This is the sister tea to the Tamaryokucha, grown in Ureshino. Both these teas are shade grown and harvested in the spring, when the leaves are still young and approximately 1/2"-3.4" long. The difference lies in the processing. While the Tamaryokucha is steamed, typical of Japanese senchas, the Kamairicha is pan-fired in a large wok, similar to certain Chinese teas. This method was adopted from mainland China in an area just north of Nagasaki, which is known for it's melting pot of international cultures.
The result of processing this robust Japanese tea with traditional Chinese methods is a completely unique experience. The aroma is both sweet and vegetal with notes of hazelnut and soft to. The mouthfeel is smooth and full-bodied has just enough viscosity to linger long past the tea is gone. Steeping to a soft yellow-green, the soup is both bright and grounding. The vegetal depth and umami characteristics balance perfectly with the warming toasty notes the pan-firing imparts.
This tea is made by a third generation tea producer and only a limited quantity is available this year.
Harvest: Spring 2021
Origin: Ureshino, Japan
Plucked from the southernmost tea garden in Yunnan, just above the Vietnam border, this tea has a unique personality. It is harvested a few days before the Lunar New Year, towards the end of winter. The leaves have been dormant all winter long, soaking up nutrients in the soil as they rest. The air is dry and cold this time of year and the leaves pick up a notes of smoke in the air and a dewy sweetness.
When picked, the leaves exude flavors and aromas that range from savory charcoal-smoked veggies to sweet red bean paste. The long winter hibernation has harbored a stamina that will allow this tea to be steeped at least 10 times, each yielding vibrant new notes. The first few steeps offer warm hints of smoke and charcoal, and as each steep reaches deeper within the leaf, it accesses reserves of nectar. Each cup has a healthy amount of body and brings to mind steamed artichoke hearts and summer squash.
Origin: Yunnan, China
$ 15.75 $ 19.00
This highly unusual tea is plucked from Ai Lao Mountain in Pu-er. The family who tends to these plants operates a small organic farm and grow mostly Taiwanese cultivars. This tea is exclusively from the Ruanzhi (or Soft Branch) bushes, which are native to Taiwan and grown for making oolongs.
The leaves are hand picked in the spring from 30 year old plants growing in rich, mountain soil and processed as a Yunnan green tea. The result is guaranteed to intrigue even the most well-versed tea lover, while remaining accessible to newcomers.
The leaves are sweet with a magnolia blossom aroma, full body and silky mouth feel, notes of buttered asparagus with a lingering toasty finish. Good for many steeps, this tea is quickly growing in popularity.
Origin: Pu'er, Yunnan
$ 13.50 $ 17.00
Grown at the base of the Huangshan Mountains, this is an authentic Taiping, picked and processed completely by hand in Houkeng. The long leaves of the Shi Da Cha plants are unique in that they can grow to be quite large while still remaining soft and pliable. Once the leaves are plucked and withered they are pressed flat between two layers of canvas and baked into their final form. When steeped, the result is a smooth and clear soup with very little bitterness and notes of fresh cut grass, asparagus and a lingering hint of sweetness. This tea is very forgiving and can be steeped a variety of styles, without the worry of bringing out unfavorable characteristics. My personal favorite way to drink this tea is "grandpa style", leaving the leaves in a tall glass in hot water and drinking it slowly. This way, the tea is soft and delicate at the beginning and gradually develops more body and vegetal undertones. Re-steeping is encouraged.
Region: Huangshan, China