YOUR BEST CHOICE FOR JAPANESE GREEN TEA

Yame
THE SECRETS OF THE HIDDEN
TEA VALLEY

With the support of Fukuoka prefecture, IKKYU is delighted to invite you on a journey to discover the secrets of Yame, the hidden tea valley, home to some of the best tea of Japan. Watch several interviews with Yame producers, and learn how to brew the perfect cup of tea from the masters themselves.

DISCOVER A TRUE GEM NESTED BETWEEN MOUNTAINS

Located in Fukuoka, northern Kyushu, Yame is the sixth largest tea region of Japan and is home to 1,500 growers who have dedicated their lives to making some the best teas that Japan can offer. While it produces only 3% of Japanese tea, Yame is renowned throughout Japan and overseas for its award-winning dento hon gyokuro, the King of green tea, the nec plus ultra of Japanese tea.

Thanks to the hard work of about two hundred specialized producers, Yame dento hon gyokuro has received the top national prizes for ten consecutive years, reflecting the skills and hard work of its producers.
But Yame isn’t only about this precious « jade dew » delicacy. Thanks to a wonderful micro-climate, its pristine water from the mountains, a rich soil and skills honed by hundred of years of experience, Yame tea growers produce a large range of Japanese green teas, from sencha to shiraore, kabusecha to matcha, as well as flavor-packed koucha (‘red tea’), known overseas as Japanese black tea.

Since the beginning of our venture, IKKYU has had the honor to work with several Yame producers, many of them behind some of our bestselling teas. Today, we bring the spotlight on them, including to a brand new member of the IKKYU network, Harashima san, who makes of the finest koucha (black tea)  that you can taste.

They were kind enough to answer our questions and share about their experience, goals and wonderful teas.  

IRIE Shunnosuke

" Weeding is the most challenging part of growing organic tea."
SENCHA
HOUJICHA
SEE THE PRODUCTS

HARASHIMA Masashi

" We grow our organic kocha tea leaves at our tea fields located at a fairly high altitude of 500-650 meters."
KOUCHA
SEE THE PRODUCTS

Takaki AKIHITO

" The tea leaves of dento hon gyokuro are picked one by one. This tea is truly a piece of art."
SENCHA
GYOKURO
WHITE TEA
SEE THE PRODUCTS

KIYA YASUHIKO

" Drinking green tea and wine is quite similar. Both require land, farmers, cultivars, producers and masters who evaluate taste and quality."
KABUSECHA
GYOKURO
SEE THE PRODUCTS

Koga kumiko

" Delicious tea starts with a healthy soil. Healthy soil nutrients make a uplifting and nourishing tea."
SENCHA
MATCHA
WHITE TEA
GYOKURO
SEE THE PRODUCTS

Characteristics of Yame tea

a taste apart

In Yame, the first tea of the year (shincha) is picked between mid-April and May, with its peak in early May. The second harvest is done from mid-June to early July, and the third one at the start of August, although most growers don’t pick it.

Tea lovers praise Yame tea for its strong umami, round and full taste, its sweetness and deep color, with only a little touch of bitterness and astringency. They enjoy its distinctive lingering taste, that lasts quite longer than green tea made in other regions. Each sip is a journey that will awaken your senses.

While Yabukita is the main tea cultivar used in Yame, others that are less known are also used by growers to bring more sweetness and flavor to your cup, such as Kanaya midori, Oku midori, Sae midori or Yamakai.

Dento hon gyokuro is shaded using rice straws covers, and not plastic sheets. With humidity, the flavor and aroma of the straw transfers to the tea leaves. Today, this process is only found in Yame.

Yame dento hon gyokuro benefits from the Japanese Geographical Indication protection system that testifies of its origins, high quality and traditional production process. 
The Geographical Indication label

Green Tea in a Wine Glass

another tea experience

We all love a delicious brew of green tea poured in a delicate cup. But did you know that you can get a whole different taste and aroma experience with a wine glass?

The shape of wine glasses is the result of long years of research. Of course, there are dozen of types out there, but all of them share a similar concept rooted in science - a bowl that release and collect all the precious wine aromas. And this works perfectly with green tea, too, as this is also a beverage that has complex and delicate tastes.

As Kiya san shows us in his interview, you can pour either hot-brewed or cold-brewed sencha or gyokuro in a wine glass (any kind of will do). We did the same with cold-brewed houjicha (Irie san’s), and we were amazed by the result. A must for all of you green tea lovers!

History and location of yame

600 years of history


In 1423, a Japanese Buddhist monk, Master Shuzui, came back from China with tea seeds and founded in Yame city a temple where he planted them.
With these first tea trees, tea production was introduced to Yame area. Today, 90% of Fukuoka tea production is grown in Yame area.

southern japan, the perfect climate

Yame City is in a vast expanse of plain in Chikushi Region (Chikushi Plain) in the south of Fukuoka Prefecture (4,987 km2, pop. 5 million).

