On my recent visit to Japan, I met the very passionate Masako Saito, who runs an Association that promotes the quality and unique flavours of the delicious teas from Umegashima, located in Shizuoka at the foothills of Mount Fuji. The association actively supports the rejuvenation of older tea fields so that the culture and scenery at Umegashima can be passed down from generation to generation.
Umegashima is nested in the rocky fields of the Southern Alps of Japan, where Kakurecha Tea is grown. Umegashima was first put on the map approximately 1700 years ago when Umegashima hot springs were established there, followed by gold mining, tea, and wasabi cultivation. Tea from Umegashima is well regarded even among the great teas harvested in Shizuoka.
Because of the high elevation of Umegashima, the flavour is concentrated and has great umami and a rich aroma. Umegashima’s teas are still not widely known in the marketplace, but it is sold in various department stores and the Tokyo metropolitan area as high-end tea. Kakurecha teas were born from a desire to connect the tea growers directly with the consumers so that the growers can see increased profits and consumers can enjoy delicious teas. By eliminating the middleman, the growers can sell their teas in the market while growing their independence and flourishing as tea growers.
Umegashima environment offers three aspects that make an excellent tea:
- Daylight hours are short
- Great heat differential
- Frequent fog
It was great to meet Masako and experience her passion for helping legacy farmers grow the value of their crops and showcase their unique products to the world.
The Alto team are proud to be part of a project to see the Kakurecha tea from Umegashima imported and sold in Melbourne. If you seek support to realise your next hospitality project reach out to Alto Cibum Food and Beverage Consultants. www.altocibum.com