Kama-iri cha from Amakusa

It is the 7th kama-iri cha in my selection this year. As I already said, I love this kind of Japanese green tea, which is almost only found in Kyushu. Rare and too much unknown, I do what I can for a little more recognition.
Anyway, here’s a kama-iri cha (Yabukita culitvar) from Sumoto on the island of Amakusa south of Kumamoto prefecture, produced by Mr. Ihara. This is indeed a kama-iri cha which was in good positioned at the last national competition. It was in December, during tastings to the public vote to constitute the podium of the Nihon-cha Awards (a new competition based on different criteria than official competition, at which were selected 19 various Japanese teas from over 600, which were presented to the public for final vote), I could drop a tea by this producer, which has attract my attention.

The criteria of the official competition does not necessarily make that good in the case of kama-iri cha. What happens with that one?

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We have deep green and shiny leaves, finely rolled. With this competition kama-iri cha, we have something different than the biggest whitish leaves of kama-iri more ” traditional ”. Their fragrance is extremely dense, very sweet with something ripe fruits and cocoa on a light mineral background.

This is a tea that can give a lot of sweetness, great flavor density, which is precisely why I prefer not to warm down to much the temperature. 80 ° C, 1 minute (4g / 80ml).
The powerful scent is clearly that of a great kama-iri cha: dominant roasted sweet potatoes and chestnuts, sweet, and notes of nuts in the background, discrete but bring much volume. There is also this aspect of peat, light in the cup (more strong in the teapot).

In the mouth, the first sensation is the sweetness, followed by a sharp but pleasant astringency. Then came most aromatic flavors, humus and peat, but also roasted sweet potato, which appear in the mouth, nasal cavity, throat. Everything leaves a pleasant impression of sweetness on the palate, then came also green notes that remind me of the avocado, but we could also see green asparagus.
It is a complex and powerful liquor.
A second infusion, very short, with water a little hotter, gives a very close general impression without the small peak of astringency, with less sweetness however, less perfume too, but still deep aromatic richness in the mouth, more refreshing as well. The after-taste seems to me rounder, more enjoyable.

Hotter water for a third infusion of 40 seconds.
There is more than perfume, but simpler, greener, with something sweet and mellow, somewhat reminiscent of almonds, a little floral too.
The liquor is now lighter. A slight astringency is felt again with a touch of bitterness perhaps, but very clean, very refreshing, slipping happily in the throat. Very kama-iri cha typical aromas, humus and roasted sweet potatoes/chestnuts (autumn in Japan ….) continue to prevail. The after is now a little astringent.
It is a beautiful third infusion.

In conclusion, this kama-iri cha does not fall into the category of kama-iri cha contest without personality and aroma. It is very rich and dense, complex, and could, according to the preparation parameters, give somewhat heavy liquor on the first infusion. Yet the following infusions clearly show the purity of this tea, the balance of its rich aromas, reviving the refreshing qualities I appreciate in kama-iri cha.
The clarity of its aromas and flavors is outstanding, and what about the divine scent of dry leaves !!

Categories: Reviews

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