Honyama or Hon Yama tea is tea produced in the Shizuoka (Japanese: 静岡県) Prefecture of the Chubu region on the Honshu Island of Japan. Shizuoka is said to produce 40% of Japan’s Green tea production . .
Shizuoka as a tea producing region can be traced back to the Kamakura Period in Japan. The first tea seeds to the area are believed to have been introduced by the Zen Buddhist monk, Shoichi- kokushi, also known by the Buddhist monastic name Enni . Enni   had brought the Green tea leaves back after studying various forms of Buddhism in Song China in the year 1241. During the Edo period, a retainer of the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu decided to utilize green tea’s potential as a source of income as a cash crop. This led to the development of a tea plantation and processing operation in the city of Makinohara. The production of green tea in the Shizuoka region continues to the present day.
Science and Biology
Hon Yama tea is produced from the Camellia Sinensis plant. The Shizuoka tea fields, like the Hon Yama production area, are located near the Abe and Warashina rivers with the plantations themselves located on the sides of mountainous areas. This causes a weather pattern that includes regular clouds of fog developing over the plantation area. It is believed that this excess of shade as a result from the fog allows the tea plants in Shizuoka to absorb less sunlight. When tea leaves absorb unrestricted amounts of sunlight a chemical process takes place in the buds and leaves. This results in the plant converting its natural amino acid, theanine into various polyphenols. Polyphenols result in the prepared leaves having a bitter or astringent flavor, which is considered to be less palatable to the high end Japanese tea drinking market.   .
Green Tea produced in Shizuoka and the surrounding area are marketed as high quality. This is due to the reputation of Shizuoka’s novel growing techniques which result in its tea crop being known for a sweet taste high in theanine and enjoyed as a high class consumer product. Shizuoka is famous for its sencha style of tea which revered for its mild and sweet flavor.
The cultivation, harvest and production techniques of the Shizuoka tea plantations have been practiced for centuries. Tea cultivation tracing back to the Kamakura period.. The leaves are harvested from April until May before the rainy season commences. This is believed to yield a higher quality crop than after the rainy period. Leaves harvested following or during the rainy period are reputed to have a weaker taste and thus are not as popular as the earlier harvested leaves in the consumer market. Two well known cultivars of high quality Shizuoka tea are the Yabukita and Omune cultivars.
- Shizuoka Green Tea Shizuoka Prefecture Official site
- Shizuoka Green Tea Japan Prefecture Mint
- Introduction of Shizuoka Green Tea History of Shizuoka
- Background of Enni Ben'en Background and writings of Enni Ben'en
- Overview of Enni Wikipedia entry on Enni
- The Biology of Hon Yama Hon Yama Plantation site
- Theanine Theanine Information
- Phenolic content in tea Phenolic content in tea
- Shizuoka Official site