～Choya Umeshu story !!～～チョーヤ梅酒ストーリ～ Vol. 212 Aug 2015
My guide on this journey of discovery was Mr. Shinji Indaba, CHOYA International Sales Manger. I had met Inaba San previously when he was visiting Australia on business. I admired his enthusiasm for his company and knew he was the perfect person to act as my interpreter and umeshu sensei.
We met at Osaka Station and caught the local train to the CHOYA Head Office in Komagatani, 40 minutes south east of Osaka city. Set in the sleepy surrounds of the urban fringe and with a train platform right outside, it was easy to think the CHOYA head office had its own private railway.
Mr. Sumitaro Kondo, who originally had the idea of making wine from locally grown Osaka grapes, founded CHOYA in 1914. His pioneering entrepreneurship was initially not rewarded, as grape quality and early wine making skills in Japan could not compete with the imported options. After persevering for 45 years the company decided to turn their attention to something that was closer to their hearts and homeland ? umeshu.
Records date the preservation of ume fruit back to the Yayoi period (Iron age era of Japan 300 BC to AD 300), particularly umeboshi ? dried and salt cured ume fruit. Certainly, the legends of its health giving benefits have been enjoyed since then and continue to this day.
Scientifically speaking it is worthy to note ume is in fact a fruit in its own right. Although it is a close relative, it is not a plum, parse. Whilst hailing from the same group, Rosaceae Prunus, ume has the scientific name Prunus Mume, where the common plum is Prunus Domestica. The significant difference in the two fruits is that ume has a higher organic acid and polyphenol (antioxidant) content.
The high concentration of iron, potassium, polyphenol and organic acids has perpetuated its reputation as a medicinal agent. Ume has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine. Recent studies have shown it’s effective in the prevention of dental diseases, gastric disorders and assisting in endurance by enhancing the oxidative capacity of exercising skeletal muscle. Not bad for something that tastes yummy too!