This hand-kneaded green tea has been created by young artisans in the tea plantations of Sashima area in Ibaraki Prefecture, where tea has been cultivated since the Edo period (1603-1867). Sashima has been well known outside Japan as one of the original centers for green tea ever since it became the source of the very first tea to be exported from Japan in 1859 following the arrival of Matthew Perry’s “Black Ships,” which heralded the opening of Japan to the outside world. To create Iidaen’s hand-kneaded tea, tea leaves are picked one by one, steamed and being hand-kneaded over washi Japanese paper for seven hours, before being rolled by hand to create the finished tea. When tea leaves that have been hand-kneaded in this manner are doused in hot water, they uncurl themselves to allow the beautiful natural shape of the young tea leaves to be displayed. The tea leaves tint the hot water that surrounds them, turning it a beautiful translucent golden-green. This tea is characterized by the subtle sweetness that can be tasted amid the bitter flavors inherent to green tea, and a rich depth of flavor that fills the drinker with a warm glow that continues long after the tea has been drunk. Afterward, even the tea grounds themselves are delicious to eat as a small side-dish to serve with meals.
Manufacturer: Iida-en in Sakai, Ibaraki Prefecture
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