrees Celsius on a hot summer, it is cool in the evening. In winter, cold winds blow from the west and sometimes having snow.
This temperature difference, the surrounding mountain valley, the water of the river create a thick mist, blocking the sunlight, and preparing the natural environment suitable for making tea. The tree of tea absorbs nutrients from the parent leaves by natural foliar application from this fog. To bring out the rich tea fragrance and mellow taste, the severe natural environment of Miyazaki is an indispensable element. In addition, the soil quality of Miyazaki district brings the taste of tea into something with richness.
Temples in Miyazaki and Miyazaki tea
In the former Nagata-cho there is Kojindo which enshrines the Buddha image created during the Heian era, that means over 1,200 years. And there are 11 buddhist temples in the Miyazaki area, mainly in Zen sect. Buddhism and tea are closely related, it is strictly related that tea making has flourished in Miyazaki district, and there are many temples.
During the Meiji and Taisho Periods, charcoal making is prosperous in the Miyazaki area, thanks to rich forests of this area. In the literature, it was said that more than 500 kg was produced per house, and some coal used in the tea ceremony might have been produced. In the Aichi newspaper at that time in 1879, it was said that an article entitled “Miyazaki has famous tea, Kinoshita village has famous Konjaku potatoes”, and around this time, Miyazaki’s tea industry was quite well-known.
Thus, in the old Nukata cho Miyazaki area, there are many cultures and history of blessed nature and tea suitable for tea making. Thanks to those history and environments, our ansestors accumulated and inherited trial and error spirits and techniques producing tea over hundred yeas and it leads to the current Miyazaki tea production.
Tea cultivation and manufacture of the Miyazakien
We have many processes to produce tea. By conducting each process carefully and patiently, delicious tea will be prepared. Let me introduce you up to the completion of the tea of the Miyazakien.
1. Tea plantation
In Miyazakien, tea tree cultivation utilize the mountain area environment. The early summer sun will make the tea delicious. This time is growing up for tea. We call this field directly exposed to sunlight “open-air garden”. In another field, we cover tea trees and grow it under cover which is blocking the sunlight. Covered tea tree makes their tea leaves more sweet so cultivated leafs in the coverd field will be Gyokuro and Matcha.
2. Picking up
About 30 days after the sprout of early April, it will be the season when tea picking will begin, after a blackout that brings out taste. When the spring time to the eighty eighth night (around 2nd May) passed, tea making is the most busy season for tea farmer. We remove the blackout cover and mow the tea leaves carefully. Since we try to pick up tea leaves when it is the most fragrant, the timing changes depending on changes in climate.
3. To steam
It is necessary to steam immediately before the freshness of the leaf falls. If the freshness falls, colour and scent will be impaired. To prevent this, steam tea leaves for about 15 to 20 seconds and stop the function of the oxidase of tea leaves. This is a process unique to green tea which is not found in tea or oolong tea.
4. Dry it while rubbing
We rub the steamed leaves to loosen the fibers, and let the ingredients of the tea taste spread throughout the leaves. This rubbing process also makes “Born” of tea leaves. At the beginning it is coarse, gradually gently rubbing, it can apply even more “born.” In addition, in this process, by removing sufficient moisture, it prevents alteration of tea leaves.
Remove stems and powder, adjust the shape and size of the leaves, the completion of Sencha.