Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tencha tea factory

Another place we visited on the tea study trip in Uji was a tea factory for tencha. Tencha is the ingredient of matcha, the tea leaves before milled. It was a very precious opportunity visiting a tencha factory, and more precious about was the factory was in the operation. It was the time for second harvest of the year.

When we arrived at the factory, the tea leaves just harvested was brought in there.

Tencha is made by steaming, cooling down, and drying. The biggest difference from sencha or gyokuro making is that there is no kneading process. So tencha is not rolled; I mean tencha is not a big needle shape. It is a just dried leaf. This picture is for the raw leaves before processed.

Steaming about 20 seconds
It was pretty hot in the factory.
The steamer was much smaller than I expected.

Cooling down the steamed leaves
The leaves are browed up by fans in the tall mesh tubes.

Drying in oven
The leaves are dried as they are moved by conveyor in the oven.

Stems are separated

This is the tencha. I had a bite of the leaf, but it was not good as I expected. It didn’t have much umami. It was maybe because it was the second harvested leaves. I think they will not used for matcha in the tea ceremonies, they will be used for the of matcha flavor sweets or food as an ingredient.

I was so excited observing the factory, and learned a lot. I think I was smiling all through the trip. I had really good time(^-^)

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