Leaf Type: Green
Where to Buy: Hisabo – this special link will not only sign you up for their newsletter but also qualify you for special pricing for our readers! By subscribing to the newsletter, you can get in on their limited edition teas!
“A hug in a cup” is one way I’ve heard Kukicha described. Warm, delicate, sweet, comfortable. A cup that’s likely to take your heart along with your senses. It certainly did for the husband of Yumiko, the 17th generation daughter of the family who runs Shimizu-en. In Japanese tradition, it’s usually the wife that goes and joins the husband’s business, but in this case the quality of the tea was too much to leave (sorry for the pun).
In fact, it’s a minor miracle we are even able to bring Shimizu-en to you. The company has no website, no distribution, nothing. They just have a small shop in front of the tea garden and they sell out every year. The tea has been recognized multiple times nationally—no small feat for a company that only employs family members and picks most of its entire plantation by hand.
Kukicha is a very unique kind of tea, made from the stems and twigs of the tea plants. What began as ruthless Japanese efficiency has led to a tasting experience that had the entire Hisabo team saying ‘Wow’. This tea is a hands-down winner. Delicate and floral on the nose, once you take a sip you’ll taste a sweetness quite unlike anything you’ve had before. It will have you going back and trying different brewing times just to tweak the exact amount of sweet and grassy that you want. And it will definitely take your heart.
Hisabo is a new-to-me tea company and they are unlike any other tea company I’ve yet to encounter! They don’t actually sell teas on their website the way most online tea companies do. Instead, they offer their limited selection of teas to their customers via email. To get in on their offers, you need to subscribe to their newsletter. (This link will also give you a special discount that is available only to our readers!)
Well, here, I’ll let you hear it from them:
Hisabo is a little different from most tea websites in that we don’t sell tea directly on our site. We currently only sell through emails sent to people subscribed to our mailing list. We’re also launching a subscription service where people can ‘pre-buy’ the teas we sell at a discount to ‘normal’ price. In short: we send subscribers an email with a description of the tea, the story and pictures of the farm where it came from, as well as tasting notes.
That’s how they described it to me in the email they sent me when I asked them about this tea and where it was on their website. According to the emailed newsletter regarding this Kukicha, they do still have some of it left, so if you’re interested in it, contact them quickly!
Inside these beautiful packages is the good stuff. The dry leaf smells a little like freshly cut grass (and it looks a little like it too!) with sweet, warm nutty top notes. I steeped this tea as recommended by Hisabo: 160°F for 30 – 60 seconds. I opted for the 60 seconds, and I scooped 2 bamboo scoops of the tea and put it into the basket of my Breville One-Touch tea maker and poured 500ml of freshly filtered water into the jug. Then I let the tea maker do its thing and about 2 minutes later, I had a teapot of delicious tea!
It is a light and refreshing cup of tea. I like it served hot but it would also be tasty iced. As the weather is getting a little cooler now, I’m enjoying more hot teas (happily!) and while this tea has a fresh taste to it, the warm, nutty flavors of it are very autumnal to me. It reminds me of the flavor of freshly roasted chestnuts together with a subtle grassy note in the background.
The thoughts this tea evokes is a little bit of summer still hanging on now that autumn has arrived.
It’s a wonderful cup of tea. (It resteeps well too!) I like this tea and I like the idea behind this company. Rather than having a bunch of tea in inventory waiting for people to buy it, they only offer you the tea when they receive it and it’s the freshest tea that’s available. Very cool!
And if that’s not enough incentive to check out Hisabo … their customer service is top-notch! They are very friendly and helpful and quick to respond to inquiries. When you check them out, tell them that the SororiTea Sisters sent you!