Just like coffee and wine, single-origin teas exist in Japan as green tea is produced by more than 20,000 tea farmers in 35 prefectures out of 47 prefectures in total in Japan. And wide variety of single origin green tea products become available in the market in recent years, but it was not in the past. Why ? What is the difference between single origin tea and non-single origin tea? The key to solving this is "gogumi" – blended tea.
1. What is Gogumi
"Gogumi" refers to the process of blending tea. This is a secondary process in the whole tea manufacturing process, mostly performed by a tea wholesaler. (Primary processing is performed by tea farmers).
As it is an agricultural product, the quality of tea varies from year to year. Of course tea farmers are making efforts to keep the quality constant, but natural environment such as weather and temperature also affect the quality. In addition, the quality of tea changes between harvest peak time (spring and summer) and later season (autumn and winter), as aging proceeds.
Based on these factors, a blending method was taken by blending high and low quality tea leaves or young and aged tea leaves to make the perfectly balanced, constant taste and aroma. This process was originally called "Gogumi".
However, the situation has been changing. Today, as green tea has become more popular globally, and its diversity is increasingly demanded. Gogumi is not just to make the taste constant, but to play a new role in making more uniquely delicious tea.
2. What is Single Origin Green Tea?
Single origin, on the other hand, is tea that doesn’t go through "Gogumi" process. Green tea has a varieties of cultivars, and different cultivar has different taste and scent depending on land, cultivation and manufacturing processes.
However, if it goes through Gogumi process, its uniqueness may be lost, as Gogumi is aimed to make the quality constant.
Originally, a single origin Japanese tea is that you can fully enjoy the uniqueness of the tea, and it is sometimes likened to a wine chateau.
Each single origin tea has a wide variety of differences in taste and scent. Some have scent like corn, others are like root vegetables, and another with scent of cherry blossoms.
It doesn't matter which gogumi or single origin tea is better. Both are the fruits of many years' effort made by researchers, farmers and tea businesses to seek a greater variety of tea flavors.
Brillat-Savarin, the author of a famous book on the physiology of taste said: "The discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of mankind than the discovery of a new star".
Similarly, the happiness of encountering a very delicious cup of tea makes you feel like heaven. There are definitely more chances like that as more single-origin teas become available.