Chikushi Plain is blessed with an ideally wonderful climate and fertile soil conditions for agricultural production.

In particular, the area ranging from Chikugo River basin to Yabe River basin (called as Yame Region) has produced green tea for centuries.

Thanks to the area's particular soil, most of the green tea produced in this region has a full-bodied taste and a remarkable sweetness.
Morning mists and river fogs are very frequent. Curtains of fog wrap green tea plantations, properly blocking sunlight. 

This helps generating more amino acids (including theanine, glutamic acid, arginine, etc.) within the tea leaves.

In  addition, Yame enjoys an inland climate-high temperature during daytime and very low temperatures at  night. 

Finally,  the region receives an annual rainfall of 1,600 mm to 2,400 mm. These  features are ideal for green tea production.

visiting yame

the gallery

Behind the scenes

an incredibile team at work

To bring you this special Yame Tea promotion project, IKKYU collaborated with the talented DOKOCHA team. DOKOCHA is a young start-up also located in Fukuoka and dedicated to help Japanese tea lovers find the best addresses in Japan to enjoy a delicious cup of tea.
Along with the representative of Fukuoka prefecture, we spent exciting days traveling around Yame to interview tea farmers and masters. The weather was beautiful, and it was a perfect opportunity for us to meet our partners in person again after many months of pure online communication.
We share with you today a few shots taken behind the scenes. A lot of hard work but also many smiles and laughs, around such unique people and exclusive cups of tea!
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AKIHITO TAKAKI

Date of Birth
5/11/1973
Year I joined tea farming / business
1999
Year our business started
I am the 4th generation president of Takaki Chaen.My grandfather started tea farming around 100 years ago.
Certification
Nihoncha (Japanese tea) Instructor No.05-1455
Awards
Platinum Prize of the Kabusecha Division at Nihoncha Award 2014
Most favorite Yame tea
Kabusecha
Tea field location
All of our tea fields are located in Hoshino Village.
Production volume per year, Altitude
Dento Hon Gyokuro: Area 50a, Altitude 150-200m, Production 150kg/year
Sencha & Kabusecha: Area 550a, Altitude 150m-660m, Production 3,500kg/year
Place of production
All tea leaves are grown and processed within the Hoshino Village
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Kumiko KOGA

Year our business started
Company was founded in1938
Awards
Gold Award at Monde Selection (with Yame white tea)
Most favorite Yame tea
Sencha
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Yasuhiko KIYA

Date of Birth
1/15/1966
Year I joined tea farming / business
Joined Kiya Hoyu-en Co., Ltd. in 1992, became CEO in 2006
Year our business started
April, 1930
Certification
Japanese Tea Appraiser, Tea Master 5-dan
Most favorite Yame tea
Yame Dento Hon Gyokuro: Gokou
Kabusecha: Okumidori
Sencha: Yabukita
Production volume per year, Altitude
Yame Dento Hon Gyokuro 
Cultivar: Gokou
Production area: 790㎡,
Altitude: 200m,
Production Volume: 30kg
Comment
We have been involved in all the process of tea making, from the farm to the brewing. We constantly make every effort to deliver best of the best Japanese tea to our customers.
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Masashi HARASHIMA

Year I joined tea farming/business
1983
Year our business started
1950
Started to grow and process tea in 2008. (non-chemical residue according to the EU regulation)
Started to grow and make Wa-kocha in 2012.
Got organic JAS certification and started to grow non-pesticide and nonchemical teas in 2015.
Certification
Nihoncha (Japanese tea) Instructor N.0205
Awards
Sencha: Received the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Awards 3 times
Gyokuro: 5th place of the First Rank at National Tea Competition
Koucha:  Benifuki Spring Pluck Fine Product Prize at Nihoncha Award 4 stars at Japan Tea Festival's Premium Tea Contest
Koucha: Benifuki Summer Pluck 5 stars at Japan Tea Festival's Premium Tea Contest
Kuocha: Okuyame Kohaku 3 stars at Japan Tea Festival's Premium Tea Contest
Haru-no-ka (natural-flavored tea with Kocha and cherry leaf) : Fine Product Prize at Nihoncha Award
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Shunnosuke IRIE

Date of birth
10/27/1982
Year I joined tea farming/business
2007
Year our business started
1981
Certification
Nihoncha (Japanese tea) Advisor
Awards
Silver medal at the World Green Tea Contest
Prize of the Chikugo Federation of Business Executives
Production volume per year, Altitude
Area of tea field: 1.7ha
Certification information
Eurofins certified
Organic JAS Certified
Passed residual pesticide test
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