Ashikita Okuyutaka Kamairicha (芦北町おくゆたか釜炒り茶) is a light pan-fried Japanese green tea grown on Kajihara Tea Farm that is run to organic standards in Ashikita District of Kumamoto Prefecture. This tea is crafted from the Okuyutaka cultivar plants, which results in a bright vegetal flavour that has complex savoury umami notes. We source it directly from the grower, Mr Toshihiro Kajihara. The current batch is the first flush harvest from May 2021.
While Kajihara tea garden mostly focuses on heritage native ‘zairai’ plants, they also have a number of various Japanese cultivars planted on their farm to further differentiate and extend their range of teas. This Ashikita Okuyutaka Kamairicha is made from the leaves of Okuyutaka (おくゆたか) cultivar plants. Mr Kajihara uses a small amount of Okuyutaka added in his very popular largely Zairai and Yabukita based kamairicha teas to balance and smoothen the flavour of the finished tea. Just like his other single cultivar kamairicha teas like the Heritage Zairai and Koshun, this is purely made from the single cultivar with nothing else mixed in. As the sections of the garden with the new Koshun and Okuyutaka plants are still relatively young and much smaller, the production every year is very limited.
The name of Okuyutaka cultivar means ‘deep richness‘, referring to the deep green colour of the leaves and the rich umami flavours produced. The cultivar was developed from descendants of a Yutakamidori plant and an unknown test plant. It was registered in Japan in 1983 and is mostly favoured for sencha green tea due to the richness of savoury umami flavours produced. It does seem to work very well when made into a kamairicha as shown here, the leaves retain their rich colour and the deep umami character of the cultivar combines nicely with the processing technique for a complex yet mellow flavour.
Ashikita Okuyutaka Kamairicha green tea has a neat dark green leaf that has a distinctive curled appearance common with other kamairicha teas. It produces a bright green liquor with a vegetal, umami and savoury aroma. The smooth and balanced vegetal profile has notes of fresh green vegetables and a savoury, characteristically umami flavour. There are also notes of spicy herbs and underripe green plums that further add to the freshness and complexity of the flavour. The aftertaste has a mouthwatering quality and a pleasantly light but lasting astringency on the finish. This tea is a great showcase of the Okuyutaka cultivar and makes for an interesting comparison to the other kamairicha teas from Kajihara-san.
It is best brewed at 80°C for around 2-3 minutes, with multiple infusions.
You may also be interested in other teas crafted by Kajihara-san.