Mellow Monk® sources its green tea directly from family-owned and -operated tea estates in the Aso region of Japan. On these small, exclusive estates, grower–artisans who have been making tea for generations emphasize quality over quantity, crafting their single-estate tea only from leaves they harvest themselves from their own tea fields.
Until now, these local treasures have been available only in Japan, but Mellow Monk now makes this exclusive, exquisite tea available to the entire world for the first time.
Connecting You to Recognized Artisans
We also seek out green tea estates with impeccable reputations in their own local markets — estates owned and operated by artisans recognized as masters at growing and harvesting tea and carefully crafting those leaves into green tea of exceptional and consistent quality.
When our tea buyers visit a tea-producing region, they visit many estates and talks not only with the artisans themselves but also with people in the surrounding community, to sound out their opinions. We seek out tea that is already popular where it's made, in the belief that teas that please local palates have already passed a rigorous test.
Choosing tea popular in Japan may mean limited quantities for the outside world, but it also assures not just quality but also continuity: The first step in establishing long-term relationships with grower–artisans is to select estates that will be around for a long, long time.
The Perfect Tea-Growing Environment
Mellow Monk Green Tea is also the product of an environment that is ideally suited to tea cultivation. Aso is located in the center of Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan's four main islands. This rural region has long been known all over Japan for its natural bounty and artisans who stubbornly stick to the traditional way of doing things.
Mellow Monk tea is grown in the foothills of Mount Aso, an active volcano that not only gives the area its name but also provides a rich volcanic soil that tea plants just love.
In addition, the fog and clouds that form frequently shade the tea plants from too much direct sunlight and allow them to grow slowly. The long, cold winters allow the plants to stay dormant longer and retain plenty of nutrients in their roots, trunks, and branches. Consequently, when the warm spring comes the new buds have plenty of nutrients on which to draw and grow into vibrant, healthy leaves.
Other important environmental factors are the clean mountain air, plentiful rainfall, and humid but not-too-hot summers. These perfect conditions for tea are also similar to those in the Himalayan foothills where the tea plant, Camellia sinensis, is believed to have first evolved. The result is richly flavorful tea with a bright, flowery aroma.
Putting the Environment Ahead of Profits
Aso's farmers don't just work in Aso—they live there. So taking good care of the environment isn't just the ethical thing to do—it's the sensible thing, too. After all, they all breath the same air and drink the same water as their neighbors.
Mellow Monk® growers are all certified under Japan's Eco Farmer program. (That's "eco" as in "ecologically friendly"). The Eco Farmer program is overseen by the Japanese government's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries. Its goal is to benefit consumers and the environment by promoting environmentally responsible farming methods.
Kumamoto Prefecture, where the Aso area is situated, has the largest number of certified Eco Farmers in Japan—equivalent to one-fifth of the national total, and proof that local farmers have embraced the program.