Recently overtook the "No.1 Prefecture for Tea Production Value" crown.
This article was last modified October 11th, 2022. by Yuki
Introduction to Kagoshima-cha
Kagoshima-cha is the tea produced in the Kagoshima Prefecture, the southernmost prefecture of the island of Kyushu.
While the "3 great teas of Japan" are the Ujicha, Shizuoka-cha, and Sayamacha, many people nowadays consider Kagoshima-cha the 3rd "Great Tea of Japan." This perception comes from the fact that the current production of Sayamacha is very low. At the same time, Kagoshima-cha boasts the highest tea production value and 2nd highest tea production volume out of all the prefectures in Japan.
The Characteristics of Kagoshima-cha
Tea plantations exist all over Kagoshima and dominate the country's landscape. One of the characteristics of Kagoshima is its large stretches of flat land. Unlike tea farms in the mountains, the flat land provides long sunlight hours.
Kagoshima also has an active volcano that erupts from time to time. This also contributes to the quality of tea. The soil near the volcanic areas allows for better water drainage, contributing to its high-quality tea.
The harvesting periods are diverse, with the first harvesting period (or the Ichibancha harvesting period) starting as early as the end of March. This early period is possible because Kagoshima is located in one of the southernmost areas of Japan, and the climate is warm. It is one of the first Ichibancha circulated in the Japanese market.
However, the harvesting period stretches until quite late, as it cultivates a diverse makeup of tea tree breeds that grow early and late.
The wide range of tea breeds includes Yabukita, Yutakamidori, Saemidori, Asatsuyu, Okumidori, Kanayamidori, and Yamatomidori, among others.
The Kagoshima-cha is interesting as 70% of the tea is sent to other prefectures as Aracha or crude tea. This statistic indicates that the tea leaves in Kagoshima will be blended with other tea in different areas and sold there.
However, even this is a changing trend. Kagoshima-cha is increasingly building a brand of its own to sell its own area brand. They can do so due to Kagoshima-cha being very aggressive in introducing several innovations to its agricultural approach. Some examples include leveraging their flat tea fields to introduce heavy machinery and quality standardizations.
The quality and management of the tea are top-notch in Japan. The prefecture has invested heavily in bringing safety, cleanness, and trust to the Kagoshima-cha brand.
Since 2003, all Kagoshima-cha plantations must report all names and amounts of pesticides used for producing the tea. The tea purchasers can request this information from the association, which they will promptly disclose. This remarkable system that brings excellent transparency to the safety of tea is the first such initiative in Japan.
Other Local Area Brands
As Kagoshima-cha entails all the different types of tea created in the entire Kagoshima prefecture, several famous local area-brands are also existing.
One of the most famous local brands is Chilan-cha, a renowned brand throughout Japan. It produced some of the highest quality tea in Japan, winning several awards in the prestegious Japan's Annual National Tea Competition. This area has an exceptional track record for its quality of Kabuse-cha and Fukamushi-Sencha.
It previously had more local brands – such as the Eicha produced in Ei and the Kawabe-cha made in Kawabe, but those towns were merged with Chilan to become Minami-Kyushu city. In 2017, the brands of Eicha, Kawabe-cha and Chilan-cha were consolidated into Chilan-cha.
Yuki is the Editor-in-Chief AND Community Manager at Tealife. He bleeds Japanese Tea and loves being a part of the Japanese Tea journey of others. Writes, does events, conducts tasting sessions, drinks, drinks and drinks tea! Easily accessible - hit him up on whatsapp (+65) 85882980.