I will introduce two teas from Miyazaki prefecture made from the Yamanami cultivar. It is a rare tea three variety registered in 1965 and developed at the Miyazaki Research Center from seeds from Hubei in China. By the way, another very interesting cultivar was developed in Shizuoka from Hubei seeds at the same time, the Karabeni black tea cultivar, of which you will find an excellent example here. Yamanami is considered a kama-iri cha cultivar, like others developed in Miyazaki, Mine-kaori, Takachiko or Unkai. However, Yamanami has a rather different character, more green, fresh and stimulating.
I have already been offering it for two years in the form of kama-iri cha from Gokase and Takachiho, but seeing it process as a steamed green tea (sencha, etc.) is even rarer, and that can only excite my curiosity.
First, Takachiho’s kama-iri cha.
It seems to me that it have a little stronger Japanese kama-iri typical aromatic characteristics than last year, “kama-ka” fragrance evoking the grilled chestnut. Here the scent of leaves is already quite sweet, reminiscent of sweet butter and caramel.
The infusion brings out these notes of roasted sweet potatoes, but this aspect of camphor and “chlorophyll” typical of this cultivar Yamanami and which is worth it to be unloved by many.
In the mouth the brew is strong, with a little bitterness but a deep sweet sensation in the after-taste and in the length. It is indeed this fresh aroma of camphor and “chlorophyll” that comes next to the mind.
The second infusion seems to further increase these characteristics, with nevertheless a richer nose, with floral aromas too, but above all very sweet.
It is a kama-iri cha which is perhaps a little destabilizing, but remains a typical Kyûshû kama-iri, with aromas indeed unusual, but also rich and powerful as will show a third infusion.
My interest for this tea and this cultivar are getting greater this year, probably thanks to the tasting of a steamed Yamanami that I also propose on Thés du Japon this year.
It is a sencha, one could even say a kabuse-cha because it was shaded a week, which comes from Koyu in Miyazaki. It is true that the bitterness and astringency of this Yamanami grape will not encourage an unshaded culture, especially in Kyushu where the sencha are in any case predominantly shaded. I would also add that these seven days of shading did not give a kabuse perfume frankly pronounced. Also, it is true that this year with the rapid arrival of heat in the spring, the shading times have tended to be longer than usual.
The leaves have here again a rather sweet perfume partially due to the “hi-ire” drying.
At first sight, we find on the nose, more lightly, this sensation of sweet butter, here a little vanilla.
The first attack on the palate contrasts with a vegetal flavor. But it is immediately followed by a sweet impression. In the background, there are notes reminiscent of beans and cooked vegetables.
Also, the feeling “chlorophyll” camphor is here lighter, present as a canvas on which appear the characteristics of this tea, both on the nose and in the mouth.
The after is very sweet and gourmand. One finds there always, in a very moderate way however, a slight bitterness.
Again, the second infusion seems to intensify the aromas.
It is a very aromatic green tea, again a little destabilizing, typical and unique, but on which one has the desire to return. It’s finally a low-priced tea that deserves at least a try.
Very rare, it seems to me that Yamanami could be the subject of higher-end teas to give richer and more interesting sensations. It is a cultivar that also gives interesting things processed in black tea. This is one of many examples of potential unknowns of these ancient cultivars, registered when only yabukita was starting to grow overwhelmingly (though justified).