So I presented a few days ago a kama-iri cha from Fujieda with very original flavors, here is another of these type of Japanese green teas, yet very different, frankly unusual.
It is also the first time I present on Thés du Japon a tea from Tosa, the ancient name of a region corresponding to today Kôchi prefecture on the island of Shikoku. Kôchi is not a major producing region, it is not widely known, however, it continue producing teas deep in the mountains, especially sencha with standard steaming ( “futsu” or “asa” -mushi ). It is also at Kôchi that we produce fermented tea called go-ishi cha.
But today it is a kama-iri cha. It comes from the mountainous area of Inochô, alongside the Niyodo-gawa River. There are in these mountains forests some tea bushes growing semi-wild. It cannot be wild tea, but ancient “zairai”tea, grown from seeds but were introduced by man in an old period and were able to multiply as well as “plantation” which is today a very rare example of this kind of tea pants exploited for the production of tea. I might one day also offer these kama-iri cha (who have absolutely stunning perfume, more powerful), but today I present a tea made from a plantation really unique of its kind. This is a “modern” plantation with bushes planted in ranged, but each individual is from cuttings not from known cultivars, but from these mountains teas bushes mentioned above. So it’s not really “zairai” because the tea plants aren’t grown from seeds, but it is not cultivars that have the same genetic heritage. This is a model which is completely unique exploited by the Kunitomo, who asked some very important efforts to take and grow cuttings from this type of mountain tea plants.
The culture is organic, and harvesting is manual. The leaves are withered overnight indoors.
Then another scarce, the chaqing, ie the heating phase of the fresh leaves for the purpose of stopping the oxidation, is process by hand on a wok to 300 ° C, by two “craftsmen” working together. Rolling / drying is done mechanically.
You’ll understand, there was a tea that cannot be compared with any other Japanese tea.
If I propose as an infusion base 3 or 3.5g of tea and 70ml of hot water (just under 90 ° C for the first infusion, then almost boiling water for others) and just over a minute brewing, this tea can be prepared in various ways, such as in a larger cup with few leaves directly into it, adding more boiling water as and when we drink.
The leaves, dark green color, lightly rolled, have an intense fragrance, mineral and sweet, which also evokes a little leather, cocoa, with light floral notes.
After the infusion, the perfume is this time more creamy and floral, with spicy notes and notes of vanilla. It’s an unusual flavor, but quite intoxicating, although light and subtle.
The liquor is soft, airy and very refreshing. It pleases the palate and throat. We do not play at all on the umami flavors. There is a slightly astringent texture, this time with a mineral dominant. The whole impression is light, without emphasis, and lets focus on the scents and subtle aromas. These are multiple and changing gradually as the infusion cools down.
The successive infusions are more round and silky, slightly astringent impressions of the first infusion disappears completely, and it is sweet and floral returns, nevertheless still light which take over on mineral impressions.
The after-taste is changing between floral, sugar, or even something like confectionery.
It is a very “nature” and simple green tea that can really drink without moderation, everything is light and delicate. Yet one also feels a lot of strength in these leaves. Try it without preconceptions, with new eyes and the awareness of entering a new “field”, can be still experimental. However, this also could be a tea that will evoke taste of teas from the past, before the development of tea as an industry. This is certainly another example of the possibilities that can offer the kama-iri cha.
Those from semi-wild plants in forests are really incredible, but still more expensive, maybe later …