Our hometown is at the foot of a volcano – Soil, climate and growing techniques that nurture green tea–

A tea plantation at the foot of a volcano

Green tea has different characteristics such as flavor, taste and aroma depending on where it was produced. The green tea introduced here is produced in the Kikuchi area of Kumamoto Prefecture, located in the central part of Kyushu. At the foot of Mount Aso, one of the largest volcanoes in the world, the land has well-drained soil filled with volcanic ash and groundwater from the mountain. Moreover, even in the Kikuchi region, the soil differs by location, and farmers work hard in each location day and night to make tea that makes the most of the characteristics of the land.

With the wind and the mist of the river on its side

Mr. Noda owns a 35,000 square meter tea plantation in Otsu Town, Kikuchi Rural District. His field is surrounded by mountains on both sides with Mount Aso rising in the front. The wind rushes in easily and prevents the formation of frost, a great enemy of tea shoots. This results in the growth of strong new shoots which are essential for making flavorful green tea. Also, in winter, a river fog rises from the river flowing right next to the fields, covering them. Doing so, moderate humidity is brought to the whole field and the tea plants grow in good condition.

Mr. Noda cultivates several varieties of tea in this area, including “Yabukita”, “Saeakakari”, “Meiryoku”, “Ooiwase” and “Sayamakaori”. His favorite tea is “Ooiwase”. It is a variety with a strong sweetness and a rich taste. “Young people seem to like refreshing teas like ‘Meiryoku’ and ‘Saeakari’,” says M. Noda. This farmer will even try to grow other varieties in the future for tea lovers to enjoy more and more teas.

Take advantage of the mountains ‘height difference

Another tea farmer, Mr. Nakayama, owns 80,000 square meter in the Kikuchi area. However, the fields are not in one place, but are scattered in several places from the middle of the mountain to its foot. “The highlands have volcanic ash and the lowlands have red soil, which makes it possible to grow teas whose colors differ when infused. The highlands and lowlands also have different temperatures, so there is also the advantage of being able to harvest the tea leaves at different times. He continues: “The difference in temperature makes the tea more delicious.”

Mr. Nakayama produces many varieties such as “Yabukita”, “Saemidori”, “Asanoka”, “Kanayamidori”, “Okumidori”, “Okuyutaka”, “Tsuyuhikari” and “Sayamakaori”. Among them, his favorite is “Sayamakaori” tea, which has a firm taste and is drunk with astringency. In addition to green tea, this farmer is also trying to grow black tea and mulberry tea in his vast territory.

The same Kyushu, the same Kumamoto, and the same region of Kikuchi, and yet the flavor, taste and color of the tea changes depending on the farm that produces it. Green tea does have a unique personality.