Friday, July 8, 2011

Tosa Tea ①

   Have you ever seen the steep rows of tea plantations on the side of the mountains of Tosa? The clumps of deep green leaves packed close together like caterpillars hugging the mountain? A lot of tea is produced in Kochi, and one of the main areas where tea plantations can be readily seen is Niyodogawa Town, some hour and a half up the mountain from Kochi City. Tosa Tea, or Tosa-cha, is one of the main produce of the town, and for this edition of the Tosa Wave, Steven Yuen and Lisa Yasutake went to investigate and report on the source of Tosa-cha in Niyodogawa and made a visit to a café in Kochi City that helps to promote the local tea.

   Today, there are many varieties of green tea that come from all over the world. Different places produce different teas that can be distinguished by their growing conditions, harvesting time and processing techniques. In Kochi, all of the green tea that are grown and produced are called “Tosa-cha’’. Tosa-cha (the “Yabukita” variety) are weak to disease but offer a high harvest. Approximately 60% of the production of green tea occurs in the Niyodogawa valley.

   Different types of tea and flavours are achieved by different production processes. The types of tea produced in Kochi Prefecture are:
Sencha - tea made from new leaves of the plant and steamed
Bancha - made from new leaves and stalks that are picked late and have hardened
Hōjicha - tea that have been roasted on high heat to produce the charred fragrance
Goishicha - mainly produced in Otoyo Town, a medicinal tasting tea that has been fully fermented and is good for loss of appetite in summer (natsubate)
Tamaryokucha - mainly produced in Reihoku, tea that has been roasted in a pot
Kōcha - mainly produced in the Towa District, a black tea that has been fermented

Taken from vol.42  published in July 2011 Tosa Tea Edition

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