Manufacturing Method for Making Matcha
"Magouemon", A Producer with Imagination to Create
the Traditional but Innovative World of Tea
Our manufacturing method for making Matcha is composed of 12 processes.
Each process is controlled precisely and strictly to keep our best quality.
"EN" - Tea Farm
Even though all the field are belonging to our farm, each of them has its own Terroir and character.
We understand these differences and make use of them to find ideal and customized cultivation method for each field respectively.
Hand-Picking of Tea Leaves
In the most parts of our farms, new leaves are hand-picked from tea trees by our pickers called "Ocha-Tsumi-San".
Currently, even though in Kyoto, the number of tea farms is becoming less and less where tea leaves are picked by Ocha-Tsumi's hand.
"HAKARU" - Weighing
After harvesting, the picked tea leaves in the baskets (called "Kago") are gathered for weighing.
This scenery is quite typical, but it can be seen only at the tea farms with hand-harvesting.
"MUSU" - Steaming
"Tencha" is a kind of steamed green tea. For making Matcha, tea leaves are steamed and then powdered, so having good quality Tencha is essential for making good Matcha.
The process "steaming" is very important for making Tencha and the word "steaming" doesn't mean that the tea leaves are "just steamed".
People think that it's so easy and fast to steam the new leaves because they are so soft and their thickness is only 1 to 2mm in average. But, it is not so. To make better Tencha, the points are very important, how deep into their center the tea leaves are to be steamed and how to steam them avoiding excess water droplets on their surface. Quite high level of technique is to be requested to fulfill these requirements.
"KAWAKASU" - Drying
After steaming, the tea leaves should be dried and several alternative methods can be selected how to dry. Of course, we can put the leaves simply on the conveyor and dry them with the direct air flow. But once steamed, leaves can become sticky and stick each other or lump up if they were just put and dried on the conveyor.
So, we make air flow with leaves from the steamer to the big wire-mesh cage with which the leaves can be blown into the cage, jump up and down freely and be dried well by wind while jumping in the cage. We think this method can be quite ideal to secure its quality.
"ABURU" - Roasting
The conveyer has 4 layers moving in the roaster.
The temperature inside the roaster is not equal but quite various from points to points, around 200 C degrees at the highest point, but at the lowest point near to 60 C degrees. So it's very difficult but important for us to control the pitch of moving of these 4 layers so that all the leaves can be dried averagely and completely to the core.
"KONASU" - Comminuting
Konasu is an important and responsible step to make the leaves averagely in piece by using a sieve. How to handle the leaves and how to touch and put them toward the mesh, these points can decide the quality of the Tencha directly.
If the leaves could be crushed too fine at this step, the color of Tencha would become whitish and it's a sign for downgrade in taste. The most ideal utensils is a sieve made from bamboo to control the size of Tencha leaves and pitch of our touch. But recently we are tending to use sieves with metal-mesh instead of the one with bamboo mesh.
"ERABU" - Selecting
It's quite normal for our customers to imagine that we remove old or any kinds of unqualified leaves prior to the powdering process. But they could be so surprised to hear that we also de-vein from the leaves before powdering. We, at "Magouemon", use only the soft and fine parts of tea leaves for making Matcha. Moreover, to make tea for contests-use, we remove even more strictly any blackened (not perfectly green) and/or twisted (not perfectly straight) leaves.
"TSUBO(-NI-IRERU)" - Storing - Tea leaf jar
In the Edo-period, Tencha was put into a "Chatsubo (tea urn)" and merchandised as per the tea urns. Sellers put the "Tencha-Bukuro (bags for Tencha) for "Koicha (thick tea)" in the middle of a tea urn and put Tencha for "Usucha (thin tea)" around the "Tencha-Bukuro" for dispatching. This system doesn't exist now, just an old tradition.
"MICHI" - Delivering
Tea had been packed into Chatsubo (tea leaf jars), set on palanquins and delivered to the Shogun (General) at the Edo Castle(or called Chiyoda Castle) or each Busho (Japanese Military Commanders) for over 230 years. This ceremony was done during the Edo Period, so it doesn't exist nowadays, just a historical topic.
"HIKU" - Stone-Milling
Grounded Tencha in a mill is called Matcha and Matcha can be grounded in quite fine and small particles with the stone mills.
Some merchandisers say, the heavier the weight of a stone mill is, the better condition of Matcha we can expect for milling.
"MATSU" - Powder
This is the traditional manufacturing process for producing "Uji-cha" with its around 800-year-history. Our "Tencha" can be produced as the "Kyo-Matcha / high grade Matcha from Kyoto" only through this process.
"CHATSUBO - DOUCHU"
Uji saicha shi was a procession that carried Uji tea leaves, one of the specialties of Uji City, Kyoto, in a chatsubo (tea jar) to be presented to the Tokugawa Shogunate Family.
The new harvested tea was brought to Edo in this big procession between late in April and beginning of May every year. And the Kachigashira (a chief of foot soldiers in the Edo period) took responsibility of carrying the tea jar in rotation.
The number of the people joined in this procession was more than 1000 at peak, because, besides the leader and security guards, lots of masters ("Sadou-Gashira") and teachers ("Sadou-shuu") of tea ceremonies were also in it. The leader of this procession was appointed to the successive patriarchs of the family Kanbayashi which was a Daikan (local governor) in the Uji Area. As the tea leaves were for the Shogun to drink and to offer to the Tokugawa family's Sobyo (mausoleum containing the remains of their ancestors), the Ochatsubo Dochu procession was immensely authoritative.
The procession was regarded the same as Sekkanke (the families of regents and chief advisors to the Imperial Family) and Monzeki (temples whose head priest is a member of the Imperial family), and even the lords of Tokugawa Gosanke (three privileged branches of the Tokugawa family) had to get off their palanquin, their vassals dismount from their horses, to make way for the Ochatsubo Dochu procession.
Elaborate Michi Bushin (road improvement) was ordered in advance for the roads that the precession would follow, and even during the farming season rice planting was prohibited. Common people who lived by the roads who were afraid of the authoritative procession shut their doors and kept inside as the procession passed by. This sceneries were described in one of the famous nursery rhymes "Zui Zui Zukkorobashi".
Almost every Japanese has heard it but not so many Japanese don't know this episode.