The retail price of our ZENJIRO brand of premium sencha is about 50 cents (70 yen) per cup. The PET bottle green tea sold by beverage manufacturers has various capacities such as 280ml and 500ml, but the cost per cup is almost the same. In fact, you can drink 2 to 3 infusions with one serving of tea leaves, so you can calculate it at 25 cents (35 yen). In other words, you can enjoy luxury sencha at half the cost of PET bottle green tea.
Reasons not to buy PET bottle green tea
Occasionally I see people buying PET bottled green tea by the box at the supermarket, but I think it’s a waste of money. Are they really busy persons who have no time to put sencha tea leaves in a container and pour hot or cold water over it? I never proactively buy a PET bottle green tea. There are two reasons, one is the quality of tea leaves and another is ascorbic acid of synthetic vitamin C. Vitamin C is always used as an antioxidant in PET bottle green tea. But since it is synthetic vitamin C, it generates a large amount of active oxygen that creates cancer cells. Japan’s food labeling, which allows synthetic vitamin C to be labeled as vitamin C, is also a problem. I only buy it when I’m thirsty after a sudden drive and don’t want to drink anything other than green tea. Also, I don’t drink the free tea offered at restaurants and sushi restaurants due to its quality of tea leaves and its taste.
Surprised by the survey results
Catchphrases on the PET bottle green teas are indicated, such as “fragrant umami”, “freshly brewed green, taste and aroma”, and “sweetness and aroma of the extracted tea leaves” . “How many people know real deliciousness of authentic sencha?” About four years ago before the corona crisis, we took a survey of more than 100 people randomly selected by our company. We have two questions. One question was “Vote to choose one favorite PET bottle green tea from four major companies.” The other question was “Have you ever bought 100g of sencha for 1,500 yen or more?” The winner of the the first question was the product of a manufacturer that promotes the taste of Kyoto and advertises it on TV. In the next question, surprisingly, the answer was that “everyone has never bought it.” This surprised us. How can they judge the umami taste of PET bottled green tea if they have never bought a sencha tea leaf of intermediate class or above where they can start to feel the umami? In the past, Japanese people knew a lot about green tea. The served sencha quality was also a silent message to change the quality of the tea provided by the rank of the visitor of the offices. Every companies offered astringent cheap tea to unwelcome visitors.
The decisive factor for the taste of sencha is the balance between the umami component theanine and the astringent component catechin. General first flush tea leaves contain 2.1% theanine and 16.1% total of four types of catechins. We uniquely refer to the ratio of catechins to theanine as “the catechin ratio”. The higher the ratio, the worse the tea, and the lower the ratio, the better the tea. It is 7.7 times the value for general first-class tea. When this is the second flush tea leaves, the theanine is less than 1/4 of the first crop, and the catechin increases by more than 20%. The catechin ratio is 39.2 times, and the tea will be 5 times worse than the first tea. There is a rational reason why the price of first flush tea leaves differs greatly from that of second flush tea leaves and lower grades.
Worse still, the rush to raise the prices of PET bottled beverages
PET bottle green tea uses tea leaves of second flush or lower quality. At 50 cents per cup, the same cost as our premium sencha is due to higher PET bottle processing costs, packaging label printing, shipping and TV advertising costs. Since the corona crisis, crude oil prices have risen, material costs other than tea leaves, and transportation costs have soared, and in Japan, prices will continue to rise in 2023. The cost per cup of PET bottled green tea is even higher. I don’t feel like buying it because it’s expensive because of the cost other than the tea leaves, it’s a bad second tea, and it’s synthetic vitamin C.
50 cents luxury
In the case of tea leaves, the skill (or rather, consideration) of the brewer makes it even more delicious. I have ever experienced to give a lecture on how to make delicious sencha to the head chef of a high-end Japanese restaurant. They served me a sencha without enough thought, and the cup of tea ruined my delicious meal. Later, he contacted to me and I taught the chef how to brew it. Today, it has a reputation for offering the best hospitality in both food and tea. The goal of the brewing method is how to reduce the catechin ratio of first flush tea to below 7.7 times. This can be proved by the research data of Japanese public research institutes, and old Japanese intellectuals have been practicing it since ancient times. Like Ishida Mitsunari (ancient famous samurai)’s “Sanken no Cha ( three cups of green tea),” which attracted Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Hideyoshi made him a vassal. Both Ishida Mitsunari, and Kobori Enshu, who served as a tea instructor for the Tokugawa shogunate, were from the same Omi-Nagahama area as Kuroda Kyubei (my ancestor samurai).
When you prefer sweet and umami strong sencha, when you want to wake up with an astringent hot tea. The same person can have different moods. Also, family members may have different tastes. 50 cents a cup of sencha provides the best experience with perfect safety in such a variety of situations. Would you like to enjoy the luxury of 50 cents?
Tea Master Kuro Kyubei XVI
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