Until now, the kama-iri cha from Ashikita (Kumamoto prefecture) by Mr. Kajihara were blends based mainly on Yabukita or on his “zairai-shu” (seed grown tea bushes), with Oku-yutaka in smaller proportions.
This year, in even more limited quantities of course, I could have these three pure cultivars. Yabukita, the zairai (on sale later, I prefer to let him mature a bit to gain strength) and so Oku-yutaka.
Regarding the Kôshun, it is of course non blended, and it is divine. Quantities are very limited, I will not mention this year on my blog, hoping that the quantities increase a little in the next few years (plantations are still young).
So I come back to Oku-yutaka. It is a late variety, dedicated for green teas, rather sencha, and is characterized rather by umami and fruity flavors. The producer uses it in its blends to add mellowness. So, I was wondering what could give in a kama-iri cha 100% oku-yutaka. Well, it’s very interesting.
With their form and their green color with a little white, the leaves are those of a good kama-iri cha from Kyūshû. Their fragrance, while conferring an impression of classic kama-iri cha, nevertheless has a dominant spicy and lemony quite different than what would be found with cultivars like Yabukita or Mine-kaori, etc usually used for kama-iri in Kyûshû.
In the infusion, one still feels in the background the typical fragrance of grilled chestnut typical of kama-iri cha. But it is above all aromas of sweet spices evoking cinnamon that come to the foreground while fitting perfectly to the scents of kama-iri cha.
There are also lemon flavors, although this is mostly present from the second infusion, more fluid and aerial.
Afterwards, we have a sweet overall impression which, in the length comes to evoke subtle fruit like peach.
The experience of Oku-yutaka processed as a kama-iri cha is quite conclusive. Without having a kama-iri cha quite classic and typical, we have a tea in which the characteristics of the kama-iri and of the cultivar seem to melt together wonderfully.