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Setoya Momiji Producer Toshiaki Kinezuka

Ian |

Yunomi.us: Originally posted on 2011.03.21, Japanese black tea expert Hiroshi Okamoto of Creha visited?another one of our partners, the Kinezuka family (NaturaliTea), in March 2011, and wrote a fairly long post about it. We’ll be translating soon, but enjoy the photos in the meantime!

[product id=”” sku=”TEA-NLT-KC001″]Toshiaki Kinezuka is the president of the Society to Connect People, Agriculture and Nature (i.e. NaturaliTea) in Shizuoka. In one generation has expanded his farm to involve his neighbors, and create a local tea production culture.
静岡県で「無農薬茶の会」の代表をされている杵塚氏は、一代で茶園を広げられ、近隣の農家さん達と協力しながら地元の茶生産文化を守ってらっ しゃいます。

You might say that the pioneering Toshiaki-san has tunnel vision. Inspired by Taiwanese oolong tea as a young man, he ventured to Taiwan to learn tea production there. And before anyone understood the value of agriculture without artificial, chemical-based pesticides and fertilizers, he was attempting to figure out how to produce delicious (what we now call) “organic” tea.

When he started producing black tea as well, to really learn it right, he invited a master producer from Sri Lanka, and built a small tea processing facility based on Sri Lankan design. To complete it, he even imported machinery from Sri Lanka. To tell you the truth, even I have never seen anything like it in Japan (Okamoto-san writes this after being in the Japanese black tea business for a decade).

Of course, NaturaliTea’s main business is green tea. But instead of black tea being a product spin off, if he was going to create it, he wanted to create it well. I can only tip my hat to such dedication.


On the 2nd floor of the Kinezuka’s small black tea processing factory (next to their house), is this whithering room (萎凋室 = ichou (whither) shitsu (room) ). This large scale is something you almost never see in Japan for black tea.

This machine allows the Kinezukas to agitate a large amount of tea leaves at once. Very efficient!

Of course, I’m helping out too. Moving the softened leaves up to the fermentation room.

Right now, daughter Ayumi-san is primarily in charge of black tea production at the Kinezuka’s farm. Ayumi-san, like her father Toshiaki-san, pays very close attention to details…recording data for each production lot. She’s very interested in seeing how each production creates a different flavor when she does her cupping later. Part of her research into creating Japanese black teas.
現在は、主に娘の歩さんが紅茶の製造を担当されています。歩さんもお父さんに負けずの凝り性で、ロット毎にすべてのデータを記録し、後の ティスティング結果を参考にしながら、日々研究を繰り返されています。

Daughter Ayumi-san is the black tea processing director. She starts very early in the morning and works all the way into the late hours of the night with a keen eye for producing the best quality.

These college students have come to study agriculture. But be careful of the narrow country roads!

My recommendation on how to steep the Kinezuka’s teas

Black tea made from Yabukita tea plants are basically what we call 滋納 jina, or sweet / lacking in astringency. However, the Kinezuka’s Setoya Momiji is actually quite close to what we call a 望欄 bouran type – a black tea that is close to what is found in the Western tradition with a stronger flavor. So, don’t steep it too long to try to bring out the savoriness you usually find in Japanese black teas because it just isn’t there. I recommend a 3-4 minute steep.
やぶきたを使った紅茶は、基本的に「滋納」タイプが多いですが、瀬戸屋もみじは望欄タイプに近いので、あまり長く蒸らしすぎても旨みは出てき ません。ただ、あまり短いのも良さが引き出せませんので、3?4分がちょうど良いようです。

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