1. 「宇治園」の名前の由来(広島の会社だから「宇治」の名前が興味深いです)


店主である溝口の家は、昔から日本茶の栽培・製茶で生活を営む熊本県球磨郡相良村にあり、その地にて400年続く代々の日本茶栽培・製茶農家「第一協同溝口」として、店主溝口義揮の従兄弟輝明氏が今もより良いお茶作りに励んでおります。
 予断に成りますが、四百年続く家には熊本城築城時の廃材が使用されているとされ、相良村より引き続きそのまま住み続けて貰いたいとお願いを頂いております。
 上記の通り、熊本県の日本茶栽培・製茶農家である溝口が京都「宇治」の地名、何故「宇治園製茶」なのか?それは溝口家代々の憧れ日本茶の祖、栄西が「喫茶養生記」京都で茶の布教活動をはじめ、茶道が確立された後、豊臣秀吉によって宇治に七つの名園が置かれ、そのお茶が日本中に広がり溝口家生涯の礎に成りました。
 本茶に携わる事を誇りに想い、その源が京都「宇治」にある事を永遠に忘れぬ為にです。

1. What’s the origin of the name ‘Ujien’? (Ujien is an Hiroshima company, but the name includes ‘Uji’ a part of Kyoto.)

The Mizoguchi family, the owners of Ujien, have cultivated tea in Sagara-mura, Kuma District in Kumamoto Prefecture for 400 years under the name of ‘Daiichi Kyoudou Mizoguchi’. The owner of the Hiroshima branch is Mizoguchi Yoshiki. Yoshiki’s cousin, Teruaki, continues the family tradition of cultivating green tea in Kumamoto Prefecture.
There’s a tale about Kumamoto Prefecture homes with 400 years of unbroken heritage. It says the homes were built in Sagara-mura using offcuts from the construction of Kumamoto Castle, and the families were requested to maintain residence there.
The Mizoguchis are one such family, and the reason this farming family cultivates its tea in Kumamoto Prefecture and names its tea after Uji in Kyoto is this: For generations the Mizoguchi family have revered the founder of Japanese tea, the Zen monk Eisai. Eisai’s text Kissa Yojoki, (Tea and Health) records Eisai starting the propagation of tea in Uji, Kyoto. After the development of the tea ceremony (chanoyu), Toyotomi Hideyoshi established seven distinguished tea plantations in Uji and tea plants from these plantations were distributed throughout Japan. The Mizoguchi family received this very tea from Kyoto and made the cultivation of this distinguished tea their life work. The family is proud of its heritage of being cultivators of the original tea grown in Japan, and so their heritage is never forgotten, they name their tea after the original source of their plants, Uji in Kyoto.

2.広島でお茶を栽培されていますか。 


 広島では日本茶の栽培はしておりません。弊社創業者である初代「よしはる」が、僅かにある広島の茶農家と挑戦し続けたのですが、残念ながら良い茶作りは敵わず断念致しました。
しかし平成2年より現店主が日本茶作りには適していない瀬戸内は、他に類を見ないほど温暖な気候を生かせ無いかと考え、水代わりに飲める健康茶、杜仲栽培を42名の生産農家と一緒に始め、日本茶製造のノウハウを活かし、今広島は日本一の「杜仲茶」栽培の地として因島杜仲生産組合と歩み続けております。

2. Does Ujien grow tea in Hiroshima Prefecture?


Ujien does not grow tea in Hiroshima Prefecture. The founding father of Ujien, first generation Yoshiharu tried cultivating tea with farmers in Hiroshima Prefecture. However the tea produced couldn’t match that of Kyoto, and cultivation in Hiroshima Prefecture ceased. Yet from 1990, the current head of the company sought to utilise the warm climate of Seto Inland Sea to cultivate tochu tea, a tea of great health benefits and as it has no caffeine it can be drunk freely as a health tonic. This cultivation commenced with 42 growers, and through utilising Japanese tea-manufacturing know-how the Innoshima Tochu Tea Growers Union in Hiroshima Prefecture is now Japan’s leading manufacturer of tochu tea.

