Which region in Japan do you think produces quality tea? Uji or Waduka in Kyoto? Yame in Fukuoka? Have you ever heard of Asamiya in Siga? Tea lovers are well aware that Asamiya produces excellent quality tea. Sad to say, that I haven’t heard of it.
I finally had a chance to visit an Asamiya tea farm and a tea shop in Siga when I attending a tea studying tour. It is said that mountain regions are ideal for producing tea because of its big difference in the temperature between day and night. The farmer showed us around his field. The well known notion made sense when I finally got to observe the actual field. Look at the picture above and notice the tea plants are grown on the slopes. To get to this place, you drive up the narrow winding road. Large machineries used in the regular farms are useless here. Farmers need much effort in taking care of growing and harvesting manually. Why do they make tea in such hard places? Simply, for the quality of the tea!
According the farmer, when buying Asamiya tea, you need to be careful of imitations. Asamiya is not a large production region, so their tea is distributed only to a few limited channels. The famous tea shop in Kyoto, Ippodo also uses authentic Asamiya tea.
During the study tour, we were offered to try the Asamiya tea at the farm, which was the super-premium tea that had won a prize in a contest. It was regular-steamed sencha with a great aroma. Its’ water was slightly red, which is considered not good for sencha. However the taste was incredible!! I was drawn to the distinctive and amorous umami with a nutty note. The most surprising thing was that although this tea definitely has bitterness, the wooden like aroma made it flavorful, not astringent at all. Would you believe that you find the bitterness tasty? The distinctive umami and tasty bitterness merge to create a profound flavor that registers a prominent impression on your palate. I got another taste of Asamiya at the tea shop. It was also premium tea with the same bitterness and luscious flavor. I really fell in love with Asamiya tea so I wanted to introduce in this blog.
Unfortunately, the two Asamiya teas that I tried were quite expensive; I can’t afford the pleasure of always drinking them. I wonder if regular-quality Asamiya has the similar flavor. If you have tried Asamiya tea, tell me, how do you like it?