Day 8 + 9.
We ventured to Kagoshima in the deep south of Kyushu to hunt for some of this years new tea. The first thing we noticed was how tropical Kagoshima both looked and felt. It is much more humid and summer-like there than just a short ride north in Fukuoka. We spent day 1 seeing the town and wondering if the giant plumes of smoke erupting from Sakura Jima, the beautiful volcano situated just outside the city, were normal (they are). The weather was beautiful, the food was great, and the people incredibly friendly.
Day 2 was met with rain. We ventured to Kagoshima’s central tea growing region, Chiran. Kagoshima holds the title of second largest tea growing region in Japan just after Shizuoka. The sheer volume of tea fields gives you an understanding of this immediately. Fields are end to end as far as the eye can see. Much of the teas in Kagoshima are sencha with some kabuse and very little gyokuro. Kagoshima teas are a beautiful verdant color in the field and have the same glow in the cup. Fukamushi, or deep steamed teas, are popular here.
We met with a tea producer who has been farming for 60 + years and has almost no hearing. We had to write our questions and comments on a dry erase board. He was very kind and patient as we wrote out our some times long winded questions (I am pretty thorough). We saw his fields and tasted some teas.
Next we ventured deeper into Chiran’s mist and met with a small family run operation producing wonderful sencha. They were so hospitable and brewed us all their shincha offerings. Great stuff. We look forward to working with them in the future!
We are off to Ureshino tomorrow in search of both green and BLACK tea. Keep an eye out for what I am sure will be an interesting post.