Japanese Tea Review: Satsumarché from Kagoshima

by Wataru Yonaiyama-Jackson

Tea Time

To all my tea drinkers out there, I gotta ask: is there anything more relaxing than a freshly brewed hot cup of tea with its aromatic steam and its herbal warmth that travels throughout the body with each sip?

No? I didn’t think so.

green tea

Since its roots in Han Dynasty China in 2nd Century B.C., tea has spread far and wide to become the most popular drink in the world (surpassing coffee, chocolate, soft drinks, and alcohol combined)! With its myriad of types, styles, and preparations, it’s easy to see why tea is a staple in many cultures. Japan alone has a wide variety of styles and ceremonies such as chakai (茶会, tea gathering), which include simple courses such as confections, thin tea, and a light meal. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, Bokksu continues these traditions by selecting a premium tea to pair with each month’s assortment of snacks. We’ve carried quite the selection, but for me it’s Satsumarché’s tasty teas that have made the most brilliant brews.

Satsu-faction Guaran-tea’d

In February of 2014, a group of Kagoshima Seicha's female employees teamed together to create Satsumarché. A blend of the words "Satsuma" (of Kagoshima) and “marché” (French for “market”), Satsumarché colorfully aims to provide patrons teas with ease. Much like wine, finding tea can sometimes be intimidating and confusing; there’s a vast quantity of different flavors, preparations and producers. But have no fear! The women of Satsumarché have meticulously narrowed their personal list to seven teas for various occasions.

Japanese Tea Field

Here at Bokksu, we’ve had the pleasure of pairing several of their selections with our snacks and have yet to taste disappointment. Curious? I’ve compiled a list of their their best tempting teas.

Take a Sip

Benifuuki Black Tea (サツマルシェ 紅富貴紅茶)

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Satsumarche Benifuuki Black Tea

Benifuuki is a Japanese tea plant specially cultivated in Makurazaki City, Kagoshima Prefecture. Only young Benifuuki leaves are harvested by hand and then fermented for 3 months in the dark at low temperatures. The result? A tea that’s extremely high in methylated catechin content, which helps combat hayfever and seasonal allergies. Bright, round, fruity notes on the mid-palate settle down for a bittersweet finish. Crisp! To best enjoy the natural sweetness and mild bitterness, we recommend not adding any milk or sugar.

Yuzu Green Tea (ゆず緑茶)

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Satsumarche Yuzu Ryokucha Green Tea

Yuzu is a citrus fruit that has a delightfully tart quality and is used in many Japanese recipes (in place of lemons). Satsumarché (being the geniuses that they are) infused yuzu peels from Soo City in Kagoshima Prefecture to add a fresh, fruity aroma to this premium tea. Waft, and you’ll find a sharp, citric scent traveling up your nose. Sip, and discover a smooth green tea balanced by the dancing of light yuzu notes.

Mizudashi Cha (サツマルシェ 水出し茶)

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Mizudashi (cold brew method) green tea is the perfect drink to quench your thirst in the Summer. Tannins, which cause bitterness and astringency, come out more when tea is brewed with hot water. However, brewed slowly at low temperature? Theanine and amino acids, which offer a sweetness and umami, are revealed. Who knew tea could be so scientific? This cold-brew tea in particular offers a mild, smooth sencha flavor mixed with the slight bitterness of matcha.

Hojicha (サツマルシェ ほうじ茶)

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Tea leaves are usually steamed, but Hojicha tea is made by slow-roasting the leaves. Seems like a simple switch, but this process reveals an earthy, smoky, smoldered flavor. Typically enjoyed after meals, this roasted tea also serves as a perfect pairing for both sweet and savory snacks. Satsumarché’s selection has a particularly nutty, toasted quality.

Kagoshima Chiran Cha (サツマルシェ かごしま知覧茶)

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Chiran tea is another Kagoshima treasure, characterized by its highly prized taste. Due to the volcano Sakurajima, the soil in the area is fertile and perfect for tea growing. Chiran is known and prized for its unique flavor: a very fragrant, full-bodied taste, emphasized by volcanic minerality. This tea is quite the calming brew to just sit and sip its earthy notes.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my review as much as I enjoy Satsumarché’s delightful selection. Let me know which flavor is your favorite!

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