Japan, the land of the rising sun, has a rich culture, history, and traditions. For you, we travel around the world, searching for the best tea producers and harvest, and come across such rare and extraordinary varieties. We visited Minoru Iizuka in his small tea garden to witness the first harvest of the year: our limited harvest Hanami Flush N°902. Read here what makes this limited harvest an exceptional rarity and how this precious green tea finds its way from Japan’s tea field to your cup.
Early morning, 7 am, end of April 2023. In the prefecture of Shizuoka, Japan’s renowned tea-growing region, the morning mist still hangs over the rolling hills. On Mr. Minoru Iizuka's small tea farm, which holds 7 hectares, the first harvest of the year is already in full swing. At this very moment, it takes our breath away as we are witnessing the harvest of this year’s Hanami Flush N°902. Father and son are carefully plucking the youngest tea leaves of Yabukita, Japan’s most popular green tea cultivar.
The first harvest of the season (Japanese: ‘Shincha’) is known to be exceptionally rich in umami flavor. Our esteemed partner and friend, Mr. Minoru Iizuka is more than satisfied with his harvest of 2023 and explains that the raw green tea (Japanese: ‘Aracha’) is of excellent quality and captures the farmer’s pursuit of distinct sweetness. The leaves from this year’s harvest are resistant and remain whole throughout the processing and develop their rich aroma in this harmonious cup of umami and sweet flavor.
But let us start from the beginning: In a traditional machine, the freshly plucked tea leaves are further processed following a manufacturing method typical for the region of Shizuoka. They are deep-steamed for over a minute. The longer the tea is steamed, the stronger its flavor develops. This artful process called ‘Fukamushicha’ has become the region’s distinct signature method and dates back to the beginning of the 20th century when samurai warriors settled in Shizuoka to grow tea instead of waging war. Deep-steaming as the distinct manufacturing process gives our green tea its exceptionally intense flavor and deep green color.
Minoru Iizuka and his son harvest only one batch of tea leaves each day and bring them immediately to the factory nearby for the manufacturing process. After deep-steaming the tea leaves, we were able to taste them. We could choose between the harvests of two different days. We liked the tea from April 22, 2023, the best. And this was the incredible moment when we finally got to know our Hanami Flush of 2023 for the first time!
We proudly curate an exclusive selection of limited harvests, sourcing specialty teas from small gardens around the world. Small family-owned tea farms, like Mr. Iizuka’s, pluck and produce a limited quantity of tea with endless dedication and commitment. Our limited harvests are a taste to remember.
Besides the harmonious symphony of sweet aromas and strong umami notes, what makes Hanami Flush N°902 so exceptional is that this Shincha is a ‘single estate tea’, which means that the tea leaves for this green tea all come from the same tea farm. That is why this tea a rare specialty. The tea captures the unique taste of each harvest like an unrepeatable moment. Likely, each year’s taste will slightly differ and impress us with a new flavor.
Around 3-4 weeks after the tea is plucked and processed, the batch of tea rarity arrives at our warehouse. Here we fill it in our packaging and get it ready for sale. Ready for you to enjoy. And to taste the moment when it was plucked. Let us savor the tea to the fullest. And wait impatiently for the next harvest echoing Mr. Iizuka’s sentiment that “the best is always yet to come!”