What the Futsumushi is this?

Made from leaves that have not been oxidized.

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Jun 21st, '13, 10:07
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What the Futsumushi is this?

by Chip » Jun 21st, '13, 10:07

This topic of discussion has been woven throughout Shincha-OTTI's topic.

As Westerners and coming into Japanese tea long after the creation of Fukamushi, we became indoctrinated with modern terminology for steaming levels.

Asamushi-light steamed
Chumushi-mid steamed
Fukamushi-deep steamed

However before there was chu or fuka, it would make little sense to think a sencha was asamushi, light steamed as there was not a mid or deep steamed as contrast.

Thus there was the term Futsumushi which indicated normal or traditional steaming ... or what we refer to as asamushi. The term Futsumushi is still used today in Japan within the tea industry especially.

In response to the discussion under Shincha-OTTI I received an email from Thes du Japon's Florent. Since it is long, I will post it as a reply.

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Jun 21st, '13, 10:08
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Re: What the Futsumushi is this?

by Chip » Jun 21st, '13, 10:08

Email from Florent of Thes du Japon (keep in mind, he is French and thus his English though very understandable is not perfect):

I think it's important to clarify the japanese steaming words stuff.

The traditional and unique steaming method until the 60's is steaming leaves 20-30 seconds.
That's what is said asamushi or futsumushi. But "asamushi" is more used because it is easier to understand for people. But "futsumushi" is the word which was choose officially for the minister, competitions, Japanese tea instructors Association, etc.

Originally, "fukamushi" was a new steaming method born in the late 50's, but its real development began in the late 60's.

"fukamushi" means "deep steamed" and "asamushi" means "not deep steamed". "futsumushi" which is used for the same method as Asamushi means "normal, or usual steamed". Of course, the opposition between the adjectives "Asai" (not deep) and "fukai" (deep) is really easy to understand for the average customer, but asamushi/futsumushi producers (especially in the Kansai area) where very worried about the word "not deep" ("asai" in Japanese can be consider as negative), they claim that this is not "not deep", because steaming leaves 20-30 is the traditionnal method used since the beginning for steamed leaves tea, this is normal. For this reason, the word "futsumushi" was officially choose.
Myself, personally, and also as a Japanese Tea Instructor, I completely agree with this point, the adjectives "asai" if not appropriate, and I prefer to use the official word, Futsumushi.
But in reality, the word "asamushi" is still most used and understood.

The problem become more complicated when the "middle steamed" (chu mushi) nuance appears. In competition or other, there is no "chumushi" category. All teas that are steamed more than the futsumushi (= asamushi, alright) 30s are fukamushi.
Originally, fukamushi where steamed about 1min. But progressively, appeared teas steamed 1min30, 2min, and now even more !! So, a one minute steamed teas is quite different than a 2mn steamed one. 2min steamed become a fuka, one min steamed one a Chumushi. But there is no real rule for this nuance. The frontier between chu and fuka is unclear and subjective.

But it can become even more complicated, when some vendors decide to use "futsumushi" instead of "chumushi" !

As a result you have 3 naming patterns,
The official one (which I use)
futsumushi - fukamushi

The most used one
asamushi - chumushi - fukamushi

the tricky one
asamushi - futsumushi - fukamushi

I hope my explanations could help to clarify...

Also , there is the naming i heard from a grower in Shizuoka mountains:
dento mushi (traditional steamed) (=asamushi/futsumushi) - yobun mushi (too much steamed). Of course this half serious half a joke.

Best regards


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Jun 21st, '13, 19:32
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Re: What the Futsumushi is this?

by victoria3 » Jun 21st, '13, 19:32

It’s good to have this information in one area. Thanks for posting. It's also interesting how tea 'traditions' in Japan continue to evolve from the 6th century brick, to the 12th century roast and grind, to various levels of contemporary steaming. Steaming apparently was only introduced in Japan in 1730’s, called the 'Uji method', coming from Ujitawara, Kyoto. This new steaming resulted in what we now refer to as Sencha, replacing traditional Japanese Matcha and Bancha/Houjicha as the norm. Now I’m wondering if the 'Uji method' is the same as asa-mushi / futsu-mushi steam, or did the 30 second steam-dry process also significantly evolve.

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Re: What the Futsumushi is this?

by Flonihoncha » Jun 23rd, '13, 08:58

Steaming was introduce in 1191 by Eisai. He bring back from China matcha processing and drinking way (matcha is made from leaves that has been steamed).
But regarding steamed leaf type tea (sencha), we usually consider that the inventor of steamed sencha (in Edo period, "sencha" used to designating leaf type tea brewed in a pot, which included what we call today kama-iri cha) is Nagatani Soen, in 1734. But of course, the reality was not so simple. It seems to have before many others attempts to make a steamed leaf type tea. But the tea produce with the method that Nagatani Soen elaborated was chose by a tea merchant of Nihonbashi (Yamamoto Kahei, whose shop Yamamoto-ya is said to be the ancestor of today's Yamamotoyama..... but the actual affiliation is unclear) and was sold. This method is still the base of actual sencha (futsu/asa mushi) processing (the machine that roll the tea copy the hand processing of Nagatani Soen).
But it's important to understand that this new sencha did not replace anything, because as leaf type tea, kama-iri type still remain the majority until Meiji era when sencha became an important exportation products.
(Traditionals bancha is another story, extremely complex as there is almost no wrote documents, and almost of this teas are not produced anymore)

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Jun 23rd, '13, 12:11
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Re: What the Futsumushi is this?

by debunix » Jun 23rd, '13, 12:11

This is quite interesting thread. I thought I was an asamushi aficionado, but now I find I am a Futsumushi fan.

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Jun 27th, '13, 14:01
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Re: What the Futsumushi is this?

by FlyedPiper » Jun 27th, '13, 14:01

As an aside, I was told that "Kyoto style" was asamushi. So in other words as a rule anything from the Kyoto area will have this steaming unless otherwise specified (Maiko for example). Just wanted to share that as it was helpful to me, and I'm just getting more into lighter steamed senchas.

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Re: What the Futsumushi is this?

by 茶藝-TeaArt08 » Jun 27th, '13, 16:27

I don't have a solid practice or grounding in Japanese tea and thus, I've been enjoying the clarification taking place in this thread. Thanks all!


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Jun 27th, '13, 19:03
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Re: What the Futsumushi is this?

by chingwa » Jun 27th, '13, 19:03

Yes, somehow the distinction escaped me as well... even with the (now obvious) distinction of "futsu" being traditional. You learn something new everyday... Thank you Teachat!

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