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Green Tea Flourishes in Sunny Kagoshima

Posted on 07/12/2023

Recently, our tea buyer Tanya and I had the privilege to visit Kagoshima to see where the tea is grown. Japan’s Kagoshima prefecture is located on the Osumi peninsula, in the south of the island Kyushu. Its capital, Kagoshima City, has been lovingly nicknamed “Naples of the East” for its comfortable temperate climate. Palm trees can be found here, as well as colorful songbirds and famous satsuma oranges, two colossal active volcanoes and a wealth of luxurious natural hot springs. It is only natural that such a bright and sunny place is home to some of the highest quality teas in the world. Fertile soil, mineral rich water, and volcanic ash pair with warm water to nourish healthy plants. Because Kagoshima is known for its agriculture, its tea farmers take pride in their work. Likewise, Kagoshima’s Tea manufacturing companies go the extra mile to give the premium crop the attention it deserves. With artisan precision, they transform the raw leaf into the highest quality green tea of every variety.

Fukamushi Cha: This exceptional selection is one of our finest green teas. Fukamushi (deep steam) style teas are steamed for double or triple the amount of time than the average sencha. The process breaks down the structure of the tender leaf, resulting in a rich and flavorful infusion. Because the delicate leaf is prone to breaking, Fukamushi teas are known for their mixture of long and short leaves. This makes them unique because most premium teas are sorted by leaf size and shape, and painstakingly separated until every piece is almost identical. In a Fukamushi tea, leaves of different sizes are desired because they indicate that the tea was steamed properly. One sweltering afternoon, we were served iced Fukamushi cha at a café.  It was extremely refreshing. You can enjoy this tea hot or iced.

Gen-mai Cha: In ancient times, tea was a treasured luxury. It became common practice for families to toast inexpensive brown rice as an addition to tea leaves, which stretched their tea supply. It is a toasty warming flavor, the plants pair well together and the toasted rice brings out the savory umami flavor in the tea.

Kagoshima Kabuse Sencha: Sencha is one of my favorite teas of all time. This excellent sencha is processed with precision and care by expert tea makers. It is a smoother cup and reminds me of the sencha we drank In Japan. It is not easy to find green tea that tastes like this.

Gyokuro Organic: Gyokuro is shaded for weeks before it is harvested. The shade keeps the leaves tender and soft for processing. The resulting light colored liquor is vegetal, sweet and refined. It has a complex flavor with no astringency.

Competition Grade Matcha Organic: This is the highest grade matcha that we sell. We saw matcha being made while we were in Kagoshima. The color is a vivid, bright green. The aroma is sweet, creamy and vegetal. It is very frothy, with a strong umami flavor and full body.

Kagoshima tea has come a long way since the region began producing tea in the 1600s. At one time, the tea was mostly consumed regionally and was not very well known. Enterprising farmers and a local government that supports agriculture and the region’s interest in tea manufacturing have led vastly improved tea manufacturing. Now Kagoshima is home to teas recognized as superior in both the domestic market and worldwide.

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