I finish my series of kama-iri cha with two teas from Miyazaki Prefecture, next to Kagoshima and Kumamoto, it is the fourth tea-producing region in Japan in terms of cultivated superficies, and it is even more the first producing region of kama-iri cha. Both teas are respectively from Takachiho and Gokase, two localities in the deep mountains in the north of the department. Incredibly this two villages they are almost only produced kama-iri cha! It is as if the revolution of steamed Japanese green tea (sencha essentially) that occurs in Japan from the second half of the 19th century failed to reach these villages. One thing, he stands even at Takachiho a market almost exclusively dedicated to kama-iri cha, which is I think unique in Japan.
The first of these teas is a Minama-sayaka cultivar from Takachiho, produced by Mr. Iiboshi.
Chestnuts and sweet potato cooked over a wood fire, a fruity background, the scent of the leaves is already exemplary as a kama-iri cha.
Among the six kama-iri cha of my selection, it is the only one where I would recommend a first infusion a little warmer in the 70-75 ° C.
The infusion does not disappoint, we find all these great flavors, roasted chestnuts, sweet potatoes, very warm scents, very soft too, which also remind warm bread scent.
The liquor does not lack density. Soft and velvety, this tea does not show astringency, but a lot of strength in a wave of sweetness. Less refreshing and aery than the kama-iri cha mentioned in Part 1 and 2, it remains entirely without heaviness, but it shows more volume.
I do not know if the amplitute shown by these tea leaves is due to the cultivar, Minama-sayaka, but there is however no doubt that the flavors a bit creamy and fruity, reminding peach and pineapple that appear in the aftertaste are constant in teas made with this cultivar (including sencha). This does not appear immediately, it happens slowly in the few minutes following tasting. I think it was after the second infusion that these flavors appear most clearly.
The second comes from Gokase and is the work of Mr. Korogi.
The production line of kama-iri cha is not as fixed as sencha. We can see that between two lots of the same manufacturer, same products a day’s difference; it can have very significant differences in the characteristics and quality. However the use of a coarse rolling/kneading machine (sojûki) is a rare feature of the work mode of M. Korogi.
Thus, its teas are rolled relatively finer and stronger than the average, they seem pretty strong too.
These leaves (Yabukita cultivar) have a mild, sweet flavor, relatively “green” for a kama-iri cha.
We cannot say that the liquor is source of very “green” pefumes, but there is a something “vegetal” which is very different from the Takachiho tea. Some herbs, wet hay, humus even on a very soft set.
On the palate, the liquor seems at first very light and airy, but the aftertaste and returns in the throat are very powerful and sweet, with kind of sugar aromas. Without a bit of astringency, these impressions remind in a kind of way impressions we have in Japanese steamed green teas such as sencha. Attention, it is not overdone like an “umami” broth; it’s still natural, also the producer working under the conditions of organic farming. This softness remains long on the palate, still very sharp.
This tea may be an easy door to enter into the world of kama-iri cha, by its sweetness, its parallels with some sencha, but it could also be a source of confusion, because its characteristic perfume is not what is called kama-ka. Thus, to discover that type of tea, I think the Minami-sayaka from Takachiho, or Yabukita from Kumamoto are the royal road. But this kama-iri cha from Gokase is still a very high quality tea to discover for his personality.