Maiko tea plantation visit
After all the fun at Hankyu and making all those scones I thought a treat was certainly in order!
I was kindly invited to the Maiko tea garden, in Miyamaki, Uji, the home of Japanese green tea. Maiko is famed for it exceptional Gyokuro, the beautiful shaded green tea otherwise known as ‘Jewel Dew,’ due to its incredible deep and shiny emerald colour and amazing needle like shape.
What makes Maiko so exceptional though is that a large proportion of the Gyokuro they produce is all done by hand! Started in the 40’s the small factory and tools still stand are are used every year, with the techniques handed down through family, friends and employees. Although a larger slightly more mechanical factory now exists the smaller workshop is one of the most fascinating places I have ever visited and the passion and excitment for the tea shone through every employee.
After visiting the production houses I was invited to taste and share some teas with the wonderful Ralph and Masayasu. We started with the premium grade Gyokuro and it was like no other I have ever tasted. The depth of flavour was so intense hints of sweetness, top notes of fresh, damp grass and the most distinct earthy almost vegetable after-note that stayed like a warming vegetable broth. What made this tea more incredible was with each infusion different notes, tastes and textures came to the forefront and I experienced the taste develop into a rich smooth Sencha tea.
Matcha was next on the agenda and it did not fail to deliver being strong and punchy, but what surprised me was the delicacey and subtle sweetness that was present in the Matcha. I must admit to being a bit of a Matcha fiend, but I have never tasted Matcha as balanced and full bodied as this. We also got treated to a range of matcha wagashi, some made in the plantation’s very own kitchen.
Sencha was a must and I was delighted to be offered a range of Sencha teas in order to truely appriciate the highest quality Sencha. Grassy, sweet, no hint of flat or dull notes: these teas were something else!
To round off I got to try a bespoke blend of Hapiness Tea. This unique blend combines the finest Uji Maccha, superior Karigane tea, Genmai tea and noble Hokkaido Rishiri Kelp. All I can say is it was magnificant and certainly put a smile on my face! I was also lucky enough to be given a bag to enjoy at home, meaning I am the only person in the UK to have this tea!
My bag is packed with a host of incredible teas so watch this space for a Japanese tea tasting coming very, very soon! If you can’t wait till then we can keep your Japanese taste buds going with our beautiful Gyokuro or Gen Mai Cha.
Heading back home on Monday… I think I’m going to miss Japan!