Shizuoka stands for the colour tone, Uji is the aroma, the flavor of Sayama is the best after all.
“Sayama” is a green tea farming area located in the northern limit for tea production as an industry. Due to its severe winter, the tea leaves grown here are relatively thick which makes the tea distinctively flavourful and aromatic with a concentrated colour tone.
Tea varieties called “Yabukita” and “Sayamakaori”are mainly farmed in this area.
Although Yabukita is a standard tea variety which accounts 75% of the total production of the green tea in Japan, the one farmed in Sayama has got distinctive character of sweetness and umami.
Also, “Sayama Hiire” which is an original tea heating method is traditionally used in this area. This brings out rich, unique aroma and sweetness of the Sayama tea.
The Sayama hiire gives a very unique aroma to the tea and changes the colour of the tea from green to clear golden tone. This method was originally invented and widely spread by Mr. Murano Morimasa in Edo era.
Characteristics of the region
The centre of the Sayama tea production is located in the Sayama hill where is surrounded by cities such as Iruma, Sayama and Tokorozawa. There are tea producers in Chichibu city and western Tokyo district as well. The green tea farmed in western Tokyo is especially called “Tokyo Sayama tea”.
Many of the farmers in those areas own all the facilities for tea manufacture by themselves, therefore all the tea making process was often done by them. As a result, you can find individuality of tastes within the Sayama tea producers.
Also, they are experimenting a potential of the Sayama tea by producing not only the regular green tea “Sencha”, but also other products such as Macha, Gyokuro tea, Japanese black tea, bottled tea, and green tea flavoured ice cream.
The Sayama where is the closest tea region from Tokyo keeps making new challenges and is committed to widespread the Sayama tea throughout Japan.
Generally, the first tea crop harvest is done in the beginning of May, the second crop is in June. As Sayama is located in a cool climate region for tea production, the harvest starts a little bit later than other regions. Although Sayama is known as one of the top 3 tea producing areas, the cultivation area is ranked 7th and production is ranked 12th (as of 2017) which pushes up the value of the Sayama tea.
The origin of the Sayama tea is said to be back in Kamakura era. Jikou-taishi “Ennin” brought back tea seeds from China and planted them inside the temple grounds and farms.
By the time of Muromachi era, areas such as Musashi-kawaoge and Sayama hill where used to be influenced by a powerful shrine produced the Sayama tea actively. However, the production in the Sayama hill waned by the time of Sengoku era.
In the later Edo era around1800, fortunately the Sayama tea production was reborn by Mr. Yoshikawa, Murano and Sashida who made great efforts by integrating special technique “Mushi-seisencha*” invented by Nagatani Souen in Kyoto to the Sayama tea manufacture. These three also established “Sayama Hiire” and “Hand rolling” techniques.
*Steaming the tea leaves at high temperature helps them to cease its enzymatic oxidation process.
high respect in the city of Edo. The Sayama tea was exported to overseas as soon as the Yokohama port was opened for trading.
The Sayama tea origined back in the Kamakura era has still been appreciated by a lot of people today by inheriting its tradition and the taste from the predecessor.