Today, the tamaryoku-cha, steamed type and kama-iri type combined, accounts for only about 3% of Japanese tea production, the steamed tamaryoku-cha is largely dominating this part.
The production is mainly concentrated in Kyushu and Saga Prefecture in particular (Ureshino tea), but the region of Izu in Shizuoka, is also known for its guri-cha. (In Shizuoka this type of tea is sometimes called “yonkon”; the origin of the word is uncertain, but it could be a distorted reading of the Chinese word 洋行 which have designated a tea produce in order ‘to go to the ‘West’).
Market trends today are focusing on ‘umami’ mellowness and very green and cloudy liquor teas. For this reason most of tamaryoku-cha is grown shaded, then long steamed in the ‘fukamushi’ way. Thus, we approach the fukamushi sencha found for example in Yame or Kagoshima, far from authentic tamaryoku-cha approaching the kama-iri cha.
• Steaming – sojû rolling/kneading – seiju rolling/kneading- chûjû rolling/kneading (roughly speaking, no major difference with the line of sencha)
• shiage–saikan 仕 上 再乾 drying: a rotary drum wherein hot air is sent.
The leaves are in friction with each other and exert pressure on each other, which allows to give them their shape.
(* Until the 60 – 70s a rotary-drum machine but running direct heating of the surface, called shimeiriki 締 め 炒 り 機, still used for kama-iri cha, were used. But the shift to shiage-saikan-ki may have caused a loss of the fragrances that were reminding the kama-iri cha and make tamaryoku-cha aromas resemble to sencha.)
A very crucial and delicate phase as because of its shape, tamaryoku-cha leaves tend to be only surface dried retaining moisture in their heart. (This is also the case of the kama-iri cha). This is a problem that would cause bad tea, one have to pay a lot of attention to drying.
It is often said that the tamaryoku-cha gives no astringent liquor even brewed with very hot water. I think this is far from always being the case, but it is true that the well manufactured tamaryoku-cha leaf releases its flavors more slowly than sencha.
In general, therefore, this type of Japanese green tea can be prepared on the same basis as a sencha.
Categories: Types of tea