Quality Assurance

IngredientsGreen tea

Main tea leaf production areas in Japan

Tea cultivation is reported to be suited for weak acid soil with high humidity and good drainage and an annual average temperature of 12.5-13.0℃ or above.
In Japan, there are a disproportionately large number of land areas that meet these criteria. Tohoku region has a minor quantity of output, and tea is primarily grown on the Japan Sea side, south of Niigata Prefecture, and on the Pacific side, south of Ibaraki Prefecture.

  • Map of major tea growing regions in Japan

    Major Tea Growing Regions in Japan

Types of tea (differences between black tea, oolong tea, and Pu’er tea)

Tea can be classified into unfermented tea, semi-fermented tea, and fermented tea. Fermentation refers to oxidation of catechins by the enzymes in tea leaves.

Green tea is classified as unfermented tea, and oxidase action is prevented by heating it immediately after it is picked.

Green tea can also be classified according to its cultivation and processing processes.
Green tea, for example, is typically grown in the open air, whereas Tencha* and Gyokuro are grown in tea gardens covered by reed blinds or straw. Furthermore, the processing processes for Gyokuro and Tencha differ. Whereas rubbing is used in the processing of Gyokuro, it is not used in the processing of Tencha.

Black tea, on the other hand, is fermented completely without interfering with the action of enzymes (fermented tea), and oolong tea is fermented to some amount as well (semi-fermented tea). There is also post-fermented teas, such as Pu’er tea. After being heat-treated, post-fermentation teas are fermented by microbes rather than oxidative enzymes.

  • *
    What is Tencha?
    Tea is the raw material of "Matcha" tea.
    Matcha is made by grinding Tencha with a stone mill to form powder
  • Diagram of Tea Types
  • Photo of open-air cultivation

    Open-air cultivation

  • Photo of under cover cultivation

    Under cover cultivation

Green tea

What is green tea?

Tea is an evergreen shrub of the Camellia family, with thick and glossy leaves. Green tea is produced through the processing of its bud, stem, and leaf.

How to make green tea

Introducing the most common processes for producing green tea.

The raw leaves are harvested and sent to a factory near the tea plantation for heating, rubbing, and drying. The tea produced here is called Aracha.
The tea is then taken to the finishing facility, where it is "sorted" and "dried/heated" to make finished tea. Finally, in order to attain a specific level of quality, "Aikumi," or the mixing of tea leaves from various manufacturing sites and plants, occurs.

Hand-picking and machine-picking are two methods, but machine-picking is now employed in the majority of cases. After picking, it is promptly transported to a tea factory.
  • Photo of hand picking

    Hand picking

  • Photo of machine picking

    Machine picking

Aracha production
The raw leaves are first "steamed," then "rubbed" and "dried" in stages. The main objectives of each are as follows:
Steam >>>
Deactivates the oxidase contained in the leaves.
Rubbing >>>
Allows the leaf components to leach easily.
Drying >>>
Increases storability.
1. Steam heating
This is the process of steaming the leaves with high temperature steam.
This deactivates the oxidase in the leaves. Furthermore, it reduces the leaves’ immature odor, making them pliable and easy to rub.
Photo of tea leaves after heat steaming
Tea leaves after heat steaming
2. Cooling
The steamed leaves are cooled by removing the surface dew. This prevents the generation of a steamed flavor.
3. Rubbing
The tea leaves are dried in hot air while stirring. The water content in the leaves decreases to about 50%.
Photo of tea leaves after coarse rubbing
Tea leaves after coarse rubbing
4. Kneading
Rub while applying pressure without applying heat to remove moisture uniformly. Furthermore, it compensates for the lack of rubbing involved in coarse rubbing, making it simpler to remove leaf components.
5. Medium rubbing
It is rubbed again with light pressure while hot air is applied, and the moisture is uniformly eliminated. The moisture content decreases to about 30%.
Photo of tea leaves after medium rubbing
Tea leaves after medium rubbing
6. Fine rubbing
The tea leaves are rubbed while being twisted on the heated board. They are then arranged in an elongated shape like a needle. The water content decreases to about 10%.
Photo of tea leaves after rubbing
Tea leaves after rubbing
7. Drying
Finally, high-temperature hot air is applied to dry it thoroughly. This enhances the storability of tea leaves and prevents flavor changes during storage.
Finished tea production
The shape of tea leaves is aligned by "sorting", and the peculiar tea flavor is produced by "drying and heating".
1. Sorting
Through sieving and cutting, the shapes of the tea leaves of diverse sizes are harmonized. This does not include tea leaves that have variable forms as a result of wind pressure and color selection.
2. Drying and heating
We recommend reheating and drying the tea leaves. This improves storage and at the same time brings out the unique aroma of the tea. The water content decreases to less than 5%.
Tea is blended from various production areas and factories with the goal of supplying consistent quality tea and making tea that appeals to consumers’ tastes. The "Gogumi" is also performed in the coarse tea state.

Green tea quality assurance (initiatives at Fukujuen)

In this section, we will discuss the quality assurance techniques for domestic tea leaves that we are developing in partnership with Fukujuen.

Uses 100 % domestic tea leaves

Every year, we visit and examine the manufacturing companies and farmers with whom we do business to ensure that they have a mechanism in place to prevent contamination of non-domestically produced tea leaves at all stages of production, from planting to completion.

Photo of tea plantations Phot of tea leaves

Confirming the safety of tea leaves

The tea’s production history verifies that it was grown with acceptable pesticide use, and pesticide residues are also examined.
To ensure safety, we have broadened our examination items to include pesticides that may be distributed from surrounding farms as well as pesticides with high soil persistence.

Photo of inspection documents

Inspection documents for residual pesticides, etc.

Thorough Quality Verification

The tea leaves carefully selected by the tea masters of Fukujuen are also checked for quality at Suntory Group’s laboratories. Both Fukujuen and Suntory Group thoroughly check the quality, ensuring not only aroma and taste but also its safety.

Photo 1 of the quality verification Photo 2 of the quality verification