Gourmet teas straight from Japan, selected for you by our sommelier

Kama-iri cha from Tosa: “zairai” yamacha (Ryû)

Type of tea : kama-iri cha
Origin : Kawamata Hinourayama, Ogawa, Inochô town, Kôchi prefecture
Cultivar : "zairai-shu" native species
Harvest : 2017 May
Kama-iri cha from Tosa: “zairai” yamacha (Ryû)

Click to enlarge

In Japan, old tea trees that grow semi-wild in the mountains are called “yamachas”. Their range is essentially from Kyûshû to Shikoku. In the Tosa Mountains (Kôchi Prefecture) on Shikoku, there is an exceptional yamacha “plantation”. The tea trees grow on a very rocky slope in the middle of a forest. Their origin is not known, and neither is their age, but they probably grew from seeds that fell here and there from a few tea trees that people had planted. We know that the location had not been maintained for at least 60 years, when, in the 2000s, the Kunitomos decided to begin exploiting and promoting the tea trees, which are of a sort extremely rare in Japan. Commercial production of this type of yamacha tea is even more unusual in Japan.
The farming method is organic, pesticide-free, without even organic fertilizer, aside from cut, dried grasses placed on the earth around the tea trees. The sole annual harvest is by hand, and oxidization of the leaves is also stopped by hand, using a wok (kama-iri).

The fragrance of this tea is light, a little vegetal and mineral, but it also has something that both speaks of the land and is robust, a special aroma recalling sweet bean soup. In the mouth, the impression is very unusual for a Japanese green tea: mineral, but also sweet and woodsy, evoking beans, nuts and medicinal roots. However, the whole is very fluid, and has no astringency at first.
This is a tea that always remains light, yet gives an impression of great strength. It can be infused over and over: the aromas become more intense at first, and then a fruity note comes out. After a few infusions, a little astringency and bitterness appear, as do camphor aromas.
By infusing this tea over and over again, we can see it change, but the result cannot be compared to any other Japanese tea. All things being equal, there might be a resemblance with certain young puerh maochas. Thirst-quenching and refreshing, this kama-iri cha remains light yet rich.
It is a completely unique example of a yamacha. The little tea trees produce small quantities of leaves, which are processed partly by hand, with great care, to produce a tea that is both rare and precious.

Brewing suggestion
  • Quantity of leaves: 3g / 1 tsp
  • Quantity of water : 70ml / 1/3 cup
  • Water temperature : 90°C / 194°F
  • Brewing time : 70s

cat-kochi cat-zairai

Kama-iri cha from Tosa: “zairai” yamacha (Ryû)

USD $52.80  / 30g

Add to Cart: