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Tea Types | Kamairicha

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Tea is divided into “unoxidized tea,” “semi-oxidized tea,” “oxidized tea,” and “fermented tea” according to the degree of oxidation/fermentation.

Green tea, which Japanese people drink, is “unoxidized tea.” It can be produced by “the steaming method,” which uses steam, or by “the roasting method,” which uses a pan. Today’s mainstream is the steaming method.

Kamairicha, a tea produced by the pan-roasting method, has very little production volume in Japan. The rare tea is called “illusory tea.”

What is Kamairicha?

Kamairicha is a tea that is produced, as its name literally suggests in Japanese, by roasting in the pan. While over 95% of Japanese tea is produced by the steaming method, Kamairicha, which requires long time and high technique, accounts for less than 1%. It is indeed illusory tea.

It is said that Kamairicha originated in the mid-15th century and came down from China to Kyushu. Tea of that time required great care before drinking; steaming, hardening, and powdering to drink or simmering, drying, and boiling to drink.

However, the tea produced by roasting leading to today’s pan-roasted tea just required pouring hot water to drink. The easy-to-prepare tea quickly spread and established its popularity. Kamairicha is rare in Japan, but most of the tea produced in China is this kind.

Features of Kamairicha

While tea leaves produced by steaming are thin like needles, kamairicha tea leaves have a round shape and are sometimes called “Tamaryokucha” (meaning “ball green tea”).

The characteristic of kamairicha is its aroma, called “kamaka,” which is the aroma of the tea leaves created when they are roasted in the kettle. It has a light and refreshing flavor with little bitterness.

Features of Kamairicha ingredients

Because unfermented tea is not fermented, its ingredients and nutrients are less likely to change, and the rich nutrients that tea leaves originally contain remain almost intact.

It is packed with many nutrients, including vitamin C, amino acids such as theanine, catechins(tannins) that are expected to have antioxidant effects, and beta-carotene, which is effective in strengthening the immune system and preventing cancer.

Features of Kamairicha manufacturing process

Kamairicha undergoes “roasting” instead of “steaming” unlike usual green tea. Fresh tea leaves are roasted in the pan for deactivation. Pan-roasting is done by an expert because it requires considerable experience and high skills.

Production areas of Kamairicha

Kamairicha is produced mostly in Kyushu area. Even famous tea-growing areas such as Shizuoka and Kyoto rarely produce it. As present, Saga Prefecture, Kumamoto Prefecture, Nagasaki Prefecture, and Miyazaki Prefecture produce them in mountainous areas with abundant nature. Why does Kyushu produce a lot of it? They say it is because Kamairicha first arrived in Kyushu when it came from China.

How to drink Kamairicha

You can drink it as you drink green tea or Sencha (steeped green tea). Brew it in hot water of about 80 degrees C. Otherwise, cold brew Kamairicha also tastes good.

References

Manufacturing Process of Kamairicha
How to Brew Sencha/Fukamushi-cha
What kinds of Ingredients are in Green Tea