Unique choice, oustanding tea quality and convenient worlwide delivery : IKKYU brings you an amazing tea selection of Kyushu, Japan, directly from the farmers. The best of Yame Gyokuro and Sencha, Kamairicha from Miyazaki and many other teas just a click away. Ikkyu focuses only on premium grade teas, brought together on one online shop for the first time, where tea lovers can buy their Japanese green tea. IKKYU means “one break” . This is a great way to understand what it means to enjoy a delicious cup of an exceptional green tea. Drinking hot or chilled green tea is something worth taking time for. It is a well-deserved, healthy break in your day.
Why did we select these producers, these teas? From the beginning, IKKYU decided to choose only high grade green tea and make it accessible to profanes and experts alike. All of our teas come directly from the farmers and we have chosen seven types for our customers: gyokuro, sencha, matcha, as well as two less known but extraordinary types, tama-ryoku-cha and kama-iri-cha a rare specialty tea from Kyushu.We have toured all the prefectures of Kyushu to meet dedicated and enthusiastic producers who are delighted to share their teas with buyers overseas. Since we all live in Kyushu, we have this extraordinary chance to visit the areas and producers all year long and build a true relationship with them. For many of the producers, IKKYU is their only way to reach out foreign audience, and we are the story tellers of their success abroad. Take the time to hear their story and let them show you their beautiful land. All our teas are packed by the producers themselves for optimal conservation and then wrapped by IKKYU. By the way, our packaging is very special: we wish to offer you a complete experience with not only great tea, but also beautiful wrapping for your own pleasure or for making a nice present to your friends, family or even colleagues.
Gyokuro from Kyushu is highly appreciated and recognized for its very high quality. It is the finest grade of Japanese green tea. Yame area in Fukuoka is the main production region in Japan (40%) and produces the highest quality Gyokuro of the country.
Gyokuro is sweet, with a unique mildly astringent aroma and mellow umami taste, with high levels of theanine and caffein. The tea leaves are cultivated using a special method where the young leaves are shaded from direct sunlight for around 20 days. Shading is usually done through dark plastic sheet, where more traditional farmers will use natural straw (Hon Gyokuro).
Compared with sencha, Gyokuro tends to be smoother, more full-bodied, and less astringent. Gyokuro is also much richer than sencha in umami, due to its high levels of theanine. Thanks to the shading process, the rate of photosynthesis is significantly reduced, and less theanine gets converted to other compounds.
Kabusecha means “covered tea”, referring to its production process that is quite similar to gyokuro.
As a matter of fact, kabusecha is right between gyokuro and sencha, and combines the flavors and tastes of those two kinds of tea.If you enjoy the refreshing flavor of sencha and the sweet and umami taste of gyokuro, you will definitely appreciate kabusecha. Actually, it is the degree of umami that makes the actual difference between the three kinds of tea:
gyokuro is the one with the highest level, followed by kabusecha and finally sencha. For making kabusecha, young tea leaves are shaded but for a shorter time (up to 10 days, and not 21 like for gyokuro), and the shading percentage is lower, with only 50%, as opposed to 70-90% for gyokuro. Kabusecha is a delicious and fine tea but quite rare as it represents less than 5% of the total production of green tea in Japan. Tea producers that grow gyokuro also usually make kabusecha, and therefore it is not surprising to see that in Kyushu, a lot of kabusecha comes from Yame area.
Sencha is the most common type of Japanese green tea and the most popular in Japan. Sencha grown in Kyushu benefits from the extraordinary variety of tea cultivars that can grow in its warmer climate and are not suitable for colder regions, including some that are sweeter in taste.
Thanks to its southern location, Chiran area in Kagoshima benefits from the earliest first harvest of the year in all Japan, making its “Shincha” (new tea) very popular. Sencha is green tinged with yellow and offers a well-balanced combination of aroma, umami and bitterness. For making sencha, tea leaves are exposed to direct sunlight during the entire process and therefore grow quickly.
For the same reason, sencha leaves possess the highest levels of vitamin C per weight, as well as high levels of Tannin that give it more astringency compared to gyokuro or matcha.
Matcha is a fine powdered green tea that is used during the tea ceremony. It is basically a finely ground from Gyokuro and therefore benefits from the effects of the shading production process that increases its theanin contents. Matcha combines an elegant aroma and sweetness. Because the leaf powder is dissolved in hot water, all of the tea’s nutrients are consumed, including those that are not water-soluble (vitamin A, protein, vitamin E, minerals, dietary fibers). Like Gyokuro, matcha is relatively high in caffein and theanin but the latter has a calming effect that slows down the effects of caffein compared to coffee. Matcha has low levels of tannin and therefore is not very astringent.
Kama-iri cha is a very rare green tea: it accounts for only 2% of all Japanese tea production and is a specialty of Kyushu. Following a centuries-old tradition, this delicacy is made by pan-frying tea leafs in an iron vessel at 300-450 degrees. The result is a yellow-green, refreshing, smooth tea with a mildly roasted and rich flavor, with no astringency. Kama-iri cha is also known as the “Chinese green tea” in Japan, as the process used to make it was first developed in China.
The highest quality kama-iri-cha comes from Miyazaki prefecture and only a few tea growers still possess the expertise required to produce this tea organically.
Tama-ryoku-cha (“coiled tea”) is another specialty of Kyushu. It is a high grade green tea, very close to sencha, and is also commonly known as guricha (“curly tea”).It has a tangy, berry-like taste, with a long almondy aftertaste and a deep aroma with tones of citrus, grass, and berries. Higashi-sonogi is a region specialized in this tea, which is produced by steaming the youngest leaves after the harvest. The leaves are then rolled into “comma” shapes (instead of being kneaded into “needle” shapes, like for sencha). The tea is golden yellow and can be reinfused, with a slightly different taste.
Shira ore belongs to the category of “twig tea” (kukicha), that is, green tea made with parts of the tea plant that is not used for making regular green tea such as sencha or gyokuro. For making shira ore, tea producers blend together stems, stalks and twigs, coming from the production of gyokuro.
As a result, it is the best kind of kukicha in terms of quality. Shira ore is appreciated for its unique nutty and sweet flavor and aroma. Its sweetness comes from its high contents in theanine, which is produced in the roots of the tea trees and then distributed to the leaves.
Because gyokuro is shaded to avoid loss of theanine due to sunlight, the theanine contents are even higher in shira ore.
As it is naturally very low in caffeine, this tea is not bitter but also well suited for children (straight or mixed with juice) or before going to sleep. Shira ore is another specialty of Kyushu island.
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