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Meet the Tea Master

Our Master of Tea Selection and Roasting

Kenji Yoshinaga, the president of Maruyoshi, carefully selects all of our hojicha ingredients and oversees roasting and production. Kenji is qualified as a 10th grade Chashi, or tea master, a rank which is currently awarded to only 15 masters in Japan. Among this elite group, he's the only tea master specialized in hojicha tea.

In addition, we also work together with other high-ranking chashi masters, certified Japanese tea instructors, and tea sommeliers.

Kenji is focused on applying creativity in original ways that complement the simple elements at the heart of traditional hojicha.

10th Grade Chashi Tea Master (茶師十段, or chashi jyu-dan)

Chashi refers to a tea-blending artisan. Ranked grades are awarded through an annual competition which tests expertise of Japanese tea masters based on criteria including cultivar identification, picking season, and recognizing the place of origin strictly by appearance and by taste. Total points earned determine one’s grade, with 10th being the highest grade. Unlike other pass-fail style tea certifications, someone who has developed keen senses in observing, smelling and tasting, as well as extensive knowledge about any single Japanese tea can achieve the highest grade of this examination.