About 80 minutes from Osaka is a town of about 200,000 called Uji. This tiny township attracts hoards of visitors especially in the springtime due to its picturesque stands of cherry blossoms and one of the most famous temples in Japan called Byodo-in. A likeness of the temple graces one side of the ¥10 coin.
Uji is also known as the birthplace of Japanese green tea because it’s here (or just down the road in Uji Tawara) that in 1738 Soen Nagatani developed the method for making Sencha. Until then all Japanese green tea was fermented and therefore lost most of its delicate flavour and valuable nutrients.
We visited the original building where open charcoal fires were used to steam and then dry the tea over several hours. The tea was then sealed in large clay pots that were buried in the earth to keep the tea cool until use.
Nagatani san worked his whole life developing the modern method of making sencha. He freely shared his knowledge so we can all enjoy Japanese green tea today.
Soen Nagatani drank green tea every day of his life and lived to be 98 years old. Better pass me another cup…