Japanese Green Tea Finishing and Blending

I recently saw a video from Japanese tea lover Shizuka Maitani about the final processing and blending of Japanese green tea.

It is so interesting that it deserves a blog post to discuss it. Watch the video below and then we’ll go over some aspects of it.

Sorting the tea leaves

First we see how many tea wholesalers buy aracha, the unprocessed tea. The finishing process isn’t normally done by the tea farmers themselves.

The leaves are sorted out so that on a given harvest you can have different types of tea, as I explain on my post about bancha.

Only a portion of aracha becomes sencha. There are other teas left at the end of the process, such as konacha and kukicha.

Hiire, or firing

Hiire (火入れ) is a secondary drying process of the tea leaves. Although the aracha leaves have already gone through a drying process, the sorted leaves that will be used for sencha still have a water content that’s undesirably high.

Without this extra step, the sencha leaves will degrade quicker. Furthermore, the aroma and taste of the tea improves if it’s done correctly.

Depending on the tea’s qualities, the hiire process is adjusted. The same leaves with different hiire process result in different taste and aroma.

Blending

At 6:44 minutes in the video you can see Fumio Maeda, the famous tea blending master which I introduced in the last post. He’s wearing the same polo shirt 🙂

Sayamacha-Tea-Auction
Photo credit: Yunomi.life

Blending is often necessary to please the consumer’s palate and to have a uniform flavor, since tea leaves have a different taste each year because of changes in climate.

In order to effectively blend a tea, you must have a proper training. It’s definitely not an easy task.

I hope that this clears your doubts about the last steps of making Japanese green tea.

4 Comments

  1. Gabriela
    December 9, 2014

    Thank you for sharing this video, very useful and interesting!

    Reply
    1. Ricardo Caicedo
      December 11, 2014

      Hi Gabriela.

      Thank you for watching, I also learned a lot from it.

      Reply
  2. MITE CO LTD
    December 14, 2014

    Hola Ricardo,
    Good video you have shared us. This is one of the important aspects about Japanese green tea.
    At this moment in my case I don’t handle a blend business, but maybe in the future,,,.

    Reply
    1. Ricardo Caicedo
      December 14, 2014

      Hola Hide san

      Thank you for commenting. I hope that your business is doing well.

      Reply

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