MARIMO tea - Manufacture, Import & Wholesale


The Watanabe family’s organic tea garden is located on Yakushima, a small, paradisiacal island in the south of Japan, about 160km south of Kagoshima city. Yakushima is part of Kagoshima Prefecture, which is known for its many tea gardens. However, on the small, mountainous island Yakushima there are only few places at the seaside, which are suited for tea cultivation.

for more about Mankichi Watanabe’s organic tea garden:

photo, starting left: Mankichi Watanabe, Ms. Watanabe, Ms. Goto, and Mankichi‘s harvesting helpers

Ms. Goto (blue clothes) encountered the idea of organic farming in the 1990s, when she read a book about the eating habits of Japanese people. Mankichi Watanabe already had a strong connection to nature, but had not started organic farming yet, so Ms. Goto was able to convince him easily of her ideas. Since that time Mankichi Watanabe cultivates his tea garden organically, including the organic certification, which the tea garden now has carried for over 10 years.

Green tea in all its different forms is an integral part of Mankichi Watanabe’s tea garden. He produces teas from shaded cultivation [kabuse saibai], as well as teas from non-shaded cultivation [roji saibai]. One of his finest green teas is the “Watanabe Tokujou Kabuse Asanoyu” for which he uses the name-giving tea cultivar Asatsuyu, which is rarely used in organic cultivation.

Mankichi Watanabe’s black tea “Watanabe Kanaya Midori Koucha” is a special expression of his artistic ideas. The tea bush variety Kanaya Midori, which he uses in this tea, was originally bred for green tea production. This particular use of Kanaya Midori combined with Mankichi Watanabe’s intuition for processing and the subsequent storage of two years create a fresh and inspired black tea with a lemonlike fragrance.


The Watanabe family shades mostly bushes from the tea bush variety Asatsuyu for this elegant, organic kabusecha. The description “Tokujou” means that especially good leaves from the first flush harvest were used.

The leaves of this Tokujou Kabuse, the highest quality from the regular first flush harvest (not the pre-harvest called shincha), are sorted perfectly and produce a fascinatingly green infusion. Fragrant notes of flowers are combined with the teas sweetness and mild freshness.


There are many ways to influence the taste of a tea during its cultivation in the tea garden. With HON-YUU, it is exactly the opposite: A taste as nature develops. Mankichi and Keita Watanabe grow their tea bushes in the open air on the small island of Yakushima in organic cultivation without shade. The Buddhist term "HON-YUU" means "original existence".


CHOU-KA is the morning meditation – A brief pause, gathering, and self-reflection as the beginning of the day. The leaves originate from the first harvest, which begins in early April in the tea garden of the Watanabe family. As the basis, the full-bodied Yutaka Midori is mildly complemented by Kanaya Midori. The sweetness of the Asatsuyu variety gives the composition its sparkle.


The Kyû consists of 100% leaves of the tea bush variety Asatsuyu, which was shaded for this noble tea. The taste of it is clearly recognisable by its strong sweetness, which is also evident in the fragrance of the leaves.

These characteristics have given it the nickname "Tennen Gyokuro", natural Gyokuro, in Japanese. Asatsuyu bushes, however, pose a great challenge in organic cultivation. The fine sweetness of the young tea leaves also attracts various insects. Producing a tea as noble as Kyû therefore requires years of dedication and a lot of experience to achieve a constant ecological balance in the tea garden, in which the Asatsuyu bushes can develop undisturbed.

The character "Kyû" means “to draw” or "to scoop", e.g. the drawing of water necessary for making tea. If you repeat the syllable twice, it means "to devote oneself to a single thing". The name thus reflects the deep and long-standing dedication of Mankichi and Keita, which has made the harvest of a tea of this special quality possible.


In the organic tea garden of Keita and Mankichi Watanabe, tea bushes of the Sae Midori variety are the basis to harvest the Myô. Tea bushes of this variety are already very rare in themselves, but are at the same time special in the Watanabe tea garden, as there are only five rows of this variety. For this reason alone, the harvest quantity of this tea is very limited.

Keita Watanabe follows a minimalist fertilisation concept for the Myô, which takes into account the special environment of the tea garden in the middle of Yakushima's nature. The soil between the individual rows of tea bushes is mulched with branches and other parts of trees from the area surrounding the tea field. Unlike usual for Gyokuro, no additional fertiliser is applied to the fields before harvesting. Instead, leaves from other tea fields are used for fertilisation. Due to this unusual concept and the long shading time of about 3 weeks, the noble Gyokuro Myô is able to develop a fantastic umami. In 2022, this tea was harvested for the first time after several years of preparation of the fields.


For this elegant black tea, leaves from the tea bush variety Kanaya Midori are used by Mr. Watanabe. Kanaya Midori is a tea bush variety that is usually used for the production of green tea, while black tea is usually made from tea bush varieties like Benifuuki. This seemingly odd decision creates an important basis for the fascinating character of this black tea.

The typical flowery nuances of black tea are created during fermentation from the bitter tasting compounds of the tea leaves. Because of this, Mankichi Watanabe uses not only leaves from the first flush harvest, but also from the second and sometimes third flush harvest as these leaves had more time to absorb sun light and to create bitter tasting compounds. In order to create a fascinating black tea, is necessary to have a completely different philosophy than during green tea production. The former is focused on changing the leaves’ compounds, while the latter can be interpreted as the conversation of the leaves’ compounds and structure.

Another reason for the characteristic and animating aroma of the Watanabe Kanaya Midori Koucha is the fact that Mankichi Watanabe only ‘releases’ this tea after two years. While one could think that this creates a heavy, overwhelming aroma, it actually does the contrary. The Kanaya Midori black tea is highly aromatic and animates with ease, while also delivering an intensive depth. An extraordinary, inspiring and also elegant black tea.


The Watanabe Shimadori Kabusecha is like a sudden rainfall on Yakushima Island. A sweet, almost candy like fragrance from the leaves gives you a sense of things to come. A sudden change in the atmosphere happens when you drink the very mellow infusion. You get refreshed with a subtle, lingering umami taste. Though gentle, this first flush Kabusecha from the Watanabe’s organic family farm holds the same energy the Watanabe teas are best known for.


Mankichi Watanabe loves his tea garden, which is located on the tropical island Yakushima. His connection to nature and his teagarden are evident in Mankichi’s teas. The diversity of his tea bushes are also very important to him, which allows him to harvest the bush varieties which are sprouting very early, for his fine shincha. Only 25kg are produced from these tea bushes, which are also known for their elegant, slightly sweet and springlike nuances.

The three rare tea bush variety Kuritawase (which we have not encountered in any other tea garden yet), Sae Midori and Asatsuyu are blended for the Watanabe Kabuse Shincha. The name already indicates that this is not a “normal” shincha from unshaded bushes, but a spring tea for which the tea bushes were shaded.


“RYŌ” or also read “REI” is the character meaning “spirit, soul”.

The naming of the Aracha Shincha by the Watanabe family from Yakushima is meant to remind us that a good tea consists not only of what is tangible, like the tea leaves, but also of what is intangible. The environment in which it is grown, the philosophy of those who grow it, the energy of the nature in which the tea bushes grow, the story of how a tea comes into being, all this can be felt when the tea is brewed and enjoyed, without being able to perceive it externally. In a way, the Ryō is the soul of Watanabe Kabuse Shincha.