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Japanese Tea
Tea Master

Maeda Fumio

< 26, Jun, 2015 >


Never meant to be proud, but I need a lot of something to drink every day. I usually have drinks on writing something and on coverage travel. The kinds are all different. Sometimes I drink mineral water and other time banana juice. Statistically, it is almost tea. Japanese mostly love green tea, but it is truly difficult to find really delicious one. That is just a nonessential grocery item and there is no accounting for tastes.

How about tea masters; people in charge of tea manufacture? What kind of tea do they head for? I went to Maeda Kotaro Shoten in Shizuoka and asked Maeda Fumio; an expert in tea tasting who has got the highest grade at the national tea tasting meeting. This interview with Maeda Fumio is going to solve the question.



M: My grandfather Maeda Kotaro opened this store and now my cousin is in charge of the director. Grandfather had invited me to be a tea master before graduating from a university. However, this is my family’s company and I guessed it is better go and see outside once. I belonged to another company in Yokohama for about 3.5 years.

M: I had belonged to a university in Shizuoka. People in Yokohama drank tea less and worse than Shizuoka, it looked.



Maeda Fumio
Managing Director of Maeda Kotaro Shoten

Born in Shizuoka. Through working at
another company in Yokohama,
came back to Maeda Kotaro Shoten
which his grandfather established.
Has trained as a tea master.
In 1997, at the national tea tasting meeting,
won the unprecedented tenth (the highest) grade.
As NHK has introduced him at "Professional,"
he's one of Japanese greatest tea masters.

He is not looking down upon Yokohama. Shizuoka prefecture is the No. 1 on both tea production and tea consumption in Japan. It means they are closer to Japanese tea than any other prefectures. Then, it is reasonable a young man from Shizuoka guessed so.

M: I came back from Yokohama, but it is impossible you become a tea master so quickly. First of all, I completely had no idea about good or bad on tea. There can be no verbal explanation, however. The then director told me to see tea. Day and night, I kept gazing at and touching tea.


He says he learned a lot from the national tea tasting meeting as mentioned above

M: Qualifying and competing with about 130 players in the meeting. The first examination is to see tea leaves and guess what grade it belongs to. The second is to pour the boiling water and guess what kind of tea, as Yabukita and the like, it is with just the smell. The third is seeing the selected leaves and guessing where it comes from. The fourth is drinking 5 kinds of tea 5 times, totally 25 times and guessing where it was produced. You should compete by the total points. I learnt a lot there.

M: Making good results at the meeting is perfectly different from causing good job as a tea master, however. I was entrusted as a purchase clerk out of the overachievement. “Buy a ton of tea that you select” said the then director. But I was unable to find what to prefer and bought just about 30 kilograms. Naturally, he told me off. Then, I kept working at a warehouse and seeing tea on tea manufacture for about 5 years. Gradually, I found what tea is really. It became clear how what kind of tea leaves is going to changes.


Seeing tea, it means he can get how the tea leaves grow and change through tea manufacture with his five senses. That is quietly a different matter from what grade he has.

M: Although fine tea is seen by everybody, tea which is going to be good is not found without many actual experiences. Pretty difficult is it. The conference really works for knowing tea. But it does not for our actual tasks.

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