I discovered "matcha tea" in 2013 in a cafe in China where they served matcha lattes. It was not super (too bitter and sweet), but at the same time this new experience awakened my curiosity.
I discovered that matcha tea comes from Japan and I entered into this fascinating world...only to come back to France to find matcha tea that was often bitter, not very good, and not organic.
So, I decided to find a premium organic matcha from Japan to offer a better experience to tea enthusiasts in France!
The result is our Kumiko Matcha premium organic matcha from Japan.
It is sourced from the largest producer of organic matcha in Japan, with more than 200 organic farms on Kyushu island in southern Japan.
The main characteristic of premium organic matcha is the "chai master" (like for champagne) who selects the green tea leaves among those harvested by the farmers to create a blend that assures the same quality of premium organic matcha from year to year.
Here, I am with the "tea master," who is also the brother of the company president. He selects the leaves and creates the premium blend.
We selected and tasted some of the tea leaves from April's harvest. You can see from the picture, we can clearly differentiate the lower leaves, which are more "yellow" in color, from the upper leaves, which are very green.
Speaking of harvests, for premium organic matcha tea, there is only one harvest per year. This is the standard for premium organic matcha teas.
This logic is the complete opposite of most matcha producers in Japan, who cover their fields in pesticides and chemical fertilizers and who carry out a minimum of two harvests pour year to maximize yield.
In fact, 98% of the matcha produced in Japan is reserved for the Japanese market, and only 2% is designated for export. And organic farms are really rare since very few Japanese people are educated about organic consumption.
So, having access to this premium organic matcha is really exceptional.
With Kumiko Matcha, I sell exclusively organic products for 3 reasons:
- to protect the environment
- to protect the health of the entire Kumiko community, all the way from the farmers at the tea plantations to you, my client
- to be a force for good in the world and to embody the change that I wish to see in the world
The Kumiko Matcha premium organic matcha is hand harvested to select only the best leaves: the youngest and newest three leaves on each branch While most matcha teas are harvested with a machine that roughly cuts the leaves.
Often, retired women in the region carry out the year's harvest to stay busy during the seasonal period (yes, in Japan older people have small jobs as taxi drivers, for example...or tea harvesters!)
Kumiko Matcha premium organic tea plants are covered with a black net that blocks 80% of the sun's rays for 4 to 6 weeks just before the harvest.
This increases the concentration of chlorophyll and forces the plant to source more energy and nutrients from the soil since it has very little energy from the sun.
This also causes the plant to grow plenty of new young, green and tender leaves that "look for the sun." These are the leaves that are harvested to make premium organic matcha.
After the harvest, the leaves are dried whole and then pre-cut by the farmers. At this stage, this "unrefined" tea is called aracha.
The aracha leaves are brought to the chai master, who sorts them and selects the best leaves to make the blend.
You have to follow strict decontamination protocol to enter the production center:
The green tea leaves are then passed through steam to stop the oxidation process.
Then, they go through several machines that dry them, separate their parts, cut and recut them, filter, and separate the particles several times!
The final product of this process is "tencha" tea, this basically looks like tea leaf confetti. It's ready to go to the mill!
In this picture, I am grinding the tea manually to reduce it to a very fine power... matcha tea!
In fact, there are artisans specialized in the creation of these matcha tea mills.
The mills are made of granite, since it is a "cold" rock that does not heat up too much with friction.
The artisans sculpt 2 granite stones that interlock, leaving a hole in the middle to feed in the tencha tea leaves.
The grooves are designed to let the tea powder (the matcha) be pushed to the exterior when the upper rock is rotating.
So here are the mills for Kumiko Matcha:
Look, they put the tea leaves inside like this:
For most matcha tea of lesser quality, the mills turn more quickly to increase the yield to 50 to 60g per hour.
For Kumiko Matcha's premium organic matcha, the mill turns for 1 hour to make 30 to 40g of tea.
When the mill turns more slowly, there is less heat produced and the powder maintains more of its raw qualities. Plus, when the mill turns more slowly the powder is even finer.
The powder is gathered and then passed through a spinner with a filter that lets only particles measuring 100 micros or less pass through (this is about the diameter of a human hair).
There are many tests conducted in the lab, both to assure quality and for the organic certification process.
Finally, the premium organic matcha tea is packaged into 30g white iron boxes. These box are air-tight and the material protects the matcha from heat. Plus, they are recyclable! I also recommend that you reuse them to stock your Nakai 2016 matcha.
The result of this intense and complex process is an exceptional product. A powerful green matcha with a floral taste full of umami, that is produced organically to respect the environment, and that transmits all the health benefits of our planet to you!
It's the end of bitter, dusty, yellowish matcha that has been produced with chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
Welcome to Kumiko Matcha: eternal beauty, starting now.