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News: GO EN – The emergence of a new tea variety

      

While nowadays most Japanese tea manufacturers tend to focus on steamed needle-shaped teas, or their descendants like Matcha, our inherent MARIMO-instinct, urging us to find something new or revive something old, brought us to concern ourselves a lot with curled teas (Tamaryokucha, synonymously Guricha) over the years. When we imported Mr. Soejima’s Tamaryokucha in 2009 for the first time, this kind of tea, whose main characteristics are its curled leafs, merely appeared to us as a small group with no extraordinary variety.

      

Leafs of GO EN Kabuse Tamaryokucha (photo: Dietmar Segl 2013)

      

We first started to realize its potential in autumn 2012, when we added a Kamairi-cha (dry-heated Tamaryokucha) to our product line, after its creator, Mr. Matsumoto, introduced it on his travels through German and French tea delicatessen shops.


     

GO EN presentation on the 07.07.2013 (photo: Andreas Malkmus 2013)

      

Today we know that – even though curled tea only represents about 5% of the total amount of tea produced in Japan – this category resembles a barely recognized treasure chamber. Not only with the GO EN, which we just added to our product line this year, but also with other new Kamairi-cha varieties from a tiny tea garden not far from the Morimotos, we want to open this treasure chamber a bit more.

      

      

GO EN leafs infused in a Kyusu by NARIEDA Shinichiro (photo: Dietmar Segl 2013)

      

It is obvious that dry heated Tamaryokucha-varieties (Kamairi-cha) possess their very own taste, which distinctly differs from other popular teas like Sencha, Gyokuro or Kukicha. But what causes the taste of steamed teas with curled leafs to be that unique?

During our first conjoint one and a half month-long spring harvest, we wanted to follow this question more closely by observing the GO EN – a mutual project of the Moritmotos and Marimo. Unlike the curled teas which the Morimotos produced from the Takachiho bushes until 20 years ago, we chose the rather soft and sweet Oku Midori for our purposes and shaded it for two weeks prior to the harvest. But the real surprise came, when around nine o’clock on the evening of production a friend of Shigeru Morimoto appeared to convert a machine for the GO EN, while the other machines for the Kabusecha production were still running.


      

      

GO EN presentation on the 07.07.2013 (photo: Andreas Malkmus 2013)

      

It had to go fast, since the leafs of the two weeks shaded Oku Midori were already steamed, slightly dried, kneaded and waiting to be put into the bamboo drum for further processing. Unlike the production of other Sencha, in which the used bamboo drums and rolling-machines contain metal bars as components, the GO EN Kabuse Tamaryokucha only comes into contact with wooden bars.

And of course this has an influence on the teas final taste. During our video-documentation of the GO EN production (Link to the GO EN video) Shigeru explained to us that there was one more reason for the Tamaryokucha’s unique character: While needle-shaped tea varieties like Sencha and its descendant Matcha are exposed to the weight of the rolling-machines, the curled shape of the GO EN originates only from the leafs’ own weight as they are slightly lifted upwards buy the rotating bamboo dum’s wooden bars and roll back afterwards.

      
These are the reasons of the steamed Tamaryokucha’s unique taste!

      

Fumie Morimoto brewing GO EN in a Japanese room (photo: Dietmar Segl 2013)

      

It is singular to the GO EN to be produced solely out of the elegantly sweet and rare leafs of the Oku Midori tea plant that additionally is shaded for two weeks before its harvest. Everyone who knows the teas of Mr. Soejima (Tamaryokucha violet, silver and gold, which, too, are made from shaded leafs) has the opportunity to experience and compare these different varieties. Mr. Soejimas teas are also rolled in a bamboo drum, but additionally his silver and gold Tamaryokucha contain sweet and elegant Sae Midori leafs, while the Tamaryokucha violet is characterized by perky and fruity Kanaya Midori.It is singular to the GO EN to be produced solely out of the elegantly sweet and rare leafs of the Oku Midori tea plant that additionally is shaded for two weeks before its harvest. Everyone who knows the teas of Mr. Soejima (Tamaryokucha violet, silver and gold, which, too, are made from shaded leafs) has the opportunity to experience and compare these different varieties. Mr. Soejimas teas are also rolled in a bamboo drum, but additionally his silver and gold Tamaryokucha contain sweet and elegant Sae Midori leafs, while the Tamaryokucha violet is characterized by perky and fruity Kanaya Midori.