I come back to this very interesting variety Yamanami.
This very rare cultivar was developed at the Miyazaki Research Center, and registered in 1965. With the southern prefecture of Miyazaki comes in mind the kama-iri cha, and indeed, Yamanami is registered as a varietal for this type of tea which production is quite confidential. Kama-iri cha cultivars are few in number (logical as kama-iri production is small) and most were developed in Miyazaki, such as Mine-kaori or Unkai. If the last two have the distinction of counting among their ancestors a variety of the Caucasus, Yamanami was for its part selected from seeds from Hubei in China (at the same time in Shizuoka, the wonderful and so underated Karabeni were selected also from these Hubei province seeds as a black tea cultivar).
Yamanami is not really a “popular” cultivar, and the Miyazaki prefecture even recommends that producers give it up for other tea cultivars. It is true that it is not an easy to understand variety, it is not as easy to apprehend as Mine-kaori, or Minami-Sayaka to give another cultivar from Miyazaki. Yet it is very characteristic and I have the idea that it could be better exploited. I must admit that when I started to propose it on Thés du Japon three or four years ago, I thought of not continuing to propose it in the following years, yet this Yamanami kama-iri cha quickly found his fans.
This year I once again propose Takachiho’s kama-iri cha, and Koyu’s sencha, without any shading (while last year’s one was shaded a week), wanting to see more directly what Yamanami could gives us as a steamed green tea.
The kama-iri is really interesting this year, or maybe I just enjoy it more and more. While it is not as “typical” as the Mine-kaori, but it has a great depth.
Of course, there is the kama-iri cha typical so-called “kama-ka” fragrance that evokes roasted chestnut, but not as frontally as in the Mine-kaori for example. There are aromas fresher, almost camphor, but also flavors more pastry, caramel, or even a fragrance of sweet beans azuki.
On the palate, Yamanami is strong enough, especially for a kama-iri cha. That’s why I would suggest infusing it less strong than the suggestions on the bag. We feel a certain bitterness, not unpleasant, but that will not please everyone. The camphor notes appear more clearly in the mouth. The after-taste him, reminds that it is indeed a kama-iri with the return of aromas of grilled chestnut.
These typical kama-ka aromas seem stronger on the following infusions, with even a hint of ash. Nevertheless, the nose retains this very special sweet sensation.
The sencha for its part is not exactly what we can call a “great tea”, it is rather an entry-level of good quality and particularly interesting in the sense that it allows to appreciate Yamanami process in sencha, as steamed green tea.
On the nose it seems simpler, with its sweet scent.
On the palate, this bitterness seems to be a particularity of this cultivar. There is also after this camphorous feeling, which is even closer to a pine needle scent.
A second infusion will give a liquor less incisive, where one will feel better the sweet aromas of caramel, almost vanilla.
The length in the mouth of this sencha is however quite exceptional, with a sweet and mellow flavor that coat the palate.
Very hot and short infusions seem to me to be a good choice to enjoy this tea.
It goes without saying that these Yamanami cultivar teas will not please everyone, they are indeed not the very first teas to try among my selection. On the other hand, they give connoisseurs an opportunity to discover a rare cultivar with a sencha / kama-iri comparison, but also very unusual alternatives, particularly remarkable for those who like very robust teas, with a bitterness that will charm those who like coffee.
Finally, I come back to the cultivars selected at the Miyazaki Research Center, to say that it is a place where we find many tea varieties with strong characteristics (as in Saitama for that matter), with more recently Nagomi-yutaka or Harunonagomi. But also, it is from Miyazaki that comes from Kirari 31, the cultivar very put under the spotlights in recent years as a candidate for the succession of Yabukita, that is to say a variety without strong characteristics.