Yamashita's Profile


Yamashita's Profile
Left: (1991) Mr. Yamashita showing the "Teamaster Temomi" skill to Their Majesties, the Emperor and Empress of Japan.
Right: (1995) The Prime Minister publicly bestows the "Sixth-class Isao 'Order of the Sacred Treasure'" upon Mr. Yamashita.



May, 1934
Born in Fugenji, Kyotanabe (Kyoto-Prefecture).
After graduating from junior high school, he was educated in agriculture at his father's tea plantation.

 
1966
Awarded first prize in the Gyokuro green tea catagory of the National Tea Competition hosted by Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF) -- the highest evaluating authority in Japan.

1970
At the young age of 36, he received the "Chairperson Prize" from the National Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries' Promotion Committee. Only 12 people nationwide have received this prize.
For the second time, awarded first prize in the Gyokuro green tea catagory of Japan's MAFF's National Tea Competition.

1973, 1979, 1983
Awarded first prize in the Gyokuro green tea category of the National Tea Competition by Japan's MAFF.

1989
Granted the authorized title of "Master Craftsman of Kyoto" (Kyoto Prefecture).
Awarded first prize in the Gyokuro green tea catagory of the National Tea Competition by Japan's MAFF for the sixth time.

1990
Granted the title of "Master Craftsman of Present Japan" -- authorized by the Japanese Ministry of Labour.

1991
Mr. Yamashita showcases the "Teamaster Temomi" skill to Their Majesties, the Emperor and Empress of Japan (see picture above).

1992
Received the Green-White Ribbon Prize (ryokuhakujuyukoushou) for his outstanding contributions to Japanese agriculture.

1995
The Prime Minister publicly bestows upon Mr. Yamashita the "Sixth-class Isao 'Order of the Sacred Treasure.'"

2000
For the seventh time, awarded first prize in the Gyokuro green tea catagory of the National Tea Competition by Japan's MAFF.

Mr. Yamashita's numerous achievements have made his hometown of Kyotanabe renowned for the production of superior Gyokuro green tea. Many prizes from Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF) have also been awarded to other tea producers in the area.
In addition to the awards listed above, Mr. Yamashita has won the MAFF's first prize for the Kansai region 11 times.


(1990) This picture shows the "Master Craftsman of Present Japan" certificate awarded to Mr. Yamashita by the Ministry of Labour. (1995) This picture shows the "Sixth-class Isao 'Order of the Sacred Treasure'" certificate that was awarded to Mr. Yamashita by the Prime Minister of Japan.


Mr. Toshikazu Yamashita's Gyokuro is only purchasable through Maiko Tea


About Yamashita's Gyokuro
1. The Uniqueness of Yamashita's Gyokuro Tea
Two reasons make Yamashita's Gyokuro tea so very special and exceptional. First, proper soil is selected with exact qualities of nutrition and moisture. Secondly, the leaves are selected and picked by hand and manually kneaded, or "pressed." These two aspects are impossible to maintain in large-scale tea gardens. Every step of the process is verified with the craftsman's own eyes and the touch of his own hands. His relentless oversight and personal care assures the best results for the superb taste and superior quality of his tea. Each step of the production process is checked, and adjustments are made according to the particular climate of that year. Permitting enough time to cultivate the leaves slowly is paramount to the production of Yamashita's Gyokuro. Carefully supervised cultivation under the best conditions ensures no trace of bitterness, and leaves only the typical Gyokuro sweetness.
2. Careful Selection by Hand-Picking

Yamashita's Gyokuro tea is selected entirely by hand, and meticulously picked leaf by leaf. This personal and unique manner of hand picking, known as "shigokitsumi," guarantees that the Gyokuro leaves are protected from the damage that may be caused by scissors or harvest machinery. For this reason, it is only possible to harvest a few kilograms a day. Furthermore, since the percentage of water in tea leaves is very high in our region, only 15% of the initial weight will remain after the leaves are processed. Three kilograms of tea leaves takes about 4 to 5 hours to knead, and will result in only 500 grams of delicious tea!

Tea Picking (Animation)


3. Exclusive Japanese Steaming Process

Following the shigokitsumi (hand-picked) harvest, the leaves are treated with high-temperature steam and then immediately cooled off. Mr. Yamashita has improved these steps over his many years of dedicated experience. This vital steaming process prevents any further fermentation to occur in the Gyokuro leaves. The success of this stage of Gyokuro production greatly influences the quality of all further steps.


4. Dedication to Manual Pressing

Mr. Yamashita insists that all following steps of the production process are done manually, pressing the leaves with his skillful hands. In modern Japan, hand-kneading of tea has become an absolute oddity. Most Gyokuro producers have abandoned this tedious, time-consuming, and "old-fashioned" method. However, it is exactly this part of the process that enables the expert craftsman to scrutinize the leaves thoroughly and eliminate all pieces that are damaged, resulting in an exceptional final product.

This step is indeed the very heart of Yamashita's Gyokuro production.

Tea Processing (Animation)


5. The Skillful Finishing Touch

The last stage of Yamashita's masterful procedure is called "itazuri." Because the water content of tea leaves cultivated in this geographical area is very high, it is necessary to include another step of hand-rubbing. This part of the process is an exclusive tradition, only observed in the Kyoto region. The relatively short step takes 30 minutes, and completes the amazing cycle.


6. Proper Enjoyment of Yamashita's Gyokuro

For achieving the optimal flavour of Yamashita's Gyokuro, the right temperature of hot water is crucial. Exceedingly hot water (70°C - 100°C) may cause some astringency and diminishes the uniquely sweet aroma that makes Gyokuro so enjoyable and special. Superior quality Gyokuro needs an extraction time of approximately 2 minutes, and the water temperature should be about 40°C (about that of a hot bath) in order to attain the best consistency, and a flavour that surpasses all other green teas.

Once, when taking a sip of this high quality tea for the first time, a gentleman from England exclaimed, "This is like soup!"

What a true and fitting expression! Please take plenty of time to savour this tea and let it slowly spread across your entire tongue. In doing this, you will experience the same sensational Gyokuro flavour that seems to linger in the mouth forever.




Mr. Toshikazu Yamashita's Gyokuro is only purchasable through Maiko Tea

Movie

How to prepare delicious Gyokuro (Tutorial with pictures)