Fukuoka is the fifth largest green tea producing region.
The production was 1,890 tons in 2019, which was approximately 2.2% of the total domestic green tea production.
It cultivates green tea leaves such as“Yabukita”, “Kanayamidori”, “Okumidori”, “Saemidori”and “Yamakai”
It produces a variety of green tea like Sencha, Kabusecha, Gyokuro, Bancha, and Kamairicha. Particularly, Fukuoka is known as an excellent high-end tea producing area whose production is the most in Japan.
Features of Tea in Fukuoka Prefecture
Fukuoka Prefecture, known for its traditional Hon-Gyokuro, produces a wide type of teas other than Gyokuro.
Although there are differences from region to region, we, who meet with dozens of producers throughout Japan every year, would like to introduce the characteristics of Fukuoka tea as we feel it is unique.
¥300,000 per kilogram? Where the finest Gyokuro is produced
Gyokuro is considered the highest quality tea, and is produced after more than 20 days of covered cultivation before plucking. While Kabuse-cha is made by covered cultivation for around 10 days, this period is more than twice as long.
“Yame Traditional Gyokuro” from Yame City, Fukuoka Prefecture, is made using the traditional cultivation method of “kabuse”, which involves covering the tea with straw or yoshizu, rather than the more common black cold gauze.
Because it is handpicked, the production is extremely small, and the price is also very different from other teas. The tea that receives the highest evaluation at the annual tea show can be priced at 300,000 yen per kilogram.
In both name and reality, it is Japan’s finest tea.
Making tea with rich umami
Perhaps because of their long experience in making gyokuro, Fukuoka Prefecture’s sencha teas are characterized by a large number of teas that are full of umami.
“Yabukita,” which accounts for 70% of all teas in Japan, “Saemidori,” which is sometimes used for gyokuro, “Asatsuyu,” also known as natural gyokuro, and “Okumidori,” which has a refreshing taste and a thick, rich flavor. Another characteristic of Fukuoka tea is its rich flavor, such as “Okumidori,” which has a clean and refreshing taste.
The history of tea production in Fukuoka Prefecture
The green tea cultivation in Fukuoka originated in Yame located in the southwest area.
Reigenji in Chikugonokuni Kozumagun Kanokomura (currently Kurokimachi Kasahara) and planted tea leaves brought from China.
In around the same period of time, it is said that he taught the village headman Matuso Taro Goro Hisaie how to cultivate and produce Kamairicha. This is the origin of Green tea cultivation/production in Fukuoka.
In the middle of the Edo period, a small amount of Kamairicha got distributed to Kyoto and Osaka from Yame. However, the majority was distributed in Kurume district as the production of Kamairicha was very small at that time.
The current cultivar of Gyokuro which is Yamecha’s greatest specialty was first produced in the Meiji era. A monk Takita Oken of the temple Kiyomizudera in Yamato gun (currently Miyama) built a training place to teach methods of cultivating and producing Gyokuro, which resulted in the spread of Gyokuro production.
On the other hand, the export share of Kamairicha dropped sharply due to the prohibition against the poor quality tea export issued by the US. Later, the produce of Kamairicha gradually reduced in the domestic market, while steamed green tea became more popular than Kamairicha.
Later, as the manufacture of sencha developed in the Taisho era, many local green tea brands got merged into the brand “Yamecha” that is led to the present Yamecha.
Tea-growing areas in Fukuoka Prefecture
90% of green tea cultivation areas of Fukuoka are located in Yame district, and all the green tea leaves cultivated in the areas are called “Yamecha”
Yamecha is tea leaves produced in the southwest areas in Fukuoka such as Yame, Chikugo and Hirokawa located next to Yame.
Green tea (Sencha) is mainly produced and Gyokuro is also produced in mountain areas.
Yame is one of the largest producers of Gyokuro in Japan, and Yame Gyokuro is highly rated as it has been prize-winning for 19 years in a row at the domestic competitive tea exhibition. Yame Gyokuro is one of the most valuable teas in japan as well as its production and quality.
Located in the southwestern part of the prefecture, Ukiha is a city rich in nature, with a spring that has been selected as one of the 100 best water sources and still has no water supply facilities, and people live on rich groundwater and spring water.
Supported by the abundant water sources, Ukiha’s farms, which are located in the mountainous areas, produce fragrant and well-finished tea.