Text and Photography by Bruce Richardson
Japan’s method of growing tea under shade is unique. Since 1835, this cultivation technique has been used exclusively for exceptional (and expensive) green teas, such as gyokuro and matcha. The practice produces teas that yield a soft yellow-green liquor with low astringency and rich notes of umami and asparagus—exactly the highlights contemporary green-tea connoisseurs desire.
I recently visited a small family-owned tea garden in the prefecture of Kagoshima on the southern island of Kyushu. The long rows of tea bushes were awakening under a warm spring sky. Having been raised on a farm, I know healthy plants when I see them, and I’ve never seen more vibrant tea plants than those at the Sakamoto Organic Garden.