Since its foundation in 1854 (Ansei 1), Nakamura Tokichi Honten has always pursued the “characteristics” unique to each type of tea. We utilize open-field cultivation without covers to provide sencha full of brisk freshness which is characteristic of sencha. We carry out under-cover cultivation with intensive care to supply gyokuro with a rich aromatic flavour which is characteristic of gyokuro.
We are determined to continue providing tasty tea without merely being bound by shapes or appearances.
Matcha is made of tea called tencha. To produce tencha, we cover tea plants to block sunlight while sprouts are growing and then grind the tea leaves finely with a tea grinding stone. Blocking sunlight prevents sweetening and deliciousness components from turning into bitterness and astringency. As a result, tencha takes on a deep and mellow sweet flavor and a good taste with a rich and profound character.
Tencha is the base material for matcha. To produce tencha, we cover the tea plants to block sunlight while the sprouts are growing, steam the tea leaves and dry them without kneading. After removing the stems and leaf veins, we grind only the soft parts of the flesh with a tea millstone to produce highly fine-grained matcha.
Like tencha, gyokuro is produced by covering the tea plants in shades and blocking out the sunlight while the sprouts are growing. Blocking out sunlight prevents the sweet and delicious (umami) tastes from turning into bitterness and astringency. As a result, gyokuro takes on deep and mellow character, with sufficient sweetness and deliciousness, resulting in a rich and profound flavour. High quality gyokuro has a unique “oika (aroma from covering)” similar to the aroma of dried laver attributable to its powerful sweetness and deliciousness (umami).
Kabusecha is an intermediate type of tea between sencha and gyokuro. To produce kabusecha, The tea plants are covered while the tea sprouts are growing in similarity to gyokuro and tencha. However, the trees are covered for only 7-10 days; which is shorter than the covering period for gyokuro and tencha which are usually covered for at least 20 days. Although kabusecha is not inherently rich in sweetness or deliciousness like gyokuro, it has a much milder flavour and is recommendable for people who wish to avoid bitterness and astringency.
Sencha is the most commonly cultivated and consumed type of Japanese tea. The tea plants are not covered to produce sencha. Exposed to abundant sunlight, the tea takes on a brisk and clear flavour unique to the kind with sufficient sweetness, deliciousness (umami), bitterness and astringency. During recent years, classic “harsh” sencha has become less available because many tea farmers started to cover their fields for several days before tea-picking starts in order to suppress bitterness and astringency and render tea leaves darker green. However, we, at Nakamura Tokichi, select sencha grown without covering as much as possible, although it's appearance may not always be as aesthetic.
Nakamura-cha (Nakamura Tea) is a tea blend available only at Nakamura Tokichi. In the tea environment and terminology, the special term, “gogumi,” means as much as "to blend". To produce Nakamura-cha, we have blended seven types of Japanese green tea, including sencha and gyokuro, through the process of gogumi by the standards of our secret ratios to allow everyone to easily brew a good cup of tea. Because Nakamura-cha is composed of various types of tea, different flavours can be enjoyed just by changing the water temperature. The charm of Nakamura-cha lies in its elegant flavour, composed of a mixture of the good aspects of the various types of tea. No single type of tea can render such a flavour; it became only possible by mixing the flavours of different types of tea.
“Dosen-bo” is an area in Minami Yamashiro Mura in the southern part of Kyoto Prefecture. Located at a higher altitude with a climate characterised by a changing temperature difference during day and night throughout the year. The village is highly suitable for tea cultivation and an excellent production area of sencha with a robust bitterness, astringency and noble aromas, which are aspects not very commonly encountered recently. To produce Sencha Tokichi, we slowly mature the tea cultivated at Dosen-bo until autumn in order to enhance it's richness and deepness. Its flavour, comprised of masculine and wild distinct tastes, may at first be found hard to enjoy if you are accustomed to today’s mellow and sweet mainstream sencha which is easily drinkable. However, Sencha Tokichi overflows with the charms of sencha, making you feel like having more than one at a time.
Shincha (new tea) refers to the tea harvested in spring (= ichiban-cha or first-flush; in Uji, harvesting starts in early May). Of course, there are varieties of Shincha such as tencha, gyokuro and kabusecha, but we only sell first-flush sencha as “shincha.” The biggest charm of our shincha is it's young and fresh aroma. It is only available during a limited period and the aroma of shincha allows us to enjoy the briskness of spring and early summer. Being a young tea, it falls behind in ripeness compared to sencha in terms of deepness and aroma, but it allows us to enjoy the vivid power of tender green.
