About Umeshu

Umeshu is a traditional Japanese liqueur made from ume fruit. A perfect balance between ume extract and alcohol is achieved by aging the whole fruit, with the stone still inside. The delicious tang of Umeshu comes from citric acid in the fruit, and the refreshing flavour stimulates the appetite. Umeshu also contains malic and succinic acids. Refresh yourself by enjoying a glass of Umeshu when feeling tired. The addition of alcohol to the fruit during production means that the ume flavour can be extracted not only from the flesh and skin but also from the stone. It is this process which gives CHOYA Umeshu its unique fruity bouquet, with notes of almond and marzipan.

CHOYA does not use any artificial additives in any of our products, such as acidulants, flavourings, or colourings.
As the leading producer of Umeshu, we are committed to the pursuit of unfailingly high quality and authenticity in all our products.
It takes at least one year of aging to produce CHOYA Umeshu. This careful maturation ensures that essential ingredients can be fully extracted from the ume fruit. Our slow aging process allows CHOYA to produce authentic Umeshu with the best possible taste and aroma every time.

Japan has four distinct seasons, each of which is essential for a rich ume harvest.
CHOYA uses only a few varieties of Japanese ume from the several hundred which exist in Japan today. Nanko-ume, from Wakayama, is a premium variety with plump flesh and high acidity, making it particularly suitable for Umeshu production. Thanks to the decades of experience and expertise in ume cultivation shared by our Japanese farmers, at CHOYA we can be sure we are using only the highest quality ume fruit in the world.

These two commitments are at the very heart of the CHOYA philosophy. They are what drives the CHOYA team to continually strive to deliver the ultimate in authentic and delicious Umeshu, made with devotion, to you.

Ume are not plum

Ume (scientific name: Prunus mume Sieb. et Zucc.) is often mistaken for plum (scientific name: Prunus domestica L.), which is in the same group, namely Rosaceae Prunus. However, these two fruits have very different characteristics. Ume has an acid content of 4-5%, compared to the 1-2% acidity found in plum. As ume fruit ripens, the level of citrus acid in the fruit overtakes that of other organic acids. The flesh and skin contain polyphenol (a kind of antioxidant compound found in plants), the amount of which increases as the fruit matures. In addition, the fruit contains multiple amino acids and other organic acids, such as citric acid. Our studies also indicate that GABA(Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid, an amino acid that serves as a neurotransmitter within the central nervous system.) may be produced from glutamine.

Throughout Japanese and Chinese history, there have been various medicinal uses for ume. In Japan, for example, there is a proverb which states that ume can kill three kinds of poisons: those in food, water, and blood.

The fruit contains polyphenol. The amount of polyphenol increases as it matures.

The fruit contains organic acids such as citrus acid.

The history of ume and Umeshu

Ume has always been revered throughout Asia. Still today, the Japanese appreciate ume for its nutritional value.

c. 750 In the famous Man'yoshu, Japan's oldest collection of waka poems, the visually appealing ume blossoms are incorporated into 118 poems, compared to only 42 for cherry blossoms.
918 “Honzowamyo” the oldest Japanese dictionary of pharmacy, mentions ume.
960 It is said that Emperor Murakami recovered from his illness by drinking a special tea blend made with “*umeboshi and kombu (kelp)”.
984 The medicinal properties of ume are mentioned in the “Ishinho”, Japan's oldest medical publication.
c. 1550 During the Sengoku (Warring States) Era, Lord Kuroda Josui issues an edict to all of his vassals stating that each of them must plant three ume trees at the birth of their sons. There were many feudal lords during this time that ordered the planting of ume trees as a source of medicine in preparation for war.
1619 Tokugawa Yorinobu becomes Lord of Kii province and soon Ando Naotsugu instigates a policy of encouraging ume cultivation.
1697 The term Umeshu appears for the first time in the “Honcho-shokkan” book of Japanese cuisine. Ume is described as a medicinal agent that stops the accumulation of phlegm, relieves parched and sore throat, improves the appetite, and dissolves poisons.
1712 In the Wakan-sansai-zue encyclopedia, ubai (smoked ume), is described as a medicinal agent that aids the blood flow in the lungs and spleen.
1817 The Shakoku-Koden-Hihou states that intestine inflammation sufferers should grind green ume to a pulp and let it dry under the sun and kneed it into a paste.
1878 There is an outbreak of cholera in Japan and umeboshi are in great demand.
1886 A prosperous ume farming business is started in the Kishu region.
1904 Umeboshi becomes part of the food supplies sent to frontline soldiers during the Russo-Japanese War. The term hi-no-maru bento (a boxed lunch of white rice with a pickled ume in the centre, recalling the Japanese flag) originates during this time.
1914 The predecessor of CHOYA UMESHU CO., LTD. begins viticulture.
1950 Research begins to determine the finest variety of ume in Japan and the now-famous Nanko-ume is finally certified as such afterin five years.
1952 In America, E.T.Krebs gives the name B17 to the amygdalin found in ume.
1962 Japan's new Liquor Tax Law allows the home production of fruit based liqueur.
1965 Nanko-ume is registered to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.
CHOYA starts radio and television advertisements.
2005 Umeshu boom begins.

*umeboshi: pickled ume fruit, salted and sun-dried for a few days. Umeboshi is considered a health food in Japan.

- “Minabegawa Village Ume Promotion House Book of Data”
- “A Dictionary of the Origins of Japanese Cuisine” (Dohosha Printing)
- “Japanese Encyclopedia of Food” (Special edition history publication)
- “Chronological Classification of Japanese History” (Tokyo Shoseki)
- Independent research by Choya Umeshu Co., Ltd.

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