A Team of 4 going from a dream to the top !

After years of painstaking work in his tea fields and tea factory, Ajizuki san had decided to retire. Then a new initiative to save the Kamairicha (pan-fried tea) technique motivated him to come out from retirement and join forces with three other friends, creating the Ureshino Southern Kamairicha Tea Industry Association, to produce top-quality Kamairicha in Ureshino, Saga prefecture.

Kamairicha is a tea specialty of Saga, but the number of factories had gone from 250 in the 1950s to only 10 in 1998. This drop was due to a rapid increase in the change of steaming method, thanks to technological innovation, but also because the required technique is very hard to master, leading to a decrease in the number of qualified tea producers.

As they witnessed the slow disappearance of Kamairicha factories, Ajizuki san and several other producers, all passionate about making Kamairicha, gathered together so that Saga-made "Kamairicha would not go extinguished." In 2001, they launched the "Ureshino Southern Kamairicha Association".  In 2003, thanks to public and industrial support, including machine makers, a new production line was created to produce an improved and more stable tea quality, which was one of the major issues in the past. Their efforts and amazing skills were quickly recognised: in 2006, the Association won the 1st prize at the National Tea Fair. Since then, they have collected 8 other top prizes at national-level competitions.

In 2016, the association acquired GAP certification and focused on hygiene management and labor management. The association's principles are "safe and secure production of Kamairicha" and "creating an environment where people can work comfortably". In 2019 and 2020, the association was rewarded with Grade 6 from the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Award.

Proudly showing the new processing line and tools
The Kamairicha technique was almost lost but has been now recognised as a National Agricultural Heritage. Ajizuki san and his partners truly hope that you will appreciate the taste of their tea and also spread the word about Kamairicha. They would love to hear from you and how you enjoyed their tea so that they can make it again famous in Japan and abroad!


countless Awards recognising years of hard work

2006 - National Tea Fair 1st prize (Japan Tea Industry Central Association Chairman's Award)
2008 - National Tea Fair 1st prize (National Tea Commerce and Industry Cooperative Association Chairman's Award)
2009 Kyushu Tea Fair 1st prize (Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Award)
2009 National Tea Fair 1st prize (Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Award)
2011 National Tea Fair 1st prize (Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Award)
2012 National Tea Fair 1st prize (Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries)
2013 National Tea Fair 1st prize (Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Production Bureau Director's Award)
2019 1st prize at the National Tea Fair (Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Award)
2020 1st prize at the National Tea Fair (Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Award)


Explore the Roots of Japanese tea History

If you want to understand the history of green tea in Japan, Saga prefecture is where you should start.

The town of Higashi Sefuri in Saga is the birthplace of Japanese green tea. This is where the monk Eisai planted the tea tree seeds he brought from China in the 12th century. A soil rich with minerals, clear spring water, morning mists and river fogs create ideal conditions for growing tea.

The most famous tea growing area in Saga is Ureshino where tea cultivation began in 1440, although the industry truly picked up in the mid 17th century, and the area became the leading production area of Japan.

Today, a 300-year old tea tree, with a 80-meter span, stands as a memorial in Ureshino.

Thanks to its proximity to Nagasaki, green tea from Saga was the first to be exported to Western countries and introduced to European consumers.

Closer to us, it is again from Saga that the first modern green tea export business started in the mid 19th century, thanks to a female tea merchant from Nagasaki, Ourai Kei, who sold green tea to Europe, America and Arabia.

Saga prefecture is also the birth place of the kamairicha specialty in Japan, introduced to this region in the early 16th century by potters from China who brought over the so-called Nanking-style kettle.


An almost lost process

"Kamairi" in Japanese literally means "pan firing", or "roasting in a pan". The process is intense and manual and as a result production is only done on a small scale. Kamairicha is therefore a rare and precious tea.

The characteristic aroma of tea is strongly preserved in the final product, due to the traditional techniques developed over centuries. Fresh tea leaves are immediately parched after harvesting for ten minutes at 300 degrees Celsius, using a Japanese process called "Iriha-ki", to minimize and stop fermentation.

Parched leaves are rolled and dried in a four-step, intensely manual process. This time-tested Japanese technique yields a unique pan-parched fragrance, with a remarkably complex and rich taste. Its fragrance is called “kamaka”, a sweet taste and refreshing feeling and can sometimes recall the scent of Jasmine tea.

Kamairicha is rich in natural antioxidants, as it does not undergo the usual steam treatment of green teas like sencha, gyokuro or tamaryokucha.


A Sweet Green Tea, A Different Taste To Enjoy

With its pan-fried leaves, our premium kamairicha SHINO sends you on a wonderful flavour journey, quite different from the usual green tea experience. Lovers of oolong tea will enjoy the parallels. From the moment you open the bag, chestnut and fruity notes will greet you, and you will appreciate the subtle charcoal fragrance reminding you of its unique production process. In your cup, its pure gold will delight your eyes. Its sweetness highlighted by a very nice astringency reflects the skills of Ajizuki san and his partners.

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