Visiting Shutaro Hayashi in Kirishima and having a wonderful tea tasting
We have to get up early in the morning. Saying good bye to the Morimotos is not easy, but they will stay in our hearts as they are.
Together with Tobias we drive the two hours to Kirishima, where we meet Shutaro Hayashi, the producer of our new Tennen Gyokuro. He receives us at the little tasting room in his families tea shop. He is the fifth generation of the family tea business and the first, who studied tea making. With great concentration he starts preparing teas for us.
We taste several Senchas, he produces of the different tea bush varieties. His family does not make blends, but sells the different qualities separately. They send the teas for the final heating to a specialized company. In contrast to almost all other tea producers they leave out this last production process for the very first tea of the year (Shincha). It has a wonderful fresh taste and vibrant smell of the freshly picked tealeaves, but is not as stable as other teas. Therefore the Hayashis just sell it just for one month.
After several very elegant and complex green teas, Shutaro san prepares a very delicious and creamy Matcha from a friend with a teagarden nearby and in the end surprises us with a black tea (Koucha) produced by him from the Benifuki tea bushes, which has a wonderful flowery nose.
After having lunch together we visit the teagarden, which has a big field with 100 year old Zairaishu plants, which in contrast to modern plants where grown out of seeds. These tea bushes are more robust and therefore get much older. As all the plants are a bit different they grow not homogeneously. It is not so easy to decide when to pick the leaves, as some plants are more and others less developed. The great diversity of different leave than is processed together to tea, which has a very own character.
On our way through the tea fields we meet a goat, which Shutaro san has bought with the idea to defend the weeds. As the goat also like the young tea leaves, he next wants to see if sheep could do the job. He is a smart guy, continuing the tradition of his family, but also trying to find his own new way.
Than we drive to Miyazaki, where we have to say good bye to Tobias, who will stay some more days with the Morimotos to help finish the first picking and to prepare the shipment of the teas. Dirk and me have a simple, but very delicious dinner. Tomorrow we will leave to Jeju Island in Korea. We are a bit sad to leave Japan, but we keep so many good memories of inspiring moments, which fore sure will stay with us for a long time.