Beautifully balanced green tea that opens with notes of sweet garden peas before rounding out to deep umami richness. A smooth, buttery mouthfeel with very low bitterness or astringency.
Kukicha or "twig tea"
Karigane is the most ethereal version of Japanese stem tea, also known as kukicha or twig tea. Kukicha is usually made with sencha green tea. Karigane, however, is another level altogether; made with the highest grade and most delicious of all Japanese green teas - gyokuro.
Along with the precious leaf are incorporated the tender stems, softening the flavour and lowering the astringency of the infused tea. If you would like a gentle version of gyokuro this is your tea.
The leaf is shaded for around 20 days before harvesting, which lowers the bitter properties and increases the sweetness and umami notes. The stem and leaf veins, which are incorporated into this lovely tea, also contain higher levels of L-theanine - a naturally occurring, but rare, amino acid reported to improve mood and brain function whilst lowering blood pressure.
Sakamoto Tea Garden is a 3rd generation farm run by the two Sakamoto brothers. They moved to fully organic farming thirty years ago, realising that the soil and the tea plants were being ruined by pesticides & herbicides. They believe as we do that "healthy soil creates healthy plants and better tea".
They focus their attention on the soil as much as the intricate crafting of the leaf. You can taste the love and care they take in every aspect of their Karigane tea.
The brothers focus intensely on soil health as the key to growing healthy tea plants and making the most delicious tea. They create their own nutrient rich soil mix with natural fertilisers and carefully nestle each new tea plant in 2 metres deep. This allows for the tea plant's roots to fully develop in the soil mix.
Only harvesting once a year, the leaves that are pruned from the plant throughout the remainder of the year are used to make an organic fertiliser, and returned to the soil, helping maintain the mineral aroma of the tea leaves.