The World Is a Tea Party Presents: Your Guide to Japanese Teas – Teas K

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More on Kamairicha (釜炒り茶)

Also called: “pan-fired tea”, “Chinese green tea”

Instead of being steamed, the leaves undergo a short withering period and are then fired in a hot iron pan heated to about 300°C. Thus, they have a more flat appearance, similar to many green teas from China (some versions are rolled into pellets like Chinese Gunpowder tea). The pan firing takes away the characteristic bitterness in most Japanese teas, imparting a flavor that is sweet and mildly roasty.

The best versions are made in Sechibaru and Ureshino in southern Japan where they are respected for their pan-firing technique.

This tea is generally not available in the West.

Pan firing (or sometimes called pan frying, although that is not very accurate) started in China during the beginning of the Ming dynasty and is still a preferred method of stopping the enzymes that cause oxidation. The procedure came to Japan (northern Kyushu) in the 15th century. These days, though, the process is rarely used in Japan having been largely displaced by the use of machines.

There are two traditional ways to perform the pan firing:

  1. Ureshino (嬉野) – from Ureshino, Saga prefecture, involves a kama that slanted at a 45-degree angle.
  2. Aoyanagi (青柳) – from the Kumamoto prefecture, the kama is placed parallel to the ground.

Kamairicha Varieties

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More on Kugicha, Kukicha, Kuki Houjicha or (茎茶)

Also called: “twig tea”    “stalk tea”    “stick tea”

Tea composed of tea plant stalks and twigs left from the production of Gyokuro and Sencha. The infusion is fresh and light. Very similar to Hojicha except that it’s not roasted as much. Stems are separated from leaves during the final processing of aracha and are made into kukicha. Stems collected from high quality sencha or gyokuro are called karigane or shiraore and are known as quality kukicha.

Kukicha has a mildly nutty, and slightly creamy sweet flavor, less astringent and bitter taste. One of the preferred teas in a macrobiotic diet. Can be added to juice to make a children’s drink since it is supposed to have less caffeine than the other steamed teas.

The thinner and less green the infusion, the higher the tea quality. For the best stalk tea, the flavour is considered to be as good as highest quality sencha. Inexpensive but an enthusiasts tea that is rarely seen outside Japan.

High in L-theanine, since it is often made from gyokuro where the tea bushes are shaded part of the growing time to avoid this chemical being lost through photosynthesis.

Kukicha Varieties

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