KUMAMOTO ASHIKITA WAKOCHA
Category: Red Tea
Origin: JAPAN, Kumamoto Prefecture, Ashikita District, Dosenbo area.
Quantity: 30g per pack
Harvest: Spring Harvest (April-May)
Other: Natural farming
The Kumamoto prefecture is located in the island of Kyushu, southern part of Japan.
Surrounded by other famous major tea producing regions like Kagoshima, Fukuoka and Miyazaki, Kumamoto tea often goes unnoticed despite constantly being in the top 10 producing regions of Japan.
It is also famous for the “Bushi no cha” 武士の茶, translated as “the tea of the warrior”.
The Tea Ceremony of the Samurai known as Higo Koryu meaning “old school of Higo” finds its connections back to Sen no Rikkyu through his seven disciples.
Main teas produced in Kumamoto are Sencha and Tamaryokucha, followed by Kamairicha. A tiny proportion is used recently to produce fully oxidized red teas. While this is usually done with summer harvests, it occasionally happens with with spring harvests of rare cultivars.
The Ashikita district is located West of Hitoyoshi and isolated from plantations of the main producing area. As such, this tea is grown in parts of the forest and is free from any chemicals.
This red tea is made in a traditional Chinese way and its crafts reminds us the beautiful shapes of zhengshan xiaozhong (aka Lapsang Souchong), but of course, without the smokey character of the latter.
The Izumi cultivar is rare and has an interesting story. It was originally created for export of pan-fired green tea to north Africa but it was a commercial failure. It was forgotten for about 40 years before being revived in the late 1990ies for making red teas and apparently some oolong types teas.
The color is light, it feels like in-between a green tea and a red tea, with floral notes and very appreciated among Japanese drinkers. It is a rarity and it comes only in very limited quantities at MANDARACHA.
4g (0.14oz) of leaves per serving
80ml of water at 95°C (203°F) per serving
First brew: 60 seconds
Subsequent brews: more than 40 seconds