At the Meet the Tea Farmer of last 23rd of March, we had the pleasure to – virtually – sit down and have tea with Masaru Nakamori. Nakamori-san is a 17th generation (!!!) tea farmer from Mie prefecture, close by to Ise Jingu, one of the most important shrines of all Japan. Apart from leading Nakamori Seicha tea company, he is also a “temomi” master: an expert in the art of hand-rolling sencha. Nakamori-san really enjoys farming and he was excited to share his passion and his teas with us! Together we tried some very special teas of him: a hand-made sencha (temomi), which is quite rare to get, and a genmai-hojicha.
We started admiring the temomi sencha and Nakamori-san first suggested to take 3 leaves out of the packet and put it in a cup with boiling water. To admire and enjoy the appearance of the leaves. The perfection of the dark green needles of the hand-rolled sencha is quite impressive and we all feel very lucky to be able to taste this tea. Being such a rare tea, it is usually expensive – but also difficult to get. A very special tea for very special occasions. In reply to the question of one of the participants, Nakamori-san said that he likes to brew temomi sencha when he has a special guest.
For today, he suggested us to have it on ice brew. We only needed to put 3 grams of the tea on a cup and place a big ice cube on top of the leaves. And then just wait. Usually it takes around 10 minutes, but today we can take it slowly. Nakamori-san used a peculiar shiboridashi with a stand on the bottom, from Tokoname – made by potter Yoshiki-san. The teaware had seaweed added on top of it when placed into the kiln, leaving a beautiful pattern on its surface. The colour of the liquid once the tea is brewed, is very light; Nakamori-san warns not to feel deceived by that: the taste is very nice! We asked why he suggested ice brew today, and his reply was that with ice brew you never fail a tea! Nevertheless, he also gave his suggestion for warm brew of temomi: it is better to use a little plate or a very flat cup with only 20 ml of water at 60ºC for 3 grams of tea for two minutes. A very condensed precious tea! Because, as our guest told us, “If you are engaged in a one time conversation, you don’t need much liquid to drink, only some sips to enjoy little by little.”
The other tea we tried was a genmai-hojicha. In opposite to temomi, this is an every day tea – but also quite peculiar, as genmaicha is usully made with green tea that is not roasted. Nakamori-san came up with the idea of making a tea mixing genmai and hojicha when he went selling tea to Tokyo. At the time, he noticed that people over there enjoyed a lot both genmaicha and hojicha; so why not trying mixing the two! Everything is very local, he uses the roasted rice from a nearby town. Nakamori-san suggested brewing it at 100ºC for 30 seconds, using 5 grams of tea for 100 ml of water. This tea is actually a very good choice for people who don’t like bitterness and astringency. All the participants really enjoyed both teas! And after drinking, we could even watch some pictures of tea making, while Nakamori-san explained.
Thank you so much, Nakamori-san for your teas and this beautiful tea gathering. His words to end this event were beautiful and very meaningful:
“You can buy tea from many places but the taste is created by the tea farmer. The work at the tea farm is very important, you cannot create tea just with the factory, the tea farm is very important. Even if it is a very long hours work, I really enjoy it, both tea farming and making. I hope I could transmit you this feeling. When you drink the tea, if a smile appears on your faces, the tea farmers will smile back. I hope you will have a smile on your face.”