Category Archives: Yurucamp

Tea Review: Kimikura’s Himekura from Yuru Camp

Do you ever just want to sit back and relax to a cup of tea? That’s how I feel these days with the holidays with the latest COVID wave and with all the things happening to wrap up the year at work.

To do that, I popped open a bag of Himekura. So here it is, a tea review, just in time for the Winter Solstice.

Himekura is the collaboration tea between Shizuoka tea maker Kimikura and Laid-back Camp. You can find more about this product tie up here. As of this writing, I think they discontinued this product, so I don’t know if you can still purchase it anywhere. The Kimikura online store doesn’t even link to the product anymore. But what’s on the internet stays on the internet, so go to the link there to see some more PR for the tea when it was announced earlier this year.

Let’s do a bit of Sencha 101 first. Sencha is Japanese green tea leaves (ryokucha) that is either steamed or boiled so that it stops fermenting after the tea leaves are harvested. Then it is dried and processed similar to garden variety tea. Unlike Matcha, sencha is consumed like typical green tea in rest of Asia–steep the finished product in hot water (~175F) for a bit, and drink. Japanese people drink sencha as a matter of course. Matcha is fancyass stuff reserved for those cultural moments, or increasingly, in confectionary and cooking.

Himekura is fukamushi style sencha that has been aged over one summer. Fukamushi sencha is steamed for “a long time” as opposed to typical asamushi sencha. We’re talking about 90-120 seconds for fukamushi versus 30 seconds for asamushi. Also, of course, fukamushi sencha is something that originated from Shizuoka, so of course the collab tea is fukamushi. Typical sencha are steamed and retains more of its bitter profile. You can read this for more info (which is what I have paraphrased). In this case, it’s aged in addition before roasting, all of which will take the edge off your typical sencha and it will yield a milder tea.

Fukamushi sencha has a soup-like quality, it is smooth and milder than normal sencha (such as what’s inside an Itoen tea bag). Once you add the aging, the result Himekura tea makes for a mild and sweet front profile with the deeper sencha taste that follows. As the tea cools, the sweetness yields a bit to a fuller-body taste that typifies the familiar sencha experience. It’s actually quite rare to have a sweet tasting tea that is purely just tea leaves (sans any additives), so that is nice.

The overall effect is that it is calming and soothing. It is Rin-right-on-the-bag feel. It’s perfect right now. As an aside I even fell asleep during my very first cup of Himekura, so I wager it works.

At about 1480 yen per package, and each pack containing 15 tea bags, it’s not even that expensive considering the boutique nature of this product, or that it is licensed character goods. Then again, I’m well aware that high quality tea can be in the hundreds of dollars per pound–at 2.5g x 15 we’re saying this tea is almost 40000 JPY per kilo. Well, it does come bagged. I think this is still in line with that this is a tea drinker’s tea ultimately. I don’t think it will be a crowd pleaser, unless you whip it out at the right time.

As typical with sencha, especially deeply steamed sencha, it sort of disintegrates during the roasting process. Basically this means a lot of tea marries into the hot water while it is steeping. Having a short steep time is important as well as getting the temp right (which is always important). The packaging says 30 seconds at 80C or 176F (my kettle has a button for 175F, which is typically the temp for green teas), and yeah, it works.

Tea is something humans have imbibed for many millenniums, and it’s good to know that there exists anime collab teas that actually kicks me in the right spot, as an East Asian tea snob. The last time I got anime tea, it was really punchy, umami-forward sencha and it was a tough sell for my not-quite-everyday-Japanese palate. Think of it as “morning tea” versus “vibing in winter camping” tea, I guess.

You can read up on this collab and Kimikura here. The Shizuoka tea shop sells all kinds of stuff online, including other teas that are pretty similar to Himekura I think, so it’s worth a jab if you are into exploring regional Japanese teas.

Laid-back Camp Reminds Me of Pickup Truck Culture

The first two episodes of Yurucamp (how do people feel about using △ and romanji LOL) remind me of what some people do with their pickup trucks on weekends in America. Instead of a high school girl biking up a mountain and camping, enjoying the outdoors, the typical “Heartland America” use case is maybe a small family or some bros up in the wilderness and enjoying the outdoors on their boat or something. I think this recent ad is a good summary.

What’s neat to me in Laid-Back Camp is the low-fi, high-tech nature of the form of camping demonstrated. It’s like, they can only bike to a local campground, so all the gear has to fit on a bike. The gear can’t be too heavy because they’re biking up a mountain. The tent is something that can be setup by one person. Since the camper is just solo, all the stuff she rides with was small and work with just one person. (Relevant but aside, camping at a managed campground is great because you get water and a restroom, which is way better than hauling your drinking water and taking a spade with you every time you go take a dump. It’s a cute-girl-does-cute-things compromise in the anime but it’s a worthy one in real life too.)

With a car or pickup, you can carry a lot more, heavier/bulkier things to camp. These low-budget, low-quality collapsable chairs with drink holder, for example, will be fine on a pickup truck but it would weight as much as half of the gear we see Rin carries with her in the first two episodes. I’m amused and jealous of her collapsible, low-height table; I’d like to have one?

The nature of these niche solo-camp gear is also a bit feeding into pickup truck culture. Since it’s a multi-billion dollar industry in the US alone, a lot of market research and consumer research go into selling pickup trucks (and SUVs, too, more and more). It means there are news and other literature about exactly why car brands sell pickups equipped in these sort of ways, with different trims and Texas-specific models. It’s like if you shop for tents for solo campers, there are all kinds. The one Hanamori Yumiri used in the promo video is a light-weight one good for newbies, and it’s inexpensive. However it is very basic and lack some key features. The ones in the anime are not.

It’s like, I spent maybe $100 in portable chairs last year (to sit during various forms of buppan and queues at cons or what not), trying out two different types. Considerations include weight, height, max load, portability, and is it on Amazon Prime. Now that I think I found a decent compromise, I’d totally bring that to camping.