Blue Forest Tea Garden 2022

We wanted to share with you, our wonderful Tea Club Members, an update on the Blue Forest Tea Garden (Blue Forest). We will also share a story involving one of our Tea Club Members, a chocolate rabbit and Blue Forest Gyokuro.

In Autumn of 2019 Obubu was approached by a Tea Farmer who was looking to retire and did not have anyone to pass on their tea farm to, we gladly accepted the maintenance of this garden. Luckily the garden had been cared for during Spring of 2019 which made only a medium trim necessary rather than cutting the bushes right down. We then let the tea bushes rest for winter while we set about fixing the shading structure and covers. We managed to fix the structures and put in securing wires for each line of material, but we did not have enough time that winter to take down the shading material to replace the broken ones.

Our first harvest was in March of 2020 in a particular section of the Tea Garden starting with a traditional Kyoto Prefecture tea, Kyobancha. It had a sweet and creamy flavour with the roasted aroma taking a very nutty profile. Of course this was to be an exclusive for our Tea Club Members in the March 2020 Tea Club Shipment. We then let the garden regrow with some regular trimming to keep training the shape of the bushes as they grew.

Fast forward to early 2021 and we would produce Kyobancha again from the same area to give an opportunity for comparison year to year.

After the Kyobancha harvest it was time to trim the tea gardens in preparation for the new growth in Springtime. As April came around the tea started to wake and grow new shoots. We began shading the tea to start the build up of umami flavour for a Gyokuro harvest in late May.

We decided that each 5 of the staff would produce their own Gyokuro (Hiro, Kayo, George, Marie, Moe). So as the Spring past by, the tea leaves became sweeter and a more deep green than its unshaded counterparts. As we got to harvest time we decided to harvest in a week with different farmers each day harvesting in the morning and processing the tea in the afternoon. This meant we would be able to finish producing the tea in the factory before Akky-san needed to start production in the evening time.

Each member of the staff was able to harvest and manufacture their own tea. Which was the first time we were able to experience Gyokuro Production which was very exciting! It also meant all the teas produced would be very different compared to each other.

We had a great time in harvesting and producing the tea’s and during this day I couldn’t help but think that we are only able to rescue and maintain this garden thanks to our wonderful Tea Club Members Support. I then thought we ought to have our Members come up with a suitable name for the garden. So we launched a competition in our monthly  Newsletter and we came up with two winners, Joshua Caleb Aang and Mike Rohr for a combination name of Blue Forest Tea Garden (青森の茶畑).

Mike is based in Switzerland and began his tea journey in a tea shop in Zurich before discovering Japanese Tea through a tea instructor who served him Koicha (a much thicker version of Matcha) as his first ever Matcha. From this point forward he fell deeper into Japanese Tea before visiting Japan in Autumn 2017 and visiting Obubu on his
second day after arriving in Japan, he became our Tea Club Member after a tea tour and has been supporting our activities ever since. His favourite tea is Heavenly Drop Gyokuro and uses an unconventional brewing method created by George. Brew for a 60 seconds before pouring the tea very slowly and gently for around 45 seconds.

We wanted to congratulate them on their naming of the Tea Garden and as a show of thanks we sent them a labelled sample of each of the staff’s production. We had thought it may well be interesting for them to taste the teas and the difference the change in farmer makes for each tea.

This takes us to March of 2022, we received a mysterious package from Mike with instruction for a wonderful custom, made to order, Chocolate Rabbit in Doctors attire to give some Easter health benefits to the Obubu Staff at this difficult time for all around the world. This rabbit was put on display for all the office to see before we discovered the winner of the rabbit for best made tea! However there was a last minute entry into the fray. Akky-san with his Heavenly Drop Gyokuro!

We waited until two days before opening the envelope with winners name inside and low and behold there was a winner with the most experience and of course most delicious tea…Akky-san! I am sure Akky-san felt much healthier after eating the rabbit! He was kind enough to share his winnings with the rest of the staff to make sure the good health was spread around.

A little later in March we received another mysterious package of the same origin, another instalment from Switzerland! This time with tasting notes from the selection of teas with comments on the brewing and appearance of each of the teas. Mike wanted a blind tasting and so relabelled the samples labelled without knowledge of which tea belonged to which staff member. In this package there was also a wonderful selection of chocolates which were so delicious they did not make it further than the table they were opened on before being eaten! Of course, each tea producer was able to select a chocolate for themselves with the selection of mini Toblerone (a quintessentially swiss chocolate) being shared amongst everyone equally.

With all the tasting notes each staff member everyone had reading and inspiration for improvement this year. Kayo-san’s Gyokuro fetching note for it’s aroma which reminded Mike-san of Nougat. Which I am sure is what must have inspired the inclusion of Toblerone inside this package!

Tasting Notes

Farmer First Impressions Wet Leaf Liquid
Hiro Shiny leaf, nutty aroma Beautiful Meadow Aroma Sweet Cookie and Asparagus
Marie Long Needles, Distant Sweetness Beautiful Meadow Aroma Seaweed aroma, light flavour
Moe Sweet Aroma, Amazing Slide from the packet. Grass and Orchid Vegetable Broth, light bitterness, long aftertaste
George Many stems,  looks like tangled hair, Leaf is dark green Raspberry Perfume Marine quality with some components missing
Kayo Aroma of Turkish honey, Thick needles Aroma, fresh cut grass and flowers. Light mineral taste yet milky
Akky Citrus and Strawberry aroma, vibrant green colour Young Spinach Clear liquor and light marine notes, full mouthfeel.

At the beginning of April we received a last and final package which we carefully opened. We found a stack of papers which contained tasting notes for each one of our teas and excitingly, a winner between the tea’s harvested from Aoi Mori no Chabatake’s 2021 Gyokuro Harvest.

Now it is worth mentioning that the prize contained in this third and final package was spectacular. Something I have seen only in photos for months on Mikes website ( This was a stunning wire art bonsai tree with blue leaves and a silver trunk. Stunning to see! But who’s 2021 Aoi Mori Chabatake won the best in show?!

The winner is Moe for creating a new category or gyokuro. Musume-no gyokuro with well brushed hair (with a note for a comb next time for George’s tea).

Now moving into the 2022 harvest we have rescued more tea garden and extended the Blue Forest Tea Garden. You can see below the updated and more accurate image of the different cultivars and the fields which Obubu is caring for now.

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