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Sencha Meijin Kentarou

A Sencha tea which is named after a true tea expert.It is by a tea store which is connected to Ise Grand Shrine and which has brought a fresh wind to the tea business world.

Hosuien is a well-established tea store that was founded in 1887, and it is their product Sencha Meijin Kentarou (Kentarou Master Tea) which really stands out above other teas. What kind of tea is Meijin Kentarou? How is it different to other teas? It is the key to unlocking the secret behind the great taste and history of this store, which has a strong foundation made up of innovation and tradition.

Sencha Meijin Kentarou

They have built up a strong relationship with tea farmers, and change the name to "Meijin Kentarou"

A sencha tea using the name Meijin Kentarou. Hosuien’s executive director Yota Sugimoto points out that “a long time ago it was known as a master tea.” “As for Kentarou, that is a person who actually existed and his surname was Sugimoto.” That means... “Yes, you have guessed right, he was my grandfather; he was the previous head of the family.” He was someone who is developing tea, particularly worked hard on Fukamushi-cha (deep-steamed green tea) and had a hand in the cultivation of the tea-leaves themselves, so that even after his death, there are still many people who love fukamushi-sencha (deep-steamed sencha tea), and ,imperceptibly, it came to be called a master tea. After he passed away the tea took on his name, so it became Meijin Kentarou and has been known as such ever since.

Sencha Meijin Kentarou

The Sugimoto family has lived in Matsuzaka City, Mie Prefecture, for over 400 years, and in 1887 they established a tea production company called Roshoen, and soon after they founded their tea store Hosuien. Kentarou was a second generation family member and he jumped right into tea-leaf farming, which as a result of his firm consistent leadership in regards to everything from soil improvement and cultivation to tea leaf picking, led to an improvement in the quality of tea leaves in Mie prefecture. His achievements were recognized by the government and he was conferred with the 4th class, Gold Rays with Rosette Order of the Sacred Treasure and awarded the Medal with Yellow Ribbon (outstanding service). In 1971 their Imperial Majesties (T. I. H.) the Emperor and Empress visited Ise Grand Shrine, and as they were presented with this prized tea, the tea brand became increasingly well known. They received a letter of appreciation for formally presenting them with the tea, and as a recognized purveyor to the Imperial household they have continued to supply their tea every year. “During my grandfather’s time his habit of directly guiding tea producers was quite rare, but he was a man of tea leaves. Starting from the soil he encouraged the use of organic fertilizers in tea plantations, and to reduce as much as possible the amount of agricultural chemicals in the growing of tea. Usually, for making tea the first tea crop, second tea crop and third tea crop are used, but we only use first sprouted tea crop. That doesn’t mean everything ends with the harvest, we then pick and choose the best plants to be harvested next season, so in order to make delicious tea it takes both effort and thinking." They have a trusting relationship with the tea plantation owners, and are lucky to be able to draw water from the clear stream of Isuzu Gawa River which flows into Ise Grand Shrine . The source of Isuzu Gawa River is the Miya River, and in 2015, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism recognized the Miya River as “having extremely high quality water,” and so as the water is drawn from this river for the tea plantations, the environment in which the tea trees grow is truly blessed.

Sencha Meijin Kentarou

In addition, with a firm focus on the kind of thinking that "tea should only be fresh”, their company puts the finishing touch to this tea at their factory where they use a special method to cool and seal the tea, and so keep it fresh. After that the dried tea leaves are aged for a year while kept at a temperature of no less than minus 20 degrees, which increases the fragrance of the tea, and makes it possible for them to offer to their customers tea with a really fresh flavor. “For my grandfather, it was important to protect old traditions, while always keeping an open attitude to adopting new techniques.” Supporting their commitment to being a ‘supplier to Ise Grand Shrine’ is something both traditional and innovative, and is just part of their extraordinary passion to tea leaves.

This tea, which is the result of thinking through both raw materials and manufacturing methods, is ultimately an informal tea which is not affected by water quality nor temperature.

Amongst Japanese tea, there are different varieties which depend on the method by which the tea was cultivated, and the method by which they are heated. The manufacturing process for sencha tea is probably the most well-known out of all of these teas, so let’s review this process. In regards to the tea leaves themselves, from the instant the leaves are picked at the tea plantation a fermentation process begins by the action of enzymes. In order to stop the fermentation, they apply a steam process to the tea leaves called Jyounetsu (steaming), and, depending on how long this process lasts there is an important point to be made about the extent to which this can influence the taste, color and aroma. Normally, the leaves are steamed for around 30 to 40 seconds, but if you steam them for twice, or three times, the amount of time, then you will find that the tea is much more mellow and rich when you taste it.

Sencha Meijin Kentarou

According to Mr. Sugimoto, “Our steaming process for tea is pretty unique. It draws out the taste of tea more than any other so-called deep steamed tea, and furthermore as it takes time to make our really deep steamed tea it has a richer taste." By steaming slowly over time the heat of the steam heat is transferred to the tea leaves and it creates an astringent taste (dry flavor) which is both mild and mellow. When you add water to the tea leaves they become smaller and more finely shaped, and this allows a deep taste to come out.

Sencha Meijin Kentarou

It was the man himself, Kentarou, who came up with this special fukamushi-cha (deep-steam green tea). “It was about 70 years ago that we started selling tea in Tokyo. However, it seemed that by brewing the tea in the local water in Tokyo it meant that the taste was different to how it was usually. This was the trigger for the discovery of his special manufacturing method of deep steaming, by conducting a lot of research into tea he discovered a way to prepare it so that it could be enjoyed using the water in Tokyo, or water of any quality, and at any temperature.” As a result when you brew a cup of tea you can enjoy a thick, rich taste and a mellow aroma, or if you drink it in cold water then you will discover a refreshing sweetness. It is a tea that allows you to enjoy different flavors. In addition, even if you use the tea leaves for a second or third cup it will still be delicious. In the 2017 Business Dinner Souvenirs competition they were awarded with the Special Selection Award for the many great aspects of their tea.

Japanese tea is delicious. Japanese tea is enjoyable. The taste of the tea at their long-established tea company even now continues to progressively evolve.

Mr. Sugimoto, received from a very young age a special education in tea tasting from his grandfather Kentarou. One thing his grandfather said left a lasting impression, “enjoy the tea without expectations.” “Tea was originally just a drink to be enjoyed. It is important culturally, you can’t not drink it, but you have to take into consideration the thought that Japanese tea is just a fun delicious drink. It shouldn’t be difficult to drink, just brew a cup to the temperature that you like and enjoy it.” They say that these days many young people don’t even have a teapot. For which, Mr. Sugimoto has created and is selling a tea in the form of fine powder which can be drunk easily without the use of a teapot, and which can be put into an easily carriable pen-like container. Mr. Sugimoto is quite free, bold and forthright, so there is no doubt that he is fiercely proud of the quality of the tea itself. They are not just keeping to traditions, the taste of their tea at their long-established tea company even now continues to progressively evolve, and we invite you to try it.

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