The famous Kirishima Cha (Cha = Tea) comes from the area around Kirishima City (霧島市)in the heart of the Prefecture in southernmost Japan’s Kirishima and Aira Region (霧島・姶良エリア).Together with the tea farmers of Chiran, the region produces the Prefecture’s best green teas and as such some of the best teas in Japan.
Imposing Mountains & Volcanos
The southern part of Kirishima points towards Kagoshima Bay, while the north-eastern part is dominated by the famous Kirishima mountain range and its enormous volcanoes. The highest elevation is the imposing 1,700m high Kankokudake (韓国岳), one of the most active volcanoes in Japan. Its last eruption took place in Shinmoedake (新 燃 岳) on 19.1.2011. In addition, the 1.574m high and holy mountain Takachihonomine (高 千 穂 峰) should also be acknowledged. Mt. Kirishima (霧 島 山) marks a chain of about 20 volcanoes or mountains spread over the Northeast and in parts of Kagoshima neighboring prefecture Miyazaki.
Kirishimas Sencha & Kabusecha Tea
Sencha and Kabusecha is mainly grown in this region. The Sencha, produced mainly in the mountains of Makizono is classified among the best in Japan.
Kirishima Tea’s Special Taste
The teas of the Kirishima Region have the typical Kagoshima rich full bodied characteristics. The flavor and aroma is more delicate and clear however and the tea infusion is a clear yellow-green. Kirishima can be divided into two sub-regions Mizobe (溝 辺) and Makizono (牧 園):
Mizobe:Mild Climate, Fertile Land & Quality Teas
This sub-region is flat and is used primarily for agriculture. The climate is warmer than the other more northerly regions. Mizobe’s green tea quality is comparable to South Chiran as a region producing simple to premium quality tea.
The seed variety Yutakamidori is mainly grown as the mild climate is perfect for Shincha (harvest starts normally after 20th April).
Makizono Mountains: the Best Sencha
The famous sub region Makizono lies in the mountains of Kirishima. The climate is correspondingly tougher and often the area is dominated by thick fog. The tea grows more slowly, but is far more flavorful & delicious. The cultivation is far less productive and leads to higher costs and prices. Makizono is primarily recognized for its excellent Senchas which enjoy a national reputation for quality.
The Cultivar Yutakamidori is not so frost resistant and as such is seldom grown here. Mainly rarer seed strains such as Yabukita, Saemidori, Okumidori and Asatsuyu are cultivated. The first harvest (Shincha) can be taken towards the end of April.
|Conclusion: Senchas from the mountains of Makizono in the region of Kirishima can be considered in Kagoshima and as such throughout Japan as some of the best teas of their kind. One should absolutely try them and especially the special rarer seed varieties of Saemidori, Okumidori and Asatsuyu.|
Kirishima Gyokuro Tea
As in Chiran, it is only recently that the area has seen the production of Gyokuro, which has a unique character all its own, characterized by its very attractive flavor, providing a welcome respite to the famous Gyokuro from Yame and Uji.
Kirishima’s organic Gyokuro achieves an extremely high quality and is can easily be argued as one of the best organic Gyokuro’s in Japan . The cultivation of good Gyokuro in organic quality is extremely difficult and are compared with conventionally grown Gyokuro undervalued . However, the new organic Gyokuro from Kirishima can match and can even surpass the quality of the good to fine Gyokuros from the non-organic cultivation of Uji and Yame.