Ceremonial Koicha Matcha - Mukashi Katari
Supplies limited to one (1) tin per order due to the COVID-19 emergency
Translated to Old Tale, Mukashi Katari is our ultra-premium matcha and is available in very limited quantities. These tea plants are grown on a separate farm and have an extremely small production resulting in very limited supply. This is a connoisseur's class matcha and should be served as Koicha (thick tea). A koicha class matcha is much sweeter and milder tasting than regular usucha (thin tea). Because twice the amount of matcha powder is used to make a thicker consistency, mild, bitter-free matcha is required. This is achieved by handpicking leaves from plants that are at least 30 years old. Each leaf is specially selected and carefully picked by skilled hands. Today most tea leaves are trimmed by machine. Traditional hand-picked matcha is rarely grown and is therefore very precious. The flavor and aroma of hand-picked tea is much more mellow and smooth than tea trimmed by machine.
The color is a bright, sprout green and the aftertaste is thick, sweet, and cleansing.
- 30 grams
- No chemical pesticides or herbicides
- Exclusively grown on a designated farm in Uji, Kyoto
- 1st harvest (Ichibancha) in early spring
- Samidori and Asahi breeds of tea plant
- 20-30 day shade-grown (tencha) by the way of "Tana"
- Ground in small batches using traditional granite stones (Hikiusu)
- Reserved for Koicha and the elaborate Japanese Tea Ceremony
*Please note, Mukashi Katari is a Koicha matcha. As such, we cannot offer this high quality of matcha as organic. Why not? ...it’s all about taste. Organic matcha simply doesn’t produce enough amino acids/umami, and thus flavor, to meet the strict quality standards for Koicha.
More specifically, it has to do with how tencha is grown. Tencha is the name given to tea leaves that spend the last, and most important, part of their growth cycle in shade. This develops the amino acid content of the plant until harvest. If it gets sunlight, those coveted amino acids that we’re after get converted, via photosynthesis, into catechins, a process that changes the taste from sweet and mild to bitter and grassy.
The dilemma thus becomes: if a plant can’t get the energy to grow from sunlight, from where does it get its energy? In matcha’s case, it gets its energy from fertilizers. It NEEDS this added energy since it’s not getting it from sunlight. And the bitter truth (so to speak) is that organic fertilizers can’t, at least by today’s technologies and standards, give it enough energy to grow with maximum amino acid structure. It just doesn’t deliver enough nitrogen for the plant to develop complex amino acids.
Tencha can, and does, grow using organic methods and provides high-quality matcha. However, it does not have the umami (flavor) needed for koicha.
That said, our farm is hardly dumping industrial-strength fertilizers into its field when growing tea that will become Mukashi Katari. Organic fertilizers (which are slow-acting) are used in February/March. Fertilizers containing nitrogen, phosphoric acid, and potassium are applied in April and a nitrogen-based, rapid-acting fertilizer is applied in May (just before harvest). We DO NOT use chemical pesticides or herbicides. Rather, we opt for natural methods such as hand/machine weeding and beneficial insects for pest control (e.g. spiders, lizards, mantis, and ladybugs).
Needless to say, we will switch to total organic fertilizers in a heartbeat when it becomes clear that they begin to deliver koicha quality matcha.