Mirai Tea Farmer Masui-en
Japanese tea inspired by traditional Chinese and Taiwanese tea manufacturing methods.
A PIONEER OF BLACK TEA IN JAPAN
Mirai Tea Farmer Etsuro Masui
Etsuro Masui is a pioneer of black tea manufacturing in Japan. Through his experience at farms in America and Afrika, he realized that natural farming methods are best suited for the production of fragrant teas.
These teas undergo a brief period of withering and oxidation, through which they develop extraordinary aromas. Excess fertilization could get in the way of these gentle scents, and therefore Etsuro chooses to only cultivate his bushes using natural methods. He is an eco-farmer certified by the prefecture of Shizoka, where he grows and manufactures his tea in Kawane.
Kawane is a small town in the mountains of Shizuoka. The altitudes in this region reach from 500 to 600m above sea level. Shizuoka is famous for its green tea.
In similarity to the production of wine, tea too produces different characteristics for each different tea garden and region. Even adjacent tea farms bring about different characteristics in the tea. Based on every single plot of land, the season, the harvesting period, the timing of manufacturing, and the year in which the tea was produced, a tea tends to express itself in a slightly different way. Not a single tea is ever the same, even when crafted from the same bushes on the same tea garden.
A tea bush is in fact a tree. These trees develop, for different reasons, different fragrances, and these fragrances continue to evolve and change over time. Every tea bush or cultivar is different and expresses different aromas for each individual species. For this reason, the farmer aims to omit any use of unnecessary fertilizer in order to allow the original aromas of the tea to be expressed in the final product.
Moreover, these unique aromas of the tea plant are even better expressed when the tea is left to slightly wither, oxidize, and in the case of black tea, ferment. Etsuro even applies a brief period of withering for his green teas, which is unthinkable in a contemporary Japanese green tea manufacturing context. Yet, the farmer believes in doing what is best for his tea and therefore doesn’t mind when other tea farmers look at him strangely.
In fact, when he first started producing black tea in japan he was one of the only tea manufacturers in Japan doing this. He had no experience and no one around him who could help or advise him on best practices. But after approximately 16 years of trial and error, other farmers began to take to his example. Today more tea manufacturers also manufacture black tea, besides their regular green teas, in Japan, and they come together at the yearly “Wakocha tea festival”, which continues to grow even today.
Although the video is in Japanese, taken from a Japanese TV show, the following YouTube video allows you to see the farmer and his tea gardens. Follow the link below:
I met Etsuro at one of the yearly artisan tea manufacturer gatherings in Kyoto. At the time I didn’t know of his teas yet, and also hadn’t made many contacts in the Shizuoka region yet. Hearing that he was manufacturing truly unique organic teas, I was triggered and had to meet him.
At this yearly tea event I had the opportunity to quietly listen to his manufacturing stories while tasting a large variety of the teas he had produced that year. His stance regarding organic manufacturing was really unique. Rather than a focus on the safety and health benefits of such an approach, his stance was one that solely focused on the benefit for the tea’s flavor and character. “Only by letting the tea grow naturally, can we savor its original flavor and aroma”. And it are such teas that Etsuro wishes to produce.
The teas he produces have a strong resemblance to Chinese and Taiwanese black tea and oolong types. And to some extent he has relied on resources from manufacturers in both countries to learn the methods to produce his tea.
All that being said, I was more than impressed by his teas and have since this first encounter continued to explore his products. I am really happy, and honored that I can share these truly amazing teas with you in this Tea Club edition.
President at Masui-en Tea farm
Esturo Masui is a dedicated tea producer of pesticide-free, all-natural, artisan Japanese tea in Kawane, Shizuoka. He has a profound passion for black tea and other fragrant teas.