3.上田流のお家元様のお好みの抹茶は京都の宇治の抹茶ですか。 


 無論京都府内産100%のお抹茶です。現店主溝口は高校卒業後、代々憧れの京都「宇治」に製茶方法を学びに住み込み奉公へ行きその後、栄西のお寺「建仁寺」に茶碑を建立された茶商、裏千家今日庵御好み(ご用達のお茶屋)・表千家不審庵御好み・武者小路千家管休庵御好み、大本山建仁寺ご用達「宇治茶の祇園辻利」に丁稚奉公(修行)人として茶商の道を学ばせて頂き、以後26年間「宇治園製茶」二代目店主、茶商として現在に至ります。
 その間溝口は、ただでさえ解り難い日本茶、今や加工品としても世界で使用頂く抹茶の解り難さ、特に茶道で古くから「日本の最高のおもてなし」に使用される「宇治抹茶」の危うい位置づけに気付き、その定義づけを独自に作り頑なに拘っております。

3. Is the favoured matcha of the Grandmaster of the Ueda Sōko Tradition matcha from Uji in Kyoto?


The favoured matcha of the Grandmaster of the Ueda Sōko Tradition is produced 100% in Kyoto Prefecture.  After graduating high school the current head of the company Yoshiki Mizoguchi moved to Uji in Kyoto for his apprenticeship in tea growing and production. Following this he conducted an tea merchant apprenticeship and training at none other than Uji-cha Gion Tsujiru, the tea merchant that erected the epitaph to Eisai at Kenninji Temple, and the favoured tea producer of the chanoyu traditions of Urasenke Konnichian, Omotesenke Fushinan, Mushakōjisenke Kankyū-an, and of Kenninji Temple. After completing his training Yoshiki Mizoguchi has been leading the Ujien Seicha company as the second generation Managing Director.
During his time as company head, Mizoguchi has proactively put in place a definition of ‘matcha’ to protect its status as the finest of teas. This was informed by the realisation that Uji matcha was in danger of misrepresentation in its production and marketing around the world, thus giving people a false idea of its quality and status as the centuries-old beverage of the Japanese Tea Ceremony (chanoyu), the art of the finest Japanese hospitality.


宇治園製茶の濃茶定義とは
テン茶品種(茶木の品種)「さえみどり」、「ごこう」を手摘み刈にて採取された茶葉を90%以上使用した「抹茶」に限定する。 


The definition of koicha (thick tea) grade tea according to Ujien Seicha
The tea leaves for tencha (tea before de-stemming and processing into powdered matcha) must be hand harvested and 90% or more of the tea sourced from the tea plant varieties of saemidori and gokō to be koicha grade matcha.

宇治園製茶の薄茶定義とは
テン茶品種「さみどり」、「おくみどり」、「やぶきた」にて、100%原料構成された「抹茶」に限定する。 


The definition of usucha (thin tea) grade tea according to Ujien Seicha
The tea leaves for tencha (tea before de-stemming and processing into powdered matcha) must be composed 100% of tea sourced from the tea plant varieties of samidori, okumidori, and yabukita to be usucha grade matcha for chanoyu (Japanese tea ceremony).

また双方とも原料茶葉は所謂宇治茶(京都府内産)100%使用し、茶臼(石臼)で挽き上げた抹茶に限り、無論原料茶葉は一番茶のみ、それ以外は一切使用しない。
今後の未来に上記茶葉同等、それ以上のテン茶品種が出来た場合には再検討をする。
上田流御好みの濃茶「常葉の昔」、同じく薄茶「千歳の友」は上記を満たした抹茶です。


Both koicha and usucha must be made 100% from tea leaves cultivated in Kyoto Prefecture (Uji cha), be ground by a stone mortar, and be leaves from the first harvest of the year.
* Note that if other varieties of tea plants are developed as suitable for tencha, these varieties will be considered for inclusion.
* Note that the favoured koicha (Tokiha no Mukashi) and usucha (Chitose no Tomo) of the Ueda Sōko Tradition both satisfy the above.