Iced Sencha is produced by blending (“gogumi”) the tea in such a way that the taste of the tea is optimised for cold brewing. The higher the water temperature when brewing the tea, the more drastically will bitterness and astringency overpower the sweetness and deliciousness (umami) of the tea. Cold brewing reduces the release of bitterness and astringency, but when brewn with a regular sencha, the tea may not turn out very tasty because also a raw greenish smell may be extracted, which damages the entire tasting balance. Iced Sencha is a limited edition seasonal tea, produced by using our unique blending and manufacturing methods in order to accomplish a proper balance of mellow deliciousness (umami), richness, oozing sweetness and modest bitterness/astringency by cold brewing.
Hojicha is made of the leaves and stems of sencha, roasted at a high temperature, characterised by a roasted aroma and a dark brown colour. The tea's bitterness and astringency is largely substracted by roasting at high temperatures, rendering the tea largely refreshing. Hojicha goes well with various foods and western- and Japanese-style sweets of any kind. It's tender flavour makes the tea easy to drink whether it is hot or cold and also makes it the perfect refreshment to quench your thirst.
There are two types of hojicha: “Hojicha” is usually made of roasted tea leaves. “Kuki hojicha” (twig hojicha) is made of roasted twigs. Either type has different charms: Hojicha is light and plain while kuki hojicha is characterised by sweetness and a rich mellowness. Each type can be enjoyed according to your mood.
Kukicha is tea made from collecting twigs which have dropped out during the selection and sorting process of sencha and gyokuro tea leaves. In Kyoto, the stems of high quality gyokuro have been especially called “Karigane,” but today all kinds of tea stems are often called by the same name. They also can be called by different names such as “Shiraore” depending on the region. Kukicha is easy to drink thanks to its light and plain taste. It can also be recommended as an easily brewable tea, as this tea releases comparatively less bitterness and astringency even when prepared with boiling water.
Genmaicha (rice tea) is made of larger grown sencha tea leaves, blended with roasted rice. The aroma of the dry and crispy roasted rice adds a savoury fragrance to the tea flavour, again different from that of hojicha. Our genmaicha is produced by blending the tea leaves at a half and half ratio. Some of the charms of this very light-tasting/smelling tea are that it is suitable for any occasion and that it can be consumed casually. It can also be recommended for ochazuke (rice in green tea).
Hand-Roasted Kyo Bancha
“Bancha” is the most difficult tea to define because it has different meanings and connotations according to the different regions. In Kyoto, “bancha” generally refers to “kyo bancha.” Kyo bancha is a tea which is fired and is made of larger and coarser leaves and stems, which are harvested after the gyokuro or tencha harvesting seasons are over. The leaves are too big and hard to knead after steaming, so they are dried as is and fired at high temperature in large iron pots right before being shipped out. This is how we produce our "Hand-Roasted Kyo Bancha."
Because kyo bancha has a unique sharp aroma, people either love it or hate it. Some are very surprised at its unique aroma and appearance when they first try (or see) it. Some say, “It smells like tobacco,” “It looks like fallen leaves,” or “It contains twigs like pencils.” However, it tends to make people “addicted;” they cannot enjoy Other Tea Variations once they are accustomed to it. Due to traditional hand roasting, our kyo bancha has an especially strong smoky fragrance and contains a lot of blackened leaves and twigs, but they are totally fine products. We highly recommend you to try it once!
Yanagi has a relatively wide range of meanings and content; sometimes, it is even called “bancha” in some areas. For us, it refers to a tea produced by assorting sencha leaves which have grown larger or larger leaves selected out of the production process of sencha. Depending on the type, Yanagi leaves can also be used as ingredients for hojicha or genmaicha. Because it is basically sencha, it's flavour is similar to that of a sencha. However, the biggest difference is the size of the leaves and it's rather plain taste. Commonly with genmaicha, large sencha leaves have a more modest sweetness, deliciousness (umami), bitterness and astringency in a good sense and render a more brisk flavour even when brewed with boiling water. Some people even consider it easier to drink and tastier than sencha and it also makes the perfect tea for ochazuke (rice in green tea). Although it may not be the appropriate refreshment when having guests, this tea can easily be enjoyed casually.
Konacha is a tea produced by gathering the tiny broken fragments of tea that have dropped out during the manufacturing process of sencha and gyokuro. Because the fragments are so tiny, konacha easily releases it's taste. In addition, because a lot of powder is also released in the extract, konacha has a very rich taste and a very strong colour. Among konacha, mecha and jinko are the types that refer to tea produced from small leaves or sprouts of which the edges are rolled into balls (we call them Sen Jinko and Gyoku Jinko, for konacha from Sencha and Gyokuro respectively). Because various tastes are condensed into small leaves and sprouts, this kind of tea is characterised by an extremely rich flavour and aroma.
Other Tea Variations
|Barley Tea with Kuki Hojicha||Kombucha (kelp tea)|
|Ume Kombucha (kelp tea with plum pulp)|